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MPs urge parties to reduce air pollution through light rail investment

A group of influential MPs have called for political parties to improve the UK’s poor urban air quality by investing in cleaner trams.

Politicians on the All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group (APLRG) have sent a letter to all the main political parties asking for the issue to be addressed in their manifestos, to highlight the key role light rail and trams have as a solution to having no pollution at the point of use.

Last week, the government finally published its draft plan to improve air quality by reducing nitrogen dioxide levels in the UK.

But Greg Mulholland MP, chair of the APPLRG, said: “The quality of our air should be a political priority as it has a huge impact on the health of the nation.

“That is why we are calling on every party to have in their manifesto, a commitment to improving air quality.”

Mulholland added that this issue was now even more important due to the announcement of the general election which will force parties to defend their policies and “have a genuine debate about how to tackle such a large public health issue”.

And TramForward, which is the campaigning arm of the Light Rail Transit Association, also said they fully support the call to lower air pollution.

Daniel Giblin, of TramForward, said: “We are campaigning for ‘Trams for Clean Air’ and a new Clean Air Act. Trams are the non-polluting transportation answer for cities, towns and villages to achieve improved air quality.”

Giblin added that TramForward was initiating funding trials to investigate new alternative financial models with an informed group of experts and prospective global funders to demonstrate how effective economic management can overcome funding gaps in new tram system business cases and achieve a positive return on investment.

“Our aim is to encourage government, local authorities and the private sector to rethink how to invest in trams for economic growth, excellence in public health and community customer service,” he explained.

“We will build on the groundswell of positive opinion towards Trams in the UK through TramForward's participation in public debates, we will lobby for 'Trams for Clean Air' explaining to communities and stakeholders the exceptional good value for taxpayers of Trams, their environmental benefits and also the avoidance of traffic congestion and car gridlock.”

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Jimbo   08/05/2017 at 17:25

Hear, hear. I recently went on a rail tour to Germany and Switzerland, and every reasonable sized town had a tram system, not just the big cities. Of course, you would get a bigger impact by carrying on the electrification programme, rather than giving it up as "a bit too difficult" and investing in new diesel or bi-mode (ie. also diesel) trains instead. Switzerland is almost entirely electrified, which is some feat on steep mountain railways. It puts our effects to shame.

David   08/05/2017 at 20:10

In some ways it makes more sense that Switzerland has full electrification, with the abundance of hydroelectricity and the much-needed superior performance of electric traction.

Huguenot   08/05/2017 at 21:24

We need both heavy rail electrification and trams. If Nottingham can make a success of a tram network, so can Liverpool, Leeds, Southampton, Portsmouth, Bristol and, of course, central London.

Jimbo   09/05/2017 at 10:58

@David - whilst the Swiss may have had more impetus to go electric in the early days, to not do so today is just madness. Yes, Network Rail has been on a steep learning curve and costs have escalated, but by now they should have learnt the lessons and future schemes will be cheaper.

John Grant   09/05/2017 at 14:16

There's been a lot of focus on particulates from diesel exhaust, but there's also dust from rubber tyres and from brakes, so steel-on-steel with regenerative (or even rheostatic) braking is better even if not electric.

Jerry Alderson   10/05/2017 at 21:02

I agree that other reasonably comparable European countries, such as (but not liited to) France and Germany, have many more tram systems than we do. With one tram system per nine milion peoiple, even on a population pro-rata basis with smaller countries we do not score particularly well (e.g. Belgium). Being pedantic - sorry, but RTM should know better - at the time this article was published there weren't any MPs: only former MPs some of whom are standing to retain their seats.

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