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Information hereCongestion along the Uxbridge Road
If only it wasn't there

Just a few thoughts
Hamersmith Broadway, 1947 Solving congestion may be a rather tall order. If anyone claims that any form of WLT scheme [tram, trolleybus or whatever] is going to 'solve congestion across West London', they are to quote [a polite version of] the phrase: 'talking through their hat'.

Congestion affects a widespread area and is not simply a function of east-west traffic along the Uxbridge Road itself. What is needed is a whole package of measures which will improve both the actuality and perception of public transport in this area and thus reduce the use of cars as much as possible. WLT as a tram scheme does not give any greater benefits along the Uxbridge Road than a trolleybus scheme would but costs very much more. This implicitly implies less [or possibly no] resources available for schemes away from Uxbridge Road itself. Also the very nature of the WLT tram scheme proposed is likely to worsen flows by buses which are not simply along the Uxbridge Road [by creating a greater requirement to change - which is universally unpopular and thus often causes modal shift the wrong way].

The advantages of trolleybuses are that they are non-polluting on street. This is very important on a corridor where there are very frequent bus services. If for instance you doubled the 207 frequency with diesel buses, you have double the air-borne pollutants. Double a trolleybus service and you still have none.

The ability to steer trolleybuses across [both] the carriageway[s] and the design of the vehicles means that they can be better integrated into the overall bus provision along the corridor. There is no need to curtail services as will be done in the proposed tram solution. This will therefore be beneficial in the general area around the Uxbridge Road. The lesser capital costs will allow funding to be available to improve these services further [including possibly electrifying many of them into trolleybus routes].

Never will so much be spent on so few improvements
for the many transit users of west London Along the Uxbridge Road itself, the fixed route of a street tramway is very susceptible to delay if running with other traffic on the kerb side of the carriageway. For this reason tracks are usually aligned in the centre [as in much of the proposed tram based WLT]. This requires centre islands as tram stops. As the design of WLT as a tramway does not integrate bus stops with trams stops, this makes great demands on narrower parts of the carriageway where buses are stopping at kerb side stops close to where there are centre islands for tram stops are located. This is likely to cause congestion rather than remove it [unless of course you remove the bus services concerned]. This is exacerbated by the proposed length of the trams which at 40 metres is longer than anything that has regularly operated on UK roads.

High speeds are not likely to be a problem along the Uxbridge Road [the proposed mean speed for the tramway is 13 M.P.H.!]. There is no reason why artic trolleybuses of 18 metres cannot traverse the route [diesel versions have already been used along the route] and even a 25 metre double artic would describe the same swept path. There is no experience whatsoever of 40 metre trams in UK streets, so we have no knowledge of how they will fare even with their fixed path.

Dewirements of trolleybuses are a much overstated problem when there is discussion in the UK. In both western and eastern European mainland experience, they are extremely rare and with the very simple layouts along the Uxbridge Road [virtually no overhead junctions] should be almost non existent. It should be remembered that even if such a likely rare event occurs, rewiring a modern trolleybus is quick and easy and damage to the overhead is unlikely. Even in that rarest of all situations that the overhead were damaged, trolleybuses could still operate using auxiliary power. When highly sprung tram pantographs have problems with the tensioned overhead [as has not been that uncommon on the Croydon system], the overhead is often damaged such that the tram route has to be suspended until repairs are effected.

The MORI survey [the one where the one line 'support for the scheme' headline is usually quoted] does not indicate that 'everyone' is in favour of the scheme - very far from it. If the full MORI report is read it will be found that it made it quite clear that the more people knew about the tram version of the scheme, the less they supported it [no options other than tram were of course offered to them], Conversely many of those who 'supported' the scheme stated themselves that they had only limited knowledge of it. As more of the precise details are released, it is likely that even more people will oppose the scheme and not because they are Croydon Tramlink reservation running
Click to enlarge image #ST10
Photographed by Sang Tan all NIMBY drivers of gas guzzling 4 X 4 cars as is often disingenuously argued by pro-tram supporters but because they can see that the tram is not the optimum mode for this particular corridor and represents a very costly experiment by the Mayor with the people of West London as the guinea pigs and the London taxpayers as the funders.

It is worth noting that trolleybuses have misleadingly been described by TfL as 'unproven technology' [tell that to the citizens of those cities who have been travelling on them throughout almost all of the 20th Century!], whilst the trams have been likened to the [totally different] systems in both Croydon and Nottingham. There is a small outbreak of honesty on the current TfL website press release of 22 September 2005 which includes this statement:
TfL is bringing forward detailed modelling work to undertake it before an application for a Transport and Works Order. Some of this work would more usually be done later in the project This change is a reflection of the complex nature of the West London Tram project, which would be the first modern fully street-running tram in the UK and of likely needs for information that have become clear in the light of recent public inquiries.

So what really is the answer as to which mode is 'tried and tested'? Is it trolleybuses that operate successfully in and out of traffic on their own rights of way and on both lesser used and congested streets in over 300 cities in the world or 'the first modern fully street-running tram in the UK' [TfL's own words] using the largest vehicles ever on a UK street?

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Advocating for the best public transport solution along the Uxbridge Road

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