UKTram – the industry body representing tram and light rail networks in the UK – are optimistic that 2022 will be a positive year for the sector with government funding for new and existing systems alongside the publication of what is described as a bold new strategy for the future of light rail.
James Hammett, Managing Director of UKTram, said: “Covid-19 has undoubtedly had a major impact on our tramways and similar transit systems, and we still face a significant challenge in rebuilding patronage to pre-pandemic levels, but there is a sense of growing optimism for the future of the sector.”
“The recent announcement of £830 million to develop an integrated transport system in West Yorkshire – plans which include options for light rapid transit – and a further £100 million for the renewal of Sheffield Supertram, show that our calls for fresh investment in light rail are being listened to by government.
“As the details of these major projects take shape, our Centre of Excellence will be on hand to offer advice and support. Drawing on experience and expertise from across the sector, the Centre is also exploring ways to overcome barriers to the growth of light rail in other cities and large towns, including helping promoters of proposed schemes to find the most cost-effective ways to improve connectivity whilst navigating the complex legislative process.
“This is backed by support for research into new technology and tramway design, including the setting up of a new ‘taskforce’ to help exploit the potential of Very Light Rail to help drive down the cost and complexity of future systems.”
2022 should see a number of tram extensions open, including two on the West Midlands Metro (although first we wait to see the opening of the full existing network) whilst by the end of the year trams should be running along Talbot Road in Blackpool again. Further ahead and 2023 should be a major year of extension openings including Edinburgh’s Trams to Newhaven project.