Light rail has a future in this country if capital costs can be reduced Local Transport Minister Norman Baker said yesterday as he published a review looking at how trams can be more cost effective in the future.
Despite tram passenger numbers being at record levels, high building costs have meant that even where passenger forecasts may justify its consideration, light rail has often not been seen as an affordable option for local transport authorities.
Recommendations from the review for local authorities and industry include:
- To implement a new project design of light rail systems which is uniform across the industry;
- To look at lower cost schemes overseas to see whether they could be adopted in this country; and
- To set up a ‘centre of procurement excellence’ to advise on the best procurement options.
Norman Baker said:
“Light rail is good for passengers, good for local economics, good for the local environment and it’s a mode of public transport that passengers really enjoy using – that is why I’m committed to doing everything we can to bring costs down to make it a viable option for more communities.
“In the past light rail systems have been seen as expensive and an unaffordable option for local authorities to pursue – I initiated this review so we can get to the nub of the problem.
“I now urge all parts of the light rail sector to work together on implementing these recommendations and I look forward to working with them towards these exciting opportunities.”
Findings show that light rail has the potential to provide high capacity transport into and around major conurbations which reduces congestion, supports growth and improves regeneration opportunities.
The Department will therefore hold a summit of the light rail sector to agree a sector-led implementation plan for getting light rail on the right track.
The report found that one of the main reasons for high construction costs is the need to divert and locate utilities which lie under the road where the tram is to be built e.g. water and gas main pipes.
The Department for Transport will now launch a consultation to seek views on how this system can be simplified and ultimately how costs can be reduced costs.
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