Wednesday, 4 August 2010

BRISTOL City Council should know whether it can swap bendy buses for a light tram system by the autumn.

BRISTOL City Council should know whether it can swap bendy buses for a light tram system by the autumn.

I've long argued that Ultra Light Rail (ULR) is a far better public transport technology choice than bendy buses. If the council do go for ULR this would be an improvement to local public transport plans - still issues about the system not being properly integrated, fairly priced, sustainably fuelled, on appropriate routes etc...

BRISTOL City Council should know whether it can swap bendy buses for a light tram system by the autumn.

Ultra Light Rail is essentially a tram that can run on branch rail lines and roads, is environmentally friendly and does not require electrification.

Unlike trams, the tracks can be laid down on road surfaces, which means roads don't have to be dug up to make it work, and overhead electric cables are not needed.

Currently the West of England Partnership – which includes the city council and its three neighbouring local authorities – has government funding bids in for £288 million of bendy bus routes across Bristol...

7 comments:

  1. Is "tram that does not require electrification" a code phrase for a kinetic-energy-storage vehicle like the Parry People Mover? They're fine, so long as you want a tram that needs to take a 10-minute rest every half mile.

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  2. Forest Pines - if you read the article there is absolutely no reference to the system you refer to.

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  3. Glenn: Well, there's only two options really, and the Parry People Mover is the only option which has actually already been used somewhere and is available before 2016 (by which time the schemes in this financing round should have been deployed IIRC).

    Anyone who wants to read up on this a little might want to google for "West of England Rapid Transit Technology Review 2008". It has a bit of background on this.

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  4. Erm ... are you sure the article you're linking to is the article you read? I quote:

    "If Bristol introduced urban ULR, it would be the first city in the country to do so, but a small scale operation runs on one rail line in Stourbridge in the West Midlands.

    "The Parry People Mover runs between Stourbridge Junction and Stourbridge Town on a track 1.3km – less than a mile – long."

    The way it operates is: on-board, there is a big flywheel, with a gearbox connecting it to either the wheels or an electric motor. At a stop, it plugs in to a shore-based electricity supply, and the motor spins the flywheel up to a nice high speed. When the car is ready to go, it unplugs, and the flywheel provides power to the wheels.

    It's ideal for the Stourbridge Town Car, for which one railway carriage every 15 minutes is overprovision, but it's not much use for anything further. Note that Bristol has already trialled one, back in the 1990s, running between the Industrial Museum and SS Great Britain; and it was something of a failure, not managing to provide as good a level of service as the steam train does.

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  5. Forest Pines - yes you're right of course (though the article I've linked to does not give the technical detail about the flywheel etc).

    Thanks to Forest Pines and to Tim for their infrmation and additional detail.

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  6. No-one has mentioned the option of methane fuelled ultra light rail - which could become biomethane fuelled light rail as biomethane production is developed.

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  7. See http://www.thisisbristol.co.uk/news/NEW-TRAM-VISION-FUTURE/article-3517420-detail/article.html

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Genuine, constructive, relevant comments are most welcome.