Continued funding to support Edinburgh Trams and Glasgow Subway has been welcomed by UKTram, which has pressed for support for the light rail sector throughout the coronavirus pandemic.
The Scottish Government this week pledged a further £4 million of emergency funding for the two systems in response to the ongoing financial impacts of COVID-19.
The announcement of the latest emergency measures – which are additional to the £9 million announced in July – follows detailed discussions between Transport Scotland and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (SPT) and Transport for Edinburgh.
The funding will be in place until the end of 2020, and George Lowder, Chair of UKTram and Chief Executive of Transport for Edinburgh, says it will help to maintain essential services.
“Since the start of the pandemic, light rail systems in England and Scotland have adapted quickly to government restrictions to keep cities moving, while seeing a substantial fall in customer numbers,” he explained.
“Continued capacity restrictions due to strict social distancing requirements have resulted in a significant loss of revenue, and the situation is likely to remain challenging for some time to come.”
In a press release announcing the funding, Cabinet Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure and Connectivity Michael Matheson said: “The Glasgow Subway and Edinburgh Trams continue to provide key connections within our two biggest cities. The services provide essential capacity and link with bus, rail and park and ride facilities.
“Over the six-month period from July we will now have provided up to £13 million of financial support to operators to enable services to continue. Any restrictions on these services could have placed unsustainable demands on other modes, especially bus, and so this funding will assist capacity across all public transport.
“I would again like to thank all the people working across the light rail sector who have provided, and continue to provide, these important connections. These services have allowed our key workers and others who needed to travel for essential journeys to do so during very challenging circumstances. The subway and tram will help our wider society and economy recover as we go through the next phases of this pandemic.
“We will continue to monitor the demand, capacity and costs of support across all transport modes.”
Martin Dean, Chair of Edinburgh Trams, added: “The additional funding being offered from Transport Scotland is welcomed news, especially as we navigate the challenges of fresh restrictions in the area. The ongoing financial support allows us to continue to operate our services for anyone who relies on the city’s tramway to make essential journeys.
“We are grateful to Transport for Edinburgh for leading on these negotiations on behalf of our organisation.”