The 9th UK Light Rail Conference at Nottingham
This week, Nottingham hosted the 9th Annual Light Rail Conference at Nottingham’s Conference Centre.
Conferences are a really important income generator for the city and visitor economy, generating overnight stays in city hotels and allowing insight into an area’s key competitive advantages, particularly in this case Nottingham’s growing tram network.
I was therefore delighted to be invited to the opening plenary to discuss funding for local transport schemes alongside Lilian Greenwood MP and Core Cities representatives from Nottingham, Birmingham and Manchester. The Event was hosted by Roger Harrison, chairman of Tramlink Nottingham Ltd.
With less than a year to go to elections, funding transport schemes, particularly in the context of less confidence in private finance initiatives and lack of public willingness to accept congestion charges, is very timely.
I am convinced that Light Rail is key of any Core City Transport Infrastructure and Notingham should be congratulated for its vision and commitment to see the Tram through.
In the context of the HS2 it is also likely to be a key component, but not the only component of getting passengers to the East Midlands Rail Hub. In my view, where appropriate light rail provide excellent return on investment and secure long term passenger revenues.
I therefore hope that across Leicestershire, Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire, we fully explore the opportunities for cross rail connectivity in the context of HS2 and specifically innovative funding strategies. Perhaps a ‘cities deal’ similar to the Manchester ’Earn Back’ Deal. Might provide an appropriate mechanism but it is important to remember that interconnectivity is important not only in cities, but the other communities through Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire as well.