On 23 November, Rail Forum held the Light Rail event. The half-day gathering brought together rolling stock and infrastructure professionals. Transport Design International and Eversholt Rail showcased their award-winning vehicle, Revolution VLR. Revolution VLR was the headline sponsor for the event.

This exclusive event, open only to Rail Forum members, facilitated collaboration among industry experts. With 10 light rail operating systems across the UK and the presence of key industry professionals, the Light Rail event offered delegates a diverse range of perspectives on light rail innovation, new projects, and opportunities both in the UK and overseas. The event drew a significant turnout, featuring two sessions where key speakers actively shared trends and growth in this sector. Each session included panel discussions engaging speakers and attendees.

Cat Appleby, Member and Engagement Director at Rail Forum, shares her thoughts about the event,

We are delighted with the outcome of our recent Light Rail event.  With a curated speaker lineup covering policy, context, project, opportunities and innovation, delegates benefited from top class speakers and excellent networking. Indeed, early feedback suggests more than a few new introductions and opportunities have been derived from it!

About the sessions

Session 1 – In the first session of the event, speakers like James Hammett from UK Tram, Matt Johnston from Mainspring, Nicola Small from Coventry City Council, and Mike Smith and Simon Coulthard from Network Rail presented insights on the UK and international landscape. The session also covered opportunities in light rail and an update on Coventry City Council’s Very Light Rail project by Nicola Small.

Session 2 – The second half of the event took a closer look at project planning and delivery, with a focus on the project ‘West Yorkshire Combined Authority.’ The session also highlighted new innovations following the Croydon tram incident and advancements from Revolution VLR. The panel of speakers featured Luke Albanese from West Yorkshire Combined Authority, Cath Leech from Anturas, Nick Goodhand from DB ESG, Tim Burleigh from Eversholt Rail, and Nick Mallison from BCIMO.

Key Highlights of the event

Here are some key takeaways from the event:

  • Vertical integration of track and train supports quick decision-making in the light rail environment.
  • The Coventry City Council project’s next stage includes installing an 800m track in the city center for extended trials of the innovative slab track. We are very keen to support the local supply chain.
  • Overseas markets present significant opportunities.
  • We need to work together to develop customer confidence in light rail services and opportunities.
  • In the light rail market, an essential approach involves a full systems approach.
  • Identifying numerous UK opportunities for Very Light Rail (VLR), we must reopen urban lines to enhance overall rail connectivity.

Quoting Dave Ellis, Engagement Manager at Rail Forum, concludes the event as,

It was so good to see and hear just how much value Rail Forum members gained from attending our recent Light Rail event. Listening to speakers outline the genuine opportunities that exist in this market and how there is a need for everyone to work together to realise the opportunities that exist, was an overarching theme. Also, in relation, hearing the benefits that many member organisations can actually bring to the light rail industry was a real highlight and we look forward to hearing how these develop going forward.