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




  It is said that the current opinion is that the Tram is very expensive to provide while the Bus is cheap. Sadly the recent White Paper on Transport quoted this "opinion" as a fact perhaps without exploring in any depth, the current British Built, British Owned Tram.

  It is apparent that the current "mental picture" of the tram is the Sheffield Supertram and the well known project details:

    —  project cost £240 million;

    —  price per tram £1.9 million;

    —  system cost about £8 million per mile double track;

    —  construction period three plus years;

    —  massive disruption in the city;

    —  tram providing an unintegrated service to its walk-in catchment.

  This is compared with a Cost Cutter Bus Service Project:

—  project cost   say £2000
—  price/bus   Nil (written off already)
—  system cost   nominal (adverts)
—  construction period   42 days (new service notice)
—  disruption   none
—  bus providing an unintegrated service to its walk-in catchment (50p non transferable ticket).

  These are extremes but illustrate the perceived gulf in many peoples' thinking. Obviously a car user would not switch to the Cost Cutter Bus. But so the thinking goes, they would switch to a modern superior bus wouldn't they? And that must be quicker and easier to implement than the Tram mustn't it? This is the perceived wisdom and thinking and hence the dismissal of Trams in the White Paper. The reality of providing services of comparable capacity, quality and security is different. To attract people from their motor car journey speed and hence priority at junctions is imperative.


  The promoters of the car and the market stress the motor car is always available when required and is a comfortable ride from door to door.

  The motor car user will only use the tram/bus if they "know the tram/bus is coming".

  This demands:

    —  high frequency services;

    —  priority traffic lanes to maintain regularity.

  A service capacity of 1,000/hr in each direction can be provided by:

    1.  10 x 100 capacity trams giving 6 minutes frequency.

    2.  17 x 60 capacity buses giving 3.5 minutes frequency.

  NB1.  The trams can carry 2,000 in the peak hours.

           The buses can carry 1,000 in the peak hours.

  NB2.  To achieve a regular 6 minute frequency requires tram priority signals at all road junctions and avoidance of traffic queues or a reserved route in the rush hour. To achieve a regular 3.5 minute frequency requires bus priority signals at all road junctions and a reserved route.

  NB3.  To achieve 2,000/hour requires:

    —  10 crowded trams at 6 minute frequency.

    —  15 very full trams at 4.5 minute frequency.

    —  20 full trams at 3 minute frequency.

    —  30 full buses at 1.75 minute frequency.

  To provide buses at 1.75 minute frequency with absolute priority at all road junctions would involve a massive traffic management scheme for the area and would mean closing a significant number of side roads. The pollution from standing or crawling buses is at this frequency a greater threat.

  NB4.  The tram with four doors and a conductor stops on the tram stop for about 15 seconds at the average stop. The bus with one door and a driver selling tickets to all passengers including the disabled is not compatible with a high frequency, full priority service at 3.5 minutes frequency never mind 1.75 minutes. At the very least the bus must have a Conductor to speed things up! Even then the traffic management costs to provide the speed of a journey and the frequency and regularity of bus required to attract the car owner from his car are substantially higher than for a similar capacity tram service, at an acceptable frequency.

  NB5.  Provision of a Conductor on a public transport vehicle combined with pre paid smartcard through ticketing:

    —  reduces fare evasion;

    —  reduces vandalism;

    —  improves passenger security;

    —  improves service to the passenger.

  It is a significant feature in attracting people from cars—especially ladies travelling alone and also a lot of men travelling alone if they were prepared to admit it.

      1 x 200 capacity tram requires 1 driver and 1 conductor.

      3 x 60 capacity bus requires 3 drivers and 3 conductors.

      Staff costs for buses are up to 3 times that for trams.

  NB6.  Environmental pollution must be reduced and this is one of the reasons for encouraging public transport.

  The tram is electric, although this requires one overhead line per track.

  The diesel bus is a polluter so an electric bus is required to be comparable and this requires two overhead lines per "track".

  The cost of the Power Supply system will be similar.

  NB7.  The tram runs on tracks which guide the vehicle and minimise the space taken for two vehicles travelling in opposite directions.

  The Electronically Guided Bus can achieve the same discipline thus minimising the space required. The manually steered bus cannot achieve this discipline. Thus the EGB is required to match the tram for economy of space for a reserved route either on or off the highway.

  NB8.  A reserved way system requires TWA/HMRI/HA approval. A high frequency system reserved way makes greater demands on junction priority to achieve service regularity and a lower frequency system. Thus traffic management and implementation is more controversial and expensive for the bus than for the tram for equivalent system capacity.


  Having established that to provide a comparable service to the Tram, the form of Bus required is an EGB with Electric Power it follows:

    —  Project approval must achieve TWA for both systems;

    —  HMRI approval is required for both systems;

    —  Highway Authority approval is required for both systems;

    —  Disability Discrimination Act compliance is required for both systems; and

    —  HSE approval of both Depots is required.

  The main differences are:

    —  Extra cost for the EGB to achieve TWA for priority and related transport restriction measures;

    —  HMRI requirements for an EGB in a public highway are "not known" to the writer at this stage;

    —  The Tram will have tighter and perhaps more extensive restrictions on the location of rails relative to other road traffic than will the bus path relative to other road traffic in the street;

    —  The DDA will require similar access standards for both vehicles, but the tram being longer will require more expensive steps/platforms; and

    —  Conversely stop time, and the inclusion of a conductor on the bus may well result in a "two door bus" with longer platforms.

Formation Width

  The Tram formation or reserve will be a minimum of 6.0m inside in an open public area (2 x 2.65+ 0.5 = 5.8m).

  The EGB will require similar space.

  On curves both vehicles will require extra width for vehicle overhang.

  The 6.0 m width assumes space exists either side of the reserve for evacuated passengers to move clear of the track following a breakdown etc.

  A footpath at least 1m wide for disabled evacuation is required on fenced off areas, on viaducts, in tunnels etc. This gives an overall width of 8.0 to 8.5m for both systems on straight track.



  The modern traditionally built tram will cost £1.56 million plus setting up costs to build.

  The new TRAM is on offer at £0.8 million.

  Equivalent capacity EGB's cost 3 x £0.2 million = £0.6 million.

  EGB life is 10-15 years, thus for 30 years cost is £1.2 million.

  Tram life is 30 years with 15 year refurbishment ie. cost is £1.2 million.

  Maintenance costs for both vehicles are "not proven" but to maintain quality, safety and performance for 30 years will require a similar sequence of inspection, maintenance and repair to defined standards. To achieve this for 3 EGB's compared with 1 Tram must be at least as costly. Energy Consumption is dependant on vehicle weight and three loaded buses will not be very different from one loaded Tram.

  The major difference is in staff cost commitment.

  1 Tram at 18 hours/day for 30 years requires 150 man years.

  3 EGB at 18 hours/day for 30 years requires 450 man years.

  1 driver costs £12.5k p.a. 1 conductor 10 k p.a.

  Tram Staff cost = £1,687,500; EGB Staff Cost = £5,062,500.


  Assuming the route is on an existing road:

  A conventional tram track would cost £620/metre to lay.

  A conventional bus would run on the road.


  LR55 tram track only costs £370/metre to lay. And the EGB would require its guidance cable laid accurately and protected in the road—guessed at—£150/metre.

  Thus LR55 tram track will be £220/metre more to lay.

  On the straight, rails should last for 20-30 years. The bus on a fixed path will "cove" the road surface and several renewals will be necessary in 20-30 years.

  Assuming the route is off street:—

  The tram would require conventional ballasted track.

  The bus would require a conventional road.

  Costs depend on ground conditions but costs must be comparable.


  Conventional Tram Track has required nearly all utilities be diverted from the route. LR55 is much shallower and has a much narrower construction and therefore interference is less and ongoing access feasibility to utilities much greater. Only very shallow utilities need be diverted or protected with LR55 track being used.

  The EGB cable will require similar very shallow utility diversions—for example UTC cables at junctions, and 300mm clearance to avoid interference from other metal construction.

  Diversion of utilities for stop construction and overhead line construction (pole sites) will be similar for both Tram and EGB.

Power Supply

  The Trams require an overhead Power Supply complete with Sub-Stations.

  The EGB must have overhead Trolley wires if it is to be environmentally friendly, complete with Sub-Stations.

  The Tram system will still have to monitor for stray currents and treat and problem spots. The EGB will avoid this with its negative return wire.

  The Power Supply question is not a major cost difference factor.

Service Priority

  Traditionally the Tram has been given a priority route at junctions (across a roundabout for example) with all the UTC implications that involves.

  Conversely the Bus has stuck to the road with all the other traffic.

  To take advantage of the EGB it must be given priority as the tram has been but since there will be three vehicles instead of one tram for a given capacity the UTC and overall traffic management implications and hence costs are much greater.

  Conversely the tram could be confined to the road and behave like any other bus, but this is failing to make best use of its potential and it would not attract the car user.


  Tram routes in Sheffield and Manchester have featured some splendid structures which added substantially to the cost of the Project.

  A priority EGB serving the same areas would require the same structures.

  There is no difference in cost.

Accommodation Works

  Accommodation works take two forms:

    —  those necessary to give priority etc to the new route.

    —  those embellishments to the surrounds that are hung on to the project because there is no other way of funding them.

  The Tram projects in the UK have been loaded with both to create a falsifiable cost analysis.

  Bus projects have not needed to suffer the added hidden cost.

  In the new situation with Tram or EGB the first group will be necessarily the same depending on the route planned, while the second group need not be hung on either Project Budget at all!

  There is no difference in cost.


  Recent Tram Projects have required platforms at tram floor level, minimum widths, minimum lengths etc to HMRI requirements.

  Following the DDA a top quality EGB will have to be the same—not just a post on the footpath kerb.

  The four door tram needs a 35 metre long platform.

  The one door EGB does not. But if buses have two doors, or service frequency is such that two buses might reach the stop at once a similar length of platform is required to the tram.

  Shelters etc are needed for passenger comfort to attract the car user. There is no difference between Tram and EGB.

Construction Disruption

  The city centre disruption caused at Sheffield and Croydon during tramway construction had a major negative effect.

  In the case of the comparable Tram or EGB:

    —  priority measures;

    —  structures;

    —  power supply systems;

    —  accommodation works will be the same.

  The Tram Track LR55 will require:

    —  minor utility diversion;

    —  LR55 track construction disruption will be substantially reduced compared with a conventional tram. The LR55 track can be laid one rail at a time in 100-200 yard lengths thus being about the same size of operation as relaying kerbstones, different from the half mile slip form paving operation for a conventional 8 foot 6 inch wide slab.

  The EGB will require

    —  minor utility diversion;

    —  guidance cable laying causing about 50 per cent of the LR55 track laying disruption.


  To create a high quality EGB powered electrically causes many of the problems and hence costs caused by a Tram system. However if the motorist is to be drawn from the car the quality and hence costs are obligatory.

  Creating a Tram Track in a city centre using LR55 is a much less expensive and less disruptive process than using conventional track.

  The TRAM is a much cheaper vehicle than conventional trams and yet provides the rail mounted vehicles quality of ride, and will have the trams lifespan.

  The EGB will have to adopt a two man crew if it is to provide the speed and reliability and security of travel demanded by the motorist, thus substantially increasing system operating costs.

  The EGB becomes a "fixed track mode" in operational terms so congestion caused by a frequent service and slow stop times will be serious. The less frequent but longer multi door tram has a greater peak hour or special event capability. Neither these modes are appropriate for low capacity routes. For medium capacity routes the Tram has the greater potential and the probability of a lower overall cost.

  The assumptions that surrounded the statement that buses are cheaper than trams have been dealt with as above. The definition of maximum priority option and high priority defined as in the LT Document "New Ideas for Public Transport in Outer London" September 1996 set out the need to adopt trams as the maximum priority option but suggest that cost is the only reason to adopt a much lower option.

  The above comparison on a like for like basis sets out clearly that over the long period the tram option fulfils the targets; to reduce pollution, to reduce congestion, to transfer car trips to public transport up to five times more passengers from cars than buses, to be seen to be the only real and maximum priority to an inevitable city gridlock. London is just one of 41 cities seeking the tram maximum priority.

  The cost analysis must be Healthy Transport policies, the Health Issues are man made and preventable while the cost is hidden in National Health and Social Security payments ie, a tax burden, the real cost of Buses will always be misrepresented.

  The infrastructure requirements for a Modern City and Society are clean air, efficient transport and development opportunities to create wealth and employment, only the tram can do this.

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