Light Rail Systems Can Help Urban Areas Recover Post-Pandemic

A new report from the Urban Transport Group (UTG) says that protecting light rail services and maintaining the urban connectivity they provide is key to ensuring towns and cities recover from the impact of Covid-19.

The report, entitled Leading light: What light rail can do for city regions, looks at how light rail contributes to the economic, social and environmental objectives of both national and regional governments.

Sheffield supertram
Sheffield supertram

Produced on behalf of UTG by produced by Steer Group, it states that the UK’s light rail systems are crucial in supporting economic growth and a greener recovery.

The report provides examples of economic, social and environmental benefits derived from light rail, such as the 290 million GBP (343.09m euros | 398.12 USD) the Tyne and Wear Metro contributed to the North East’s economy and the 2,000 tonnes of CO2 the Sheffield Supertram is estimated to save the city each year.

It also highlights that there are opportunities to extend current networks and introduce new ones, but in order to achieve this, a stable policy and funding environment is needed.

Stressing the key role light rail networks played in keeping cities moving during the pandemic, the report points out concerns around how long it will take these networks to recover from the pandemic, particularly since the UK government’s financial support is scheduled to end next April.

Stephen Edwards, Executive Director at South Yorkshire Passenger Transport Executive and Light Rail Lead for the Urban Transport Group, said:

“Light rail systems play a bigger role in the life of British urban areas now than they have for well over fifty years.

“This report sets out in detail, and with numerous case studies, why and how light rail has been such a success story for the places it serves.

“It also supports our wider case to the Comprehensive Spending Review for both continued funding support for our light rail networks, whilst patronage is constrained due to COVID, and, in the longer term, for a more stable and consistent approach to extending the benefits of light rail to more places and passengers.”

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