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Author Topic: Cambridge Guided Busway - ongoing discussion and updates (merged topic)  (Read 59991 times)
grahame
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« on: December 05, 2008, 08:06:09 am »

Cambridge News, Thursday December 4th 2008.

Guided bus in 'critical' cash defecit ... - Front Cover

"Guided bus off the rails?" - The future of the guided bus hangs in the balance because of a 23.7 million credit crunch shortfall ... - Page 2

"Government must plug busway gap" ... - Opinion, page 6

It seems that developers who were planning to build extra houses to the North of Cambridge have pulled right back on their plans ... leaving the guided busway significantklyu short of funding they were supposed to provide, and perhaps leaving the busway as a route into Cambridge for buses from green fields where it was once hoped that houses would be built.

What a crying shame that the much cheaper "Cast Iron" rail option - which would have allowed for other tarnsport needs such as a passenger rail link into the Science Park and Business Park, and a service on all the way to St Ives - was abandoned in favour of an expensive busway that will be spewing its buses out onto the road in the outskirts of Cambridge so that the buses can help add to the congestion inwards from there to the city centre ...

It's, frankly, too late to re-instate the rails beyond the Science Park now. But there is still the opportunity to take whatever money remains in the coffers and do something sensible like extend the Liverpool Street to Cambridge train on to "Scince and Business Park" station. And ... if the government DID have the money to fund the gap ... to have the government spend it instead on something that's going to be more effective that providing a bus service to the green fields that were supposed to become Northstowe.

I'm posting this on the FGW forum as ... "there, but for the grace of God, go I" comparative reasons.  There are some busways planned in this area, and also some darned good railway schemes to enhance existing infrastructure and services that it could buy instead.  How about TransWilts, Portishead, and some of the extra stations that FOSBR are suggesting?

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eightf48544
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« Reply #1 on: December 05, 2008, 10:46:26 am »

Sort of good news bad news story. Good news it's thit he buffers bad news so much money has already been spent and a rail line ruined.

Suggest our Bristol and Bath users waste no time in ensuring their relevant transport authorities are passed this info.

Now's the time to plug tram trains Portishead to Severn Beach with a circuit via the docks, town centre and BTM.
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Tim
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« Reply #2 on: December 05, 2008, 11:15:20 am »

My view on guided bus routes whereever they are is that they are a very poor second to trains and/or trams.  This is a view that would appear to be shared by many posters on this forum.

Why then are the powers that be so keen on guided buses insted of trams/trains?  It is a genuine mystery to me?

A possible reasons might be cost - but guided buses are not cheap and are sometimes more expensive han the steel-wheel alternatives, so why are guides buses so popular with decison makers.  The only other reason I can think of is that guided busways are seen by councils as quick and simple whereas rail is seen as complicated.  It that is the case then the rail industry and its structure of franchising and regulation itself must be partly to blame for that perception. 

The Bath BRT plans are awful but I expect that someone (perhaps First Group?) has offered the scheme to the council as a complete package with a fixed (albeit expensive, but fixed and certain and therefore amenable to binding for money from central government) price tag. Lacking in imagination, the council has agreed to it.  Contrast this to the efforts to get more trains running to Severn Beach.  That project has been fraught with difficulties over pathing, sourcing stock, adjusting franchises
 terms etc.  I would not be surprised if the council is put off trying something similar just because of the hassle factor.

It is a sad fact that Councils seem to be more interested in buying off the shelf solutions than geting involved in complicated details , but if that is the way things are I do think that the rail industry needs to get better at offering packaged solutions to transport problems to Councils. 

This is just my musings.  Any thoughts on whether I might be right or other explanations for our infactuation with deisel buses?
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grahame
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« Reply #3 on: December 05, 2008, 12:02:15 pm »


Why then are the powers that be so keen on guided buses insted of trams/trains?  It is a genuine mystery to me?



The following are official reasons given ... only a guided bus gives

* Availability to "roam" away from the track
AND
* Ability to have vehicles in opposite directions pass each other at speed and with minimal clearance

I also heard an argument yesterday (in Cambridge, from one of the protagonists) that the guided busway promises a cycle track alongside which wouldn't have been possible (or wasn't proposed) with the rail equivalent as it would have had safety implications )"too dangerous".  Perhaps to do with stopping distances??

I do suspect, behind the headlines, that funding will be found to finish the system; I'm expecting to be working in Cambridge again next year, and it'll be interesting to see what happens ... whether it opens in the Spring, is delayed, or indeed gets crunched to a halt.
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Tim
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« Reply #4 on: December 05, 2008, 01:39:09 pm »

Thanks Grahame for passing on the official reasons, but I not sure that they make sense.

reason 1 is true but if most of the "roaming" happens in the city centres where there is congestion, I don't see it as an advantage.

reason 2 puzzles me.  I can see it as an advantage over non-guided buses (and perhaps a necessary one if routes are narrow ex-railways) but surely it is an advantage that applies to all guided systems including trams and trains
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grahame
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« Reply #5 on: December 06, 2008, 08:04:47 am »

I think the reasons were <b>both</b> requirements of the scheme ... in other words, it vehicles have to both be able to pass each other very rapidly when they're on the central backbone, and yet be able to spread out widely at the ends of the route(s).   Rather like an uprooted tree  network - with a trunk along which the sap can travel quickly, yet lots of obscure leaves and root ends.

Mind you, you are correct to pick up on "OFFICIAL" reasons.  I've also heard it said that the reason for the guided trackway is more to avoid a future political decision to open the route as a conventional road too - to avoid them first adding access for long distance buses like National Express, then taxis, then disabled people's cars ... then have it turn into a toll road. It's very interesting to listen to the South Hampshire people about "guided v unguided" on the Gosport to Fareham project that has replaced the tram option now that the price of a tunnel under Portsmouth Harbour entrance has rocketed with the Navy wanting to deepen the channel.
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« Reply #6 on: December 06, 2008, 04:08:05 pm »

I am against any trams/ bus routes on old rail lines.

e.g. The Midland Metro scuppered any hope for reopening the second route to Wolverhampton from B'ham Snow Hill.

Chiltern could have run Wolverhampton to Marylebone, the ATW services could have been diverted, as well as the Shrewsbury train, taking the pressure off the saturated New Street to Wolverhampton line. W&S, freight, charter and route diversions could have used the lines also.

How useful would the route have been during the WCML works and the New Street redevelopment?

In short: reopen the rail line - it costs the same, journey times are quicker, and there are millions MORE benefits.

If you have to build a busway, just open a Dual Carriageway - there are more benefits with a new road than a stupid busway!
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eightf48544
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« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2008, 03:03:28 pm »

I am against any trams/ bus routes on old rail lines.

e.g. The Midland Metro scuppered any hope for reopening the second route to Wolverhampton from B'ham Snow Hill.

Chiltern could have run Wolverhampton to Marylebone, the ATW services could have been diverted, as well as the Shrewsbury train, taking the pressure off the saturated New Street to Wolverhampton line. W&S, freight, charter and route diversions could have used the lines also.

How useful would the route have been during the WCML works and the New Street redevelopment?

In short: reopen the rail line - it costs the same, journey times are quicker, and there are millions MORE benefits.

If you have to build a busway, just open a Dual Carriageway - there are more benefits with a new road than a stupid busway!

Agree with you 100% regarding buses on old rail routes.

However, trams can operate successfully on heavy rail. Agreed it is probably too late for WM Metro to be put back to heavy rail with the trams sharing the tracks. However, their are absolutely no technical issues with the Portishead and Severn Beach lines being shared by trams which operate through central Bristol, heavy rail units and freight.

Just go to Kassell or Karlsruhr. Even the Harz metre gauge system runs steam, diesel railcars, ED tram/trains and freight on a single line with loops for 12kms North of Nordhausen.
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Northerner
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2008, 01:03:29 pm »

I am against any trams/ bus routes on old rail lines.

e.g. The Midland Metro scuppered any hope for reopening the second route to Wolverhampton from B'ham Snow Hill.

Chiltern could have run Wolverhampton to Marylebone, the ATW services could have been diverted, as well as the Shrewsbury train, taking the pressure off the saturated New Street to Wolverhampton line. W&S, freight, charter and route diversions could have used the lines also.

How useful would the route have been during the WCML works and the New Street redevelopment?

In short: reopen the rail line - it costs the same, journey times are quicker, and there are millions MORE benefits.

If you have to build a busway, just open a Dual Carriageway - there are more benefits with a new road than a stupid busway!

Yeah ok the WM tram has failed. But just look at merolink in manchester. Ok rail has suffered but if you ask me the chester-manchester line via Northwich ought to be tram train operasted and ought to be the trail of the tram-trains in the UK.
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Don
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2008, 05:25:59 pm »

However, trams can operate successfully on heavy rail. Agreed it is probably too late for WM Metro to be put back to heavy rail with the trams sharing the tracks. However, their are absolutely no technical issues with the Portishead and Severn Beach lines being shared by trams which operate through central Bristol, heavy rail units and freight.

Just go to Kassell or Karlsruhr. Even the Harz metre gauge system runs steam, diesel railcars, ED tram/trains and freight on a single line with loops for 12kms North of Nordhausen.

Excuse my ignorance in these matters, but I was under the impression that trams were cheaper than rail because they used a "light" system with thinner rail and rail vehicles that can not stand the impact of a conventional train crash.  If one uses "heavy trams", what is the difference? What makes these cheaper than conventional rail?
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eightf48544
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« Reply #10 on: December 21, 2008, 11:23:42 am »

Basically tram trains are more or less conventional trams. the main difference is a special wheel profile to run on tram  tracks on teh road with built in groove and heavy rail track. They run on street with 600 DC overhead. On heavy rail it's either 15KV 162/3 standard DB or diesel. The ED trams will be slighly more expemsive than the all electric because of the diesel engine.

Crashworthiness is not an issue DB trust their Indusi trainstop mechanism.
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Northerner
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« Reply #11 on: December 30, 2008, 11:03:35 am »

I think the reasons were <b>both</b> requirements of the scheme ... in other words, it vehicles have to both be able to pass each other very rapidly when they're on the central backbone, and yet be able to spread out widely at the ends of the route(s).   Rather like an uprooted tree  network - with a trunk along which the sap can travel quickly, yet lots of obscure leaves and root ends.

Mind you, you are correct to pick up on "OFFICIAL" reasons.  I've also heard it said that the reason for the guided trackway is more to avoid a future political decision to open the route as a conventional road too - to avoid them first adding access for long distance buses like National Express, then taxis, then disabled people's cars ... then have it turn into a toll road. It's very interesting to listen to the South Hampshire people about "guided v unguided" on the Gosport to Fareham project that has replaced the tram option now that the price of a tunnel under Portsmouth Harbour entrance has rocketed with the Navy wanting to deepen the channel.

Toll roads often (sorry i mean always) fail. Look at the M6 toll. Money spent on that would have been much better spent on improving the west coast main line.
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Tim
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« Reply #12 on: December 30, 2008, 12:07:36 pm »

I think the reasons were <b>both</b> requirements of the scheme ... in other words, it vehicles have to both be able to pass each other very rapidly when they're on the central backbone, and yet be able to spread out widely at the ends of the route(s).   Rather like an uprooted tree  network - with a trunk along which the sap can travel quickly, yet lots of obscure leaves and root ends.

Mind you, you are correct to pick up on "OFFICIAL" reasons.  I've also heard it said that the reason for the guided trackway is more to avoid a future political decision to open the route as a conventional road too - to avoid them first adding access for long distance buses like National Express, then taxis, then disabled people's cars ... then have it turn into a toll road. It's very interesting to listen to the South Hampshire people about "guided v unguided" on the Gosport to Fareham project that has replaced the tram option now that the price of a tunnel under Portsmouth Harbour entrance has rocketed with the Navy wanting to deepen the channel.

Toll roads often (sorry i mean always) fail. Look at the M6 toll. Money spent on that would have been much better spent on improving the west coast main line.

The M6 toll fails because of the way it is funded with the private builder allowed to set the tolls.  This means that they price the toll road to maximise profit rather than maximise congestion releif on the M6.  the tolls for lorries are hugh amd designed to discourage HGVs which wear out the road much faster than cars but which contribute dispropostionally to congestion on the M6. (A road engineer I know says that when they were specing the A74(M) upgrade he worked on they put the predicted number of small lorries and the number of big lorries into their calculation to decide how thick to make the tarmac.  The number of cars didn't enter the equation)
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Btline
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« Reply #13 on: December 30, 2008, 04:51:06 pm »

With the M6/M6 Toll the big mistake was that the tolled the wrong road!

If you want to ease congestion at a junction, do you: (a) Toll the road bypassing the junction, thus causing the traffic to use the road leading to the junction; or (b) Toll the road with the congested Junction, thus causing the traffic to use the bypass!

Doh! The best thing they could do now is to scrap the tolls altogether (although the company will want paying).

I'm for TOLL FREE ENGLAND (the Scots have done it - why can't we?).
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John R
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« Reply #14 on: December 30, 2008, 06:21:26 pm »

For interest the number of vehicles using the M6 Toll is falling significantly. I'm not surprised at ^4.70 each way (from this weekend). 
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