Damage buses do to roads, cellars and tram tracks

Five photographs showing bus damage to Manchester Metrolink track, starting with one taken recently on Eccles New Road in Salford.  The final photo is included to show the damage that buses do to roads generally.  The drainage gulley is at the far end of the huge passenger-drenching puddle.  Welcome aboard a third-rate form of public transport – David Holt

See Also:  5 Low Cost Tram Light Rail Track Systems Being Demonstrated Have Potential to Minimise Traffic Disruption and the Need to Divert Underground Services

See Also 1. LR55 Pressure, comparative damage to roads, tram tracks and building foundations by trams and buses for LR55

See Also: 5 Low Cost Tram Light Rail Track Systems Being Demonstrated Have Potential to Minimise Traffic Disruption and the Need to Divert Underground Services

Further notes below on tram tracks:


Re tram track surfacing, the Viennese tram system uses large concrete reinforced panels, wide enough to span between the tracks and narrower ones at the sides of the track. The panels’ edges are steel, and the panels can be quickly lifted out for attention to track or utility ducts below.
This system seems to work in Vienna, where buses also operate (though single deck) and maybe there are some HGV restrictions to prevent the highest axle load vehicles from passing over them.
However, tram track designers and developers in the UK, don’t seem to be familiar with this system as they regularly encase tram tracks in reinforced concrete, leading to vehicle damage at the interface of the rail and road surface.


Clive Hinchcliffe

7 Oct 2020, 09:34 (1 day ago)

to me
This is not a problem if you use LR55 track – in place on Sheffield Super Tram for over 20 years with no maintenance except inspections.

Replaced conventional tram track at road crossing that had been broken by HGV traffic.


CJH Multisourcing SNC

On 07 October 2020 at 11:35 ‘David Holt’ via UK Light Rail Experts <expertsfortrams@googlegroups.com> wrote:

Granite setts are ideally suited to the paving of tram track as illustrated in the attached Prague photo which I took in 2017.  Completely bus-proof, smooth and supremely aesthetic, especially when wet.  Italian tramways use large interlocking granite blocks, also with flat tops and close joints giving a smooth indestructible surface.  As well as being hard -wearing, setts facilitate access to underground plant and, more particularly, enable perfect undetectable reinstatement.  Granite setts are often maligned by poor maintenance and by being insultingly designated “cobbles”.  Cobbles are found, setts are made.  The setts at the National Tramway Museum give an historically-incorrect roughish surface as happens with all second hand setts with differently-worn top surfaces, although they do look good.  Smooth sett paving still exists under many of our city streets, supporting the buses which replaced the tramways at whose expense the setts, and the rails many of which are still there giving hidden and unappreciated support, were originally installed
David Holt
On Wednesday, 7 October 2020, 10:23:42 BST, Roland Harmer <roland@rolandharmer.co.uk> wrote:


Is there an issue with the different behaviour of materials – relatively hard materials such as concrete and steel – and more plastic material – tarmac?  In the past weren’t tram tracks set in granite setts? Google Earth images of Ghent shows tram track with, what appears to be, concrete as a road surface. There have been similar problems at level crossings.  Bus stops are often paved in concrete because of the problem of tarmac spreading under prolonged load.  Buses and trolleybuses will still be around as a supplement to trams so the problem has to be solved.
Kind regards,




04:29 (17 hours ago)
to Davidbrad@tig-m.comRolandmeJohnJulianMathew

Granite sets is a great option, used a century ago too, but we didn’t have buses. Western European unfortunately shy off this method due to high labour costs, and the asset owners still go with contractor arrangements which win them a contract but are allowed to run over budget using excuses of unknown services identified or unknown unexpected conditions to increase the price after winning the contract.

Just look at the recent Highways England Framework Contract, just jobs for the boys! Good news is we are always going to be busy fixing everyone else’s mess!

Great work on photos, looks good.

David Holt

Attachments11:20 (10 hours ago)

to Rolandbrad@tig-m.comDavidmeJohnJulianMathew
Judging by the vast areas of block paving in pedestrianised areas, I don’t think labour costs are principally to blame.  I think it’s more to do with the expensiveness of the setts themselves.
The attached photo, which I took c1992, is from my Metrolink book.  It shows granite setts being laid on Balloon Street in Manchester.  The granite cubes had to be specially imported from Portugal.
Balloon Street is tram only, hence the suitability of those relatively shallow cubes.  To achieve the stability needed for punishment from buses, the setts need to be at least 5″-6″ deep, increasing the cost considerably.
The other thing is that setts are distinctly incompatible with the short-termist attitudes prevailing in the UK.  Lazy or desperate decision-makers are far more likely to go for cheap short-termist “solutions” rather than committing to high quality durability.  Just a personal view based on experience.
David Holt