Sleeping with the Enemy

All too often public transit advocates are refused access to politicians, in Britain the Light Rail Transit Association LRTA has been instrumental inAi??the setting up of a forumAi??where ministers and their advisors can meet with the industry leaders, campaigners & Light Rail advocates.

- the All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group [APPLRG]

APPLRG stands for All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group.

The All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group is an independent forum for MPs and peers from all political parties and Industry to come together and raise awareness of matters concerning Light Rail & Tramways best practice and sustainable development.

The All Party Parliamentary Light Rail Group holds regular inquiry sessions in order toAi?? to provide a holistic package of policy proposals that will drive forward best practice, leading to affordable light rail & tramways with resultant physical and economic regeneration, carbon reduction, improved air quality, congestion relief, affordable transport. to the UK and its’ citizens.

Why Light Rail

For public transport to become a force in dealing with urban congestion, carbon reduction,Ai?? improving air quality and to be an attractive alternative to the car, it must be built quickly and operate affordably.

Croydon Tramlink

Some benefits

ai???Light rail systems have proven track record
ai???Growing the public transport market
ai???Creating modal shift in some cases 32%
ai???Supporting regeneration , renewal and inward regeneration
ai???Assisting in the creation off a new urban framework
ai???An extremely green mode of transport
ai???Will drastically reduce the nations carbon footprint
ai???Can be used to re-engineer city districts

Light Rail is a mode of transport in which uses vehicles which are more versatile than conventional ai???heavy railai??? trains. A light rail vehicle can negotiate sharper curves than a conventional train (both vertical and horizontal), can negotiate steeper gradients and can stop much faster.Thus the systems available provide the ability to follow the curves and gradients of the urban environment which a conventional train cannot do. Light Rail systems offer an attractive and effective system, reducing congestion and pollution by offering motorists an alternative to car use, helping to create pollution-free zones in cities (clear zones). It moves large passenger flows in a more cost-effective way than buses, but at a fraction of the cost of a full urban railway.

Light rail vehicles which are adapted to street running (either on-street or alongside the street on reserved track) are called TRAMS.

The Tyne & Wear Metro and the Docklands Light Railway in London are examples of fully segregated light rail systems in the UK.

However most light rail systems feature mixed running including non-segregated running and are referred to as tramways.

Examples of tramways in the UK are:

Croydon Tramlink, Manchester Metrolink, Midland Metro, Nottingham Express Transit, Sheffield Supertram, Leeds Supertram, Docklands Light Railway

In addition there is an existing tramway between Blackpool & Fleetwood which operates in the traditional old British manner using ai???heritage or historicai??? double-deck trams etc. track sharing with modern LightAi??Rail VehiclesAi??(LRV)

When Should Light Rail be Used?

Light rail is mainly appropriate in urban or inter-urban systems in medium-sized cities where full metro systems are inappropriate. In the largest cities underground/metro systems tend to be the mainstay of public transport but such cities might use a light rail solution to supplement the metro system.

Examples are:

Paris: The Metro provides radial public transport where flows are heavy and tramways are being built to replace buses on orbital routes.

Central London: The stations on the London Underground system are further apart than on the Paris Metro and a tramway is being proposed on a north-south axis to provide access to intermediate points and to help relieve the Underground.

However smaller towns may also have corridors appropriate to a tramway and even where the size of a town would not be considered sufficient to support a tramway there may be over riding conditions which might make a tramway feasible. These can range from the status of a town, such as Bath, as a tourist attraction or to the availability of disused railway routes which might reduce the cost of provision.

Why are Trams so successful?

Light Rail vehicles can provide the ambience of a train, but can run in places where a train cannot. They are thus able to attract motorists out of cars where a bus would not be successful. Even when running on former rail alignments, light rail vehicles can offer a better service because they can offer a more frequent service. They can stop at more places because the stops are much easier and cheaper to construct than railway stations. On roads they can offer attractive journey times in comparisons with cars and buses by taking advantage of segregated alignments and the latest traffic engineering techniques to avoid road congestionAi??.

A frequent light rail service provides security in city streets throughout the day, both on and off the vehicle. Low-floors together with a spacious layout provide easy access to mainstream public transport for everyone including parents with buggies and disabled people using wheelchairs.

Trams areAi?? generally electric vehicles which produce no pollution at the point of service delivery, may use locally produced “green” electricity and the visible path makes sharing precincts with pedestrians a safe option. Thus pedestrian precincts with trams can provide access to city centre areas where buses and cars would be obtrusive.

A significant part of the success of any system is the demonstration that changingAi?? peoples life styles awayAi?? from the car can be of considerable benefit to them and their surroundings.

The Design of Tramway Systems

Design of a tramway system should start with a consideration of the public transport needs of the area under consideration. One needs to know the origins and destinations of commuters, shoppers, leisure travellers and tourists etc.

If the flows of passengers are not sufficient to justify metro or heavy rail construction then we can proceed further.

The next step is to consider whether it is possible to build a tramway to serve the above needs. The versatility of light rail is very important here.

Tramways can run on the following alignments:

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? On former rail routes

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? On new Greenfield or Brownfield routes

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? Along the highway mixed with other traffic, or mixed with buses

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? Along the highway on dedicated lanes

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? Alongside the highway

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? On the central reservation of a dual carriageway

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? On elevated sections

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? In tunnel

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? In pedestrianised areas

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? On main-line railways (with special arrangements)

The optimum combination of these possibilities needs to be selected bearing in mind the following:

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? The need to adequately serve origins and destinations of passengers

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? The need to minimise construction costs

ai???Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai??Ai?? The need to achieve fast transit times

It has to be remembered that there is a tendency for City & Town Planners, Politicians etc., to use this opportunity to at times re-engineer the City or Town which is fine and good provided that the re-engineering costs, landscaping etc., are treated separately and not hidden in the Tramway building costs. A good example of this is Edinburgh Tram were around A?170M has be allocated against the tramway from moving the utilities to flowers for Princess Street. The utilities do not need to be moved, stop the trams and give access.


3 Responses to “Sleeping with the Enemy”
  1. Haveacow says:

    A distant family member was a UK MP who became involved in this. Recently at a family gathering the subject came up around light rail and this organization’s role. To avoid problems with anti advocate (lobbyst) legislation the APPLRG has at best, only the ability to provde information and basic technical help. In simple terms it can not lobby for individual projects. The Canadian Transport advocacy group, Transport Action Canada (formaly Transport 2000 Canada ) is the type of group better suited for this type of work. However, most canadian cities have some type of lobbyist registry that severely control access by groups like this. Even at the APPLRG individuals and local groups like yours often get quietly sidelined by the professional transport consultants and large industry companies, not because of a dark process designed to stifle democracy but, often they tend to be unwilling to bend to the politcal realities that are public transport. The sweaky wheel approach can only get you so far at some point you have to play as a group and the reality that you may be put aside to get your project going. You need a political champion to get your project a fair chance of happeing but, you have to clear the operational hurddles first. Like having a signed operating contract with a operater like, the Southern Railway of BC, before you start lobbying for a tram train concept. Especially if you have no money to start it!

    Zweisystem replies: We very much wish to get political support, but unfortunately most regional politicians take their orders from Victoria on transit. Surrey mayor Dianne Watts and Burnaby mayor Derrek Corrigan are notable exceptions. The former mayor of langley District was a strong supporter of RftV, but he was voted out of office. As for the Souther Railway of BC, an informal meeting with the management some years ago, before RftV, indicated to me that they would be quite welcome to a TramTrain or alike service!

  2. Haveacow says:

    One more thing. The British LRTA (Light Rail Transit Association) has been around for 70+ years. It took them till the late 1990’s to be considered a serious player. They have had their magazine, Tramways and Urban Transport, around almost as long. They have taken a long time but, have built up a international following with quality profesional advocacy wether they were considered serious players or not. The point really is if you want to be considered serious you have to stop screaming and forcibly start building real connections with transit agencies and area professionals as well as area politicians at all levels. Then things can really start happening, without these links your very good proposal will never see the light of day.

    Zweisystem replies: Zwei has been a member of the LRTA for over 25 years and through my LRTA membership, Rail for the Valley secured Leewood projects to do the Valley TramTrain Study. There was an article in Tramways and Urban Transport on the RftV Interurban/Leewood TramTrain study.

    Transportation professionals, who belong to the LRTA have helped Zwei on many LRTA/SkyTrain problems, and with their expertise, became a formidable opponent, so such so that TransLink has got radio and TV stations to agree to ban interviews with me or loose advertising!

    Zwei always encourages readers to join the LRTA

  3. Richard says:

    A good post. This group seems to have a good grasp on transit and what is appropriate where. They acknowledge the value of grade separation in large cities for high volume routes and regional trips. They acknowledge the role of trams for local trips and accessing Metros. They also say that trams are appropriate for small towns like Bath.

    Now while we are no Paris or London, we are far closer to them than Bath, which has a population of under 100,000.

    Three Metro Lines is not unreasonable for a region of our size. There is probably even a strong case for one or two more. Broadway, with an expected ridership of 322,000 trips a day is an obvious choice for a subway I expect most transit experts and even average people would agree.

    We are missing a system of regional rail in this region and there are several corridors that would be good for trams. As in Paris, London and many other cities around the world, all these forms of transit work together to provide people with good transportation choices.

    Zweisystem replies: Why do you think TransLink is bankrupt? Answer: Three metro systems for a city of our size.