Nov 5th publ…13th in sequence of pro-tram letters in the Chronicle – “Give us full picture of likely tram costs”

Give us full picture of likely tram costs

Dear Editor,

The letter in your last issue regarding the benefits of a tram system in Bath was very interesting and detailed the advantages of their use. I’ve enjoyed using them in several cities across the UK and Europe in recent years.

However, last week’s letter rather glossed over the issues encountered in the Edinburgh tram scheme which nearly bankrupted that city by stating that iſ correct contract and management were in place it wouldn’t have been so expensive or disruptive. The problems encountered there which were highlighted at the subsequent enquiry were the same that can affect all schemes where significant excavations required.

No matter how much preparation in terms of surveys, historic information and services data you obtain in advance to be able to plan a scheme you won’t really know what’s in the ground and at what depth until you start digging. This is where the delays and significant cost over-runs occur. Unknown services, unexpected ground conditions, archaeology, etc. The list goes on. This  affects most major schemes and as an example will continue to push up the cost of HS2 when more work reveals these issues.

I read what was said about depths of modern tram track systems not affecting buried services but surely the issue here is not whether these services are affected by construction over them but do the numerous companies who maintain the fibre optic cables, electric cables, water and gas mains, etc agree to them being buried under a tram track?

How would they access these services in future for maintenance or repair? Breaking out a section of road to repair a water main is one thing but removing a section of track and foundation to do so is quite different.

I think trams are great but please let’s have full and complete information regarding the likely true costs and issues of installing such a scheme

Peter Fox