Anyone for Trams?

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fras
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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by fras » Fri Dec 29, 2017 21:42

WHBM wrote:
fras wrote:The London system was by far the best because the system allowed for a very rapid switch between conduit and overhead operation. This was essential as the system expanded and the cost of conduit track became a real burden, also LCC cars ran into Croydon and other towns that had separately owned systema.
It wasn't particularly The Best because the changeover points were notably labour intensive. Each was fully staffed by two or three labourers, and an inspector in charge, during all operating hours. They were necessarily right in the middle of the road, the two tracks splayed out around them. At the start and end of the day there would need to be a delivery, and later collection, of the float of spare "plough" collectors, which are each quite hefty pieces of kit. If there was any disorganisation of the service which led to trams in one direction but not the other being diverted by an alternative route, stuck downroute behind a breakdown, or even in the build up from the depot direction to peak service, they could either run out of these collectors, or have too many for the parking arrangement for them.
There were disadvantages, like any system. Perhaps you'd like to tell us what was the best, then.

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by FleetlinePhil » Tue Jan 02, 2018 16:47

A further system that has been overlooked so far is the Great Orme Tramway, which does operate along the public highway for a short distance after leaving its base station in Llandudno:http://www.greatormetramway.co.uk

This system introduces cable propulsion to our list, although it uses it in an unusual, probably unique way, with the line being split into two equal sections, each of which is in effect a low-gradient funicular railway with two cars attached to either end of a cable and a central passing loop. Thus a change of vehicle is required from the top of the lower funicular to the bottom of the upper one, which is seen as charming on a tourist line but hardly acceptable for a means of serious urban transport. "Proper" cable trams, like San Francisco, use a different method, with grippers on the car engaging or releasing a continually-moving cable in a conduit between the rails. I am sure there are many of you who could comment on the smoothness or otherwise this affords - I may get there one day :wink:
Cable operation was never widespread in the UK. The technology was available slightly before electric trams were well established, and the horse tram was the norm. The investment required for a cable tram system would have been immense, and was perhaps only justifiable in hilly areas where it offered superior performance to horse trams. Edinburgh was, I believe, the only sizeable British system, and lasted from 1888 until finally electrified in 1923. As Leith was a separate burgh with its own electric system, passengers had to change tram halfway along Leith Walk!
One other cable system that comes to mind was in Douglas IOM. As well as the horse tramway along the seafront, there was a U-shaped cable line (3ft gauge) that ran inland serving hilly areas of Upper Douglas. It operated from 1896 until 1929.
To briefly revert to the Great Orme Tramway, I was introduced to it as a young child, and rode it several times with my father and, in time with my son. Readers of my previous posts on this and other threads may now be thinking "Eh up, 'ere comes the near miss with car anecdote", but no! This was a trauma free childhood ride for my son. Eventually, in the late nineties, we got in the habit of visiting at the Mayday holiday each year, when they held a Transport Festival, there was plenty of birdwatching interest and it was warm enough to sit out for a beer in the evening. In 2000 I couldn't get the Saturday off work, so we went on Sunday just for one night. Having dumped the stuff at the B&B, we got the tram up the Orme to look for some birds. We wandered away to the south of the tram terminus and were busy looking for birds when we became aware of a lot of distant noise. Sirens, mostly - something kicking off in town, perhaps? However, they grew closer, and eventually we realised there was something going on quite close to us. Retracing our steps and regaining some height, I was shocked to see the road below us full of emergency vehicles :confused: As I had binoculars on, a quick scan revealed the reason - the two upper section trams locked together, with their fronts about 2ft in the air :shock: 17 people required hospital treatment, I believe. This one really did feel like a lucky escape - we could easily have been on the uphill tram had timings worked out differently.

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by fras » Sat Jan 13, 2018 23:28

Just to mention that not all development of the new UK systems has ceased. Birmingham is to see extensions along Broad Street to Edgbaston, and later to the new HS2 station and beyond. In Manchester, the line to the Trafford Centre is well underway. The Tram-Train extension in Sheffield is nearing completion after a massive cost over-run so things are looking up. The Sheffield cost disaster is ridiculous when one knows that tram-train has been running for many years on the continent, Karlsruhe is an example, so costs should be well-known. Finally, in Edinburgh,where a similar huge cost over-run caused the planned system to be heavily cut back to a single route, such is the success of the tramway, that it is likely the system will finally be extended to Leith as was originally intended.

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by KeithW » Sun Jan 14, 2018 17:10

FleetlinePhil wrote:A further system that has been overlooked so far is the Great Orme Tramway, which does operate along the public highway for a short distance after leaving its base station in Llandudno:http://www.greatormetramway.co.uk

This system introduces cable propulsion to our list, although it uses it in an unusual, probably unique way, with the line being split into two equal sections, each of which is in effect a low-gradient funicular railway with two cars attached to either end of a cable and a central passing loop. Thus a change of vehicle is required from the top of the lower funicular to the bottom of the upper one, which is seen as charming on a tourist line but hardly acceptable for a means of serious urban transport. "Proper" cable trams, like San Francisco, use a different method, with grippers on the car engaging or releasing a continually-moving cable in a conduit between the rails. I am sure there are many of you who could comment on the smoothness or otherwise this affords - I may get there one day :wink:
The San Francisco cable car system is just a shadow of the original 23 line network. There are now just 3 lines and 2 of them are spurs off the main line from Union Square to Fishermans Wharf. It is now predominantly a tourist attraction. The real system worthy of consideration is what replaced most of the cable car lines which is the Muni Trolleybus System which can easily handle gradients that would defeat conventional trams, the Noe Street section which is 22.8% is claimed to be the steepest in the world. The weakness of tram systems is that with steel wheels and rails you are limited to gradual slopes while cables with grippers are noisy and the total load is limited by the max strength of the cable. Maintenance is also a major pain as all the running gear is under the road. They are also typically limited to about 10 mph and are very inefficient. In the case of the SF system its is estimated more than 90% of the power used is absorbed by pulling the mass of the steel cable.

The Great Orme system being a funicular is much more efficient as most of the weight of the ascending car is balanced by that of the descending car. An electric trolley bus can achieve something similar through regenerative braking.

The Muni trolleybus fleet has been extensively upgraded since 1999. 2/3rd of the new units were made by Skoda Electric in Plzeň, Czech Republic and the rest came from from Kiepe Electric in Germany. A supplemental order for another 200 units was placed with Kiepe in 2017 as part of their plan to replace the existing high floor units with low floor accessible units.

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by FleetlinePhil » Sun Jan 14, 2018 19:34

Just remembered one British operation which I don't think has been mentioned so far, which is that in Birkenhead. Whilst this is a museum line, the fact that it operates by the side of the road to the Woodside ferry terminal means that it is the only place where preserved trams can be seen in a genuine urban environment. Two Hong Kong style double deck cars were built in 1993 to operate the line as a tourist attraction, but more interesting are the preserved Liverpool Corporation streamliners (arguably the best looking trams built in the UK).
More details here:http://www.mtps.co.uk/

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by Steven » Sun Jan 14, 2018 19:48

fras wrote:Just to mention that not all development of the new UK systems has ceased. Birmingham is to see extensions along Broad Street to Edgbaston, and later to the new HS2 station and beyond. In Manchester, the line to the Trafford Centre is well underway. The Tram-Train extension in Sheffield is nearing completion after a massive cost over-run so things are looking up. The Sheffield cost disaster is ridiculous when one knows that tram-train has been running for many years on the continent, Karlsruhe is an example, so costs should be well-known. Finally, in Edinburgh,where a similar huge cost over-run caused the planned system to be heavily cut back to a single route, such is the success of the tramway, that it is likely the system will finally be extended to Leith as was originally intended.
There's more than that. There's an extension in Wolverhampton as well which has had the preliminary work done, and in the Black Country there's Wednesbury - Dudley - Merry Hill in the offing too.
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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by Chris Bertram » Sun Jan 14, 2018 22:09

Steven wrote:There's more than that. There's an extension in Wolverhampton as well which has had the preliminary work done, and in the Black Country there's Wednesbury - Dudley - Merry Hill in the offing too.
The latter really should be in operation already. It's astonishing how long these extensions take to develop from the original concept. And Dudley has been off the passenger rail network - any kind of rail - for far too long.
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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by RichardA626 » Mon Jan 15, 2018 17:57

fras wrote:Just to mention that not all development of the new UK systems has ceased. In Manchester, the line to the Trafford Centre is well underway.
What about the planned Didsbury - Stockport extension?
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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by fras » Mon Jan 15, 2018 19:14

RichardA626 wrote:
fras wrote:Just to mention that not all development of the new UK systems has ceased. In Manchester, the line to the Trafford Centre is well underway.
What about the planned Didsbury - Stockport extension?
Indeed there is that too, but it would seem to be nowhere near starting construction.

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by FleetlinePhil » Fri Jan 19, 2018 16:34

I was just looking at a thread on Street Furniture about streetlamps using old tramway poles, which linked to a GSV shot of Melville Drive in Edinburgh. This looked such a sylvan spot, and not really a radial route, that I was surprised it had ever had trams, but found this site to confirm the fact with a couple of interesting maps: http://www.grantonhistory.org/transport ... m_maps.htm

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by fras » Sat Feb 03, 2018 22:28

Tracklaying has started on the Trafford Park extension of Metrolink

http://www.metro-report.com/news/news-b ... nsion.html

They call it "light rail", but just look at that track. Light it ain't !! (should last a long time, though). When the weather gets a bit warmer, I'm going to go and have a look.

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by hoagy_ytfc » Sun Feb 11, 2018 22:03

Light in this context is used in the sense of "intended for light loads and fast movement", rather than referring to physical weight.

That's from Wikipedia so must be right.

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by Chris Bertram » Mon Feb 12, 2018 09:50

hoagy_ytfc wrote:Light in this context is used in the sense of "intended for light loads and fast movement", rather than referring to physical weight.
That's from Wikipedia so must be right.
It's all relative. Light rail is (a) lighter in construction standard than main line rail, and (b) intended for smaller trains or trams, typically of 2-4 small cars rather than a full set of 10-12 full size carriages. I'm not so sure about the "fast movement" bit, light rail is usually rather slower than main line services, and stops more frequently. But it's faster than the bus.
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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by Burns » Mon Feb 12, 2018 19:31

Every time I see this thread title, I have this thought:
Anyone for trams?
Edinburgh: Us!
Anyone else for trams?

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by Tony H » Sun Mar 18, 2018 15:40

When I was a keen cyclist living in Munich, I detested trams with a vengeance. Oh sure, they look nice and have character, but they don't look so good when you're lying in the road after your wheel caught in the track. They are also a damned menace when they can't get past illegally parked cars, and so block the road.

Trolleybuses by all means, but please, not trams.

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by FleetlinePhil » Mon Apr 23, 2018 22:42

fras wrote: Wolverhampton used a stud-contact system for power pickup for some years, but like all these clever wheezes to avoid overhead wires, they converted in the end because the system was too unreliable and costly to maintain. On the other hand the London conduit system was in service for 50 years, and the one in Washington DC, USA until the 60s.
After leaving the AGM, one of the pubs my wife and I visited in Wolverhampton was the Stile Inn in Whitmore Reans, which has a few old photo's in the lounge. One of these was a posed photo of the staff of the Wolverhampton Tramways department outside the depot, with a double-deck tramcar protruding from the depot doorway. After a few seconds, it dawned on me there was no overhead wiring visible (and the tram was clearly too modern to be a horse or steam-drawn type), which perplexed me briefly until I remembered the early stud-contact system mentioned above.

PS We didn't go on one, but the new Midland Metro trams are, aesthetically at least, a massive improvement on their predecessors, which were IMHO the least attractive of the second-generation tramway vehicles.

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by fras » Tue Apr 24, 2018 22:49

Totally agree about the new Birmingham Metro fleet, they kick the old ones into a cocked hat ! Really nice to have conductors on board too.

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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by Steven » Wed Apr 25, 2018 01:24

fras wrote:Totally agree about the new Birmingham Metro fleet, they kick the old ones into a cocked hat ! Really nice to have conductors on board too.
It's called Midland Metro not "Birmingham" Metro. There's more than one major city it runs into...
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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by vlad » Wed Apr 25, 2018 20:14

Steven wrote:
fras wrote:Totally agree about the new Birmingham Metro fleet, they kick the old ones into a cocked hat ! Really nice to have conductors on board too.
It's called Midland Metro not "Birmingham" Metro. There's more than one major city it runs into...
Doesn't really serve much of the Midlands, however. Maybe if we call it the Sandwell Tramway? :stir:
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Re: Anyone for Trams?

Post by FleetlinePhil » Wed Apr 25, 2018 23:50

Steven wrote:
fras wrote:Totally agree about the new Birmingham Metro fleet, they kick the old ones into a cocked hat ! Really nice to have conductors on board too.
It's called Midland Metro not "Birmingham" Metro. There's more than one major city it runs into...
Indeed. Likewise Metrolink serves two cities, and no less than five metropolitan boroughs, so I can understand why people would dislike it being refered to as "Manchester" Metrolink. But when explaining it to Yorkshiremen buying train tickets, I still do just that, I now realise!

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