Light rail operators across England will benefit from up to £56 million in government funding to help ensure they continue to run vital services as coronavirus (COVID-19) restrictions are lifted, Transport Minister Baroness Vere has announced.
The funding will run from 20 July to April 2022, and will support the following operators across the north and the Midlands: the Manchester Metrolink, Tyne and Wear Metro, Sheffield Supertram, Nottingham Express Transit, West Midlands Metro and Blackpool Tramway.
It comes as the government invests billions of pounds to build back better from the pandemic and improve transport links across the country.
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 £56 million 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 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.”
Andy Street, the Mayor of the West Midlands, 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.
“It was critical, therefore, that we received this latest funding from government, and by being the longest funding package we have received so far it has given the West Midlands much-needed certainty.”
The funding package announced will be the final tranche of COVID-19 related financial support to be given to the sector.
It comes after the government has already provided around £150 million to operators to ensure services have continued to run throughout the pandemic. The current emergency funding package will end on 19 July 2021.
Last week, the government announced a £226.5 million funding package to support bus operators across England, outside of London, through the recovery period.