The Department for Transport (DfT) has announced light rail operators across England will benefit from up to £56m in government funding to ensure vital services can continue to run, as pandemic restrictions are lifted.
The funding will run from July 20, 2021 through to April 2022 and will support operators across the North of England and the Midlands, Transport Minister Baroness Vere announced today (July 16, 2021).
The operators supported by the funding are:
- Manchester Metrolink
- Tyne and Wear Metro
- Sheffield Supertram
- Nottingham Express Transit
- West Midlands Metro
- Blackpool Tramway
Many of these light rail services have struggled to maintain operational expenses during the pandemic due to significantly reduced passenger numbers, requiring government intervention and financial support.
Many of the light rail and tram services provide essential access into towns and cities, ensuring people can get to work, school or visit friends and family.
Throughout the pandemic, they have served key workers and those unable to work remotely, and with pandemic restrictions continuing to lift, will be increasingly important in the coming months.
The £56m funding package will ensure operators can continue to keep running those vital services as normal in the initial months, as restrictions continue to lift and passengers begin to return in higher numbers.
Transport Minister Baroness Vere said: “Light rail and tram services provide an essential service in our towns and cities, ensuring people can get to work, school or to see friends and family.
“This £56m funding package will allow operators to keep running these vital services as normal in those initial months, as restrictions are lifted and passengers begin to return in higher numbers.”
Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Steve Barclay, added: “As our economy reopens, we’re continuing to support people and businesses – and making sure people can get to work and use public transport easily is crucial.
“Today’s funding means that thousands of people across England can continue to travel on public transport when they need to, and regular services can continue as the country comes out of restrictions.”
The funding package announced by the DfT will represent the final tranche of Covid-19 financial support provided to the light rail sector, the government agency said.
Throughout the pandemic, light rail operators have been provided with £150m to ensure services continued. The current emergency funding package was due to expire on July 19, 2021.