Monday, October 03, 2011

Random Matters Transport

Edinburgh is getting its trams back, well one route. It is a prime example of how not to build a new tram line. It is over engineered. It will be opened four years late and it is hundreds of millions of pounds over budget. They have tried to offload some of the trams they bought which they have found to be surplus to what they need, but there are no takers. It is a disgrace and sadly discouraging to other British cities who are considering a tram or light rail. In other parts of Britain, light rail is successfully expanding.

The Blackpool to Fleetwood tram system has been completely renovated, new tracks, electric wiring, new depot and a fleet of new trams with the famous old Blackpool trams to be kept for tourists and special occasions.

Europe, broke as she is, keeps expanding her rail network with high speed trains flying in all directions. The Eurostar, London to the Continent train, is making a healthy profit and a seat often has to be booked well in advance.

London has just scrapped its bus service at the long and short term airport carparks that service Heathrow's Terminal 5. Now you hop into a driverless pod and are quickly delivered to the terminal.

In Sydney Max Wilton, I remember him, Max the Axe, an influential bureaucrat in the office of ex PM Howard, has suggested that the Liberal state government should just get on and build a light rail system to the south east of Sydney and forget about the multi million dollar studies of viability. I am with him on that. Jesus, how hard is it? It is so obvious. When bus service get crowded to point that no more can fit on a continual line of buses, then you need rail transport.

I just came across these remarkable figures which clearly indicate our state wants more train services yesterday. V Line, that is country services including those that run to Melbourne, has had passenger numbers double in six years. The Bendigo line alone has seen an increase of 129% in just five years.

Meanwhile in our state, nothing much is happening, except for feasibility studies. But this time, we might be on a winner. Teddy needs to have some good electoral advantage at the next election. These studies may come up trumps and get partially delivered during his second term. He might be on a winner for a third term as the projects are completed and new ones are advanced.

Or maybe not.

Can't mention Blackpool trams without again posting my favourite Blackpool tram picture. For you delectation once again:


  1. We need a train to run to Tullamarine Airport from Southern Cross station its not that hard as the most of the rail is already in place. You'd only need to build a branch line from Tullamarine loop to the Airport. :-).

  2. Hello Andrew:
    Why, we ask, were the trams which used to be a part of the public transport system of every major town, ever scrapped?

    Here the fourth metro line is seriously, and we mean seriously, over budget and way off schedule with no date now being given for its completion. It has become a National joke. What is more, the route it follows is now thought no longer to be necessary, having been planned decades ago!

  3. The driverless things are WEIRD. They had them on the DLR in London and I couldn't get used to the fact that no one was driving the damn thing!

    I wish this country were more progressive with their transport planning, alas we're rubbish at it :(

  4. Hi Andrew,
    sometimes the idea of expanding our train and tram networks seems a bit much, given the financial, social [oh alright... and political] costs of forcing people to move house.
    Then other times, it seems we have no trouble making compulsory acquisitions if we want a new freeway.
    But instead of piecemeal changes, how about a large, long term vision for the whole transport system, so we finally do something properly, and can accommodate future growth?

    I remember going for a ride through Sydney's underground railway just so I could say I'd been on one... then Melbourne got a piddly, narrow round tunnel with short platforms. Wow! [not].

  5. For sure Windsmoke. Ideally it would be a dedicated and very fast train, which it can't be if it uses existing track as there will be suburban trains in the way. But I would happily settle for a train as you describe, using existing tracks.

    JayLa, the power of the oil companies saw an end to trams. It is fortunate that Budapest retained theirs, but Brighton did not.

    Fen, Docklands Light Rail are driverless? I am not sure that they are now. Must check. Yes, we are hopeless at transport.

    Interesting point about house acquisitions Fruitcake. If you are thinking about the Footscray area, the writing was on the wall a long time ago. It is a major rail corridor that was too narrow. Long term vision? I am all for that, but we have made pollies look no further than the next electoral term. I get your point about Sydney v Melb rail tunnels, but Sydney is very far from perfect with their tunnels.

  6. Love that shot - the show must go on, huh??!! And conducting feasibility studies & their ilk is often mistaken for actually taking action!!

  7. Red, nothing stops the Blackers to Fleetwood tram, except bureaucracy. And then after feasibility comes planning, guaranteed to make a project take years.

  8. Mmm it was one of the light rails, pretty sure it was Docklands, used it when I went to Canary Wharf. Ooh here ya go, I doubted myself so did some research:

    The fast-developing London Docklands area is served by the first fully automated system in England, operating 94 Bombardier-built light-rail vehicles, with a new generation of 55 vehicles that commence service in 2008. The system will play a key role in transporting passengers to the London 2012 Olympic Games. The driverless cars have proved enormously popular and reliable, with their enhanced design and passenger comfort.

  9. Cheers Fen. I would have got around to it eventually. In really heavy snow I recall light rail crews volunteering to continue to run the system al night to keep the tracks clear. Something like that but perhaps not DLR.

  10. Incredibly, planning is followed by 'consultation', clearly a new definition with which we're not familiar ...

  11. And then tenders are called.