Trans04-05Press Notice07

Integrated Transport: the Future of Light Rail and Modern Trams in Britain

Integrated Transport: the Future of Light Rail and Modern Trams in Britain

Since 1990, five new light rail systems have been opened. Passenger journeys on light rail increased by 4.9% in 2003-04 in comparison with the year before, a higher increase than bus or rail. Many local authorities have planned or are planning light rail systems or extensions to their existing systems.

Yet despite this apparent success support for light rail appears to be decreasing. A recent National Audit Office Report found that although light rail had improved the quality and choice of public transport it had not brought all the benefits expected; light rail systems were not fully integrated with other forms of public transport, they had had a limited effect on congestion, pollution and road accidents and their effects on regeneration and social exclusion were unclear.

As the NAO reported, the forecast costs of schemes currently under development have increased. The Department for Transport has approved a new scheme in  Merseyside and an extension to the Midland Metro but the Secretary of State for Transport recently refused to fund fully extensions to the Manchester Metrolink. There are indications that the DfT now considers that investment in bus routes might be preferable to investment in light rail.

The Transport Committee has accordingly decided to inquire into light rail, as part of an over arching inquiry into Integrated Transport. The inquiry will look at:

The costs and benefits of light rail

What light rail systems need to be successful

How effectively is light rail used as part of an integrated transport system

Barriers to the development of light rail

The effect of different financing arrangements (public/private) on the overall cost  of light rail systems

The practicality of alternatives to light rail, such as increased investment in buses

Interested parties are invited to submit written memoranda to the Committee before Friday 25 February 2005.  If you wish to request that your memorandum be treated in confidence, please contact the Committee Clerk in advance.

Memoranda should be a maximum of 6 A4 pages in length.

Please submit a single hard copy of your memorandum by post to the above address, and an electronic version (in ASCII, Word or Word Perfect format) preferably by e-mail to or alternatively on a disk with the hard copy.  If you are unable to submit an electronic version of your memorandum, please take particular care to ensure that your submission is legible.

All submissions should be final and complete; the Committee does not accept draft memoranda or subsequent amendments.  Memoranda submitted to the Committee should be kept confidential until published by the Committee.

Notes for Editors

Manchester Metrolink opened in April 1992

Sheffield Supertram in 1994Midland Metro in 1999, Croydon Tram link in 2000 and Nottingham NET in 2004.

National rail passenger journeys increased by 3.9%, and bus patronage increased by 3% in 203-04.

If you would prefer future press notices to be sent via email rather than post please email your address to by post to the Committee Office House of Commons 7 Millbank London SW1P 3JA.

Press Notice  07/2004-05  26 January 2005

Eve Samson, Clerk of the Committee