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PeterB
Mount Nod
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1 of 14  Mon 18th Jun 2018 9:47pm  
Member: Joined May 2014  Total posts:180

While the Council have been talking in general terms about a new "Very Light Rail" system for the city for a few years. Things are starting to happen in a small way. The idea is a system that will be more light weight and cheaper to install than traditional light rail like the Midland Metro as the track will be cheaper and it will not be necessary to move underground services and strengthen bridges. Last week a contract was placed for a "driverless" "battery powered" Demonstration Vehicle. This will be a similar size to the railcars used on the Stourbridge Town Branch, but 20% lighter. Initially the new unit will run at a new Innovation Centre in Dudley on the site of the old station (down hill from the Zoo). A number of routes has been suggested. These involve linking the City Centre/Railway station to: - Warwick University - JLR at Whitley - The NEC/Airport/HS2 Station - University Hospital No details of any routes have been given. The first route could open in 2026 (or 2024 if the legal process can be expedited). Peter.
Very Light Rail
NeilsYard
Coventry
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2 of 14  Tue 19th Jun 2018 12:11pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2010  Total posts:2016

Yes I saw that Peter. Generally a good idea - I've watched the trams in Birmingham and they work very well (when running!) Funny how things have turned full circle and we are looking at these again now. A replication of the original network would be good although not sure how they would 'get out' beyond the ring road.
Very Light Rail
AD
Allesley Park
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3 of 14  Tue 19th Jun 2018 7:20pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2011  Total posts:437

Personally not a big fan of light rail - the cost and time of laying rails, powerlines, stations etc. I find the ones in Brum, and Manchester especially, to be very intrusive and ugly. Edinburgh's is a bit less so on Princes St but that's really wide, but that one was ridiculously expensive. To my mind it's a load of nostalgia rather than common sense. Considering they've spent the last few years getting rid of traffic lights etc to reduce street clutter a light rail will add far, far more. Plus with a bus-based system if there's a problem you can find an alternative route far more easily. I'm much more receptive of the SPRINT system they advocated some years ago than a tram system.
Very Light Rail
PeterB
Mount Nod
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Thread starter
4 of 14  Tue 19th Jun 2018 10:47pm  
Member: Joined May 2014  Total posts:180

Thanks for the comments NeilsYard & AD. I think trams can work if the correct system and route is chosed. Nottingham with a similar population to Coventry has three lines carrying 16 million passengers a year with full size trams running every 5 minutes connecting the station/city centre with the hospital, universities and local centres with park and ride at the terminii. The Midland Metro carrys less than a third of that as it runs on an old railway line missing serveral population centres and has a strong bus and train competition to contend with. A "low cost" system means no tunnelling and very few new bridges. With Coventrys lack of linear green spaces most of the route is going to have to be on existing highways which is a political hot potato with lost parking/restricted access, and that from a council which is currently stripping out bus lanes. A successful system would probably need to be upgraded to full size trams. The idea is not new. I rode on a demonstation line at Himley Hall in 1992 or 3. It has failled to take off because the gap in the market between Bus Rapid Transit ("Sprint" in the West Midlands) is too too narrow. My concern with Coventry is the have fixated on the solution rather that decide where they want a system to go and design it according to the projected demand. Peter.
Very Light Rail
mcsporran
Coventry & Cebu
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5 of 14  Tue 19th Jun 2018 10:56pm  
Member: Joined Oct 2013  Total posts:415

Surely laying an actual rail track is out of date nowadays, with 'driverless/autonomous' vehicles being proposed now, by the time a rail route could be agreed and track laid, vehicles will be capable of following a line painted on the road or even a virtual 'track' defined by GPS. Something visibly marking the route though would help deter other vehicles parking in the way. I'm not clear if the proposed system has overhead power cables, but again I imagine battery technology makes this redundant. So this would really be a bus rather than a rail system?
Very Light Rail
AD
Allesley Park
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6 of 14  Wed 20th Jun 2018 11:56am  
Member: Joined Aug 2011  Total posts:437

I agree with McSporran - technology is evolving so fast the need for things as cumbersome as rails etc to be laid would be extremely costly and become redundant very quickly. Also as Peter pointed out the Metro system doesn't reach the capacity it should because it utiliises old lines and current population centres are not served as people have moved to new areas and developments since they were laid. But this will happen again over time and costly new lines will need to be added while others will become redundant. Removing all the hardware for redundant lines is costly. Then that area may get redeveloped and need to be reattached and while you may say 'leave the rails in then' their position may be detrimental to future development and the technology will likely have improved and need to be relaid anyway. It seems like a very fixed, permanent method for what is a very fluid problem and you're chasing a constantly moving target. Therefore it needs a less rigid and more flexible solution, and that for me is going to be more along the lines of road than rail.
Very Light Rail
Midland Red
Cherwell
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7 of 14  Wed 20th Jun 2018 12:30pm  
Moderator: Joined Jan 2010  Total posts:5260

Long live the bus! Wink Thumbs up
Very Light Rail
flapdoodle
Coventry
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8 of 14  Wed 20th Jun 2018 7:15pm  
Member: Joined Nov 2010  Total posts:885

Argh, buses, awful mode of transport. I started a new job and managed 2 months using the bus before I went back to driving. My wife was surprised I lasted that long!
Very Light Rail
PeterB
Mount Nod
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Thread starter
9 of 14  Fri 15th Mar 2019 12:06am  
Member: Joined May 2014  Total posts:180

Trams to run on Coventry's streets for first time since The Blitz (Coventry Telegraph) The first route will run between the Railway Station and University Hospital (no details yet). It is hoped to be in operation by 2024. The "trams" will have drivers initially, but will become "self driving" once the technology has been developed and approved. Peter.
Very Light Rail
Greg
Coventry
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10 of 14  Fri 15th Mar 2019 7:13pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2011  Total posts:292

Trams were in the process of being stopped before the war. This was because buses were far more flexible. So it looks like there will be considerable disruption on the Ansty Road and I`ll bet there will be more rate rises to pay for this scheme.
Very Light Rail
flapdoodle
Coventry
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11 of 14  Mon 18th Mar 2019 8:44am  
Member: Joined Nov 2010  Total posts:885

Trams were removed mainly due to cars, not buses, although that was a factor. Bus use actually declined. Europe continued to use trams and has far higher use of public transport. In the UK the politicians lobbied on behalf of car and road industries to get trams removed, leading to cities like London losing what would today be useful infrastructure. People miss the point about trams by thinking of them as just a means of public transport. They drive development due to their fixed nature making investments stable for the long term and far more legible than buses. They're difficult to remove so tend to be long term. The systems built in the UK in recent years have been, mainly, successful, apart from Sheffield. (I used to live there and loved using trams, so easy to just jump on and off and not have to worry about timetables or routes, but the routes seemed to miss out a lot of important places.) Coventry certainly could with a better mass transport system, especially on routes to the University of Warwick and the associated business parks.
Very Light Rail
Greg
Coventry
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12 of 14  Mon 18th Mar 2019 6:44pm  
Member: Joined Apr 2011  Total posts:292

In the 50`s, few people could afford to buy/run a car and buses were the mass transport of the day. During the 60`s, with the rise in availability of hire purchase, more people got mobile especially those working in the car industry who usually got quite a discount on new cars.
Very Light Rail
PeterB
Mount Nod
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Thread starter
13 of 14  Mon 18th Mar 2019 7:16pm  
Member: Joined May 2014  Total posts:180

The Coventry city boundary doubled in size between 1928-1932. The Council was unwilling/unable (great depression?) to modernise and extend the tram lines into the new areas. Buses took over the services to the new estates and the trams were doomed from then on. Imagine if the post-war re-development had been built primarily for trams with a "tram tunnel" underneath the city centre linking Broadgate and the railway station rather than the Ring Road. Peter.
Very Light Rail
AD
Allesley Park
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14 of 14  Mon 18th Mar 2019 8:23pm  
Member: Joined Aug 2011  Total posts:437

On 18th Mar 2019 8:44am, flapdoodle said: Trams were removed mainly due to cars, not buses, although that was a factor. Bus use actually declined. Europe continued to use trams and has far higher use of public transport. In the UK the politicians lobbied on behalf of car and road industries to get trams removed, leading to cities like London losing what would today be useful infrastructure. People miss the point about trams by thinking of them as just a means of public transport. They drive development due to their fixed nature making investments stable for the long term and far more legible than buses. They're difficult to remove so tend to be long term. The systems built in the UK in recent years have been, mainly, successful, apart from Sheffield. (I used to live there and loved using trams, so easy to just jump on and off and not have to worry about timetables or routes, but the routes seemed to miss out a lot of important places.) Coventry certainly could with a better mass transport system, especially on routes to the University of Warwick and the associated business parks.
I see your point about driving development, but what about if you want/need to develop an area elsewhere? Either the council has to fund extensions (which they may struggle to afford) and the planning for it will take ages, or the developer will, increasing their costs and making it a less attractive proposition. They always seem to end up costing a lot more than estimated as well. I don't like the tram in central Manchester or the extension in central Birmingham - loads of unsightly infrastructure everywhere and a nightmare for those with mobility or sight issues, especially in supposedly pedestrian areas. Overhead cables are just asking for problems. I also think the ringroad creates a lot of problems for a number of routes here. It's more difficult and expensive to both install and remove and therefore also more difficult and expensive to keep up to date. If there's a problem on a line then it just stops, whereas buses can get alternative routes. It's quicker in rush hours because it's got a clear run, but that's what bus lanes should do. Maybe where the rails are built should double up as bus lanes? If they're kept free of pedestrians and cars there's no reason a bus couldn't keep speed with a tram. With technology improving at the pace it is by the time you plan and build anything what you're installing is going out of date already and I can really see people arguing the current systems should be removed in 25 years time. By that time the infrastructure may be largely unnecessary with battery and generation improvements. The desire for trams for me is built far more out of nostalgia than sound economic sense. For me, rail based transport becomes cost effective at an intercity and (inter)national level. At a more local level it's not. However, I will in the past admit that while travelling to and from Birmingham everyday thinking how epic a London-esque WM underground network would be, stretching from Wolves to Cov and Warwickshire. I was idling away the time thinking what we could call all the different lines and stuff. Cost would be billions before you even think about logistic/engineering problems and being more detached we'd probably be last to get connected (though you could start from either end and met in Birmingham).
Very Light Rail

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