Light rail

By Reg Harman
Light rail is the most effective mass transit solution for cities with a traffic congestion problem. Anyone who has visited cities such as Vienna, Amsterdam or Bordeaux will have seen how these cities, where trams are an integral part of the public transport system, have far less congestion and rate as some of the most liveable cities in the world.

The reason for the success of light rail in combating congestion is that up to half of light rail users previously used the car to make the same journey, whereas this has never been shown to happen with buses.

Leeds is the largest English city without a metro system. It needs one, as do Cambridge and Bristol/Bath.
Meanwhile Blackpool Tramway extended to Blackpool North mainline station in June 2024.

Leeds metro

Author: Mike Rose and Chris Hyomes - Published Tue 16 of Nov, 2021 18:31 GMT - (0 Reads)
The Government’s Integrated Rail Review announced that Leeds and West Yorkshire will get their long overdue Mass Transit system. Proposed West Yorkshire mass transit network. Image by West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

Trams for Bristol + Bath

Author: Dave Andrews, chair of BBATA - Published Sat 06 of Feb, 2021 17:39 GMT - (2859 Reads)
West of England Combined Authority (WECA) and Bath and Bristol Area Trams Association (BBATA) are working together to deliver a clean, efficient express public transport network for Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire. A reminder of the original Bristol trams, still in place at Temple Meads. Image by Geof Sheppard under Creative Commons.

Prospects for light rail

Author: Ian Brown CBE FCILT - Published Wed 26 of Feb, 2020 12:41 GMT - (4402 Reads)
Railfuture’s European Passenger Group is structured to understand international best practice and use it to advance our argument that railway development can help address economic, social and environmental concerns and opportunities in Britain. Light rail is a case in point where Britain has not exactly been a world leader. A Tram Train about to leave Sheffield Cathedral Station (left) for Meadowhall on the Supertram network then onto Network Rail tracks to Rotherham (the only example in Britain so far) and Britain’s first modern light rail line, Metrolink to Bury from Manchester (right). Photos by Ian Brown for Railfuture.

Rails back to Brierley Hill

Author: William Whiting - Published Mon 13 of May, 2019 22:04 BST - (5391 Reads)
Railfuture welcomes the news that funding has been secured to extend the Midland Metro from Wednesbury to Brierley Hill. The metro will serve Dudley Zoo and Castle – image by Midland Metro Alliance.

Tram-train open for traffic

Author: Andrew Dyson - Published Fri 07 of Dec, 2018 13:39 GMT - (4791 Reads)
The new tram-train service between Sheffield and Rotherham opened to passengers on 25 October 2018. Cathedral-bound tram-train 201 pauses to change from train-mode to tram-mode on the new Tinsley chord. The former Great Central line from Woodburn Junction to Rotherham Central can be seen in the background - photo by Robert Pritchard.

Danish tram revival

Author: Jerry Alderson (info from Erland Ekefors) - Published Wed 20 of Jul, 2016 16:41 BST - (5704 Reads)
Thanks to a tramway building spree that has ended, Britain now has seven tram systems, all of which have substantial populations (apart from Blackpool – the only one that had never closed). Whilst extensions are being planned there are no new ones. In Denmark, where all of its tram system had closed (the last was Copenhagen, in 1972), it is now building it first new one, in Aarhus (tram vehicle and new tram bridge pictured – photos by Erland Egefors) for a population far smaller than the new systems in Britain. Is there a lesson here?

Metro reaches New Street

Author: Michael Tombs - Published Fri 03 of Jun, 2016 19:28 BST - (4544 Reads)
As a proud Brummie, Railfuture member Michael Tombs has always been disappointed to see the city lagging behind others in the country in terms of transport planning. However, Monday 30th May 2016 was a rare occasion to hang out the bunting, to collect the promotional ‘goodie bag’, and celebrate the long awaited trams, much delayed, running to New Street station – better late than never!? New CAF-built tram leaves New Street station for Wolverhampton. Photo by Michael Tombs for Railfuture.

Oxford Metro

Author: Chris Page - Published Thu 30 of Apr, 2015 22:22 BST - (4858 Reads)
Trams would benefit the historic heart of Oxford

Transport consultants Dr Nicholas Falk and Reg Harman look to Europe and the US and argue that the
UK city of Oxford should have a transport system more like its ‘twin’, Grenoble.
Photograph: Grenoble, by Reg Harman. Trams on lines A and B mix with people in the heart of the city.

Paving over tracks

Author: Nick Dibben - Published Wed 11 of Feb, 2015 21:49 GMT - (7986 Reads)
The Cambridge Guided Busway scheme opened in 2011 (costing almost twice as much as planned and nearly three years late) uses the former track-bed of two rail routes either side of Cambridge. The photos above, taken from a document produced for Cambs County council by Capita shows the poor state of the busway, after only three years of use, which could cost £30m to repair. Even the bus stops are not cared for (photo Jerry Alderson). Is this really something we want more of?

Back to top

UK Tram Advice note for promoters considering a light rail scheme

UK Tram An Investigation into the Economic Impacts of Cities of Investment in Light Rail schemes.

Urban Transport Group Light Rail briefing

Campaigns | Attracting passengers back | Restoring your railway | Electrification | Fares | Rail reform | Freight | Fighting Fund | Consultation responses | Our successes