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




  Connects the principle suburbs and towns north and south of the Tyne between Newcastle/Gateshead and the coast, provides comprehensive city centre penetration via an underground route, and offers interchange with heavy rail at Newcastle Central station. Carries over 30 million passengers a year. The extension to Sunderland will introduce to Britain the concept of track sharing between light rail and conventional trains.


  Connects the City of London with the rapidly-growing developments in Poplar and the Isle of Dogs with connections to the underground and rail network at Bank and Stratford. Extension across the Thames to Greenwich and Lewisham due to open 1999.


  Connects the towns of Bury and Altrincham with central Manchester and provides a cross-city link between Victoria and Piccadilly stations. Extension to Eccles due to open 1999; other extensions to Oldham, Rochdale and the airport planned.


  Connects central Sheffield with the suburban centres at Hillsborough and Halfway, with a line along the development area of the Lower Don Valley to the retail park at Meadowhall.


  Runs from Snow Hill station on the edge of central Birmingham to the centre of Wolverhampton, serving intermediate centres including West Bromwich, Bilston and Wednesbury. Extensions through Birmingham city centre to New Street and from Wednesbury to Merryhill planned. A track-sharing agreement for the Wednesbury to Merryhill extension of Midland Metro is under discussion.


  Serves central Croydon, linking East and West Croydon stations, with lines to Wimbledon, New Addington, Elmers End and Beckenham.


  A light rail scheme for Nottingham (city-centre to Hucknall) has recently been approved, and a scheme in south Hampshire (Fareham-Gosport-Portsmouth) is at an advanced stage of planning. There are detailed proposals for Leeds and Bristol. The original tramway in Blackpool has been modernised to some extent and continues to provide an essential public transport link along the promenade. In addition, there are a number of heritage and exhibition lines, for example at Wirral and Seaton, and tramway museums in Crich (Derbyshire), Beamish (Co Durham) and East Anglia.



  Many cities in Europe, for example in Germany, Belgium and the Netherlands, rely on light rail as their main urban transit system. In most cases they have kept and updated their traditional street-running tramways with modern vehicles and segregated tracks. In some instances, Brussels and Hanover for example, city centre sections of the route have been put underground to form a pre-metro line. There are also examples of completely new light rail lines, for example in Amsterdam and Utrecht.

  The light rail system in Karlsruhe (Germany) is interesting as it functions as a suburban railway as well as a street tramway. Several lines extend up to 20 or 30 km from the city centre, providing transport links to neighbouring towns and communities. Typically, the vehicles operate on a dedicated right-of-way until reaching the edge of the city centre, where they divert onto the street and operate like a conventional tramway. Some lines in Karlsruhe have been converted from former railway alignments, and some are newly-constructed. Several of the lines continue to be used as heavy as well as light rail, the light rail vehicles being constructed to use the same power supplies and signalling systems.


  Not all European countries kept their traditional tramways; France, in particular, was as enthusiastic as Britain in replacing them with buses. As a result, those French cities which have introduced light rapid transit systems have had to do so from scratch. These have mostly taken the form of modern tramway systems, with a city-centre street-running section and suburban sections operating largely on a segregated right-of-way. A number of such new light rail schemes have opened recently in France, namely Nantes (1985), Grenoble (1987), Strasbourg (1994), the suburbs of Paris (two lines in 1992 and 1997) and Rouen (1994), and some of these systems have since been extended. New lines are under construction in Montpelier, Orleans and Valenciennes, and are actively planned in Reims and Bordeaux. In addition, automatic light rail systems similar to the Docklands Light Railway have been introduced in Lille (1983) and Toulouse (1993).

  In Dublin, a 3-line light rail system is planned to serve Tallacht, Dundrum, and Ballymun and the airport. Part of the system will use former railway alignments, part is on-street, and it is planned to put the city-centre sections underground.

  A number of North American cities have introduced new light rail lines in recent years. These include light rail systems which include an element of street running in Buffalo, Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Portland, Sacramento, San Diego, San Jose, Edmonton and Calgary. These examples are all new lines rather than upgrades of existing street-car systems, and are in addition to heavier metros in cities such as Washington, Atlanta, Dallas and San Francisco.

  Other examples of light rapid transit construction exist around the world, especially in developing countries and in Eastern Europe. One worthy of mention is Hong Kong, where in addition to a modern metro system there is a new light rail line (the Tuen Mun line) similar to those in Britain.


  There are two examples of guided busways operating in the UK:

    —  Leeds: The pioneering sections of guided busway on the Scott Hall Road corridor in Leeds are used to bypass queues on the approach to junctions and other congested stretches of road. They save seven minutes on the previous peak hour journey to the city centre and have resulted in a 75 per cent increase in bus ridership on the corridor over the busway's first two years. The East Leeds Quality Bus Initiative, a larger scheme for the York Road corridor, is to be being funded in a public-private partnership involving the highway authorities, PTE and the two principal local bus operators.

    —  Ipswich: has a short section of guided busway linking two estates, which enables buses to serve both estates without making a circuitous diversion via the main bypass road.

  There is a major guided bus scheme planned for Edinburgh, with a route leading from the edge of the city centre to the airport, largely on a new segregated right-of-way. There is also a rapid transit system planned for Northampton, using technically advanced guided buses. A scheme using electronically-guided electric buses through a pedestrian zone in Liverpool was recently rejected after public inquiry, but might be revived in a different form after further local authority consultation.

  It is also worth mentioning the busway in Runcorn, used by conventional (non-guided) buses. The busway opened between 1967 and 1975. It forms a figure-of-8 loop serving the town centre and passing through the surrounding housing estates. Buses run on reserved track segregated from other traffic—some just operate around the town, some come in from outlying areas. This gives it the nature of a LRT system although the buses are entirely conventional. At peak times there are about 30 buses per hour on key sections. When the busway first opened it used a dedicated fleet of high quality vehicles.


  The guided busway in Adelaide provides high-speed (100km/h) services on a 12km corridor between Modbury in the north-eastern suburbs and Gilberton on the edge of the city centre. 113 buses are equipped for operation on the busway.

  In Essen, guided buses operate over a 9km section of route.

  In Ottawa there is a fully segregated, but not guided, busway, built almost completely on purpose-built alignment, with a 2 km city centre section using bus lanes on one-way streets.

  Pittsburgh has a busway in addition to a light rail line.

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