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

Annex 1


  1.  London Transport has access to information from the leading transport systems abroad, chiefly through its membership of the International Public Transport Association (UITP) and the participation of its staff in various committees; Metro, Light Rail and Bus. LT also has frequent exchanges of information with the Paris Regional Transport Administration (RATP). This has given LT a useful insight into the development of LRT throughout Europe and the World.

  2.  There are over 350 Light Rail and Tramway systems in operation in the World, with over 40 of them having been opened in the last 12 years. There are over 300 trolleybus systems, with a number of extensions having been introduced in recent years. In Europe some countries have maintained and modernised existing tramway systems.

  3.  The Netherlands have expanding systems in Amsterdam, Den Haag and Rotterdam, with a recent system in Utrecht. Current plans envisage an extensive new light rail system "Randstadt Rail" linking the three major cities by 2010. The Netherlands also has a successful modernised trolley bus system in Arnhem. A number of public transport systems in the Netherlands are operated by "arms length" publicly owned companies or by private companies operating in public/private partnerships.

  4.  Germany has over 30 tramway systems in almost all of its major cities, ranging in size from Ulm (pop 165,000) to Berlin (pop <3m).

  5.  France has had a similar experience to the UK, with most of its tramway systems having been abandoned between 1930 and 1965. The realisation that buses alone could not solve traffic problems came to many cities in the 1970s. Accordingly the government issued a circular to the major cities outside Paris (which had an extensive Metro and suburban rail system) in the early 1980s requiring them to develop new environmentally friendly transport systems "en site propre"—on alignments protected from general traffic. Experience has shown that tramways can be successfully operated in a number of smaller cities including Nantes (pop 510,000), Strasbourg (430,000), Grenoble (378,000), Valenciennes (340,000) and Orleans (250,000).

  6.  The political climate in France has been conducive to the development of LRT schemes, with local taxation, the versement transport, and national funding being devoted to the schemes. The result has been that two light metros, 14 tramways and two bus-based systems will have opened between 1984 and 2001. Although excluded from the first invitation to develop such schemes Paris has constructed two orbital tramways, linking metro lines to regenerating suburbs, and a major orbital busway, part of which is being used to test guided trolleybuses.

  7.  The results on many of the tramway schemes show a significant increase of ridership over the previous bus operations with modal shift from cars ranging between 7 and 10 per cent. Significant regeneration benefits have accrued and property values along the line of route have increased. An unexpected, but attractive, feature of a number of schemes is that the bus routes converted into tramway feeders have also shown a significant increase in ridership—as have other bus services in the town, even if not connecting with the tramway. This would seem to have resulted from the cascading of better buses released from tramway converted routes to secondary routes and from a general improvement in public perception of all public transport as a result of the introduction of modern tramways.

  8.  Public transport provision in most French cities is provided by a "Societe Mixte"—a public/private partnership. The public authority develops the initial idea and then creates a scheme with a private investment and operating company that has a long concession for the provision of an integrated network of public transport within a specified area. This co-operation has resulted in a number of transport companies developing a considerable expertise in creating successful LRT operations. These companies are now trading in the UK (e.g. operating buses in London and being part of the Nottingham LRT project) and are interested in becoming involved in further LRT development here.

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