‘Business as usual’ for light rail post-Brexit

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Sector leaders have reported ‘business as usual’ for UK light rail following the country’s exit from the EU and the end of the transition period on December 31.

With most of the organisations responsible for setting international standards independent of EU institutions, both UKTram and the Light Rail Safety and Standards Board say the sector has so far been largely unaffected by Brexit.

Carl Williams, LRSSB Chief Executive, explained: “We’ve been careful to study all the implications of Brexit on ongoing efforts to further enhance light rail’s already excellent safety record, and we’ll continue to do so in the months ahead with input from professionals across the sector.

“However, the fundamental framework of our international partnerships, and the shared standards that underpin them, remain unchanged.

“The primary standards we work to sit outside, and independent of, the EU, and we’ll continue close collaboration with partners across the world to keep improving safety and to help the sector to comply with recognised international standards.”

Although Brexit may have some impact on paperwork in the future, the UK’s standards body, BSI – which the LRSSB joined in 2019 – says 85% of its 37,000 British Standards are either based on international guidelines or are ‘home-grown’. Both BSI and the Rail Safety and Standards Board will continue to represent UK heavy and light rail stakeholders through membership of all the relevant international bodies.

Across the wider sector, UKTram members have also seen a minimal impact on their operations post-Brexit.

James Hammett, the organisation’s Managing Director, commented: “While some operators have reported delays on parts deliveries, this has generally been attributed to the coronavirus pandemic rather than Brexit.

“It’s still early days, but so far we’ve seen few changes to day-to-day operations, and our own projects are primarily UK funded so are also unaffected.”

Both UKTram and the LRSSB have pledged to continue studying the details of the new European trade agreement while providing an effective voice for UK light rail at a national, European and international level.

“The UK will also continue to play a major role in other non-EU organisations which provide a platform for countries to develop industry standards, and we will, of course, keep the UK light rail sector updated on any changes,” Mr Williams said.

Mr Hammett added: “This is an ongoing process, and it may be some time before the full impact of Brexit is known, but we’ll continue to listen to our members and raise any concerns they may have with the Department for Transport.”