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Author Topic: 'Bath is ready to have things done'  (Read 3015 times)
Charlie (in Gloucester)
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« Reply #15 on: September 02, 2019, 01:44:05 pm »

When will we know if finishing electrification will happen in CP6? If not Id assume it will be postponed even further intonCP7/8?
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #16 on: September 02, 2019, 05:01:11 pm »

I don't think Chippenham footbridge is really a major stumbling block.

It's not. It just so happened that it hadn't been done at the time the electrification project was shelved (temporarily or otherwise), so current thinking is there is no point in spending the money on it  unless or until electrification is back on again.

Additionally, it currently appears to be at driver's discretion whether the pan is up or down between Swindon and Langley Crossing. That is by observation only and not supported by documentation.
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TonyK
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« Reply #17 on: September 02, 2019, 07:13:56 pm »

Trams returning to Bath ? Pigs will have grown wings before that happens.

The thought of OHL on the railway line through Bath was too much and the Burgermasters of that city protested so vigorously that the electrification of the GWML has all but been abandoned. OHL through the streets of Bath to power trams, forget it, even if someone else, god knows who, is paying.

Burger the Buggermeisters, the moribund lot that they are! If it was their fault, of course, which it may very well not have been. The good people of Bath, and the bad ones too, are either up for Something Being Done about the air quality beyond a few meetings, growing pigtails, and charging anyone driving a diesel into the centre a fee to help pay for the next round of building cleaning, or they aren't. Do nothing, and the place remains choked with fumes and with lots of very slow moving traffic.

Bath Trams have done a bit of research on the subject, and found that tramways can be a lot cheaper to build if the current British practice of building them to a standard that would support a 2000 tonne train is revised. A lightweight prefrabricated tramway that doesn't need utilities moving like MetroBust did costs a lot less to install, and OHLE can be avoid by either using batteries for the journey through the scenic bits, or having the Bordeaux option, with a third rail that is only live when the tram is over it, for sensitive areas. I'm sure cleverer people than me (there are many) could work out an inner city circuit passing right outside Bath Spa station, and with an extension to the park and ride at Newbridge as a start. Do that, and Bristol would be shamed into following.

Not going to happen, though.
« Last Edit: September 02, 2019, 07:56:22 pm by TonyK » Logged

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« Reply #18 on: September 02, 2019, 07:32:10 pm »

I many places the layout from original tramways in the centre is the way to go, Bath being a great example of this.
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Bmblbzzz
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« Reply #19 on: September 02, 2019, 08:55:03 pm »

I'm sure I remember reading that trams used to go up the grassy central reservation of the Wellsway. That's quite steep, they must have been light trams.
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« Reply #20 on: September 03, 2019, 11:44:56 am »

I'm sure I remember reading that trams used to go up the grassy central reservation of the Wellsway. That's quite steep, they must have been light trams.

Gradients are less of a concern for electric trams or trains anyway, as witnessed by some of the gradients on the IOM Electric Railway and the Snaefell Mountain Railway, especially the one heading north out of Douglas.
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Oxonhutch
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« Reply #21 on: September 03, 2019, 03:15:39 pm »

A bit like the never-used bridge south of Beddgelert, and the abutments in the adjacent field. Built for an electric railway - replaced, before completion, by the steam powered Welsh Highland Railway.
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« Reply #22 on: September 05, 2019, 04:26:11 pm »

When will we know if finishing electrification will happen in CP6? If not Id assume it will be postponed even further intonCP7/8?

When a politician is after votes in Bristol I suspect :-)

Possibly, it is not really sensible to do it until after Bristol East junction has been remodelled, which is planned for 2021 (along with work to the underpass to provide access to the University's development). You'd also want to wire Temple Meads, so realistically that means waiting for the roof refurbishment to be complete, and perhaps a greater rebuiling scheme. As well as Chippenham to Bristol TM, Parkway to TM would almost certainly be wired, the rest was out of the original scope.

But (and I write this as a massive proponent of electrification), with the current rolling stock and service patterns, the case to do it is a bit tenuous as you only end up switching the 80x services to electric for a few extra miles (and they have diesel engines anyway). Sure it's good for air quality, sure it's good as a starting point as it will improve the BCR of electrification to Portishead/Birmingham/Taunton/Westbury, but you don't strictly need it.

However, once the Turbos and Voyagers start to get life-expired and you have some kind of MetroWest up and running, then it becomes a *much* more economically attractive option to replace the Turbos with electric and bi-mode stock, (the Voyagers replacements will almost certainly be bi-mode). But that's not realistically going to happen until CP7.

I've said this before many times, but if you want to get electrification, then the best starting point is to lobby for more S-Bahn/RER-style services, double-tracking of the Severn Beach line, station reopenings etc, get bums on seats, and at some point NR will *have* to electrify the railway just to cope with the volumes of traffic. 

As for Bath (and Bristol for that matter), anyone who reckons trams would be incompatible with narrow streets, historic architecture, bikes and pedestrians should take a look at Ghent. Was there earlier this week, loads of trams and all looked fantastic.





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johnneyw
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« Reply #23 on: September 05, 2019, 06:38:02 pm »


. anyone who reckons trams would be incompatible with narrow streets, historic architecture, bikes and pedestrians should take a look at Ghent. Was there earlier this week, loads of trams and all looked fantastic.


I've also been to Ghent and I concur!
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johnneyw
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« Reply #24 on: September 06, 2019, 11:10:51 am »


. anyone who reckons trams would be incompatible with narrow streets, historic architecture, bikes and pedestrians should take a look at Ghent. Was there earlier this week, loads of trams and all looked fantastic.


I've also been to Ghent and I concur!

Krakow Old Town could be cited too. I was there in March and the trams were operating in conditions not dissimilar to those in Bath.  The tram services were frequent and well used while bus services in the same area were a comparative rarity.I

One point maybe worth noting. Although I cannot verify this, I have heard that the "Old Town" zone car traffic is reduced by being permitted access for residents only (or some similar restriction, perhaps the Coffee Shop's collective wealth of knowledge could expand on this). These sort of general measures might also be transferable, with some fine tuning, to Bath's environment.
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TonyK
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« Reply #25 on: September 06, 2019, 05:53:49 pm »

But (and I write this as a massive proponent of electrification), with the current rolling stock and service patterns, the case to do it is a bit tenuous as you only end up switching the 80x services to electric for a few extra miles (and they have diesel engines anyway). Sure it's good for air quality, sure it's good as a starting point as it will improve the BCR of electrification to Portishead/Birmingham/Taunton/Westbury, but you don't strictly need it.

However, once the Turbos and Voyagers start to get life-expired and you have some kind of MetroWest up and running, then it becomes a *much* more economically attractive option to replace the Turbos with electric and bi-mode stock, (the Voyagers replacements will almost certainly be bi-mode). But that's not realistically going to happen until CP7.

And there's the question. The bi-mode trains, ignoring buffets, hardness of chairs, and the initial deluge from the aircon, have proven to be more of a benefit than anticipated at the time the diesel engines were ordered. The 9-car trains can (and do) run extensively away from the cables. But if the government goes soft on electrification, what message does that send out? If the government perpetuates diesel as a fuel for public transport, why is there the big rush to get the private citizen to buy electric? Do as I say, not as I do, will be the accusation.

The HSTs were only developed because the nation couldn't afford wide scale electrification in the 1970s. My concern is that the bi-mode 9-car sets were brought in for much the same reason, or worse, because it was politically expedient to halt the electrification before completion. They have a 25-year contract life, although that will no doubt be extended come the day because nobody will start thinking about their replacement around 23 years into their life, after which there will be a long lead-in, an election and a review, maybe two of each, and so on. Meanwhile, because we have an alternative to finishing the original electrification programme and carrying on beyond that, the OHLE installation team will have long been disbanded, and the special HOPP train, which never really set the world alight, sold.

So, if the government is serious about "decarbonising" transport, it should demonstrate that resolve by putting in place a proper long-term strategy for electrifying all mainline routes and busy branches. It doesn't have to be instant or even rapid, but it should be possible to calculate the date at which all express services will be electric.

At the same time, the government should be upping the rate for local public transport being all-electric. Bath has a good case for being the next city to try trams. The modern systems in the UK have demonstrated the usefulness of trams, and the technology and engineering knowledge base is well developed, so it is not a case of starting from the beginning.
« Last Edit: September 06, 2019, 06:04:09 pm by TonyK » Logged

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« Reply #26 on: September 06, 2019, 09:14:06 pm »

But (and I write this as a massive proponent of electrification), with the current rolling stock and service patterns, the case to do it is a bit tenuous as you only end up switching the 80x services to electric for a few extra miles (and they have diesel engines anyway). Sure it's good for air quality, sure it's good as a starting point as it will improve the BCR of electrification to Portishead/Birmingham/Taunton/Westbury, but you don't strictly need it.

However, once the Turbos and Voyagers start to get life-expired and you have some kind of MetroWest up and running, then it becomes a *much* more economically attractive option to replace the Turbos with electric and bi-mode stock, (the Voyagers replacements will almost certainly be bi-mode). But that's not realistically going to happen until CP7.

And there's the question. The bi-mode trains, ignoring buffets, hardness of chairs, and the initial deluge from the aircon, have proven to be more of a benefit than anticipated at the time the diesel engines were ordered. The 9-car trains can (and do) run extensively away from the cables. But if the government goes soft on electrification, what message does that send out? If the government perpetuates diesel as a fuel for public transport, why is there the big rush to get the private citizen to buy electric? Do as I say, not as I do, will be the accusation.

The HSTs were only developed because the nation couldn't afford wide scale electrification in the 1970s. My concern is that the bi-mode 9-car sets were brought in for much the same reason, or worse, because it was politically expedient to halt the electrification before completion. They have a 25-year contract life, although that will no doubt be extended come the day because nobody will start thinking about their replacement around 23 years into their life, after which there will be a long lead-in, an election and a review, maybe two of each, and so on. Meanwhile, because we have an alternative to finishing the original electrification programme and carrying on beyond that, the OHLE installation team will have long been disbanded, and the special HOPP train, which never really set the world alight, sold.

So, if the government is serious about "decarbonising" transport, it should demonstrate that resolve by putting in place a proper long-term strategy for electrifying all mainline routes and busy branches. It doesn't have to be instant or even rapid, but it should be possible to calculate the date at which all express services will be electric.

At the same time, the government should be upping the rate for local public transport being all-electric. Bath has a good case for being the next city to try trams. The modern systems in the UK have demonstrated the usefulness of trams, and the technology and engineering knowledge base is well developed, so it is not a case of starting from the beginning.

Indeed, the IEP programme, which was once considered to have been an expensive lame duck with its 26m long bimodes, has proved to be a resounding success and indeed appears to have achieved its objective to produce a 'standard' InterCity train as a successor to the HST. Probably more thanks to Hitachi's persistance and First negotiating some good deals rather than the DfT, but hey ho. And indeed, let us not forget that only a few years ago, the rolling stock options in the UK were very limited indeed, with some saying that it would be impossible to fit modern diesel engines into a UK loading gauge, resulting in the availability of DMU stock being a major constraint on capacity and network growth.

Whilst Westminster might be going soft on electrification, its not the case for the whole of the UK - the Scots still have a rolling program, there's a big programme about to start in the Welsh Valleys, Corby to Kettering is still being wired, the Transpennine route will at least be part wired, and of course HS2 will be wired along with Chesterfield to Sheffield. I think most people in the industry agree that electrification is a good thing that reduces costs all round,  diesel is unlikely to to get any cheaper, so long term it's going to happen.   

As for trams in UK cities - one of the problems is that cities don't generally have the cash, the ability to raise the capital themselves or to profit from the benefits of public transport, so inevitably it's a Westminster job and a politicised decision. Ten or so years ago, I remember an American planner talking about the growth of Cambridge and saying that in the US, a city with such good fortune would raise a bunch of cash in the bond markets, build itself a load of new infrastructure, and sit back and rake in the cash from property and business taxes. But on the flip side, we should perhaps suggest that as the good burghers of Bath are paying a lot of income tax, perhaps they should get some back to pay for some trams?
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« Reply #27 on: September 07, 2019, 08:37:43 am »

But (and I write this as a massive proponent of electrification), with the current rolling stock and service patterns, the case to do it is a bit tenuous as you only end up switching the 80x services to electric for a few extra miles (and they have diesel engines anyway). Sure it's good for air quality, sure it's good as a starting point as it will improve the BCR of electrification to Portishead/Birmingham/Taunton/Westbury, but you don't strictly need it.

However, once the Turbos and Voyagers start to get life-expired and you have some kind of MetroWest up and running, then it becomes a *much* more economically attractive option to replace the Turbos with electric and bi-mode stock, (the Voyagers replacements will almost certainly be bi-mode). But that's not realistically going to happen until CP7.
The energy/carbon cost of building new things often appears to be overlooked by the 'powers that be'. In terms of whole-life costs I assume it's a fairly small proportion, but it makes sense to maximise the useful life of said things. Diesel engines are one of those things. Does it make sense to make new diesel engines for a new fleet to replace the Voyagers? BR-era DMUs (Sprinters and Pacers) have/will-have lasted 30 years, presumably with the same engines they had from new (unlike the IC125s I'm not aware of a re-engine project for the DMUs). Thus I assume a diesel engine lasts about 30 years. If you replace the Voyagers with new bi-modes from 2030 we'll either have to scrap diesel engines after less than their useful life or still be burning diesel in 2060. Worrying, isn't it?

In my view ordering new trains with diesel engines for 125mph operation should now be banned. The various bi-modes currently in existance or on-order (such as the new East Midlands Railway fleet) should take us to 2050, by which time we should aim to have the vast majority of the mainline network wired. To replace the Voyagers, we need to electrify the routes those bi-modes currently/will work, such as Bristol Temple Meads to Paddington (both via Bath and Bristol Parkway), Didcot to Oxford and the Midland Main Line. The bi-modes (or at least the diesel engines from under the floors) could then be cascaded to CrossCountry to replace the Voyagers. We don't need to build any more 125mph bi-modes if the ones we have are used intelligently.
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TonyK
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« Reply #28 on: September 07, 2019, 10:10:38 am »


As for trams in UK cities - one of the problems is that cities don't generally have the cash, the ability to raise the capital themselves or to profit from the benefits of public transport, so inevitably it's a Westminster job and a politicised decision. Ten or so years ago, I remember an American planner talking about the growth of Cambridge and saying that in the US, a city with such good fortune would raise a bunch of cash in the bond markets, build itself a load of new infrastructure, and sit back and rake in the cash from property and business taxes. But on the flip side, we should perhaps suggest that as the good burghers of Bath are paying a lot of income tax, perhaps they should get some back to pay for some trams?

Funds are available to local authorities. Good quality schemes will attract grants, never for the whole amount, and the rest can be borrowed at preferential rates. The Public Works Board can make loans of up to 100 million for infrastructure projects, with the added bonus of insisting that work can begin quickly. LAs can borrow elsewhere in a similar way to any other body, but often at preferential rates that are way below what you would get for a mortgage, and over longer periods.

Look at the possible alternatives to trams elsewhere. The obvious local scheme is MetroBust in Bristol, South Glos, and, just, North Somerset. DfT were persuaded to stump up around two thirds of the initial cost estimate, a figure that rather quickly lost meaning. The local authorities borrowed most of the rest rather than dipping into reserves. The net result was a couple of new roads, the world's shortest guided busway, and some gas powered buses, subsidised by the government. Part of the model for funding involved charges paid by operators for the privilege of using the segregated bits. First said before construction began that they would not pay to use the routes, as the alternatives on normal roads were good enough, and the charges have been "postponed". First operate two routes directly and one by proxy. Any other bus operator could operate buses alongh MetroBust routes provided they agreed to the rapidly eroding minimum standards, none has chosen to do so. The routes were therefore paid for with borrowed money, but have no income stream to repay the loans. Houses are mortgaged over 20, 25 30 years or even more - buses are normally leased with a payback period no longer than 5 years because, though they get looked after more than most private cars, they are still a motor vehicle full of complex moving parts, and wear out quickly. The gas powered buses being used are no exception, and if my last LPG powered car is anything to go by, they won't last as long as a diesel bus. A further complication is that they can't be handed down the line through less prestigious routes and areas as happens now, unless the small country operator installs a 1 million gas plant. Bristol has an asset that cost a lot, needs regular maintenance, and will be taking money from its budget for the next 50 or 60 years with no return. To complicate matters, even electric buses are taking flak for their emissions of tyre and brake particles.

Modern trams are fairly sophisticated, but the heart of the vehicle is a motor similar to that installed in the very first electric washing machine.  They last 25 years or more with a refurbishment halfway through, cost more to buid but less to run, and are cleaner than their rubber tyred cousins. Edinburgh's trams are now turning an operating profit, although it will be a while before the initial outlay is recovered, being conservative. Blackpool's trams are operated by a company wholy owned by the council. They subsidise the bus services and return over 1,000,000 pa to the council coffers. Manchester Metrolink receives no public subsidy, and returned 82 million last year, which is being invested in expansion. Nottingham tram's finances look bad at first sight, but it is bringing in money, and is on target to clear its contracted borrowings within 15 years, when the PFI contract ends.

So, councils can find the money if they want to, have the courage to, and if the government lets them. Bath should test the water.
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« Reply #29 on: September 11, 2019, 02:42:42 pm »

Krakow Old Town could be cited too. I was there in March and the trams were operating in conditions not dissimilar to those in Bath.  The tram services were frequent and well used while bus services in the same area were a comparative rarity.I

One point maybe worth noting. Although I cannot verify this, I have heard that the "Old Town" zone car traffic is reduced by being permitted access for residents only (or some similar restriction, perhaps the Coffee Shop's collective wealth of knowledge could expand on this). These sort of general measures might also be transferable, with some fine tuning, to Bath's environment.
There is a system of three concentric zones and a hierarchy of roads within them (residential, commercial, through routes, etc). Two of the things that would have to be adapted in transferring a similar scheme to Bath are that Krakow (like most Polish cities) has a well defined and rather small historic centre, due in part to the grid pattern historically used (referred to as Magdeburg plan); and that within the strict centre, a city like Bath does not really have non-commercial streets.
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