UK announces funding package for light rail operators

The UK Government has announced financial aid of $77.02m (£56m) for light rail operators across England to support their recovery as they commence services after the lifting of Covid-19 restrictions.

Operators that will benefit from the funding, which will run from 20 July to April 2022, are Manchester Metrolink, Tyne and Wear Metro, Sheffield Supertram, Nottingham Express Transit, West Midlands Metro, and Blackpool Tramway.

The government is currently making investments to improve transport links in the country, as well as helping the sector to provide better services amidst the pandemic.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay said: “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.”

This latest package will be the ‘final tranche of Covid-19 related financial support’ to be provided to the rail sector.

West Midlands Mayor Andy Street said: “Our West Midlands Metro service has operated throughout the pandemic and has seen patronage return very quickly each time restrictions have been lifted. This has shown just how important our trams are to commuters and our regional economy.”

Rail operators have received nearly $206.31m (£150m) to date from the government to continue their operations throughout the pandemic.

Last month, the UK Government announced a $6.89m (£5m) in funding to kickstart the development of the Rail Data Marketplace.

In a separate development, Jacobs has been selected as the East West Rail programme partner, involving the construction of a new rail link between Oxford and Cambridge.

The value of the three-year contract stands at around $50m (£35m).

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