Trams could be great, but pose plenty of questions

Trams could be great, but pose plenty of questions

Trams could be great, but pose plenty of questions

First published in News

THINK ahead a few years. Imagine Oxford as a bustling place with a revamped Westgate shopping centre.

Picture the redeveloped train station and the prospect of more traffic from those extra homes in Barton West.

Then look closely at the city centre streets and imagine trams buzzing along them.

It all seems to make sense – all part of the general sense of progress and change that city leaders are encouraging.

But will it work?

There are a lot of unanswered questions.

How much will it cost is one – and a big one at that.

Where it will go and how it will work are two more.

Exactly what it will look like and exactly how it will fit in among the city’s historic honey-coloured buildings is unclear.

But these are things that remain to be thrashed out and we should recognise that.

These plans are at an early stage, evidently, but they might be good for the city – in cutting pollution levels if nothing else.

Oxford is a city that is very protective of the way it looks after its history.

Whether this scheme will really fit the city is a moot point. City leaders should not be attacked for looking at good ideas in other areas and seeing if they make sense here.

That is what imaginative leadership is all about.

The city has looked at tram schemes before and, apart from those powered by horses, they have never got off the ground.

Now perhaps, it is time to look again.

Time will tell if this plan gets any further. But it’s going to be a very interesting ride

Comments (6)

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9:26am Tue 25 Feb 14

West Oxon Webwatcher says...

As I understand it the Milton Keynes scheme is not a tram system. It is battery powered electrical bus sytem with dedicated recharging kit fitted at the end of the fixed bus run. The bus stands over the recharging kit for 20 minutes or so and its batteries are recharged enough to run the bus for the its next journey. Of course Oxford had a battery power bus system a good number of years ago. Mini-buses ran from the rail station to the city centre. However it was very much experimental and the technology was in its infancy then and the service was withdrawn as it proved to be unreliable and reliability is an important feature of public transport.
As I understand it the Milton Keynes scheme is not a tram system. It is battery powered electrical bus sytem with dedicated recharging kit fitted at the end of the fixed bus run. The bus stands over the recharging kit for 20 minutes or so and its batteries are recharged enough to run the bus for the its next journey. Of course Oxford had a battery power bus system a good number of years ago. Mini-buses ran from the rail station to the city centre. However it was very much experimental and the technology was in its infancy then and the service was withdrawn as it proved to be unreliable and reliability is an important feature of public transport. West Oxon Webwatcher
  • Score: -1

9:38am Tue 25 Feb 14

Danny A says...

Where is the space for trams and what routes would they go?
The city centre of Oxford is tiny. The key transport issues are getting into the centre from the outskirts, not getting around the centre. I don't see how trams would help this or do anything buses can't do. If pollution is the problem, simply encourage/force the bus operators to use more hybrid or electric vehicles.

If people are that keen to invest in fixed route transportation then money would be far better spent (re)introducing light rails links into Oxford from places like Witney, Wheatley and Leys.

Additionally a new park and ride could be built south of Osney Mead with access from the A34 between the Hinkseys and a new (bus/bike/pedestrian
) link to the centre via oxpens, helping serve a new Westgate and reinvigorating this end of town.
Where is the space for trams and what routes would they go? The city centre of Oxford is tiny. The key transport issues are getting into the centre from the outskirts, not getting around the centre. I don't see how trams would help this or do anything buses can't do. If pollution is the problem, simply encourage/force the bus operators to use more hybrid or electric vehicles. If people are that keen to invest in fixed route transportation then money would be far better spent (re)introducing light rails links into Oxford from places like Witney, Wheatley and Leys. Additionally a new park and ride could be built south of Osney Mead with access from the A34 between the Hinkseys and a new (bus/bike/pedestrian ) link to the centre via oxpens, helping serve a new Westgate and reinvigorating this end of town. Danny A
  • Score: 0

9:47am Tue 25 Feb 14

Patrick, Devon says...

If Oxford were in France, Germany or the USA, it would by now alreay have an efficient, fast and non polluting rapid transit system. Given the constraints of the historic city centre, a tunnel from the railway station to east Oxford would seem to be the best option, and would cost far less than many would think - such tunnels are already in place in many medium sized historic cities in Europe.
If Oxford were in France, Germany or the USA, it would by now alreay have an efficient, fast and non polluting rapid transit system. Given the constraints of the historic city centre, a tunnel from the railway station to east Oxford would seem to be the best option, and would cost far less than many would think - such tunnels are already in place in many medium sized historic cities in Europe. Patrick, Devon
  • Score: -2

11:01am Tue 25 Feb 14

roboxfordshire says...

Progress in this city? Yea right, pull the other one.

Example: A modern, inspiring science centre that will teach kids not only about the world around them but also how to look after it better? No, sorry, you can't have that as an old **** building will have to get knocked down and from a certain angle an old hill wont be as visible.
Progress in this city? Yea right, pull the other one. Example: A modern, inspiring science centre that will teach kids not only about the world around them but also how to look after it better? No, sorry, you can't have that as an old **** building will have to get knocked down and from a certain angle an old hill wont be as visible. roboxfordshire
  • Score: -2

10:08pm Thu 27 Feb 14

Hugh Jaeger says...

The editor's suggestion that trams might not fit in Oxford because of the colour of the buildings is one of the silliest objections to trams I have ever read.

Arriva's new electric buses in Milton Keynes are a couple of generations ahead of the small and almost experimental electric bus that ran in central Oxford in the 1990s. But that is a side issue, as Oxford needs trams.

Euro 5 emissions limits have dramatically reduced bus emissions and hybrids reduce that figure by another 30%. But they still make emissions and as more people in Oxford keep switch from private transport to buses the total number of buses has to keep increasing. Hybrids alone are not enough to reduce central Oxford emissions to safe levels.

Trams emit nothing. Even if their electricity comes from fossil fuels, the corresponding emissions from the power station are less than from running a corresponding diesel or hybrid bus.

A tunnel between Oxford railway station and East Oxford would be a couple of miles, cost hundreds of millions of pounds and need a lot of room at each end to come to the surface. It would never pay for itself, so the DfT would never agree to fund it.

Tunnels are only for cities that have run out of more affordable ground-level solutions. And tunnels in Oxford would need a bit of flood-proofing!

Oxford is no more cramped than many other European Medieval cities that have successfully fitted trams into streets narrower than central Oxford's main throughfares. In narrow streets trams fit better than buses, because rails control so precisely where they go.

There is a contrast with Science Oxford's proposed redevelopment of Macclesfield House and the County Registry Office. Campaigners who criticised that proposal have long advocated trams for Oxford, precisely because trams would reduce traffic and emissions and thus help to protect Oxford's heritage.
The editor's suggestion that trams might not fit in Oxford because of the colour of the buildings is one of the silliest objections to trams I have ever read. Arriva's new electric buses in Milton Keynes are a couple of generations ahead of the small and almost experimental electric bus that ran in central Oxford in the 1990s. But that is a side issue, as Oxford needs trams. Euro 5 emissions limits have dramatically reduced bus emissions and hybrids reduce that figure by another 30%. But they still make emissions and as more people in Oxford keep switch from private transport to buses the total number of buses has to keep increasing. Hybrids alone are not enough to reduce central Oxford emissions to safe levels. Trams emit nothing. Even if their electricity comes from fossil fuels, the corresponding emissions from the power station are less than from running a corresponding diesel or hybrid bus. A tunnel between Oxford railway station and East Oxford would be a couple of miles, cost hundreds of millions of pounds and need a lot of room at each end to come to the surface. It would never pay for itself, so the DfT would never agree to fund it. Tunnels are only for cities that have run out of more affordable ground-level solutions. And tunnels in Oxford would need a bit of flood-proofing! Oxford is no more cramped than many other European Medieval cities that have successfully fitted trams into streets narrower than central Oxford's main throughfares. In narrow streets trams fit better than buses, because rails control so precisely where they go. There is a contrast with Science Oxford's proposed redevelopment of Macclesfield House and the County Registry Office. Campaigners who criticised that proposal have long advocated trams for Oxford, precisely because trams would reduce traffic and emissions and thus help to protect Oxford's heritage. Hugh Jaeger
  • Score: 1

12:29pm Fri 28 Feb 14

Patrick, Devon says...

Hugh Jaeger wrote:
The editor's suggestion that trams might not fit in Oxford because of the colour of the buildings is one of the silliest objections to trams I have ever read.

Arriva's new electric buses in Milton Keynes are a couple of generations ahead of the small and almost experimental electric bus that ran in central Oxford in the 1990s. But that is a side issue, as Oxford needs trams.

Euro 5 emissions limits have dramatically reduced bus emissions and hybrids reduce that figure by another 30%. But they still make emissions and as more people in Oxford keep switch from private transport to buses the total number of buses has to keep increasing. Hybrids alone are not enough to reduce central Oxford emissions to safe levels.

Trams emit nothing. Even if their electricity comes from fossil fuels, the corresponding emissions from the power station are less than from running a corresponding diesel or hybrid bus.

A tunnel between Oxford railway station and East Oxford would be a couple of miles, cost hundreds of millions of pounds and need a lot of room at each end to come to the surface. It would never pay for itself, so the DfT would never agree to fund it.

Tunnels are only for cities that have run out of more affordable ground-level solutions. And tunnels in Oxford would need a bit of flood-proofing!

Oxford is no more cramped than many other European Medieval cities that have successfully fitted trams into streets narrower than central Oxford's main throughfares. In narrow streets trams fit better than buses, because rails control so precisely where they go.

There is a contrast with Science Oxford's proposed redevelopment of Macclesfield House and the County Registry Office. Campaigners who criticised that proposal have long advocated trams for Oxford, precisely because trams would reduce traffic and emissions and thus help to protect Oxford's heritage.
Have a look at the study carried out for Brescia, Italy, Hugh, http://www.railwayga
zette.com/news/urban
/single-view/view/au
tomation-in-a-medium
-sized-city.html. Tunnelling turned out to be the most cost effective option. Avoids the cost and disruption of digging up streets, moving services etc, while providing a more direct route. Flood proofing is not a problem. The costly parts are the tunnel portals and the stations, but you would only need two of each on a stretch from Oxford station to South Park, from where routes could radiate out to serve the major destinations in the eastern arc, complemented by a local rail service to Cowley and an electric bus network - fully integrated.

Folk do come up with the silliest objections and irrational fears, but they seem oblivious to the existing problems of congestion and pollution, while the clutter of parked cars in the historic areas is surely the most discordant visual atrocity.
[quote][p][bold]Hugh Jaeger[/bold] wrote: The editor's suggestion that trams might not fit in Oxford because of the colour of the buildings is one of the silliest objections to trams I have ever read. Arriva's new electric buses in Milton Keynes are a couple of generations ahead of the small and almost experimental electric bus that ran in central Oxford in the 1990s. But that is a side issue, as Oxford needs trams. Euro 5 emissions limits have dramatically reduced bus emissions and hybrids reduce that figure by another 30%. But they still make emissions and as more people in Oxford keep switch from private transport to buses the total number of buses has to keep increasing. Hybrids alone are not enough to reduce central Oxford emissions to safe levels. Trams emit nothing. Even if their electricity comes from fossil fuels, the corresponding emissions from the power station are less than from running a corresponding diesel or hybrid bus. A tunnel between Oxford railway station and East Oxford would be a couple of miles, cost hundreds of millions of pounds and need a lot of room at each end to come to the surface. It would never pay for itself, so the DfT would never agree to fund it. Tunnels are only for cities that have run out of more affordable ground-level solutions. And tunnels in Oxford would need a bit of flood-proofing! Oxford is no more cramped than many other European Medieval cities that have successfully fitted trams into streets narrower than central Oxford's main throughfares. In narrow streets trams fit better than buses, because rails control so precisely where they go. There is a contrast with Science Oxford's proposed redevelopment of Macclesfield House and the County Registry Office. Campaigners who criticised that proposal have long advocated trams for Oxford, precisely because trams would reduce traffic and emissions and thus help to protect Oxford's heritage.[/p][/quote]Have a look at the study carried out for Brescia, Italy, Hugh, http://www.railwayga zette.com/news/urban /single-view/view/au tomation-in-a-medium -sized-city.html. Tunnelling turned out to be the most cost effective option. Avoids the cost and disruption of digging up streets, moving services etc, while providing a more direct route. Flood proofing is not a problem. The costly parts are the tunnel portals and the stations, but you would only need two of each on a stretch from Oxford station to South Park, from where routes could radiate out to serve the major destinations in the eastern arc, complemented by a local rail service to Cowley and an electric bus network - fully integrated. Folk do come up with the silliest objections and irrational fears, but they seem oblivious to the existing problems of congestion and pollution, while the clutter of parked cars in the historic areas is surely the most discordant visual atrocity. Patrick, Devon
  • Score: 0

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