New modelling tool can predict demand for tram stops and lines

A new and innovative tool for forecasting demand for public transport stops and stations could be set to revolutionise the way new tram and light rail systems are developed in the future according to the UK Tram Centre of Excellence.

The UK Tram Centre of Excellence gets together experts from across the industry who are dedicated to expanding and enhancing light rail in the UK and this new modelling tool was just one of the updates they heard at their latest meeting.

The tool is the result of complex computer modelling developed by the University of Southampton, in partnership with the Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. It enables the rapid review of options for individual stations or new light or heavy rail lines and generates a forecast of demand based on the predicted number of trips per year.

Predicted demand takes into account variables such as the probability of passengers using the proposed station or stop instead of any of the 10 nearest stations and it is possible to reach more accurate conclusions quicker and at far less cost than using traditional bespoke studies.

The same meeting also heard an update on the progress of the Department for Transport’s Restoring Your Railway programme with the Centre of Excellence having been providing support for promoters where light rail could be an option. This includes a tram-train from Bury to Rochdale which has recently seen a  Strategic Outline Business Case submitted to the DfT for further review.

They have also met with the Isle of Wight Council’s consultant who is developing plans for the reinstatement of rail services to Newport and Ventnor with suggestions of a semi-segregated light rail system.

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