Light rail is a lifeline for many communities across the UK. During the pandemic, the government has provided significant levels of financial assistance to the light rail sector through the Light Rail Revenue Grant and the Light Rail Restart Revenue Grant, supporting 6 light rail operators and local transport authorities in England, outside of London, with over £200 million in funding since March 2020.
To date, the Light Rail Restart Revenue Grant has funded up to 100% of pre-COVID-19 service levels, ensuring key workers have continued to be able to travel easily and safely, as well as ensuring the public could access necessary amenities.
Critically, as restrictions are lifted and passengers return, the light rail sector is important in helping local economic recovery, thereby supporting the government’s ‘levelling-up’ agenda.
To encourage passengers back, light rail services should be as available as they were prior to the pandemic. Without support, however, it may not be possible for operators to maintain the services they have provided up until now.
I can, therefore, announce that a further £56 million in financial support in the form of recovery funding has been made available for the light rail sector. Funding operators and local authorities from 20 July 2021 until the end of this financial year, this will succeed the Light Rail Restart Revenue Grant, which ends on 19 July 2021.
This funding will support operators in adapting their commercial offerings to ensure the longer-term viability and self-sustainability of the sector and is intended to be the final tranche of COVID-19-related support.