6th in sequence of tram letters in Bath Chronicle

see also: https://bathtrams.uk/7th-tranche-of-letters-in-bath-chronicle/

Letter from Dave Andrews

Dear Sirs,

John Carson makes a number of useful and insightful points about the difficulties buried utilities can create for tram re–installs.
However they are not not as great as he implies.  Edinburgh Tram was based on a heavy, sleepered rail system and trams, and these impose pressure at a far greater level on buried service than do the floated beam type tracks and the light rail vehicles we are proposing.  Thus Edinburgh required deep excavations and full service re-location but beam tracks generally do not require utilities to be relocated per se. Floated beam type tracks impose less pressure at the bottom edge of the beam than does a single wheeled bus and thus will preserve the vaults and underlying services which do not need to be moved.
John also thinks that you have to close a tram line when it is being worked on – this is not true.  There are three options:
Because trams generally operate at 6 minute interval  strictly on time, it is easy to arrange two trams to arrive simultaneously from either side of the excavation and work in shuttle mode, with passengers having to make a short foot journey between trams.
In the continent it is commonplace to see trams moving slowly over deep excavations, suitably supported so there is no need to close the line – I myself have witnessed this in Antwerp 40 years ago. ( photos on BathTrams.uk website)
A third option is the use of temporary ” kletterweiche”  tracks which are laid to one side of the excavation to deviate the route temporarily, and which cars can also traverse. ( photos on BathTrams.uk website) .
John is absolutely right about the need to identify services before hand, and if he would care to look on the Bath Trams website he will see this point is well covered and understood, and we have some of the UK leading experts in this area of consents and approvals on our Board. As has been pointed out, one of the principal cause of the problems in Edinburgh was the failure to carry out a proper utility survey before hand.
I would also point out, that the original letter mentioning Edinburgh trams did not say it was a good example, but it cited:
a) that connecting it to a park and ride vastly increased the patronage of the park and ride compared to the previous bus connections indicating that drivers will switch to trams, and b) that usage had dramatically increased and now exceed projections. ie it makes the point that trams are enormously attractive to car drivers, whereas buses are not.
As regards trams pushing traffic out to the periphery this would  not be true in Bath.  We are not generally proposing segregated routes for trams in Bath except there may be one or two such as the centre of Wellsway, which will not impede car traffic.  We propose a radial spoke and hub layout, and experience shows that car drivers will use trams, whereas they will not switch to buses, and with a 6 minute service it will be quicker to go in, and then out by tram, rather than trying to fight the across town traffic in a car. And this also applied to the school run, where parents will be happy to send their kids on even two tram journeys because trams are so frequent and reliable compared to buses. Thus there will be little need or pressure for car drivers to cut through the peripheral areas.
With Green Wave Traffic Light pre-emption ( which generally cannot be applied to buses) even without segregated tram routes, trams can move through traffic magically and swiftly ( I know this sounds impossible but look up Green Wave on the Bath Trams website – what it means is that instead of queuing in Bath, traffic queues for no longer but outside of Bath).
So we also believe that Adam Reynolds is wrong to say that trams increase capacity but do not cut congestion – wherever trams have been installed in UK generally they have lowered congestion as car drivers will switch to them but not buses.  But he is right that trams have a much higher capacity than buses, by up to 5 times.
Letter from Delphine Avondo
Dear Chronicle
A former resident of Bath, and still shocked by the levels of congestion and pollution created by cars in Bath and Bristol (where I now live), I have followed the recent articles in the Chronicle with great interest, and can report that my mother who lives in Dijon, was very much against the re-introduction of trams to her city and actively campaigned against them.
However she is now a real convert and rarely uses her car.  France has re-introduced over 30 trams since they were all removed after the war, and it is generally thought they improve city life for residents and shop keepers because it makes moving around so easy which encourages commercial activity and leisure without all the fuss of parking, and the noise and pollution of cars.
I hope Bath (and Bristol) soon adopt the tram, to make all our lives easier.
Best Wishes
Delphine Avondo
Letter from Dr Nick Mallinson

Dear Sir,

I refer to the recent letter ‘Tackle services then lay the tram tracks’ submitted by John R T Carson.  It is true that traditional track solutions for urban tram routes in the UK have incurred significant costs in the relocation of utility equipment – the utility companies do expect to be able to access their equipment to effect repairs and tram tracks are generally laid on significant foundations of concrete.  Interestingly it is not the trams that require such robust track – road traffic, in particular buses and heavy goods vehicles present the heaviest axle loads that the track must withstand.

Coventry City Council in partnership with the University of Warwick and Transport for West Midlands is leading a project to develop a very light rail urban tram solution which will feature a modular track solution that can be rapidly moved to allow utility access for repairs.  We are working closely with various utilities to gain their support for this new approach.

Kind regards,


Dr Nick Mallinson

Programme Manager

WMG centre HVM Catapult

IARC Building

University of Warwick

Coventry, CV4 7AL

Phone: + 44 (0) 2476572696

Mobile: +44 (0) 7876218112

Email: nick.mallinson@warwick.ac.uk



Letter from David Holt

I think we need to get our priorites right regarding the purpose of our city streets (“Tackle services, then lay the tram tracks”, Letters, February 14th).  Are the roads there primarily as coverings for underground plant and services, or as a means of getting around?  Surrendering the surface to the public utilities by putting trams underground would squander one of their main benefits.  The tram’s shiny steel rails under people’s noses in city streets is a powerful marketing tool for sustainable transport, to say nothing of the huge boost which the trams can give to the image of the city.  Just think how often we see trams featured in travel shows and documentaries.  The same can’t be said for underground metros.
Sorting out the public services plant underneath our streets benefits everyone by securing a disruption-free future.  A tram scheme should be regarded positively as a catalyst for long-overdue review and consolidation of “what lies beneath”.  Besides which, the tram rails themselves act as girders which strengthen the “roof” over underground ducts, sewers, vaults and pipes, helping to protect them against impacts and groundborne vibrations from bus and HGV wheels.
David Holt


All the Best and many thanks from David Holt