Greater Manchester will enjoy the lion’s share of a new government transport grant being distributed to tram and light rail operators in Northern England.
The region will receive just under half of the overall £33m emergency funding pot – which has been created to support operators suffering reduced revenues as passenger numbers remain low in the national lockdown.
The Department for Transport (DfT) said the fund would help “ensure these vital services remain viable for the future as the country prepares to ease lockdown restrictions and people start travelling more frequently”.
Greater Manchester will receive more than £16 million from the grant – spread out over 11 weeks.
Money will also go to transport networks in Tyne & Wear (£8m); Sheffield (£2.4m); Nottingham (£4.1m); West Midlands (£1.7m); and Blackpool (£325,000).
Chief Secretary to the Treasury Steve Barclay said: “At the start of this pandemic, we promised to do everything we could to support people and businesses. That includes making sure our country’s vital infrastructure is running for people who rely on it – such as key workers and those travelling to schools.
“[This] funding means thousands of people across the north of England and the Midlands can continue to travel on public transport when they need to, and that trams will be ready for when the country comes out of lockdown.”
Over 119 million journeys were taken by light rail or tram each year on systems outside of London prior to COVID-19.
However, passenger numbers have plummeted over the past year due to Stay At Home orders.
Back in April 2020, Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham revealed that the region’s Metrolink transport system was at risk of being “mothballed” due to low usage.
Emergency grants ultimately helped to keep the network running – and almost £200m in emergency funding has now been issued to tram/light rail systems since the start of the pandemic.
Featured image: David Dixon / Geograph