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So who are APPLRG ?

APPLRG stands for All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group. 

 The All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group is an independent forum for MPs and Peers from all political parties and Industry to come together and raise awareness of matters concerning Light Rail & Tramways best practice and sustainable development.

The All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group holds regular inquiry sessions in order to  to provide a holistic package of policy proposals that will drive forward best practice, leading to affordable light rail & tramways with resultant physical and economic regeneration, carbon reduction, improved air quality, congestion relief, affordable transport. to the UK and its' citizens.

Secretariat support is provided by James Harkins FCILT MTPS, Light Rail (UK) and various supporting organisations and individuals.

If you wish to sponsor an event please contact the Secretariat

Light Rail (UK) Ltd provides consultancy to Government and Local Authorities to enhance their growing awareness of the advantages of Light Rail and Tram systems

Why Light Rail

What is Light Rail & Trams today?

For public transport to become a force in dealing with urban congestion, carbon reduction,  improving air quality and to be an attractive alternative to the car, it must be built quickly and operate affordably.

Some benefits

•Light rail systems have proven track record
•Growing the public transport market
•Creating modal shift in some cases 32%
•Supporting regeneration , renewal and inward regeneration
•Assisting in the creation off a new urban framework
•An extremely green mode of transport
•Will drastically reduce the nations carbon footprint
•Can be used to re-engineer city districts

Light Rail is a mode of transport in which uses vehicles which are more versatile than conventional “heavy rail” trains. A light rail vehicle can negotiate sharper curves than a conventional train (both vertical and horizontal), can negotiate steeper gradients and can stop much faster.Thus the systems available provide the ability to follow the curves and gradients of the urban environment which a conventional train cannot do. Light Rail systems offer an attractive and effective system, reducing congestion and pollution by offering motorists an alternative to car use, helping to create pollution-free zones in cities (clear zones). It moves large passenger flows in a more cost-effective way than buses, but at a fraction of the cost of a full urban railway.

Light rail vehicles which are adapted to street running (either on-street or alongside the street on reserved track) are called TRAMS.

The Tyne & Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway in London are examples of fully segregated light rail systems in the UK.

However most light rail systems feature mixed running including non-segregated running and are referred to as tramways.

Examples of tramways in the UK are:

Croydon Tramlink, Manchester Metrolink, Midland Metro, Nottingham Express Transit, Sheffield Supertram, Leeds Supertram, Docklands Light Railway

In addition there is an existing tramway between Blackpool & Fleetwood which operates in the traditional old British manner using “heritage or historic” double-deck trams etc. track sharing with modern Light Rail Vehicles (LRV)


When Should Light Rail be Used?

Light rail is mainly appropriate in urban or inter-urban systems in medium-sized cities where full metro systems are inappropriate. In the largest cities underground/metro systems tend to be the mainstay of public transport but such cities might use a light rail solution to supplement the metro system.

Examples are:

Paris: The Metro provides radial public transport where flows are heavy and tramways are being built to replace buses on orbital routes.

Central London: The stations on the London Underground system are further apart than on the Paris Metro and a tramway is being proposed on a north-south axis to provide access to intermediate points and to help relieve the Underground.

However smaller towns may also have corridors appropriate to a tramway and even where the size of a town would not be considered sufficient to support a tramway there may be over riding conditions which might make a tramway feasible. These can range from the status of a town, such as Bath, as a tourist attraction or to the availability of disused railway routes which might reduce the cost of provision.

Why are Trams so successful?

Light Rail vehicles can provide the ambience of a train, but can run in places where a train cannot. They are thus able to attract motorists out of cars where a bus would not be successful. Even when running on former rail alignments, light rail vehicles can offer a better service because they can offer a more frequent service. They can stop at more places because the stops are much easier and cheaper to construct than railway stations. On roads they can offer attractive journey times in comparisons with cars and buses by taking advantage of segregated alignments and the latest traffic engineering techniques to avoid road congestion .

A frequent light rail service provides security in city streets throughout the day, both on and off the vehicle. Low-floors together with a spacious layout provide easy access to mainstream public transport for everyone including parents with buggies and disabled people using wheelchairs.

Trams are  generally electric vehicles which produce no pollution at the point of service delivery, may use locally produced "green" electricity and the visible path makes sharing precincts with pedestrians a safe option. Thus pedestrian precincts with trams can provide access to city centre areas where buses and cars would be obtrusive.

A significant part of the success of any system is the demonstration that changing  peoples life styles away  from the car can be of considerable benefit to them and their surroundings.


The Design of Tramway Systems

Design of a tramway system should start with a consideration of the public transport needs of the area under consideration. One needs to know the origins and destinations of commuters, shoppers, leisure travelers and tourists etc.

If the flows of passengers are not sufficient to justify metro or heavy rail construction then we can proceed further.

The next step is to consider whether it is possible to build a tramway to serve the above needs. The versatility of light rail is very important here.

Tramways can run on the following alignments:

•          On former rail routes

•          On new Greenfield or Brownfield routes

•          Along the highway mixed with other traffic, or mixed with buses

•          Along the highway on dedicated lanes

•          Alongside the highway

•          On the central reservation of a dual carriageway

•          On elevated sections

•          In tunnel

•          In pedestrianised areas

•          On main-line railways (with special arrangements)

The optimum combination of these possibilities needs to be selected bearing in mind the following:

•          The need to adequately serve origins and destinations of passengers

•          The need to minimise construction costs

•          The need to achieve fast transit times

It has to be remembered that there is a tendency for City & Town Planners, Politicians etc., to use this opportunity to at times re-engineer the City or Town which is fine and good provided that the re-engineering costs, landscaping etc., are treated separately and not hidden in the Tramway building costs. A good example of this is Edinburgh Tram were around £170M has be allocated against the tramway from moving the utilities to flowers for Princess Street. The utilities do not need to be moved, stop the trams and give access.


Heritage & Historic Solutions


In some cities, notably in the USA and Canada, heritage tramways have been built mainly to accommodate tourists, but these have been successful in becoming used for normal public transport.

Many people will be familiar with the concept of a working museum and one such museum in the UK is the Crich Tramway Village. Now take that concept of a vintage tramcar ride and put it back in its real world of urban streets and the Heritage Tramway line is the result. Examples are available from many countries. Portland Oregon & Kenosha for example have gone to the trouble to get modern built old looking trams to provide tourist service on additional tracks. The best example will always be New Orleans where the heritage style modern built air conditioned tram is set to return to re-invigorate the city’s main street in-turn removing pollution from buses and cars. The recent major extension in San Francisco has achieved passenger loads in excess of capacity showing the tremendous payback potential.

The newer concept of heritage operation by itself can be seen in a growing number of towns and cities worldwide. In Britain the Birkenhead operation is very much a central part of the serious efforts to improve the whole central area slowly now proceeding. See Wirral Waters

The examples most important to many places come from the USA which has shown that the heritage trolley coupled with traffic management can win over the motor lobby. McKinney Avenue in Dallas, Memphis TN, Lowell MA and Seattle WA plus several more show the starter lines pushing for extensions.  And in Arnhem in the Netherlands, it is proposed to extend the tramway at the open-air museum along a new radial route into the city centre!

Intermediate Rail - TramTrain

In some situations, where conventional tramway systems are not appropriate, intermediate rail can be considered. Intermediate rail vehicles are diesel trains which run on main line railways but have some of the characteristics of light rail vehicles. Typically they would have (in the UK) a floor height of 950 mm to give level access on standard Railtrack platforms, magnetic track brakes and balancing.

This would enable them to run on non-segregated alignments providing better access in places where the railway route is not near to the destination of passengers and where it would be difficult or prohibitively expensive to construct a conventional railway. Examples in the UK might be:

•          Cardiff, to serve the Cardiff Bay development

•          Barnsley–Doncaster. To recreate a former rail service where the existing alignment has been built on and where a non-segregated section could serve new commercial sites

•Watford to St Albans. A good example of a stand alone heavy rail line converted to Train Tram


Light rail in the time of austerity

Examining findings from the UK’s Parliamentary Light Rail Inquiry, lower-cost rail light options should be the obvious solution to a myriad of social and economic issues, argues Jim Harkins.

The funding climate for major urban public transportation projects looks bleak. Great Britain’s major political parties are bidding to be the biggest cutters after the UK General Election later this year and with Health, defence and education being safeguarded – in the short-term at least – transport is a soft option for cuts, and new tramway systems in particular are seen as a luxury.

At last year’s Parliamentary light rail inquiry, Light Rail and City Regions: a 21st Century Mode of Transport, several witnesses were asked why new light rail developments in Britain cost at least twice as much as similar schemes on the continent. With a target cost in France of EUR14m/km, in Germany under EUR10m/km, why is it that the proposed lines two and three in Nottingham are budgeted at GBP28m/km? As the Americans say: do the math.

The environmental and traffic arguments have not lessened. The EU Air Quality Directive is due to be enforced in Britain in 2012, estimated fine of circa £300 million, and there is no chance of the date being put back – again. Every city in Britain continues to fail to meet the healthy air standard of the Directive. Last year, the Irish Government was fined EUR 130M for failure to satisfy the EU Clean Water Directive and the British Government is facing a series of unlimited fines for its failure to successfully address not just CO2 levels, but also the unacceptably high quantities of PM10 and NO2 pollution.

Most of this air pollution comes from motor traffic and put very simplistically, the money paid out through these impending fines could build a lot of new starter tramways in many small cities & towns

Light rail is now well-proven to attract a modal shift away from car trips, which buses do not, and themselves exacerbate the pollution issue. Perhaps the Cambridgeshire Guided Busway will prove everyone wrong, except it is now over a year plus late in opening – and maybe two years late by the time the full route length is open – and the cost has more than doubled from the initial project estimates and stand comparison with heavy rail & metro costs per Km.

An electric tramway, built using proven off-the-shelf components, could have been built for less. Again a couple of witnesses at the Light Rail Inquiry did offer lower cost ways in which tramways could be provided.

Recently I had the chance to looking at one of these options – the City Class tram. Previously I had seen it running in Birkenhead and Blackpool and now completely rebuilt, it stands fair comparison with any of the major car builders and in particular the new streamlined cab is very sleek. I also had a chance to try the touchscreen control system. As just one lower-cost option I would recommend anyone to see it in the "flesh".

Every city and large town in Britain can easily justify a tramway on the basis of the congestion and pollution reductions alone. Using the affordable technologies developed by British companies – also

including the innovative hydrogen-powered, fully carbon-neutral Ultra Light Rail project form Cheltenham and Gloucester examined in TAUT860, August 2009 – can make this achievable.

Bus operators are themselves facing a difficult time. Peak oil is now here, diesel will get more expensive, the alternatives of bio-fuels are not yet mainstream enough and will be more expensive while the technologies are refined further.

Bus drivers are also difficult to recruit and retain. “Tramification” is one way in which bus operators can address both the energy and staff issues although looming employment recession may change this benefit, while at the same time opening up a new market for local public transport; short car trips not attracted by a modal shift to buses.

The UK Government forecasts growing urban car traffic and attracting some of these drivers to new tram lines will reverse over 50 years of continuous bus patronage decline. Starting with a low-cost single line would be a safe option. This then gives a basis for adding further lines and expanding systems as funds become available, new settlements and industrial and retail areas spring up and technologies become more affordable.

Sources: Various


Overview                                                                                                                                                                           August 2010

1. The All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group Code of Conduct is an agreement between the officers, members, and the group’s secretariat on the rules under which APPLRG operates and is administered. The document is signed by officers and representatives of secretariat bodies and a copy is made publicly available on the APPLRG website. The intention of the code is to supplement the statutory rules set by the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards in order to ensure the group’s activities are fully transparent and accountable. This document, Code of Conduct is not all embracing and is intended only as a gentle guide.


2. The All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group is an all party parliamentary subject group on the approved list of parliamentary groups, and abides by the rules and guidelines as laid down in the official booklet of all party groups compiled by the Office of the Parliamentary Commissioner for Standards.

3. The APPLRG exists in order to provide a forum for parliamentarians to address issues facing development and urban renewal in the UK.

4. The APPLRG is open to members of all parties from both Houses.

5. The group must have a minimum parliamentary membership of at least 20 ‘qualifying’ members at any one time, 10 of which must be from the party of Government, and 10 from other parties. The parliamentary membership does not have an upper limit. No membership subscription fee is charged of parliamentary members of the group.

6. The agenda of APPLRG is set by the group’s officers. Officers are elected annually at the AGM, which is open to all parliamentarians. Only parliamentarians have voting rights at the AGM.

7. The officers of APPLRG have executive authority over the group:

a. The Chair holds overall responsibility for group.

b. Vice Chairs support the Chair in all official functions of the group.

c. Members of the House of Lords may be members and hold office


        8. The APPLRG is administered by an appointed secretariat, responsible for executing the programme and activities of the group agreed by the group’s officers on a three year basis.

        9. The secretariat and administrative services are provided by the Mr James Harkins FCILT, Light Rail (UK), appointed AGM June 2010.

10. The Secretariat (Light Rail (UK) ) will contribute funds either direct or in kind, raise funds and undertakes secretariat and other administrative services including the provision of a clerk for the group; project and event management; administering the group’s website; and group mailings.


       12. The Secretariat does not set the group’s agenda or programme. This is set by the group’s officers but will be advised by the Secretariat who will keep members abreast of events, best practice etc., within the industry at home and abroad

       13. The group’s programme reflects the priorities within the areas of Light Rail & Trams development at home and abroad, and the APPLRG is intended to provide a forum for Parliamentarians and means of disseminating impartial information to Parliament.

       14. The officers take responsibility for ensuring that the group follows an impartial and non-partisan programme that considers      all aspects of, and reflects the latest thinking within the areas of Light Rail & Tramways and to raise the profile of the mode accordingly

Other organisations

       15. Where possible and appropriate, other relevant organisations are invited to participate in group meetings and resources.

             a. Internal to Westminster, APPLRG meetings and resources are open to other

    Parliamentary bodies such as committee and parliamentary staff, the House of Commons and Lords Libraries, and Parliamentary research staff.

            b. External to Westminster, representatives from stakeholder group’s, government departments, relevant charity and voluntary sector agencies, and commercial trading companies are invited to attend meetings at which their contribution is of relevance to the subject area.

            i. As APPLRG is intended as a forum for open exchange and discussion amongst Parliamentarians, unless explicitly stated otherwise, meetings are understood to be held under Chatham House Rule. Notes & Presentations may be taken and released into the public domain less any parts that may compromise any member contrary to the spirit of Chatham House Rules

            ii. The Chairman will indicate at the start of the meeting whether Chatham House Rules apply or not and at any time during the meeting if appropriate

            iii. In order to comply with security and room booking regulations of the Palace of Westminster, attendance at meetings must  be by invitation of the Group.

            iv. Open presentations by power point and an overview will be available on the for further discussion and eventually for archiving by permission of the Chairman or Officers.


16. This code of conduct is endorsed by the officers, members of the APPLRG, and the group’s secretariat, representing an agreement on how the group operates and is administered.

17. Copies of the code are signed individually by the group’s officers and members of secretariat bodies, and are available for inspection upon demand. A copy of the text of the code of governance is also made available on the group’s website.

18. This is the public copy of the APPLRG Code of Conduct. Individual signed copies are held centrally by the group and are available for viewing upon request.

 The world-famous Chatham House Rule may be invoked at meetings to encourage openness and the sharing of information.

 The Chatham House Rule reads as follows:

"When a meeting, or part thereof, is held under the Chatham House Rule, participants are free to use the information received, but neither the identity nor the affiliation of the speaker(s), nor that of any other participant, may be revealed".


The Chatham House Rule originated at Chatham House with the aim of providing anonymity to speakers and to encourage openness and the sharing of information. It is now used throughout the world as an aid to free discussion. Meetings do not have to take place at Chatham House, or be organized by Chatham House, to be held under the Rule.

Meetings, events and discussions held at Chatham House are normally conducted 'on the record' with the Rule occasionally invoked at the speaker's request. In cases where the Rule is not considered sufficiently strict, an event may be held 'off the record'.


When was the Rule devised?
A. In 1927 and refined in 1992 and 2002.

Q. Should one refer to the Chatham House Rule or the Chatham House Rules?
A. There is only one Rule.

Q. What are the benefits of using the Rule?
A. It allows people to speak as individuals, and to express views that may not be those of their organizations, and therefore it encourages free discussion. People usually feel more relaxed if they don't have to worry about their reputation or the implications if they are publicly quoted.

Q. How is the Rule enforced?
A. Chatham House can take disciplinary action against one of its members who breaks the Rule. Not all organizations that use the Rule have sanctions. The Rule then depends for its success on being seen as morally binding.

Q. Who uses the Rule these days?
A. It is widely used by local government and commercial organizations as well as research organizations.

Q. Can participants in a meeting be named as long as what is said is not attributed?
A. It is important to think about the spirit of the Rule. For example, sometimes speakers need to be named when publicizing the meeting. The Rule is more about the dissemination of the information after the event - nothing should be done to identify, either explicitly or implicitly, who said what.

Q. Can you say within a report what you yourself said at a meeting under the Chatham House Rule?
A. Yes if you wish to do so.

Q. Can a list of attendees at the meeting be published?
A. No - the list of attendees should not be circulated beyond those participating in the meeting.

Q. Can I 'tweet' whilst at an event under the Chatham House Rule?
A. The Rule can be used effectively on social media sites such as Twitter as as long as the person tweeting or messaging reports only what was said at an event and does not identify - directly or indirectly - the speaker or another participant. This consideration should always guide the way in which event information is disseminated - online as well as offline.


What are Lobbyists for?

Firstly, never call them Lobbyists; they prefer the term “Public Affairs Professionals”. It became unfashionable to be called a Lobbyist after the Neil Hamilton and Derek Draper scandals. Many people like to think that a Parliament of MPs is elected and then they just get on with the job of representing their constituents until the next election comes around. In reality, after a Member walks into the Palace for the first time with that status, they are swamped with pleas for assistance from countless individuals, companies, NGOs, charities, associations and other pressure groups.

In this environment, the Lobbyist thrives. There is an almost unlimited number of people trying to get a message to MPs in support of their campaign and the Lobbyist provides an important service to his or her client but also to you and your Member. To the client, the Lobbyist provides insight into, and experience of, the political system and its procedures and manages expectations about what is achievable in order to pursue the clients’ goals efficiently and effectively. To you and your Member, the Lobbyist should represent an opportunity to achieve more than would otherwise be possible in your work and as a filtering mechanism to protect you from the more wild-eyed interest groups.

How can a Lobbyist help you do more?

By definition, a Lobbyist is trying to get your Member to do something. There was a time where paying an MP would do the trick – if you chose the right MP and the right sum. But things have moved on and one thing you must always do is ensure you keep a record of anything a Lobbyist ever gives you.

As a member of staff, you have to register certain employment and gifts with a value of £310 or over per calendar year. The same applies to Members, although the figure for them is £620 or over, and All Party Groups must register certain gifts and payments with a value over £1,000. All such register-able interests must be registered within 28 days of receipt. If you are unsure about anything on this score, immediately contact Philippa Wainwright at the office of the Commissioner for Standards on x0401. As a rule of thumb, never do anything for a Lobbyist who contributed to an event - or bought you a Christmas present or something – which you wouldn't’t do for a Lobbyist who hadn't’t.

So, bearing in mind you will have to register interests as they arise, what can a Lobbyist do for you? You have to relate this to the interests and priorities of your Member. For example, if your member has an interest in the cutlery industry, there will no doubt be a Lobbyist retained by one or a number of cutlery companies, who could provide you with briefings, help you draft ministerial questions, draft speeches or even take over the administration of an All Party Parliamentary Group on Cutlery.

Don’t ever be embarrassed about asking for assistance from a Lobbyist. If a Lobbyist approaches you requesting that your Member makes a contribution to a debate on the Cutlery Bill, by all means ask them to produce some notes, a briefing or even a first draft of a speech. 

Whatever you do with a Lobbyist, retain ownership

All Party Parliamentary Groups (APPGs) are enormously time-consuming to manage and if you can get a Lobbyist to do this on your behalf, then take the opportunity. However, there is a word of warning. At all times, you must remain in control of the work of an APPG. It is, after all, there to service the Members and Peers who have joined the group, not to service a Lobbyist or their client.

Let me give you an example. Say the APPG on Cutlery, set up and run by you for a year, is becoming too time consuming. You might jump at the chance to pass this workload to the very willing Lobbyist, Johnson, Snapcrup & Co. However, J,S&C’s client could be the foremost manufacturer of three-prong forks and wish to use the influence with the APPG Cutlery to pursue a banning of four-prong forks. So if you are passing such a task onto a Lobbyist, retain control of the agenda, be aware of their client’s aims and always have the last word on material that goes out on behalf of the APPG. It can be helpful to have links with another Lobbyist with a similarly interested client so that you can get support elsewhere if you need it - the J,S&Cs of this world should need you more than you need them.

What might a Lobbyist want to give you?

Once again, whatever a Lobbyist gives you, you must make a note and estimate its value – always overestimate rather than underestimate if you are unsure. But what are we talking about? The main thing you will be offered will be dinner. It is not immoral for a Lobbyist to buy you a lunch or dinner, during the course of which you discuss work. But once again be cautious that you never say anything over dinner that you wouldn't’t say without a dinner (or a bottle of wine). It is also possible that you might be sent a pen set or a desk jotter or a tie – often branded with a corporate logo – by way of thanks after a particular campaign goal has been achieved. A Lobbyist will often insist on buying drinks if you are out together; part of the expense account culture. But just remember: nothing you do should be because you have received a gift. If you will feel obliged after having received a gift, then politely decline. If in any doubt at all, call Philippa Wainwright at the office of the Commissioner for Standards.

The last thing a Lobbyist might offer you

There is one last thing a Lobbyist might offer you – and that is a job. Highflying Lobbyists earn more than MPs and it is not unusual for MPs’ staff to go into that field. Treat Lobbyists as you would any potential future employer – be polite, professional and effective. The lack of room for career progression for MPs staff means that even if you are happy now, there might come a time when you will want to move on and Lobbying could be the field where you next emerge.

CD/December 2008
AH/February 2004

For another view on this issue have a look at Working with lobbyists – A view from the Dark Side. Written in April 2007 by a former researcher now working as a public affairs professional.

Why choose Light Rail?

What is Light Rail & Trams today?

For public transport to become a force in dealing with urban congestion, carbon reduction, improving air quality and to be an attractive alternative to the car, it must be built quickly and operate affordably.

Some benefits:

  • Light rail systems have proven track record
  • Growing the public transport market
  • Creating modal shift in some cases 32%
  • Supporting regeneration , renewal and inward regeneration
  • Assisting in the creation off a new urban framework
  • An extremely green mode of transport
  • Will drastically reduce the nations carbon footprint
  • Can be used to re-engineer city districts
Whats going on?

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