Press Release – Briefing on Trams in Bath BRLSI Thursday 23 Nov

“no show stoppers  to Bath trams in BANES consultant’s report says Lib Dem councillor”

Professor Lesley who has a lifetime studying urban transport discussed what the evidence was for thinking trams would solve Baths’ transport crisis at a reasonable cost.

First he outlined how the similar Preston ( pop 110,000) tram system he was developing had reached the point where construction would start probably before the end of the year using a local contractor, and private funding.  The steps had been to apply for  planning permission which was passed by the Council unanimously which then lead to a private funder being willing to provide the capital cost.  It will be built in about two years and run on renewable power. The cost of the various reports and applications necessary to get to this point was about £20,000 which Bath Trams is in the process of raising.

He noted that as a PhD student in the 60s his project was to study Runcorn which was the first and only city in the world designed around a bus network / busway when usage was expected to be 50% bus, the remainder cars, walking and cycling.  In fact the bus usage today is down to 5% the same for Bath, and he said no research worldwide showed that people would transfer from car to bus, but again worldwide and in UK the figures show that new tram systems have 25- 35% of their passengers transferred from cars.


There have been numerous other bus re-introduction failures – the Cambridge busway disaster which has attracted no car drivers,

and the abandoned Swansea busway failure

He showed statistics from Frieburg now with a very high proportion of trips being by tram, almost 50% whereas in Bath it is only 5% bus bus.


He put up a map showing the 11 routes that had been shown to be technically negotiable by trams and found that two of the routes, using detailed modelling simulation were feasible and were likely to have a rate of return good enough to satisfy private investors ( this is shown at  ). The analysis was not a simple finger in the air exercise but a detailed probabilistic analysis based on known transport patterns from the census, and used predicted switching rates as derived from other actual UK tram installations.  Details can be provided.

He demonstrated the new track system which can be installed without requiring service diversion, and does not require road closure, since only a single track block is installed one at a time by cutting a shallow groove – the size of an AV page in vertical cross section = in the road which can be done quietly over night at the rate of 100m per night. Multipole teams could install the entire network in one year without any road closure or service diversion he said. Pictures of track on website

Some of the explanation of the expense and delay of the Edinburgh project were covered, ie that essentially a main line type railway had been installed capable of taking a 2000 ton mineral train, thus completely over engineered, and the track system used necessitated deep excavation and service diversion all unnecessary in the proposed Bath project.  Also the wrong type of bespoke and very expensive and impossible to understand contract was used, whereas Bath will use  the normal standard types of engineering contract such as the  I.Chem E, FIDIC,  and so forth.

Green wave traffic light pre-emption was explained which enables trams to enter citgies  even through using the same crowded roads ( no special tram lanes needed) and this is not applicable to buses for a variety of reasons. See

It was also stated that a single tram can have the traffic carrying capacity of three lanes of highway, and that therefore the sensible route for a tram from Bristol to Bath would be along the existing main road as this would triple its capacity and mean there was much less traffic entering the city land less need for parking.


One of the Councillor present stated that the recent high level report from Atkins consultants had reportedly lead to the conclusion from the BANES highways department that there “were no showstoppers” in the plan for trams in Bath.

The Chairman Dave Andrews reported that discussions were ongoing with a number of potential backers to the scheme including large multi-billion infrastructure investment groups.

He also emphasised that Bath Trams was not just about trams but committed to fully analysing the present situation and having discussions with all transport stakeholders, identifying the actual problem and then developing an integrated transport solution around the essential core tram strategy. This would cover all parking spaces, park and rides, bus integration, cycling, taking the needs of those who find travelling difficult ( disabled, pushchair users, luggage carriers and so on)  and pedestrianisation along with consideration of the commercial benefits of trams reducing congestion and journey times, and increasing the economic value of the city.

It was noted that France had re-installed over 22 new tram systems specifically to tackle congestion and to regenerate city centers.

Dave Andrews noted that it was professor Lesley who organised a series of seminars which have lead to the major cities – Manchester, Birmingham, London, and 4 other starting to re-install trams, also Dublin.  All these have been so popular that they are continually being expanded.

The great benefit if trams is their INFLEXIBILITY  which means they cannot be withdrawn on a whim like a bus, and this has the effect of businesses being confident to move their and invest, knowing they will have a long term future and this has always lead to regeneration in around tram lines.

Evidence of the regenerative value:

Examples of failed busways were legion and some examples are on the Bath Trams website:

It was also noted that most HGVs in Bath made multiple drops to  multiple destinations in Bath, and that this could largely be carried out by the HGVs depositing

there load of wheeled baskets at the peripheral tram stops where they could be transported into Bath

and then wheeled to the shops.  This would create huge savings for the transport companies and easily pay for a team of Freight Marshall to deliver them.  Electronic security tagging would safeguard the items


Dave Andrews Bath Trams 07795842295