4 Feb 2021


After many meetings and correspondence with the mayors, politicians, and officers of WECA (West of England Combined Authority), Bath & North East Somerset Council (BANES) and Bristol City Council (BCC), BBATA (Bath and Bristol Area Trams Association) is very pleased to announce that, their recommendations for a modern tram system linked to the bus network are being taken seriously. BBATA has also liaised with many local groups including TFGB (Transport for Greater Bristol).


Thus, WECA is now considering delivering a regional tram / light-rail system based on 4 lines: –

  • Line 1 Along the route of the A4 from Temple Meads to Bath
  • Line 2 To North Bristol & South Gloucester
  • Line 3 Between Bristol Airport to Bristol Temple Meads
  • Line 4 Into East Bristol

WECA holds the keys to funding for transport in the region and it looks as if after years of providing high-quality advice, including much well-informed technical information from BBATA about the relative merits of buses and trams (seminars, conferences, etc)  that effort is now paying dividends.

David Andrews Chair of BBATA said “we have conclusively demonstrated that only a tram / light-rail system can deliver a low carbon, low pollution economic regeneration of our towns and cities. This has already been found to be the case in 8 other UK cities, with trams / light-rail at the heart of the systems integrated with feeder buses for rural areas and lightly trafficked routes”.

At a time when pollution from conventional petrol and diesel vehicles, and the dust from the tyres and brakes, is estimated to kill over 1000 people per year in Bristol alone, the argument for trams is very strong. It is hard to ignore that clean, modern, efficient trams are the best transport solution for the region and that the previous focus to build ever more roads and reliance on Metrobus is no longer valid. Only trams have been shown to actually create a significant shift from cars to trams (buses simply do not), and make the cities they are installed in more pleasant and business friendly, creating much needed city wide prosperity.

Whilst trams have a higher initial cost than buses this is more than repaid over their life by their much lower running cost, lower pollution and generally higher standards of service which car drivers particularly find attractive.

BBATA fully supports the new vision from the WECA and the Bristol Mayor and looks forward to working with them to achieve this long overdue initiative, at speed. Other city regions such as Manchester, Croydon, Edinburgh, Blackpool, Docklands, Birmingham, Nottingham, and Sheffield, already experience the many benefits that trams bring (Nottingham has one of the lowest pollution levels of any UK city due in a large part to its trams) and we are delighted that Bristol and Bath will now be joining them. BBAT also points to the well-advanced plans just over the Severn where Cardiff and surrounding closed rail lines are to be refitted with tram / light-rail.


A Virtual Conference (Provisional Conference details here)

To support this move, BBATA and Transport for Greater Bristol (Provisionally) are holding a virtual conference soon with leading light-rail and tram developers and operators, including Richard Briggs, Light Rapid Transit Deputy Practice Leader for Mott MacDonald and a member of the UK Tram Centre of Excellence, officials from WECA and Bristol City Council and Banes will be invited.


Mott MacDonald  – Leaders in Light Rail

With over a decade of success and at the Global Light Rail Awards retaining their Supplier of the Year title and receiving the Project of the Year (over €50 Million) for the Uithoflijn in the Province of Utrecht, Mott MacDonald continues to provide technical excellence across many areas of the Light Rail industry.

Richard will provide a brief overview of light rail, the perceived barriers to introducing schemes in the UK, the opportunities that light rail offers and some innovative solutions that could be used in other towns and cities. He will draw upon his experiences in successfully re-introducing trams to the streets of Birmingham for the first time in 62 years, its expansion using catenary free solutions and across the Bristol Channel where the Cardiff Valley Lines are being transformed into South Wales Metro using ‘Smart’ electrification and the UK’s biggest rollout of Tram-Train enabling future expansion onto the streets of Cardiff.  (Provisional Conference details here)


Previous conferences organized by BBATA  –

We look forward to welcoming WECA, BCC and BANES politicians and officers to this conference to hear how trams / light-rail can contribute to the future benefit of the region.

This is a new start for the region and we sincerely hope the residents of the WECA area (incl., Bristol, Bath, Keynsham, Radstock, Midsomer Norton, and others) will welcome this modern efficient prosperity generating vision for the future of our region and support WECA and the Bristol mayor and councils in pursuing this exciting project.

Full information on the relative benefits of trams / light-rail and buses.

A partial list of BBATA experts is here:

A summary of facts on the Nottingham system, how it works to cut pollution and why, is available here:

Further info:  07795 842295



Further Background – email from David Carter, WECA Director of Infrastructure: 

—–Original Message—–
From: Director Infrastructure <>
Sent: Fri, 18 Dec 2020 15:08
Subject: Mass Transit update – December 2020

Dear Councillor

The West of England Combined Authority is pleased to announce the next steps for the Mass Transit project, a new high-capacity express public transport network for Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

The project will respond to planned growth in the region and aims to change the way people travel giving residents the confidence to leave the car at home. It will help tackle congestion, lower carbon emissions, improve air quality and connect people to new jobs, homes and opportunities.

The project is at an early stage of development. We’re currently planning for public consultation in summer 2021, but we want to start an informal conversation about the project early in the new year with key stakeholders, businesses and communities.


Please see attached PDF for an update on the project, the timeline and our next steps.



For more information about the project, do visit our website or contact us by email at Please be assured that we will continue to keep you informed of our progress as the project develops.

Kind regards,

David Carter

Director of Infrastructure



A: 3 Rivergate, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6EW



Some tram / light rail mentions extracted from the above document:



“The ambition is for new forms of mass transit (e.g. light rail or trams) where the potential is greatest for high passenger flows. On major corridors, rail-based mass transit will be considered to accommodate future demand and to maximise mode shift from car-based trips”


“Initial priority for metrobus corridor to Bath, with longer-term ambition for a high-frequency mass transit solution between Bristol and Bath. Longer-term ambition for light rail between the Hicks Gate/Keynsham area and Bristol city centre, to serve Hicks Gate Park & Ride/transport interchange and beyond, and Temple Meads.”


“The JTS assumed the four-line mass transit network would cost approx. £2.5bn to deliver, and if there is a need to deliver some sections underground, this cost will rise further. The delivery of modern tram and light rail systems in Birmingham, Edinburgh, Greater Manchester, Newcastle, Nottingham and Sheffield demonstrate that mass transit systems can be funded and delivered in UK cities outside London and provide examples for how such interventions can be funded.”


“Bristol to Bath (A4) corridor metrobus, with potentially a light rail system extending from Hicks Gate to Bristol in the longer term”

Mass transit

A form of public transport to satisfy higher potential trip demand, featuring limited stops, high capacity and attractive, reliable journey times. It is usually rail based, such as trams or light rail above ground, or underground trains.”

“Introducing light rail in Bath city and environs. Given the environmental and physical constraints trams should be one of the options considered. All key routes will be considered including: – A367 Odd Down – Newbridge – either along the A4 or A36 integrating with the new rapid transit corridor between bath and Bristol – Lansdown from the north of Bath – A4 from the east of Bath”