PRESS RELEASE Bath / Bristol secures funding for study into rapid transit

At a meeting Bath and Bristol Trams  Wednesday night, Mark Shelford, BANES cabinet member for Transport reported that funding had been secured from WECA of £1.95 m for the Bristol mass transit study to develop the feasibility and business cases which will include the spur from Bristol to Bath and villages and towns in between.

A further tranche of £450k has been secured from WECA to investigate the Bath mass transit study looking at all options including trams.

Dave Andrews, Chair of Bath Trams said “this is excellent news and we hope that the study confirms what we have been promoting ie a fixed on-street running rail link, and a fixed on-street rail tram network within Bath, on the basis that buses or busways have never solved a traffic problem in any British city – the failing Bristol busway (widely opposed by locals) being a good example. Car drivers simply will not use buses as they do not offer the required quality of service, in terms of comfort, prestige, reliability that a tram can”

Bath Trams promoted the concept of trams in Bath which lead to the BANES commission an initial study from ATKINS which indicated there were ” no show stoppers” for at least 4 tram lines in Bath.

Dave Andrews also said ” anyone who has travelled in Europe will know that numerous cities in Europe have a tram system, including historic cities, and those smaller than Bath, where it is  obvious that only a tram can deliver less traffic congestion and commercial regeneration, and it is amazing that a high profile heritage city such as Bath does not have one. He cited the Coliseum in Rome, and the Grand Opera House in Vienna with trams running close by, with the Opera House having tram wires attached to it”

He said that “Bath Trams will continue to point out the hard evidence that buses, on there own simply cannot deliver good public transport that car drivers will use.  There are no Bus based Rapid Transit in Britain that have actually worked – most turn out to be white elephants.”

Ultimately we need Radstock and other Somerset towns connected by light rail / tram to the Bath Bristol network to enable people from out of the cities to get to there work, on time, reliably and at not excessive cost.

References to evidence for all these points can be found in the attached letter below,  to WECA.


00 44 (0)7795 842295


Bath & Bristol Trams

3 Victoria Place

Combe Down



Wednesday, 06 February 2019.

07795 842295

Mr David Carter

Director of Infrastructure

West of England Combined Authority

3 Rivergate, Temple Quay, Bristol BS1 6EW

Dear Mr Carter,

Mass Rapid Transit link between Bath and Bristol

There is almost nothing that ensures a better quality of life while delivering WECA’s key aims – economic growth, affordable housing, cutting congestion and increasing employment & training opportunities – than an efficient, popular and environmentally-friendly public transport system based on trams.

We maintain based on good evidence that buses cannot, but that trams / light rail can deliver:

Economic Growth

–        Trams are highly efficient at moving people

–        Trams are popular

–        Trams are cheap to run

Cutting Congestion

–        Trams get car drivers out of cars and so reduce air pollution and congestion

–        Trams emit less particulates than any other form of transport as there is no tyre, brake or clutch wear discharged into the air

–        Trams can run on low renewable fuels, do not require conventional fuels or mains electricity or overhead wires and are quieter than any other form of mass transport

Employment & Training

–        Trams are affordable to use

–        Trams support business

–        Trams mean the workforce can get to work or training quickly & easily

Therefore we would like to meet you regarding the proposed Mass Rapid Transit link between Bath and Bristol and separately the Bath Mass Public Transit Study, which is under consideration by WECA. I am chair of Bath and Bristol Trams and we believe that the evidence indicates that an on-street running tram / light rail connection will be much more effective than a rubber tyred bus solution. The reasons we have come to this conclusion are set out in brief below this letter. A longer  downloadable report is available here: A Tram Cycle And Bath Based Transport Integrated Transport Plan For Bath

We recently organized a very successful conference in Bath where the country’s leading experts in Light Rail, and operators of several light rail systems (Edinburgh, Nottingham amongst them) discussed various aspects thereof and have now accumulated a considerable database of information on this subject and have various experts in all aspects of the subject available within our group.

Bath and Bristol Trams also produced the original dossier of evidence which was presented to B&NES and this was sufficient to convince the Council to engage Atkins to produce an initial report which indicated that there was likely to be a number of feasible routes for trams in Bath.

Could you therefore please let me know when it would be convenient to meet?

With kind regards

David Andrews C.Eng. M. Inst. E.

Chair, Bath & Bristol Trams


The Evidence That A Light Rail Tram Connection Between Bristol  and Bath Will Dramatically Reduce Congestion Whereas A Bus Based MRT Will Not Be Successful
( all the links take the reader to detailed evidence)

•       Research and the evidence strongly suggests that motorists, who cause most urban pollution and congestion, will not accept buses as an alternative to cars for a variety of reasons ( cramped, noisy unreliable, less frequent, low prestige and poor image) but the evidence is strong that they will accept trams. Croydon’s traffic has declined by 1/5 since the tram was installed due to people leaving their car at home.

•       It is easy to cite examples in Britain where busways have not had a significant impact on pollution or congestion and hard to find evidence of successes. because they cannot attract car drivers.

•       Busways struggle to pay for their long term costs and have generally been a failure in the UK

•       On the other hand nearly all the UK tram reintroductions have attracted significant numbers of car drivers to trams thereby cutting congestion and  pollution, they are popular with users and tram usage is continually  expanding whereas bus usage is dropping.

•       All rubber tyred vehicles create the “Oslo” effect of pollution of rubber tyre particles, asphalt, potholes and brake and clutch particles in the atmosphere causing serious lung disease over and above exhaust fume poisons. Tram tyre and rail wear creates minute steel particles which are heavier and drain away, soon rusting and not causing health issues or long term pollution in the environment. Modern trams largely use electric regenerative braking.

•       Trams have a  greater corridor capacity than buses – in some cases up to five times – because of  their greater size, higher acceleration, shorter dwell time, wide multi-door access, people’s willingness to stand and congregate near the doors whilst in motion (as on the London tube, which is difficult to do in buses due to the adverse vibration and less smooth ride especially when braking). This results in much faster boarding and alighting for trams so that dwell time at stops is very low compared to a bus. For this capacity reason Utrecht, hitherto car free and bus only, has replaced a triple super-bendy bus route with a tram line because the buses did not have the corridor capacity.

•       Whilst trams are more expensive to install compared to buses, trams have much lower operating costs because a long tram can carry many more people than a bus (Manchester Metrolink trams carry about 400, Budapest 528) and since the highest proportion of any public transport system’s operating costs is the drivers, the unit cost is much lower per passenger-kilometre for a tram. Furthermore, the steel wheeled tram has much lower friction than rubber tyred bus and therefore lower energy consumption, Due to the absence of an engine, complex steering, braking, suspension and tyres as on a bus which all require costly maintenance, tram maintenance costs are lower.

•       This different capital cost to running cost aspect is part of the reason that trams can typically offer a 6 minute service in UK, ( 2 minutes in Budapest)  whereas buses tend to offer a much longer service interval. This is because to make a bus trip viable, due to the high unit operating costs, the bus has to concentrate passengers into sufficient numbers to make a particular trip viable by a) making them wait longer to accumulate at the bus stop and b) cram the passengers in using close bench seats and no standing. Again this is unattractive to car drivers.

•       Whilst trams are initially expensive they have a 30 to 40 year life compared to 8 to 10 years for a bus. This means that the capital cost can be spread over a much longer period than that of a bus, reducing the cost per passenger-km.

•       It has also been shown that a tram line which is inherently fixed is very attractive to businesses and housing developers who like to locate close to the line which over time drives up passenger numbers and concentrates commercial and housing activity along the line, minimising the need for future car traveling creating a virtuous circle.  By  increasing the speed and convenience of moving about the general economic growth of an area is improved; again this has been shown in British cities that have re installed trams, and this property value uplift, absent with buses, is potentially available to contribute to the installation costs.

•       Trams chime with WECAs desire to increase housebuilding – the conventional approach with a conventional connection to the cities will always create more car users trying to drive to the city, but if designed around or along a tram corridor, far more users will leave the car at home, and thus not jam up the cities. Developers like this because it puts up the value of their properties.    This is why the Metropolitan Railway was originally constructed by the developers of “Metro land”, and also some of the suburbs of Bath such as Twerton and Oldfield Park were provided with the original tram by the developers for this very reason.

•       And this is the reason that 23 tram systems have been reinstalled in French cities , specifically to regenerate (successfully in fact) city centres including historic towns such as Strasbourg and Grenoble, all bar 3 first-generation tramways having been removed after the last war and this was found to be a mistake.

•       Whilst there are some well-known examples of very expensive tram installations, such as Edinburgh, there were special reasons for this. There is no reason for the same fundamental mistakes made there to be repeated. Although there is a perception that UK tram schemes are expensive, research by UK Tram has shown that when comparing like with like UK schemes are no more expensive and if anything cheaper than those in France and other continental countries.

•       Modern tramways of the kind the French have introduced so successfully  are the model and the UK cities that have followed that model have achieved considerable success too in actually cutting traffic, pollution and improving commercial activity.

•       Trams can have Green Wave Traffic Light Pre-emption , which means that they can move swiftly along congested routes but for non-obvious reason this generally cannot be applied to buses. (See video on front of Bath Trams website with cars following the tram in due to GWTP)   GWTLP is applied in Zurich where the traffic waits outside the city to enter, but for no longer than it would wait within the city without GWTLP.

•       Because a tram follows a fixed line and has a narrower swept path than a bus, and two can safely pass closer it is easier to install tram priority lanes which can also be accessed by emergency services