What Future for Light Rail in the UK after Ten Year Transport Plan Targets are Scrapped?

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

land use - planning, economics - capital costs, place - urban, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail


Urban transportation policy, Urban transit, United Kingdom, Transportation planning, Long range planning, Light rail transit, Great Britain, Funding, Financing, Case studies, Capital costs


Light rail schemes were key components of plans to improve accessibility and personal mobility in conurbations as part of the UK Government's Integrated Transport Policy and its 2000 Ten Year Transport Plan. However by 2004 light rail's future in Britain looked bleak as sharp increases in capital costs, following the demise of Railtrack and the loss of private sector confidence, led Government to withdraw its part funding of light rail schemes in Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and Portsmouth. This paper examines recent changes in Government urban transport policy; why the Ten Year Transport Plan 2000 target of doubling light rail journeys and supporting the opening of 25 new light rail lines was scrapped after just 2 years; the role played by the 2004 National Audit Office Report in enabling the Government to marginalise light rail outside London; ways of reducing light rail's capital costs, securing new funding sources and lessening dependence on Government finance; and why part funding of extensions to Greater Manchester's successful Metrolink light rail system has been re-instated.


Transport Policy Home Page: http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/journal/0967070X