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Tram capacity the ‘hot topic’ during online meeting Tuesday June 30, 2020

The impact of new customer travel patterns in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic proved one of the main topics of discussion at UKTrams’ fourth virtual Light Rail Operators Committee ‘Sounding Board’ meeting.

During the online meeting last week, colleagues from networks in Manchester, Nottingham, Edinburgh, Sheffield and the West Midlands talked about reducing capacity to comply with social distancing and how customer demand can be safely managed.

James Hammett, Managing Director of UKTram, explained: “Operators agreed that, the slight relaxation of the two-metre rule to one-metre plus will make very little difference to capacity. This is due to the way trams are configured, with many sets of seats that face each other.

“Systems have already seen a rise in customer numbers following the reopening of non-essential retail in England, but there is still the spare capacity to cope, and many networks are on standby to increase service frequencies with the this month’s reopening of leisure facilities, including bars and restaurants.

“However, planned track works currently taking place in both Sheffield and Nottingham will impact on how these operators could increase services if demand grows quickly.”

The committee also heard how the latest estimates on tram capacity supplied by members had been submitted to the Department for Transport by UKTram to help with government planning for the easing of coronavirus restrictions.

During the meeting, colleagues also shared their experiences around mandatory face coverings rules with networks reporting that the vast majority of customers are complying with the new rules.