Select Committee on Environment, Transport and Regional Affairs Appendices to the Minutes of Evidence

Memorandum submitted by Norman Andrew Kellett, Esq (RT 10)



    I am a Civil Servant, working within the Criminal Justice system in an administrative capacity, and have an interest in local urban public transport. I was formerly employed by the Automobile Association, in their Head Office, managing an information database which is utilised to provide answers to members who telephone the AA with motor-related enquiries. I am grateful to members of the sub-Committee for this opportunity afforded to the public to make submissions on the subject of Light Rapid Transit.


    Each of the following points will take the form of a statement followed by a short elucidating comment; each of these statements will need the sub-committee's concentrated thought in order to appreciate their gravity and relevance. It is understood that the inquiry is undertaken against the background of the Government's Integrated Transport policy, and, in particular, the task of promoting a modal shift transfer in selected situations from private transport to public transport.

2.1  Statement:

  The immensity of the task of promoting modal shift, and the difficulty in its realisation, must be firmly and fully grasped before its planning is even undertaken.

    Comment: Although the travel problems can be split up into many "bite-sized" geographical locations, the cumulative requirements of such a policy will be enormous, and the time-scales lengthy. The main problem relating to modal shift is that of user attitude, and a stick-and-carrot approach is likely to be needed. The second problem is the choice of appropriate mode, and its setting-up time. Most private transport users will opine that an efficient and adequate public transport alternative must be in place before they would consider a change; to bring this about will require tremendous courage and faith, as it requires a large financial risk to be undertaken before any results are likely. Furthermore, experience often demonstrates that results will be slow to come—quick returns are not normal in public transport. You build the Millennium Dome in the faith that many will visit it, but you will not be sure until it opens.

2.2  Statement:

  Four decades have seen billions of pounds poured into the highly successful roads construction programme; similar levels of investment (upgraded to account for inflation) will be required for the next four decades—most of it in the early years—if the balance is to be redressed in favour of public transport.

  Comment: Government Policy has been heavily biased in favour of road transport in the past, and has predictably produced the current overheated situation. The nettle will need to be grasped hard and long—and it will sting badly. Regrettably, this all comes at a time when the Government is ducking out, pleading poverty and lack of cash. Private enterprise looks for high returns, and quickly, and is reluctant to undertake such long-term and immense investment, especially in view of shifting political influences. HM Treasury will therefore be required to provide massive funding over a long term "until the pips squeal" and beyond. Furthermore, road building was considered to be a public service—public transport provision must be considered in the same light.

2.3  Statement:

  Old adage—"you get what you pay for".

  Comment: If you are going to be parsimonious, you will get little for it, and of low quality—cheeseparing expenditure will only tinker ineffectively at the edges, and produce cheapskate and inadequate results.

2.4  Statement:

  Politicians tend to have a view not longer than five years (the next election); this enterprise will require at least 20 years of committed, sustained and continuous action.

  Comment: In the past, the shifting sands of local politics have often bedevilled public transport plans—inter-party co-operation and agreement have been (and often are still) almost always lacking. However, inter-party agreement is also a sine qua non for this enterprise.

2.5  Statement:

  In order to be effective, local urban transport needs to be. . .

    . . .Cheap at point of use (the cost is lost at journey's end)

    . . .Frequent at point of pickup (short waits)

    . . .Extensive in its local spread (only short walks at each end)

    . . .Reliable in its timekeeping (even if private transport is not)

    . . .Safe to use (both in reality and perception)

    . . .Clean and bright (well designed and well maintained)

    . . .Inspire an up-to-date image (image is vital, but needs reality)

    . . .Must provide a travel experience which at least is comparably acceptable and congenial (but which ideally exhibits the hallmarks of flair, brilliance and éclat, rather than simply be not negative, or be just OK—aiming for excellence).

2.6  Statement:

  For decades the bus has had the road to itself in terms of urban transport (except in London and Glasgow). And we have inner city problems of congestion, noise and pollution.

  Comment: Is the universal bus not, then, the universal panacea it has been long proclaimed to be? It clearly is the correct application in the majority of instances, but its limitations in many instances are apparent. Nevertheless, because it is cheap, mass-produced, and has been the subject of decades of continuous hard lobbying, British politicians are blind to alternatives, and will simply throw small amounts of money and fancy titles at buses to try to make them work better. The public, meanwhile, takes to its cars.

2.7  Statement:

  Modern innovative thinking, coupled with technological improvements, has led the industry to consider modes which are an improvement on the bus, but less expensive than the nettle of full-blown light rail.

  Comment: Examples are GLT, where a centre slot guides an electrically driven road vehicle, monorails such as at Sydney and in various US cities (eg Briway Transit in the UK, now defunct), and VAL-type systems (rubber-tyred guided trains, as at Lille). Light rail is seen as capital-intensive, and such innovations seek to ape light rail's capabilities without incurring its initial costs. HM Government might like to see guided buses included within the "Light Rapid Transit" heading, but I doubt that the Committee would consider this to be a valid application.

  Having personally (as a layman) considered the alternatives, I would suggest to the sub-Committee that it should concentrate on light rail and tramways, as other forms of Rapid Transit tend to have narrow and specialist applications (eg inter-terminal fixed links at airports, cliff lifts, funiculars). Accordingly, I am concentrating on this pair as a mode.

2.8  Statement:

  Does the Committee intend to look at the subject of motor manufacturer advertising?

  Comment: They seem to be pretty desperate, and are pushing the bounds of credibility and seductivity in order to glamourise the car, and "move metal" at any cost. The nearest public transport got to this were the old InterCity advertisements.

2.9  Statement:

  The image of the bus is tarnished—it is associated with the old, the under-age, the disadvantaged, the poor. Filthy, uncomfortable, unreliable and full of questionable strangers, the bus is seen as yesterday's technology, incapable of further radical development; but it also seems, alas, to be the politicians' only answer for urban transport problems.

  Comment: The politicians seem to be relying on guided bus technology (as at Leeds and Ipswich in recent years), and on minibuses for highly localised services. In the long term, such remedies seem likely to avail little—they are palliatives. What can the guided bus do that its traditional fully-steered original cannot do?

2.10  Statement:

  In 1991, the Transport Committee of the House of Commons produced a report entitled "Urban Public Transport—the Light Rail Option", containing 19 recommendations; in 1988 the London & South East Regional Planning Conference (SERPLAN) produced a report entitled "Light Rail—some implications for the South East". Has the Committee seen these two publications?

  Comment: The Commons report, composed by MPs on the Committee, concentrated on certain peripheral matters, rather than recommending or declining Ligth Rail. The SERPLAN report concluded that Light Rail could be expected to be viable and influential in conurbations of not less than 200,000 population, promoting development and local employment, encouraging modal switch and reduction in congestion, and leading to improved quality of urban life. All these factors have been experienced in those European and US cities which have developed light rail systems.

2.11  Statement:

  The subject of urban transport has many facets: its success rate (modest at most) depends upon (a) its image with the private transport user, and (b) its ability to deliver a superior-grade service. Mental attitude is therefore of paramount importance in your deliberations—how will the public see the fruits of your report, if they are put into practice? Successful, excellent, revolutionary? Or just the same old nostrums, covered with a shiny new coat of paint?

  Comment: In your considerations, I submit that you will need to be visionary as well as realistic, enthusiastic about your subject, courageous to the point of recklessness, persistent and ruthless in ramming your message home (the more it hurts, the more it is effective). Your report should, I believe, be incapable of simply being noted and filed away—it should reverberate around the Department, and the Government, to the extent that people sit up and take notice. I work in the Civil Service —I know how difficult such an attitude is, both to cultivate and to maintain in the face of Ministers. The alternative is to let inertia reign—to save the expense of your time and paper, to pack up here and now and to go back to the office to do other things.

  I wish you good luck in your quest, illuminating deliberations in your inquiry, a Pauline conversion to light rail/tramways in your conclusions, and a clarion call to action in your report. The size of the problem in hand demands not less than these!



  UK: Tyne & Wear Metro, London Docklands Light Railway, Manchester Metrolink, Sheffield Supertram, West Midlands Metro, Croydon Tramlink.

  World: Grenoble, Strasbourg, Paris (2), Nantes, Montpellier, Rouen, Baltimore, Los Angeles, San Diego, Cleveland, Hong Kong (and others). In addition, there have been, and are, many extensions and upgrades to existing tramway and light railway systems across the world, of which my only personal experience is Geneva.

Comments on UK Systems:

  Tyne & Wear Metro: this was the first rapid transit system to open in the UK (1981), and is largely based on existing or defunct rail alignments, with new construction to complete and infill. It displays the characteristics of a railway, but with lightweight trains. The system was planned to assist in the regeneration of an area of high economic poverty and deprivation, following the demise of capital industries. It succeeded in promoting high ridership figures, but received a setback following bus deregulation in 1986, which allowed unrestricted competition in place of planned integration. Extensions have since taken place, and a further extension to and through Sunderland is in hand. Whilst figures are difficult to interpret, the Metro is widely held to have contributed significantly to the improvement and redevelopment of its area.

  Docklands Light Railway: opened in 1987 and promoted originally by the London Docklands Development Corporation as part of its mission to regenerate the derelict areas around Poplar and the Isle of Dogs, the railway was revolutionary in its concept (and accordingly suffered well-publicised problems). Like Tyne & Wear, it is a railway with light carriages and a large proportion of existing and former railway formation for its trackbed (but with tighter curves and steeper gradients than "heavy-rail"). The actual operation of the railway is entirely by computer and is driverless. The system has been extended and is expecting a further extension to Lewisham to be opened before Christmas. Despite its adverse publicity, it has contributed very significantly in attracting business to the area, and his relieved traffic flows and congestion to a great degree in an area whose road network is old and constricted.

  Manchester Metrolink: opened in 1992, Metrolink utilised two existng railway lines (with life-expired electrification) and uses the existing high platforms and railway infrastructure; it connected the two lines by a street-running tramway across the centre of the city, with a branch to Piccadilly. Ridership is currently about 14 million per year (compared with the 7m of the previous railway lines), and it is reckoned that some 2 million car journeys are saved per year. A further extension is expected to be opened to Salford Quays in a few months, with other proposed extensions, covering various areas in and outside the city, having received Parliamentary authority. Metrolink is locally regarded as a huge success, and a significant contributor to the solution of traffic and travel problems of a major city—impossible to achieve without the light rail installation. Metrolink is very keen to provide a network, not simply a couple of lines.

  Sheffield Supertram:  although the first line of this system used railway formation and derelict land, the system is a modern tramway (of the continental type), with much street running on later sections. Its life has been highly controversial, and has suffered operational deficits since opening, although, in its first year of operation by Stagecoach, these have been reduced by 30 per cent. It is making a contribution to the redevelopment of parts of the city, and to a reduction in traffic, but it is facing a long uphill battle.

  West Midlands Metro:  this line (Birmingham-Wolverhampton) utilises the former GWR trackbed, with street running in Wolverhampton; extensions are planned. The line has suffered very considerable delays and troubles, firstly as a result of several years of refusal of government funding (although meeting all the requirements), and more recently at the hands of the Railway Inspectorate (the blame for which seems to lie equally with the vehicle designers and the Inspectorate). The line was finally opened in May this year; accordingly it is too early, by several years, to assess its impact, but an encouraging aspect is that the line is operated by an authority which also controls the majority of other local transport services, and planned integration is undertaken.

  Croydon Tramlink:  due to open later this year or early in 2000, this three-line system radiating from the centre of Croydon is a joint London Transport and Croydon Council venture. It utilises railway formations, new partially segregated lines and street running in the centre. Its impact and results are awaited with keen interest, and it will attract many visits from experts, operators and industry, both as it is the first southern system, and as it is part of the London network. It is essentially a modern tramway.

  Worldwide:  much comment has been made over the years over numerous new tramway and light rail systems. The European system which first attracted immense attention was that at Grenoble (1987), a medieval French city which shoe-horned a new tramway into a city centre, carried out many associated improvements in the city centre and revolutionised urban travel patterns. Many years previously, the French government had taken the initiative by inviting a number of cities to submit plans for rapid transit systems in order to break the spiral of decay, congestion and environmental pollution—and offered massive finance to realise these projects. The majority of those invited opted for light rail, including Nantes, Grenoble, Strasbourg, and Paris; Lille and St Etienne took the opportunity to upgrade their existing tramways. Clermont Ferrand and Caen have opted for Guided Light Transit.

  I would warmly invite members of the sub-Committee to visit the Croydon system to learn about constructional matters, Manchester to see a successful and expanding UK system, and Strasbourg to observe the Gallic flair for vision, success and boldness.

  General comment:  although over recent years industry has spent time and money endeavouring to develop and implement new and innovative technology in the field of public transport, operators and authorities have been cautious to embrace them, faced as they are with the serious demand for substantial ridership, total reliability, and compatability with existing modes. In Britain, Briway Transit developed a guided, elevated tyred system, but found no takers; elsewhere the Sydney monorail has suffered consistent technical problems. A planned trolleybus line for Liverpool, utilising a buried induction wire for guidance, failed at the public enquiry stage. Caen (France) is opting for a guided light transit—a rubber tyred vehicle, electrically powered and guided by a slot (this system was tried unsuccessfully in the 1980s in Belgium). Adelaide built a traffic corridor of guided buses (at great expense because of soft ground), but few further examples are in evidence across the world. A German company (the name escapes me) is developing cable cars for use in fixed circuits at ground level, and a number of American city centres have Briway-type operations on elevated first-floor level circuits.

  Light Rail and Tramways have enjoyed a renaissance as appreciation and experience of their urban capabilities have grown in the last 20 years. Although expensive, and therefore suitable only for heavy traffic flows, their technology has been thoroughly tried, tested and developed over many years, and there is a world range of manufacturers prepared to design and install bespoke systems. New systems have reported significant successes, in that they have, with few exceptions, fulfilled their objectives. This has been particularly so where they have been made part of general urban traffic planning and management schemes, of which they are a vital part. Increased ridership, hand in hand with containment of private traffic levels, have been reported.


4.1  Prior to construction (light rail):

  I realise that this is, strictly, outwith your remit; but it is part of the overall picture of problems, and, indeed, forms the area of greatest problem. If this area is not radically addressed, there will be precious few systems to face any other problems. The potential owner/operator, having done his homework and devised the routes desired, is faced with two immediate problems—obtaining legal authority to build, and finance.

  4.1.1  Obtaining powers, under the Transport & Works Act, is a lengthy and very costly process. The Local Transport Plan is currently the method of approach, and this requires a gruelling appraisal, including proof that no other mode is suitable at a lesser cost. Public enquiries lengthen the process. Buses are, naturally, not subject to this process.

  4.1.2  Finance is always a problem. The private sector looks for guaranteed short-term high returns on its investment—public transport is unlikely to offer this, and public transport is looked upon as properly a public service, to be provided (like road-building) out of the public purse. Under s.56 Transport Act the government provided up to 50 per cent of the cost of setting up a transit system—reluctantly. To qualify, schemes had to go through a rigorous appraisal, which cost up to £2 million and took a lengthy period, with no guarantee of success; once approved, schemes had to await funds—the West Midlands scheme was delayed for several years in this way, and its cost of course increased substantially during this time. The long-standing Leeds schemes are still frustrated by central government procrastination. Buses are not, naturally, subject to these considerations, particularly as the trackway is provided free of charge by the state. Curiously, many British cities had tramways until the 1950's, but, fashionably, scrapped them in favour of the cheaper option of buses, destroying the possibility of development and modernisation which was often followed in Europe.

  4.1.3  Light rail/tramways are subject to stringent safety rules, not found on steered rubber-tyred vehicles, and this increases the cost burden.

4.2  During construction (light rail):

  4.2.1  Removal/relocation of the under-road utilities.

  4.2.2  Property acquisition/demolition must, of necessity, be kept to a minimum.

  4.2.3  Provision of underground cabling for supply, signalling control, etc.

  4.2.4  Visual impact of the overhead line, and (particularly) of the supporting poles (in the UK, Manchester and Croydon have come in for severe criticism under this heading, whereas continental systems appear to have achieved a satisfactory solution).

  4.2.5  Disruption to traffic in the construction area (including contraflow, diversions, closures). These need to be carefully planned to minimise impact, and widely explained; they also need to be kept as brief as possible. In rebuilding its tramway route in some places, Geneva paid compensation to affected traders.

  4.2.6  Construction hazards—lorries, dust, noise, vibration.

  4.2.7  Sensitive handling of environment, including design of stops, etc.

  4.2.8  Unexpected demands by HM Railway Inspectors.

  4.2.9  Costs of providing facilities for the disabled.

  4.2.10  Adverse local press (as happened in Sheffield, where constant Press sniping and misrepresentation appeared to reach crusade proportions).

4.3  After opening (light rail):

  4.3.1  Bus competition (including obstruction of tracks)—lack of integration.

  4.3.2  Vandalism of furniture (stops, etc), including graffiti.

  4.3.3  Fare evasion.

  4.3.4  Insufficiency of vehicles—Sheffield and Manchester suffered from having insufficient trams due to initial budget cut-backs; coupled with accident damage, this has led to an inability to provide sufficient passenger places to meet demand, and constriction of service intervals.

  4.3.5  The effects of cost-cutting and specification-paring during planning, resulting in lower standards and lower capabilities.

4.4  Comment:

  An objective examination of the scenario in which light rail and tramways are promoted, constructed and operated will reveal a climate of difficulties and obstacles, artificially placed by legislators, and not, unsurprisingly, applied to buses. The result is a maximum disincentive to the promotion of such systems, despite the worldwide evidence of the capabilities of light rail and tramways. The basis appears to be partly a fundamental British hostility to railed transport and partly a desire to spend as little as possible—but cheapskate expenditure produces feeble results. ("you get what you pay for"). Official encouragement at all levels—backed with finance—will be needed, from the Secretary of State downwards. At present, officials are dismissive of light rail. Thus problems are unnecessarily created and compounded—our biggest problems are man-made and self-made. This is not how the French have managed to create several new and successful tramways over the last decade—their flair and élan contrasts markedly with our obfuscation and narrow-mindedness.


  5.1  I have to advise that I am a layman on this subject—you will need to consult traffic experts for figures and trends.

  5.2  There is, however, a recurring problem—if trams attract motorists out of their cars, congestion will decrease and road travel will become more attractive—luring the drivers back to their cars or causing others to come in, resulting in congestion returning to former levels (the spiral of consequences). What is the answer?

  5.3  There is a forecast of at least 50 per cent traffic growth over the next 25 years; even if public transport soaks this up entirely, then traffic congestion will remain at present levels. Depressing, isn't it. It underlines the need to adopt radical measures.

  5.4  There is a logistical problem in replying to the subject matter of this section. Although computer models have been established using surveyed data and complicated formulae, they can only give an "in theory" forecast or statement. Actual surveys of passengers—questions on board the tram—are expensive and difficult, and can only provide a snapshot in time of a situation that (given the vagaries of human choice) may be volatile over even a fairly short period of time.

  5.5  Thus, one cannot be certain about variations of traffic densities—other factors may affect the driver's choice (eg fuel price increases, roadworks, new/diverted roads, parking problems/costs, congestion charging, insurance costs, etc), so where a lowering of traffic density is apparent there may be other factors at work. One can only speak on this subject in generalities—if the sub-Committee wants specifics it may be asking too much, or may be supplied with data that is hedged with if's and but's.

  5.6  Manchester Metrolink claims at least two million car journeys a year have been saved; Nantes claims a reduction of 3,000 cars per day entering the city as compared with 10 years previously (and the expectation of an increase in this figure following tramway extensions). Traffic censuses, and police traffic control-room experience over a period of years, will show changes in traffic weight and flows, but it is more difficult to ascribe any reductions purely to tramways, particularly as the introduction of a tramway is usually accompanied by other traffic management measures anyway.

  5.7  It would be thought that the provision of x thousand new passenger places on a given travel corridor would attract car users—but only if they find those places highly attractive (comfortable, safe, stress-free, dry, inexpensive, pleasant and efficient). In reality, experience would show that some of the new passenger places would be taken up by converted car drivers, and others by defectors from other modes of public transport. Decades of bus operation in urban areas has shown that they do not provide that highly attractive service, and have not so far succeeded in kick-starting the Government's policy aims; world experience has shown that modern tramways and light rail are the only effective methods which have achieved this objective at reasonable cost—I'm afraid that you really don't have much choice in this matter.

  5.8  Another factor, experienced world-wide, is that the opening of a tramway/light rail line or system provides the incentive for development of new or run-down areas, as enlightened employers seek to attract staff to modern pleasant environments. The new businesses themselves then provide much of the traffic, although inevitably adequate road provision has to be made to allow free choice.

  5.9  The bottom line is that, in a modern, complex and relatively wealthy democracy, freedom of choice is paramount, and people will exercise that choice in quirky and unexpected ways. In order to reduce the reliance on private transport, a whole raft of measures is needed, but the chief of these must be an alternative which is highly and lastingly attractive—not simply just adequate. Can you honestly say that buses can achieve this, and increase ridership (at car expense) by several hundred per cent? Bus travel is often seen as a distress purchase; light rail does not, on the whole, have this image problem, because it provides a superior experience. Try the Geneva trams!

  5.10  You may therefore find that attempting to find an answer to this particular question may be like reaching for the clouds—insubstantial. If the progress towards modal shift is to be started, you may not find the business certainties you seek, and you may well need to make a step of faith, not backed up by pre-planned certainty. Part of our problem in the UK seems to be that we need to know for certain before we will do anything—hence we do little or nothing. The Gallic approach seems to have been different and visionary—and it has achieved the results we need but hardly have.


  6.1  Is it appropriate to assist the growth? If HM Government is serious about reducing congestion and really pushing Integrated Transport, then all options must be explored, both stick and carrot. They have already looked at the bus option (Quality Bus Partnerships) which is cheap, is in accord with the roads pressure lobby, and is conventional British wisdom. As I have indicated, buses have had the monopoly since before the War in most cities (and since 1962 in all except London), and clearly are not having the desired effect—"flogging" and "dead horse" come to mind. Technically, there is little alternative to railed transport, which, actually, has a good late-twentieth century track record of containing traffic levels in cities—but it needs money to be spent. So yes, it is appropriate to examine and assist the growth of light rail schemes.

  6.2  Currently, light rail/tramways are only looked at by the Government when all other modes have been tried or examined, and failed—a solution of last resort. Authorities are encouraged to ensure that other modes do not fail! Perhaps the sub-Committee's inquiry is an acknowledgement that the problem has not shown any signs of going away, and that a new direction in approach is signalled. As a layman, I cannot see any alternative to buses which is viable, highly (compellingly) attractive and technically feasible, apart from light rail and tramways. Accordingly, I recommend your sub-Committee should make recommendations to promote this transport mode as widely as possible, in an aggressive and unanswerable manner.

  6.3  What should be done?

  6.3.1  The first major step is to change the ethos of official thinking. HM Government, from the Secretary of State downwards, will need to be first persuaded and then convinced that the answer will often lie with the widespread promotion of light rail networks as the backbone of the integrated package (no backbone, and the whole thing slumps down!). In every pronouncement the Secretary of State and his Ministers will need to publicise and push for tramways, to the point of evangelical enthusiasm; we are talking here of revolution in attitude at the highest level.

  6.3.2  As outlined above the two greatest problems faced by light rail and tramways are those of obtaining powers and obtaining finance—both of these are expensive, unreliable and costly procedures before ever an inch of rail is laid. Scrap the "try all other modes first" and "not if we can avoid it" mentalities—if light rail/tramways are appropriate, avoid expensive and time-wasting efforts just to eliminate other modes.

  6.3.3  I would suggest a unit be set up by HM Government, to include staff from both the DETR and the Treasury, which should be powerful and effective (and have an adequate budget); this unit would:

    (a)  Simplify, cheapen and accelerate the process of obtaining powers—design a "fast-track" procedure.

    (b)  Ensure suitable and adequate channels of finance for schemes, from the private sector, central funding and the EU, and ensure that where EU funding is provided, UK Government funding is NOT reduced similarly.

    (c)  Encourage local authorities in as many ways as possible to consider the appropriateness of tramways in their own spheres of power.

    (d)  Design incentives for those authorities who put tramways into operation.

    (e)  Establish and publicise a practical database of information on all aspects of light rail and tramways, available to all who wish to consider this mode.

    (f)  Arrange and encourage regular visits to systems, and hold seminars.

    (g)  Work hand-in-hand with the industry to establish economies of scale, standardisation in design, best practice, and possibilities of incentives to encourage follow-on ordering for future expansion.

    (h)  Arrange finance for associated schemes (eg road improvements, environmental enhancement).

    (i)  Ensure that urban schools teach pupils about the need for and desirability of public transport, along with the need for responsible attitudes as future citizens.

    (j)  Encourage the opening of at least two new tramway systems per year for the next 15-20 years.

    (k)  Encourage the main political parties to agree that good transport is a common aim, and is not suitable to be a political football perhaps via a permanent inter-party committee.


  I conclude that an in-depth, unbiased and objective study of modern light rail and tramway systems will thoroughly vindicate and prove their effectiveness in providing first class, successful and attractive urban transport, and the potential to break the current impasse in traffic problems. But they cost money—big money—(just as the present problems were created by big money) and there must be a deep, long-term and unwavering commitment by all major Parties to progress the matter in unanimity.

  The willingness of the sub-Committee members to understand, accept and embrace the role of light rail and tramways, as the only rapid transit system by which road congestion can be contained and future travel growth catered for, is crucial to the solving of the problems facing the city and town dweller. The production of a report written in clear-cut and compelling language—one which propels the Government into action—is, accordingly, mandatory. If it offers a lifeline to John Prescott, so much the better! The result must be positive and high-profile action, nor do we have the luxury of an infinite amount of time and leisure to go round and round in debate.

  Accordingly, I would recommend you all, gentlemen, to "go for it" energetically. To fail to do so would be to miss a golden opportunity (which is unlikely to recur for some time), to shoot wide of the mark—a typically British trait in the field of public transport.

October 1999

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