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Author Topic: Trams for Bristol (again) and Bath?  (Read 773 times)
johnneyw
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« Reply #15 on: February 20, 2021, 12:20:35 pm »

A heavy rail service would at best serve four intermediate stations between Bristol and Bath, and even that would be challenging to timetable. A tram service broadly following the A4 could serve maybe 15 stops, and they'd be better located to serve local destinations.

Indeed.  There are other heavy rail corridors duplicated by trams so there is a precedent.
- Birmingham to Wolverhampton
- Nottingham to Hucknall
- Manchester to Rochdale
Each a different case, of course ...

That could possibly decide the issue of whether to reopen a station at Saltford or not, especially if the majority of potential passenger journeys are identified as being to and from Bristol and Bath.
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« Reply #16 on: February 20, 2021, 06:06:52 pm »

...Trams, and any other fanciful schemes, have long since ceased to be a vote-winner...

Is that true?

It's all a bit complicated because different levels of government have their irons in the fire for different reasons. As we've seen recently with pop-up bike lanes, Central Government can be seen to be doing the right thing by telling local authorities to implement schemes for which, if they work out well, they can take the credit. Obviously if they turn out badly then that's the fault of the local authorities...

Here in Bristol the local and regional authorities all seem to agree that there's political capital to be made from talk of rapid transit. So presumably they still think these schemes are vote-winners, as does Central Government who have generously agreed to give them back some of their tax revenue to pay for it.
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Lee
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« Reply #17 on: February 20, 2021, 07:24:09 pm »

...Trams, and any other fanciful schemes, have long since ceased to be a vote-winner...

Is that true?

It's all a bit complicated because different levels of government have their irons in the fire for different reasons. As we've seen recently with pop-up bike lanes, Central Government can be seen to be doing the right thing by telling local authorities to implement schemes for which, if they work out well, they can take the credit. Obviously if they turn out badly then that's the fault of the local authorities...

Here in Bristol the local and regional authorities all seem to agree that there's political capital to be made from talk of rapid transit. So presumably they still think these schemes are vote-winners, as does Central Government who have generously agreed to give them back some of their tax revenue to pay for it.

Another way of looking at it would be to ask the following question - "Name the last Bristol Mayor or Council Leader whose reign was remembered for the positive public transport legacy they left."
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DaveHarries
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« Reply #18 on: February 20, 2021, 10:28:09 pm »

All these flying pigs about the idea of trams in Bristol. So many flying pigs, in fact, that you could provide 3 bacon sarnies (for those of us who eat them) for each member of this forum.

There are, on the other hand, rather less flying pigs in the West Midlands where they are simply getting on with it. Trams in Bristol? Yeah right: I will believe it if (rather than when) it happens. I reckon the M2 metrobus should have been trams not buses for starters.

Dave
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Robin Summerhill
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« Reply #19 on: February 21, 2021, 12:32:49 pm »

All these flying pigs about the idea of trams in Bristol. So many flying pigs, in fact, that you could provide 3 bacon sarnies (for those of us who eat them) for each member of this forum.

There are, on the other hand, rather less flying pigs in the West Midlands where they are simply getting on with it. Trams in Bristol? Yeah right: I will believe it if (rather than when) it happens. I reckon the M2 metrobus should have been trams not buses for starters.

Dave

You are quite correct in that there are less flying pigs in the West Midlands (and Manchester and Nottingham and Sheffield and Croydon to name but a few than there are in the West Country.

So why have we got so many? After all it was only 3 or 4 years ago that plans were hatching to build an undeground metro system for Bristol. Are we going to get that as well as the trams and the flying taxis, or has that idea been quietly swept iunder the carpet?

I think I mght have the answer to this conumdrum. The West Midlands and all the others wanted an improved public transport system, so their politicians got on with it and did it.

Down here the view appears to be that it is a bloody sight cheaper to simply talk about these things than actually get off collective backsides and do anythig about it.

By the way, what do you think my chances are of getting a train to Portishead on the day that lockdoen ends? After all, a thread was started on this forum about that reopening on 10th April 2007 - it must have been open for years now, surely...
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« Reply #20 on: February 21, 2021, 12:55:26 pm »

The West Midlands and all the others wanted an improved public transport system, so their politicians got on with it and did it.

Down here the view appears to be that it is a bloody sight cheaper to simply talk about these things than actually get off collective backsides and do anythig about it.

Though in the case of the West Midlands Metro, after it first opened in 1999 it was allowed to stagnate at well below the expected passenger numbers for over fifteen years.  No increase in ridership over that time at all.  No improvements.  There was plenty of talk, and plenty of sitting on collective backsides until, credit where it's due, things started to change quite dramatically when the New Street extension opened in 2016, with plenty to come over the next few years - provided Covid doesn't apply any brakes.
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Lee
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« Reply #21 on: February 21, 2021, 08:28:04 pm »

All these flying pigs about the idea of trams in Bristol. So many flying pigs, in fact, that you could provide 3 bacon sarnies (for those of us who eat them) for each member of this forum.

There are, on the other hand, rather less flying pigs in the West Midlands where they are simply getting on with it. Trams in Bristol? Yeah right: I will believe it if (rather than when) it happens. I reckon the M2 metrobus should have been trams not buses for starters.

Dave

You are quite correct in that there are less flying pigs in the West Midlands (and Manchester and Nottingham and Sheffield and Croydon to name but a few than there are in the West Country.

So why have we got so many? After all it was only 3 or 4 years ago that plans were hatching to build an undeground metro system for Bristol. Are we going to get that as well as the trams and the flying taxis, or has that idea been quietly swept iunder the carpet?

I think I mght have the answer to this conumdrum. The West Midlands and all the others wanted an improved public transport system, so their politicians got on with it and did it.

Down here the view appears to be that it is a bloody sight cheaper to simply talk about these things than actually get off collective backsides and do anythig about it.

By the way, what do you think my chances are of getting a train to Portishead on the day that lockdoen ends? After all, a thread was started on this forum about that reopening on 10th April 2007 - it must have been open for years now, surely...

Although we are often on opposite sides of the optimist/pessimist coin, I am definitely with Robin on this one.

I would like to think that what people like grahame, Phil, Reginald25, myself and many others - with it has to be said the genuine help and hard work of several politicians - did with securing an appropriate TransWilts rail service was the exception that proves the rule. However, it took 8 long years between 2005-2013 to get there, although I appreciate that those still waiting in the Greater Bristol area for much needed rail service improvements and line/station openings will see that as a mere blink of an eye.

Also, as grahame's post today once again illustrated, it could be argued that because it took so long to get what was in 2005 an appropriate level of service put in place, it was already inappropriate by the time it was introduced! This was borne out in no uncertain terms by the immediate and rapid growth seen in the early years of the service - described by Mark Hopwood himself as "The TransWilts Success Story".

Ive always believed that you could manage 2 passenger paths and 1 freight path on the existing Melksham line infrastructure per hour, but I also accept that providing a dynamic loop or similar would make it that much more robust. However, the cynic in me also worries that framing the debate in that direction hands the perfect excuse for inaction to those who have an agenda to keep the Melksham line as the "lightly-used passenger backwater" they always believed it should have remained - "Sorry folks, it will be a long time before funding is available  for that kind of enhancement, so you will have to make do with what you've got".

Then you have the Option 24/7 - Comité De Lignes  example:

Our 2016 Option 24/7 proposals for bus franchising in Wiltshire included a proposal that bus services would be specified by a committee that brought together passengers, local authorities and bus companies. Unfortunately, Wiltshire Council were not ready at the time to accept what they considered to be a radical plan, and the proposal did not go ahead.

One of the reasons I moved to France in September 2017 was the opportunity to help shape the future of public transport in Brittany, as the specification of the local bus network transferred to the regional level and was placed under a unified structure with the local rail network which had been already specified by the region for several years. This unified structure came into being in September 2018 under the Breizhgo brand.

I am pleased to say that since then, bus and rail services in Brittany have been specified in a very similar way to that envisaged by us in Option 24/7. There are 7 Comités De Lignes each corresponding to a particular area of Brittany, bringing together passengers, regional and local authorities, SNCF and bus companies to specify their local bus and rail services.

My local Comité De Lignes covers the Saint Brieuc-Lannion, Saint Brieuc-Morlaix, Guingamp-Carhaix and Guingamp-Paimpol local rail services, and all the local bus services in the area shown in the map below:



Each Comité De Lignes has an annual "listening exercise", where the views and ideas of the public on a wide range of issues are sought, and we are currently in the middle of ours, which runs from 1 February-14 February 2021. Normally we would accompany this with public meetings in various towns and villages, but this year due to coronavirus it is being conducted online and by post.

This doesnt mean though that the public only have a 14-day window each year to send in their ideas and suggestions. Far from it - These are welcomed by the committee all year round, and all are considered for the next upcoming timetable change. These happen 3 times a year in July, September and December, with bus and rail services changing together on those same dates. This aims to balance both the flexibility and the stability of the timetables, whilst allowing for their integration. However, just as we envisaged with Option 24/7, there is a mechanism that allows urgent or particularly no-brainer changes to be made at short notice if required.

Finally, in normal times, several public meetings all year round in towns and villages are organised, along with sessions in rail and bus stations that are very similar to the way "Meet the Manager" works in the UK. There is also a regular newsletter published by each Comité De Lignes, detailing the latest news, project updates, and including passenger numbers and performance figures for each rail and bus route in the area.

So why can you make this work in Brittany but not Wiltshire, when the legislative hurdles that used to preclude it have now largely been removed? I'm afraid the answer lies in a culture that is still firmly wedded to "the way things have always been done", and an instinctive opposition to the perceived hassle and upheaval that change might bring, no matter how hard you try to allay such fears, and as you can see from this link, we tried exceedingly hard.

Finally, I noted this quote from the recent Travelwatch Southwest online event:

My input (slides) at http://www.passenger.chat/24686 ... other inputs to be written up here in the morning!
Paul Johnson. (1) Integrating rail and bus information on CIS screens is important where rail replacement buses are running.  This has always been put in "too difficult" box by the rail industry when requested, but it's not/no longer just a local issue we have raised here and should be addressed.

I do feel for Paul on this point, as we could already have had a solution in place for this issue. What many of you wont know is that in 2018, I was asked by an organisation - I wont name them here - to try and come up with a solution to a very similar problem. They wanted their passengers to be able to track where rail replacement buses/coaches were, but the vehicles provided were often whatever the operators had available at the time, were never always the same, and there tended to be an element of pot luck as to their age and quality. Therefore they were looking for a GPS Tracker that wasnt vehicle-specific and that they could quickly and easily attach to the rail replacement buses/coaches when they turned up. Finally, they would need the GPS Tracker to be compatible with their app, as the point was to allow their passengers to track where their rail replacement bus/coach was through that.

I managed to come up with 3 viable and competitive quotes, including one company who was willing to offer a free trial. I recommended that this offer be taken up, as in my opinion, the best case scenario would see the trial work so well that it unlocked the funding needed to provide the trackers on a full-time basis, and the worst that could happen is that everybody involved got a boost from the publicity.

It was at that point everything went rather quiet, with the conclusion being drawn very similar to Robin's overall point, that some organisations prefer the kudos of talking a good game, rather than the risky business of having to actually implement the solution.
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grahame
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« Reply #22 on: February 22, 2021, 11:49:09 am »

There is an awful lot of meat in that post, Robin and Lee - so many good points / items to answer in general that I have selectively quoted.

Down here the view appears to be that it is a bloody sight cheaper to simply talk about these things than actually get off collective backsides and do anything about it.

Although we are often on opposite sides of the optimist/pessimist coin, I am definitely with Robin on this one.

I would like to think that what people like grahame, Phil, Reginald25, myself and many others - with it has to be said the genuine help and hard work of several politicians - did with securing an appropriate TransWilts rail service was the exception that proves the rule. However, it took 8 long years ...

Also, as grahame's post today once again illustrated, it could be argued that because it took so long to get what was in 2005 an appropriate level of service put in place, it was already inappropriate by the time it was introduced! ...

The cynic in me also worries that framing the debate in that direction hands the perfect excuse for inaction to those who have an agenda to keep the Melksham line as the "lightly-used passenger backwater" they always believed it should have remained - "Sorry folks, it will be a long time before funding is available  for that kind of enhancement, so you will have to make do with what you've got".

[Brittany example and contrast]

So why can you make this work in Brittany but not Wiltshire, when the legislative hurdles that used to preclude it have now largely been removed? I'm afraid the answer lies in a culture that is still firmly wedded to "the way things have always been done", and an instinctive opposition to the perceived hassle and upheaval that change might bring, no matter how hard you try to allay such fears, and as you can see from this link, we tried exceedingly hard.

Finally, I noted this quote from the recent Travelwatch Southwest online event:

[snip - trackers on rail replacement buses]

It was at that point everything went rather quiet, with the conclusion being drawn very similar to Robin's overall point, that some organisations prefer the kudos of talking a good game, rather than the risky business of having to actually implement the solution.

Indeed it is cheaper and less risky to talk, engage consultants and report. It's also a way to get some quick positive outcomes - at least in the ether - in the current election cycle, while passing the bigger spend on implementation on to the next generation.   There is a wonderful upcoming opportunity to take another cycle of talking and reporting on so many projects now, as source assumptions are incorrect due to coronavirus ... at the same time and with the looming climate friendly / zero carbon agenda, there should be an opportunity to rebuild different and there should be incredible community help into that - win the hearts of the community, please - they are you future customers and they now have a choice as to what to do for their new normal. 

Not sure I'm 100% optimistic on that one, but that does not preclude making every effort.  Can't be worse than not trying, can it?

Coming back from macro to micro, looking at Melksham's town bus (services 14 and 15). Log jam has been "but the people who use them at the moment don't want to go to the station, and a bird in hand is worth ten in the bush". Well - hardly anyone is using them at the moment, so what better time than to changes the routes to be fit for the 20s?   

I note Lee's comment about our train service being inappropriate before it was introduced (witness the train manager  walking up and down the side of the train, banging on the windows and asking people to move up so more could get on) and really don't want to wait for bus service changes for the 20s to only be implemented just before the 30s. For sure, it's likely that a service in the 30s that was designed for the 20s would be better than a service designed for the 10s still running at that time - but how about (a novel idea?) an appropriate service for the current time??

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« Reply #23 on: February 22, 2021, 05:24:46 pm »

...Trams, and any other fanciful schemes, have long since ceased to be a vote-winner...

Is that true?

It's all a bit complicated because different levels of government have their irons in the fire for different reasons. As we've seen recently with pop-up bike lanes, Central Government can be seen to be doing the right thing by telling local authorities to implement schemes for which, if they work out well, they can take the credit. Obviously if they turn out badly then that's the fault of the local authorities...

Here in Bristol the local and regional authorities all seem to agree that there's political capital to be made from talk of rapid transit. So presumably they still think these schemes are vote-winners, as does Central Government who have generously agreed to give them back some of their tax revenue to pay for it.

Good points, but I think a cynical Bristol public would believe it only once they saw rails being laid. ATA's plan rumbled on for a few years then collapsed. Avon County Council started planning the Westway scheme in the early 1990's, but that died with Avon County Council in 1996. Then the reasonably serious plan for Bristol Supertram was put forward in 2001, but 3 years later, South Glos got cold feet and that folded in 2004. The councils, LEP, and later WRECA spent the next 14 years (yes, 14 years!) planning and building a bridge, two new roads and a few extra bus lanes. We now have the cutting edge system that gives us three carbon dioxide emitting buses per hour to the far reaches of Bristol, 5 bph on the two other routes, all the way through to as late as 7pm. It is faster than what preceded, but strip away the spin and you end up with something costing a quarter of a billion quid with a USP of being not quite as bad as what we had before.

No one political party can be blamed for this state of affairs, as all had a hand in it. The overall picture does rather show that there was no proper framework for planning such an extraordinary thing as transport for the masses. Avon County Council and the LEP were supposed to be in charge, but didn't achieve much. WECA has done even less. I recall reading of Mayor Bowles greeting members of the Commons Transport Select Committee, and promptly being verbally wire-brushed by them for not knowing what he was supposed to be doing or the powers he had. Politics and infrastructure do not mix easily. Anyone standing for election on a promise of trams or improved rail will have to show how he or she intends to deliver, and that isn't going to be at all easy to do in a mere four-year stretch.
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« Reply #24 on: February 23, 2021, 12:05:37 am »

I think I mght have the answer to this conumdrum. The West Midlands and all the others wanted an improved public transport system, so their politicians got on with it and did it.

Down here the view appears to be that it is a bloody sight cheaper to simply talk about these things than actually get off collective backsides and do anythig about it.

By the way, what do you think my chances are of getting a train to Portishead on the day that lockdoen ends? After all, a thread was started on this forum about that reopening on 10th April 2007 - it must have been open for years now, surely...
I think, and hope, that trains to Portishead will happen before we see so much as a single rail of a tram scheme in Bristol. This CAZ in Bristol which will see a ban on diesel cars in the city centre is all very well but BCC are failing to provide any serious alternative to cars and that is why people (myself included) continue to use them. I currently have a diesel so will change but not sure whether to get a hybrid or petrol: I have my eyes on a hybrid which you can also change to drive purely in electric.

Anyway back to trams. Talk is always cheap but the West Midlands continue to make progress. I recently read that the new Wednesbury to Brierley Hill, via. Dudley, route on the Midland Metro is costing £450m but I am not sure if that cost includes the brand-new transport interchange in Dudley (which will include a metro stop) which has just been given the green light and will cost £24m. If BCC and / or WECA are serious about trams then they should look to the WMCA / Midland Metro for an example of how to go about it.

Dave
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« Reply #25 on: February 23, 2021, 10:12:55 am »

I think I mght have the answer to this conumdrum. The West Midlands and all the others wanted an improved public transport system, so their politicians got on with it and did it.

Down here the view appears to be that it is a bloody sight cheaper to simply talk about these things than actually get off collective backsides and do anythig about it.

By the way, what do you think my chances are of getting a train to Portishead on the day that lockdoen ends? After all, a thread was started on this forum about that reopening on 10th April 2007 - it must have been open for years now, surely...
I think, and hope, that trains to Portishead will happen before we see so much as a single rail of a tram scheme in Bristol. This CAZ in Bristol which will see a ban on diesel cars in the city centre is all very well but BCC are failing to provide any serious alternative to cars and that is why people (myself included) continue to use them. I currently have a diesel so will change but not sure whether to get a hybrid or petrol: I have my eyes on a hybrid which you can also change to drive purely in electric.

Anyway back to trams. Talk is always cheap but the West Midlands continue to make progress. I recently read that the new Wednesbury to Brierley Hill, via. Dudley, route on the Midland Metro is costing £450m but I am not sure if that cost includes the brand-new transport interchange in Dudley (which will include a metro stop) which has just been given the green light and will cost £24m. If BCC and / or WECA are serious about trams then they should look to the WMCA / Midland Metro for an example of how to go about it.

Dave

Bristol's preferred option is a Small CAZ D, which is not a 'diesel ban' as previously discussed. The current CAZ proposals cover 'older, more polluting commercial vehicles, such as taxis and heavy good vehicles, and private cars' - which includes older petrol cars.

Portishead, like Filton Bank before it and Bristol East Jct now, will happen very quickly once the planning stops and the doing starts. Given that no decisions have even been made about the mode of any future rapid transit system, it is fair to assume that Portishead will be up and running long before it.

It's easy to be cynical about Greater Bristol's historic inability to get its act together and build a tram system, but it's also unhelpful. The fact that we've thrown 'tails' several times in a row has no bearing on which way the coin will land next time - unless we just give up, in which case it definitely won't happen!
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« Reply #26 on: February 23, 2021, 10:27:32 am »

It is also unhelpful to ignore, marginalise and patronise those who have a long track record of trying to help get such schemes across the line, but have understandably grown disillusioned over the long years they have had to wait, and the many false starts they have had to endure. Unfortunately, whilst several politicians and campaigners such as RS do genuinely try and unite and be inclusive, the "get off my land and fixed ideas" attitude of others has regrettably had the opposite effect.

Those derided as "cynics" should be listened to and their views learned from, not criticised and sidelined.
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« Reply #27 on: February 23, 2021, 03:24:22 pm »


It's easy to be cynical about Greater Bristol's historic inability to get its act together and build a tram system, but it's also unhelpful. The fact that we've thrown 'tails' several times in a row has no bearing on which way the coin will land next time - unless we just give up, in which case it definitely won't happen!

And

However, the cynic in me also worries that framing the debate in that direction hands the perfect excuse for inaction to those who have an agenda to keep the Melksham line as the "lightly-used passenger backwater" they always believed it should have remained - "Sorry folks, it will be a long time before funding is available  for that kind of enhancement, so you will have to make do with what you've got".


I’ve been wondering for a couple of days how to respond to Lee’s post on Sunday, and further posts on the topic have helped clarify my thoughts.

“Those who have an agenda” works both ways. Some might say that those who push for these schemes themselves have an agenda to push through anything that runs on rails to the exclusion of all other options.

Politicians in general are not railway enthusiasts, and neither is the majority of the rest of the population. Furthermore, there are many people in Bath and Bristol who would not use a tram or an underground system even if it was provided, and many of these people would resent public money, their taxes because it won’t come from anywhere else, spent on a system they won’t use. Their priorities for spending their public money might be more Dog Wardens, or more rubbish collections, or all manner of other things.

Politicians of whatever persuasion will need to recognise this, and make sure that when public money is spent it is spent in the optimum way for the benefit of the largest number of people. And that, of course will always be a moving target.

There may be a case for a tram system in Bath and Bristol, there may not.  I have not seen the figures and nor, I believe, has anybody else. But linking the two? Just think about the practicalities involved.

There is no redundant rail route that can be used except via Mangotsfield, and a nanosecond after the plan was publicised then Sustrans, local walkers and dog walkers would be forming pressure groups to stop it. Running trams along a road route, either via Keynsham or Hanham/ Bitton, would either reduce road capacity or require more land to be purchased, and in many cases that would mean buying individual parcels of front gardens and probably a few demolitions. Can you envisage that being welcomed wholeheartedly by the affected parties or their elected representatives? I can’t.

In either case there would be consultations, public enquiries, appeals, and judicial reviews going on for years, not only long after the politicians proposing it had left office, but after some of them had had their half day out with the Undertaker.

Even if such a scheme did manage to be pushed through, there would be years of disruption as the lines were built and the infrastructure installed, with yet more arguments about that (the good residents of Bath, for example, already have form in objecting to OHLE in their neck of the woods). And all the while, those who don’t like it and won’t use it and don’t want all that money spent on it will continue to lobby against it and attempt to dismiss it as a vanity project, and the small matter of not being able to find the donkey on which to pin that tail won’t deter them.

When looked at in this perspective it is easy to see why politicians would attempt to humour pressure groups by talking about it rather than actually doing anything about it
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« Reply #28 on: February 23, 2021, 04:54:36 pm »


It's easy to be cynical about Greater Bristol's historic inability to get its act together and build a tram system, but it's also unhelpful. The fact that we've thrown 'tails' several times in a row has no bearing on which way the coin will land next time - unless we just give up, in which case it definitely won't happen!

And

However, the cynic in me also worries that framing the debate in that direction hands the perfect excuse for inaction to those who have an agenda to keep the Melksham line as the "lightly-used passenger backwater" they always believed it should have remained - "Sorry folks, it will be a long time before funding is available  for that kind of enhancement, so you will have to make do with what you've got".


I’ve been wondering for a couple of days how to respond to Lee’s post on Sunday, and further posts on the topic have helped clarify my thoughts.

“Those who have an agenda” works both ways. Some might say that those who push for these schemes themselves have an agenda to push through anything that runs on rails to the exclusion of all other options.

And my response to that would be that whoever the "Some might say" are that Robin is referring to, they really dont know campaigners like grahame and myself at all, and certainly havent studied our ethos or how weve conducted ourselves over the past couple of decades.
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« Reply #29 on: February 23, 2021, 05:09:20 pm »

Would a WECA tram system work? The simple, truthful answer is no-one knows for sure; it would depend on how it was implemented. But many other European cities of similar size (and smaller) have decided that it makes sense to use light rail, and have found ways of funding it. I agree that we shouldn't make assumptions that one mode (be it tram, light rail, bus or some other solution) is the right way forward, though there is a lot to be said for specifying tried and tested off-the-shelf technology. Trams work.

I am not aware of anyone advocating running trams along a current or former heavy rail route between Bristol and Bath - as discussed upthread, there might not be much point in that. JLTP4 talks of four mass transit routes, one of which is Bristol to Bath along the A4 corridor.

Once again I see the claim that 'the good residents of Bath, for example, already have form in objecting to OHLE in their neck of the woods'. Do they? They will quite rightly insist that any wires are put up in a way that doesn't spoil a Unesco World Heritage city. The only person I can find on record objecting to wiring in Bath in principle was...Chris Grayling (who, as I understand it, lives in Surrey).
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