UK and Ireland light railway operators

A (hopefully) comprehensive listing

Last update 6 August 2021

Additional information is always gratefully received, whether entirely new records (particularly historical records) or information to fill in gaps or correct errors, via the contact link under the Miscellaneous entry in the navigation bar above. Thank you.

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This page aims to bring together in one place all UK and Irish light rail system operator activity

Terms used

System Identifying system name. Titles in bold, thus, are current and those with a strike through, thus, are no longer valid
Preceded by Links to preceding operator(s) to simplify tracing operator history
Run by The 'front end' limited company (legal entity) running the contract. Dates are given in parentheses where this changed during the contract life. Owing to the complexities of modern light rail schemes where consortia are often contracted to design, build, operate and maintain, no attempt has been made to show any breakdown of shareholders nor any changes to consortia members. In many cases, the system owner is different to the operator; this list does not include ownership details, just operators
Dates The dates for which the particular contract ran. Entries are listed in order of start date. Dates indicate when a contract started or, for the first operator, when the system opened to the public. The UK Department for Transport announced on 24 April 2020 a 12-week funding package back-dated to mid-March and then progressively extended to April 2022, applicable to operators marked with a pilcrow (¶), to deal with the issues surrounding a public health epidemic. Those marked with a section sign (§) followed suit in July 2020 with the Scottish government, lasting to the end of September 2020 and thence progressively extended to 30 September 2021
Superseded by Links to successor operator(s) to simplify tracing operator development
Notes Any other useful or interesting information

Operator detail

System Blackpool Trams
Run by Blackpool Electric Tramway Company (29 September 1885 to 1892) Blackpool Corporation/Blackpool Borough Council (1892 to 20 March 1986) Blackpool Transport Services Ltd (21 March 1986 to date)
Dates 29 September 1885 to date
Notes All operators are effectively the same, the system has never been tendered
System Glasgow Subway
Run by Glasgow District Subway (14 December 1896 to 1923) Glasgow Corporation (1923 to 1972) Greater Glasgow Passenger Transport Executive (1972 to 1980s) Strathclyde Passenger Transport (1980s to 31 March 2006) Strathclyde Partnership for Transport (from 1 April 2006 to date)
Dates 14 December 1896 to date §
Notes All operators are effectively the same, the system has never been tendered
System Tyne & Wear Metro
Run by Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Executive [local authorities]
Dates 11 August 1980 to 31 March 2010
Superseded by DB Regio Tyne And Wear Ltd
System Docklands Light Railway
Run by London Regional Transport (31 August 1987 to 1992) London Dockland Development Corporation (1992 to April 1997)
Dates 31 August 1987 to April 1997
Superseded by Serco Docklands Ltd
System Manchester Metrolink
Run by Greater Manchester Metro Ltd
Dates 6 April 1992 to 25 May 1997
Superseded by Altram (Manchester) Ltd
System Sheffield Supertram
Run by South Yorkshire Supertram Ltd
Dates 21 March 1994 to 18 December 1997
Superseded by South Yorkshire Supertram Ltd
System Docklands Light Railway
Preceded by London Dockland Development Corporation
Run by Serco Docklands Ltd
Dates April 1997 to April 2004 (original contract) April 2004 to 30 April 2006 (contract extension)
Superseded by Serco Docklands Ltd
System Manchester Metrolink
Preceded by Greater Manchester Metro Ltd
Run by Altram (Manchester) Ltd [Serco]
Dates 26 May 1997 to 14 July 2007
Superseded by Stagecoach Metrolink Ltd
System Sheffield Supertram
Preceded by South Yorkshire Supertram Ltd
Run by South Yorkshire Supertram Ltd trading as Stagecoach Supertram
Dates 19 December 1997 to 2024
Notes The South Yorkshire Supertram company was sold to the successful bidder as a going concern, rather than the winner setting up a separate legal entity Expected to revert to SYPTE control 2024-2029
System Midland Metro
Run by Altram LRT Ltd [National Express]
Dates 30 May 1999 to 23 June 2018
Superseded by Midland Metro Ltd
System Croydon Tramlink
Run by Tram Operations Ltd [FirstGroup]
Dates 23 May 2000 to 2095? (original contract let in 1996 was for 99 years). However, a February 2021 TfL board report states that Tram Operations Ltd has a 30-year contract
System Nottingham Express Transit
Run by Arrow Light Rail Ltd
Dates 9 March 2004 to 15 December 2011
Superseded by Nottingham Trams Ltd
Notes Original contract cut short on account of system expansion
System Luas
Run by Veolia Transport Ireland Ltd (to 24 April 2006) Veolia Transport Dublin Light Rail Ltd (25 April 2006 to 4 March 2007) Transdev Dublin Light Rail Ltd (5 March 2007 to 31 November 2019)
Dates 30 June 2004 to 2009 (original contract) 2009 to 28 September 2014 (new contract award) 29 September 2014 to 31 November 2019 (contract extension)
Superseded by Transdev Dublin Light Rail Ltd
System Docklands Light Railway
Preceded by Serco Docklands Ltd
Run by Serco Docklands Ltd
Dates 1 May 2006 to April 2013 (original contract) April 2013 to September 2014 (contract extension) September 2014 to 6 December 2014 (contract extension)
Superseded by Keolis Amey Docklands Ltd
System Manchester Metrolink
Preceded by Altram (Manchester) Ltd
Run by Stagecoach Metrolink Ltd (15 July 2007 to 7 August 2011) Metrolink by RATP Dev Ltd (8 August 2011 to 24 August 2011) Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd (25 August 2011 to 14 July 2017)
Dates 15 July 2007 to 14 July 2017
Superseded by Keolis Amey Metrolink Ltd
Notes The contract was not retendered; Stagecoach sold it on to RATP with effect from 1 August 2011. It took a further week for RATP to rename the company
System Tyne & Wear Metro
Preceded by Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Executive
Run by DB Regio Tyne And Wear Ltd
Dates 1 April 2010 to 31 March 2017 (two year extension not exercised)
Superseded by Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Executive
System Nottingham Express Transit
Preceded by Arrow Light Rail Ltd
Run by Nottingham Trams Ltd [Keolis]
Dates 16 December 2011 to 19 March 2034
System Edinburgh Trams
Run by Edinburgh Trams Ltd [Transport for Edinburgh]
Dates 31 May 2014 to date §
Notes Contract was originally awarded to Transdev, this was cancelled long before operations started
System Docklands Light Railway
Preceded by Serco Docklands Ltd
Run by Keolis Amey Docklands Ltd
Dates 7 December 2014 to October 2023 (originally to run to 31 March 2021, extension option taken) October 2023 to 31 March 2025 (contract extension)
System Tyne & Wear Metro
Preceded by DB Regio Tyne And Wear Ltd
Run by Tyne & Wear Passenger Transport Executive [local authorities]
Dates 1 April 2017 to date (originally run for two years, now extended indefinitely) Possibility of retendering 2022/2023?
System Manchester Metrolink
Preceded by Metrolink RATP Dev Ltd
Run by Keolis Amey Metrolink Ltd
Dates 15 July 2017 to July 2027
System West Midlands Metro
Preceded by Altram LRT Ltd
Run by Midland Metro Ltd [West Midlands Combined Authority]
Dates 24 June 2018 to 2033
System Luas
Preceded by Transdev Dublin Light Rail Ltd
Run by Transdev Dublin Light Rail Ltd
Dates 1 December 2019 to 2025 (option to extend to 2030)