Potential Bath Tram Maps and Rates of Return and how trams address the rural commuters

(Note there are a series of articles on likely tram track installation costs see:

The map above was prepared by a previous group comprising rail engineers and other engineers.  These routes are all technically suitable for trams, i.e. they  have been surveyed and can negotiate all the hills, bends and narrow streets ( Trams quite happily go along exactly the same routes as cars and do not need special segregated routes although these can be usefully  provided if there is space).

We have used consultants who provided cost and income projections based on sophisticated demand modeling software to pick out the best routes which had a reasonable rate of return, reproduced below.  This shows that two routes are initially likely to meet the cost benefit criteria.  These were based on projected low-cost tram tracks at £11m per km, however even at the typical urban track install costs of £25m/km they initially appear to be cost effective.  Note also that the American Tig/m indicate costs as low as £5m/km, and the Coventry VLR also around £10m/km.   See – https://bathtrams.uk/10-modern-vlr-very-light-rail-track-costs-around-5-10m-km/ And note this was purely for traffic generated within Bath, whereas we are proposing tram links to Radstock (which has the highest of all peak road commuter traffic) and also tram links to Bath Spa University and on to Bristol.  (The old tram used to go out to the Globe pub near the Bath Spa University).

There is no room for more commuter trains from Bath to Bristol due to the ill-advised policy of British Rail to go for High Speed train connections to London, because this forced the abandonment of slower well used commuter trains and the local stations at Corsham, Box, Bathford, Bathford Halt, Saltford, Closed in the 60s/70s, (Twerton, Hampton  Row Halt closed 1917 so irrelevant to this argument), and restricted services to Oldfield Park and Keynsham ( effectively once per hour which is useless for commuters – research shows that commuters will drive if the door to door time in the car is less than the train service interval)

Cost of retramming within Bath only:

This is calculated below:

£178m for novel track systems, more than 5 actual examples with other techs under development

£405m for conventional heavy tram tracks

Basis for In Bath cost estimate:

Line A above is about 7.2 km

Line 2 is about 9 km

Total length of tracks A and B = 16.2 km

so at £11m / km, from Professor Lesley, total cost might be – £178m ( 2017 money values) – based on possible costs of new low cost tram tracks see: https://trampower.co.uk/lr55-track/    or Tig/m 

Conventional track at say £25/km https://bathtrams.uk/4-cost-of-tram-light-rail-installation/#:~:text=1%20tram%20light%20rail%20track,a%20good%20ball%2Dpark%20figure     total cost might be say – £405m.

Links to Radstock, Midsomer Norton, Frome, Shepton Mallet and Bristol

The economic case for Bath needs to include these connections at least to Bath and Bristol.  Here costs will be much lower, estimated at about £8m / km for in-field installation or old railway alignments and there is plenty of scope for that for these out of city routes.  See estimates from EGIS the people who have done many of the French tram re-installs, and also the Birmingham re-tram.  https://bathtrams.uk/0-likely-tram-track-installations-costs-for-bath-french-tram-engineering-experts-egis/

Tig/m wire free tram costs

One initial budget estimate for the Tig/m overhead wire free tram = is about £7m /km* – however there will be other costs not included.

(Initial Cost Comparisons TI/Gm v conventional*

Typically Conventional heavy trams cost typically around £25m/km when all the other costs are included, in cities compared to about £7m/km for TIG/ km, but note below.

The initial Indicative-only engineering turnkey cost for Bath can be downloaded here ( link expires in 6 days) and are £18m for 2.58 km, = £7m/km. And for Bristol £ 27m for 4 km, = £6.8m / km for tramway, tracks, cars etc. There will be other significant legal, engineering and planning costs on top such as ticketing, integration with traffic controls, archaeology etc. so the TIG/m figures quoted here will rise, but are likely to be significantly less than conventional trams due to reduced legal and engineering duplication involved in the UK’s complex tendering process, and the absence of overhead wire costs.)

Note: All the routes below and above have been assessed by engineers and there is plenty of room for them.  Trams do not need special segregated road space, ie the share exactly the same road / pathway as cars, except in certain cases where it makes sense to put in one such as the Wellsway, but they are not essential. Trams can cut through traffic queues when even sharing exactly the same route as cars by the magic of Green Wave Traffic Light Pre-emption: https://bathtrams.uk/solving-baths-traffic/trams-give-journey-times-cars-buses-even-whilst-sharing-congested-roads/

You can see a video of this working in Brussels here  where you can see the tram leading the congestion in.

See also: https://bathtrams.uk/green-wave-traffic-light-pre-emption-work-tram-coming-bathford-via-batheaston/



Above: Calculated rates of return for selected routes by professor Lewis Lesley, Emeritus professor of transport science, Liverpool University. Route A above is Batheaston to Whiteway as below, and Route B is Upper Weston to Combe Down

One proposal for a new tram network – these are from a different group to Bath Trams,  – the actual routes would be determined by economic and feasibility studies. Nevertheless engineers have already established that all these routes are feasible from the point of view of road width, bends and gradients.

Below – the same layout but “tube map style”


The above map shows the schematic of the old 1904 – 1939 tram routes IN BROWN with the modern possible routes which largely duplicate the old routes in other colours. Below is shown the old tram map, with routes corresponding to the BROWN above

See further down for details of how this analysis was performed by Professor Lesley.


Preliminary Report on Bathtrams.org Proposal. Professor Lewis Lesley

How trams address the rural commuters

In the past there was a good and frequent bus service for rural commuters into Bath. However, Baths’ commuter traffic slow the buses down once they reach Bath, and this puts up the fares and delays creating extra cost and discourages the bus users who want to buy cars.   Thus the shift from bus to car gradually  diminishes the bus service viability, reducing numbers and frequency which further discourages bus users who are then forced to own a car, which continues the downward spiral. This is exacerbated by the park and rides which also attract previous bus users thus causing costs to rise. The idea was that car drivers would come from Radstock and leave their car for a bus, but why would they want to add an extra delay and then  would then have to sit in the same queue in a bus they could have sat in the privacy of their own car? On the other hand a tram is more frequent than a bus for all sorts of reasons, and has the huge advantage of being magically able to get through traffic even if it shares exactly the same road space as cars.  This puzzling fact is explained here: https://bathtrams.uk/solving-baths-traffic/trams-give-journey-times-cars-buses-even-whilst-sharing-congested-roads/

Trams have a proven ability to solve in-city congestion by attracting car drivers out of their cars, this mean that rural commuters are more likely to use a rural bus because it will be less delayed in Bath and cheaper as a result.  This has a positive feedback effect on the rural buses because yet more cars are removed from the Bath traffic queues who are now in the bus.

Trams to Radstock

Since huge amounts of traffic comes in from Radstock and its environs, clearly a tram or light rail should be re-installed along the line of the Somerset and Dorset Railway, or the gradients are not to steep as to preclude on-street running along the existing main road the A367.

Trams to Bristol

Similarly a huge amount of traffic comes in from Bristol and vice-verse.  A tram route could be placed along the Bath Bristol A4 with on-street running. This will increase the capacity of the road from about 2,000 passengers per hour with cars, to about 20,000 per hour with trams. The Keynsham bypass and the bypass to the Glove should be converted to single carriageway with the redundant carriageway converted to park and ride, which already happens on the Globe dual carriageway at Christmas when coaches are parked on it.

Trams to Chippenham

This is another possibility to be considered.