Memorandum by Transport for London (LR
INTEGRATED TRANSPORT: THE FUTURE OF LIGHT
RAIL AND MODERN TRAMS IN BRITAIN INQUIRY
Transport for London (TfL) is responsible for
all public transport in London, except National Rail. It plans,
implements and operates light rail and tramway systems in London,
the Docklands Light Railway and Croydon Tramlink. Plans to extend
these systems are in progress and new tram routes are planned.
Light rail can bring major benefits, particularly to support the
local economy, encourage regeneration and attract car users to
public transport. Light rail can bring a step change in quality
and capacity at much lower cost than new rail or underground lines.
While most surface routes will remain as bus served, tramways
are a more cost effective solution on very heavy corridors. New
routes must be fully integrated and have strong political and
stakeholder support. Barriers include long timescales, difficulties
in funding, and complex procurement methods. TfL strongly believes
the Government should support local economies by investment in
light rail where appropriate to combat congestion, pollution and
global warming and encourage urban regeneration.
1. Transport for London (TfL) is an executive
arm of the Greater London Authority (GLA) reporting to the Mayor.
Its role is to implement the Mayor's Transport Strategy and to
manage transport facilities across Greater London. TfL manages
almost all transport modes in London apart from National Rail
(NR), including London's buses, London Underground (LUL), the
Docklands Light Railway (DLR) London Trams, the central London
congestion charging scheme and the TfL road network. It also runs
London River Services, Victoria Coach Station, Dial-a-Ride and
London's Transport Museum and regulates taxis and the private
2. Every day, London buses carry six million
passengers, London Underground carries more than three million,
the Docklands Light Railway carries 170,000 and Croydon Tramlink
carries about 60,000 passengers. The London Plan forecast to 2016
gives an increase of at least 800,000 population and over 600,000
extra jobs. This will result in 25% more public transport trips
per day. Strong growth is expected in central and East London
and in town centres. The overall increase in passenger kms in
the morning peak will be 38%. Against this demand, increases in
supply are expected to total an extra 36% across the network,
hence significant overcrowding on some rail services is predicted
3. The term "light rail" covers
a wide spectrum from street running tramways to light metro. The
two existing light rail systems in London, DLR and Tramlink, have
very different characteristics with DLR being at the "heavy"
end of the light rail spectrum and Croydon Tramlink having many
tramway features. This Memorandum refers primarily to light rail
systems with significant tramway characteristics. A summary of
Croydon Tramlink is given in Appendix 1. (DLR is submitting a
separate Memorandum to the Committee, reflecting their particular
system and its recognised success.)
4. TfL's role in "The Future of Light
Rail and Modern Trams in Britain" is as strategic transport
planner, promoter and operator. In addition to the two operational
systems, several more are at an advanced planning stage including
West London Tram (WLT, a 20 km route between Shepherd's Bush and
Uxbridge), Cross River Tram (CRT, a 16 km route linking Camden
and King's Cross with Peckham and Brixton) and extensions to Croydon
Tramlink, particularly the 5 km Crystal Palace extension. The
DLR will be extended from London City Airport to Woolwich Arsenal
and from Canning Town to Stratford International and the Bank
to Lewisham route will be upgraded for three-car operation. All
these projects are included for development in TfL's five year
Investment Plan for 2005-06 to 2009-10, although the tramway schemes
are not yet fully funded for construction. They are shown in Figure
5. The ever increasing demand for travel,
and the need to manage the resulting adverse impacts such as congestion
and environmental degradation, requires a package of transport
measures. Investment in light rail is a potentially powerful element
in a strategy which embraces expansion of public transport modes,
traffic management and restraint, parking control, improved pedestrian
and cycling facilities and congestion charging.
6. Where corridor flows are high, light
rail can offer an attractive option which has greater capacity
than the bus but is much cheaper than a new underground or heavy
rail line. It therefore fills the gap between buses and railways.
Importantly, light rail has clearly demonstrated that it can attract
car users to change mode and encourage development and land value
gain. The potential benefits of light rail include:
providing a greater range of capacity-cost
options than available from just bus and train;
a high capacity public transport
option at lower costs than a new underground or heavy rail line;
faster journey times than buses operating
in mixed traffic;
more reliable journey times due to
high levels of priority;
de-congestion benefits resulting
from modal shift from cars;
guaranteed full accessibility with
level boarding and alighting at every stop;
increased social inclusion by linking
areas of deprivation and economic opportunity;
local environmental benefits from
electric traction, reduced noise, vibration and pollution;
encouraging regeneration and increased
property values due to improved accessibility;
improving the local economy through
easier access to customers and employees; and
creating a modern and dynamic image,
generating civic pride and attracting investment.
7. The capital costs for light rail projects
in London are shown in Table 1 below. The relatively low cost
of Croydon Tramlink results from about two thirds of the network
being on former railway alignments. The relatively high cost of
DLR is because of the need for extensive tunnels and viaducts,
particularly the complex Bank extension. These costs also include
major upgrading of the system and new vehicles which was necessary
because the initial design was tightly constrained by available
resources. If DLR had been built originally for its current patronage,
costs would have been significantly lower.
COMPARATIVE CAPITAL COSTS OF TRANSIT SYSTEMS
|Docklands Light Railway||1987-2000
|Croydon-Crystal Palace ext||2013
|West London Tram||2012
|Cross River Tram||2013
(1) Excluding DfT 40% optimism bias. Q4 2002 prices.
(2) Includes 40% optimism bias and risk premium.
(3) includes 57% optimism bias and risk premium. (a) actual (f)
8. Capital costs for all UK light rail schemes are shown
in Appendix 2 which also includes light rail lines built in France
and Ireland for comparison. The cost of Croydon Tramlink was comparable
to other similar UK schemes, as was the initial DLR system which
also made extensive use of railway alignments. The DLR Bank extension
was very expensive because of tunneling costs and the major works
necessary at Bank to provide good interchange with LUL lines.
It also included new rolling stock as the original fleet was not
suitable for tunnel operation. Costs of lines in Ireland and France
are generally within the range £10 million to £20 million
per km. French costs often include a high element of environmental
works including pedestrianisation, landscaping and additional
features. However they do not include service diversions which
are largely not charged to the light rail project. The average
capital cost for all new lines built in Britain is £14.7
million per km at 2003 prices compared with £14.2 million
per km in France. Considering the wide range of types of scheme,
and the different approaches to funding and procurement, these
figures are remarkably close.
9. Table 2 gives indicative operating costs for different
modes. Bus operating costs vary according to the type and location
of route and the extent of priority. Bus operating costs per vehicle
km are low compared to rail based systems but the cost per passenger
place km is lowest for rail based systems because of their higher
capacity. Light rail operating costs are comparable to bus operating
costs but can be considerably cheaper where bus costs are high,
as for example in congested urban corridors.
COMPARATIVE OPERATING COSTS OF TRANSIT SYSTEMS IN LONDON
|Operating cost per|
|Light Rail (Tramlink)||£5.1
|Light Metro (DLR)||£5.2, £10.3*
* cost per train km.
10. Where there is strong demand in an urban corridor,
light rail can offer a cost effective alternative to the bus.
Substantial investment is required to construct new lines but
the range of benefits to the community and businesses makes this
investment extremely worthwhile. There can also be major cost
savings in total operating costs where light rail or tramways
are able to replace some bus services and integrate with others.
11. The National Audit Office (NAO) report found that
in all but one of the six light rail schemes built in Britain
(excluding Nottingham which had not then been completed), the
DfT expenditure has been kept within budget.
Despite this fact, the DfT now require up to 57% optimism bias
to be included in capital cost estimates for rail schemes, compared
to up to 32% for road based schemes. This places light rail at
a disadvantage compared to other forms of transport investment
and makes justification for new schemes more difficult. The basis
for this "optimism bias" is debatable as it appears
to be designed to reflect cost escalation through increasing private
sector risk premiums and borrowing costs resulting from inappropriate
procurement, funding and risk transfer models rather than a genuine
increase in the base cost of the works and services. TfL is of
the view that tramways and light railways are well understood
technologies (over 125 years old) and there is no justification
for this differential.
12. Light rail is only a feasible option where major
urban corridor flows of at least 2,000 passengers per hour per
direction (pphpd) exist or are predicted in the peak direction.
Flows may be considerably in excess of this figure, for example
on CRT where the demand is expected to be over 6,000 pphpd. Routes
should link major traffic generators and attractors such as town
centres, shopping centres, major rail stations and interchanges,
hospitals and universities, and areas of deprivation with areas
of economic opportunity. Stops or stations should be located as
close as possible to passenger objectives to minimise walking
distances. The successful new French tramway networks are all
designed along these principles.
13. A high degree of public transport priority is essential
to maintain one of the most important characteristics of light
rail: reliability. There is a wide range of priority measures
that can be adopted including reserved lanes, segregated alignments
(eg former railways), tram or bus and tram only streets and priority
at traffic signals. A key principle that should be adopted is
re-allocation of road space in favour of sustainable modes: public
transport, cycles and pedestrians. This may result in a reduction
of vehicular capacity but it will increase total person capacity
and reduce adverse environmental impacts. Modal shift from the
car towards public transport is essential if traffic congestion
and all its undesirable effects are to be seriously tackled and
a more balanced transport policy achieved. The UK transport appraisal
system usually sees such road space reallocation as a transport
"disbenefit" to car drivers, tipping policy away from
public transport schemes.
14. For light rail to be successful it must be protected
from the effects of delays and congestion created by other traffic.
The degree to which a project is prioritised, in terms of dedicated
space, needs to be taken into account when determining a project's
viability and Business Case. Schemes with a high degree of interaction
with existing traffic and local conditions are by definition more
complex in both design and operational terms. As an example, all
the new French tram systems are fully segregated (mainly within
the highway) with no track sharing with traffic and this undoubtedly
contributes to their success.
15. The route of a tramway or light rail line will need
to be re-engineered to accommodate tracks, stations and overhead
power supply. The full range of traffic management measures needs
to be employed to ensure the efficient operation of the tramway
and the maintenance of all other functions along the route, particularly
access to frontage properties. Traffic management may need to
be applied on adjacent roads and corridors to mitigate any potential
adverse impacts from diverted traffic. The recent highly successful
Dublin light rail system, Luas, shows however what can
be achieved even in a very congested highway network.
16. Light rail must be fully integrated within the public
transport network if it is to reach its full potential. In London
this can be achieved through TfL's strategic powers and its ability
to plan the bus, rail, light rail and tram networks comprehensively.
This is in marked contrast to the rest of Britain where integration
cannot be achieved because of bus deregulation and the implications
of the Competition Act. DLR and Tramlink are already fully integrated
into London's transport network, as explained below.
17. Light rail must also be well integrated with the
urban development that it serves. It can reinforce and support
redevelopment and regeneration programmes, as dramatically demonstrated
by the DLR in the Isle of Dogs and beyond. There is evidence that
Tramlink is strengthening the local economy of Croydon and again
that Luas has had a significant locational effect on Dublin
18. Another essential ingredient is political will and
stakeholder support, at national, regional and local levels. Introducing
a new light rail or tramway line into already busy urban areas
is a complex task affecting all members of the community. There
must be strong support for the project across the spectrum of
interests. It is inevitable that although most people will benefit
from the investment there will be some who are adversely affected
and their concerns need to be addressed and mitigated as far as
possible. Scheme benefits may take several years to develop as
the community responds to the availability of new infrastructure
and it is essential to maintain long-term commitment.
19. The timescale for implementation of any tramway is
inevitably protracted in the UK legal system, usually taking at
least 10 years from inception to operation. It is essential to
maintain a commitment to a longer-term vision for a new transport
system that can bring great benefits to the community.
20. Light rail is a high quality intermediate mode which
fits into the range of public transport systems between the bus
and the Underground or National Rail networks. Its benefits can
only be realised to the full if it is effectively integrated with
all other transport modes. Integration includes planning, implementation
and operation and embraces service timetabling, integrated fares
and ticketing, publicity and information, marketing and interchanges
for easy transfer between modes. DLR and Croydon Tramlink already
meet these criteria as will any new transit systems in London
in the future.
21. Integrated fares are now available on all public
transport modes throughout Greater London through the Oyster smartcard.
It embraces Travelcards, bus season tickets and pre-payment for
single journeys and can be purchased through tube or rail stations,
information offices or on-line.
22. Interchanges are a key element in integration. TfL
has an ongoing programme of interchange development for the provision
of new and upgrading of existing interchanges. The extent to which
the existing systems are integrated is illustrated by DLR which
has seven interchanges with LUL, six with NR and many with buses.
Croydon Tramlink has seven interchanges with NR, six with buses
and one with LUL. CRT will have 10 interchanges with LUL, six
with NR and numerous interchange points with buses.
23. Integration also means providing for other modes
to access bus or rail based systems. They may include park and
ride, kiss and ride, cycle and ride and access for taxis. In dense
urban areas the scope for these modes may be very limited and
each location needs to be carefully planned to meet the specific
needs appropriate to the area. Integration with the pedestrian
network is crucial as nearly all public transport journeys start
and end on foot.
24. Light rail has been effectively integrated in the
transport network in Greater London and any new transit system,
whether bus or rail based, will be similarly planned, operated
and marketed as part of the integrated network. This cannot be
achieved elsewhere in Britain where integration is legally constrained
although some limited integration exists where tram and predominant
bus operators are the same, as in the West Midlands and Nottingham.
Lack of integration is one key factor in the general decline in
public transport patronage outside London compared with continuing
growth in London.
25. As highlighted previously by the Committee, there
are a number of barriers to the introduction of new light rail
or tramway schemes which make the development process difficult
to manage and unpredictable.
One major element is the protracted timescale for obtaining authorisation.
Until 1992 authority was obtained through the Parliamentary Bill
procedure but it is now obtained through the Transport and Works
Act 1992. Table 3 below shows the time taken from deposit of the
Bill or Draft Order to obtaining Royal Assent.
26. With the exception of the Bank extension which took
only just over a year, most schemes have taken 2 to 2½ years
or more. Outside London timescales have been even longer, for
example 31 months for South Hampshire and 38 months for Leeds.
The uncertainty over the period for approval makes project planning
and implementation difficult to programme. Uncertainty also increases
costs and the risks in seeking funding are greater. There is now
some evidence that times can be reduced, as achieved for DLR Woolwich
Arsenal extension and Mersey Tram in Liverpool which took only
14 months. In Ireland a procedure modelled on a streamlined version
of the TWA was used for authorising the Dublin Luas light
rail lines in less than nine months, including public inquiries.
TIMESCALES FOR AUTHORISATION FOR LIGHT RAIL PROJECTS IN
|November 1982||DLR Tower Gateway-Isle of Dogs
||Parl Powers ||April 1984
|November 1983||DLR Poplar-Stratford
||Parl Powers||April 1985
| November 1985||DLR Bank extension
||Parl Powers||December 1986
|November 1986||DLR Beckton extension
||Parl Powers||July 1989
|November 1990||DLR Lewisham extension
||Parl Powers||May 1993
|November 1991||Croydon Tramlink
||Parl Powers||July 1994
|November 1991||DLR Lewisham (No 2)
||Parl Powers||May 1993
|March 2000||DLR Silvertown and London City Airport extension
|July 2002||DLR Woolwich Arsenal extension
27. Light rail projects have high capital costs compared
to bus schemes although significantly lower costs than new underground
lines. Obtaining funding is in itself a major barrier. It is inevitable
that major complex projects which involve a multiplicity of high
risks require large capital investment which will be difficult
to secure from public or private sources. Serious concerns over
escalating cost estimates for some light rail projects have resulted
in the DfT requiring an "optimism bias" loading of up
to 57% on capital costs (as described in paragraph 11). This has
for example resulted in the estimated cost for West London Tram
increasing from £463 million to £648 million. This makes
any approaches to prospective private sector funders more difficult.
The complex procurement methods required by DfT have had a major
impact on the rate of progress and costs of light rail projects.
This is developed further below.
28. The methods of appraisal and criteria which have
to be adopted in the justification for a light rail scheme often
require studies over a number of years before adequate evidence
can be presented to satisfy the DfT. Investigation of alternative
solutions may be necessary even when such alternatives are clearly
impracticable. This is another risk factor which makes programming
29. For street running systems there are close interactions
with frontagers (owners or occupiers of residential or commercial
property along the route) and with all the activities that may
be expected along a main urban corridor. Objections may arise,
especially where changes are needed to access arrangements, traffic
circulation, parking and loading restrictions. There may be local
environmental concerns particularly if conservation areas, listed
buildings, parks, gardens or trees are likely to be affected by
any works. Objections are also likely from residents in adjacent
areas if there are perceived to be potential adverse impacts,
for example from diverted traffic. All these concerns must be
fully addressed by the promoter through a detailed programme of
survey, analysis, consultation and discussion with all affected.
Close liaison with stakeholders including local groups needs to
be maintained throughout the planning and design process. TfL
has aimed to ease this barrier by extensive consultation and involvement
of stakeholders at key stages of the planning process.
30. Street running light rail requires major works to
divert or protect statutory undertakers plant and equipment. Most
of the cost of these works falls to the light rail scheme. The
change in promoter contributions to utilities diversions under
the New Roads and Street Works Act has resulted in an additional
capital cost, equivalent to 2.5% to 3% of total capital cost.
This would have amounted to £2 million in Croydon and will
add some £10 million to the cost of WLT.
31. Any major building project impacts on those around
it during construction and this especially applies to tram systems
along busy urban corridors. Some adverse impacts are impossible
to avoid and special attention to individual needs has to be made
as works progress. Consultation and close working arrangements
between contractors, highway authorities, transport operators
and frontagers can help to alleviate problems and provide avenues
of communication to resolve issues as they arise. Well designed
temporary traffic management schemes can greatly assist in maintaining
access and minimising disruption. The Traffic Management Act 2004
should go some way to ensuring that best practice in management
of the network during construction is adopted across the country.
32. There is a multiplicity of agencies involved in developing
any light transit project. In London they include TfL itself,
DfT, the Mayor, ODPM, HM Treasury, the London Boroughs, the London
Development Agency, Statutory Undertakers and Network Rail. Many
other bodies need to be involved or consulted at various stages
in the development of any project. This process has to be managed
carefully to ensure that all interests are fully recognised and
taken into account in the design and implementation of the project.
33. A new organisation, UKTram has been formed as a national
tramways forum to allow the tramway industry to develop a coordinated
and unified front in dealing with government and statutory bodies.
It seeks to develop national standards, reflecting an earlier
recommendation made by the Committee,
and best practice guidelines for the design, construction and
operation of tramways and to provide a pool of technical and operational
expertise that can be drawn upon at local, national or international
government level. TfL (London Trams) is a founder member and administrator
of UKTram. It is hoped that it will help to ease or remove some
of the barriers that currently exist in developing light rail
and tramway schemes, particularly those identified in the NAO
report. DfT is supporting the work of UK Tram, and is a board
34. A major barrier to the development of light rail
outside London is the inability to integrate tram and bus networks
but this does not apply in London where TfL has powers to fully
integrate all public transport modes. This is common practice
on the Continent where investment in public transport over the
last 35 years has led to a sustained, or even increased market
share, unlike most UK cities.
35. A potential barrier is posed by proposed changes
to the rail safety regime. During 2004, HSE launched a consultation
on its proposals for changes to the way in which safety on light
rail systems, particularly tramways, is assured. Elements of these
proposals, formalising the requirements for tram systems to implement
formal safety management systems are welcomed within the industry.
However, the critical proposals regarding safety authorisations
envisage the responsibility for providing public assurance for
safety being transferred from government to private consultancy
firms. It is the view of TfL and of the industry that this proposal
is unworkable and that it will present a real and significant
risk to the future safety, affordability and deliverability of
tramway systems and that it may present an uninsurable risk to
those responsible for safety approvals, operators contractors
36. The European Commission has recently launched it
proposals for an Urban Rail Directive (URD) that seeks to harmonise
the approaches to safety assurance and subsystem standards and
certification across the EU. TfL has been actively involved in
EU harmonisation projects for the tram industry and considers
that, whilst the detail of the URD and its implementation in the
UK will need considerable development, the basic intent of the
URD is consistent with its own vision for tramway development
as well as the recommendations of the NAO. The HSE's proposals
for change to tramway safety regulations appear to be contrary
to the URD proposals. If adopted, the URD may well lead to a reduction
in the cost and risk associated with tramway development and implementation.
37. There is a wide range of financing arrangements which
have been used for light rail schemes in Britain, usually linked
to the method of procurement for the design, construction and
operation of the system. The traditional approach of wholly public
sector funded and procured projects was adopted for most schemes
until the 1980s when new approaches were sought. Concerns about
cost overruns, extended construction programmes and lack of availability
of public funding encouraged new methods which could attract private
sector contributions. It would be difficult to determine the effects
of the different methods on overall project costs because the
financing arrangement is only one of many variables but some comments
and conclusions can be drawn from experience to date.
38. There are two basic approaches: franchising and track
separation. Franchising involves a concession agreement between
promoter and contractor. A consortium of suppliers covering construction,
rolling stock and operations provide and operate the system for
a fixed term, usually between 15 and 30 years (99 years in the
case of Tramlink), through a form of DBFOM (design, build, finance,
operate, maintain) contract. Several UK light rail projects (in
Manchester, Birmingham, Croydon and Nottingham) were procured
using this arrangement. However this form of contract has proved
to be very complex resulting in extended timescales for tendering
and high costs. Concession arrangements have not always been effective
as construction companies have little interest in the long-term
operation of the system. It can prove inflexible when extensions
have been built requiring the initial contract to be terminated
and a new contract for the whole network to be procured, again
adding complexity, lengthy timescales and additional costs. In
the case of Manchester Metrolink the cost of refranchising alone
was £80 million. Concessionaires have been faced with heavy
bidding costs and unreasonably long tendering periods. In addition,
substantial risk premiums have been imposed with the passenger
revenue streams associated with these arrangements. Although it
would be difficult to determine what the effect has been on overall
costs, it is now generally recognised that this approach has severe
limitations. We strongly believe that more efficient methods of
procurement must be found if any new light rail schemes are to
39. The second basic approach, track separation, has
been used for the Lewisham, London City Airport and Woolwich Arsenal
extensions to DLR. A private sector consortium builds and finances
the infrastructure and then "rents" it to the operator.
Separate operations franchises can run in parallel with the track
construction contracts. Initial indications are that this form
of contract has worked well and that separating construction from
operations is likely to offer more cost effective solutions. A
variety of innovative procurement methods related to this system
are presently under development for UK light rail schemes.
40. One major factor in determining costs is the approach
to risk allocation. In the late eighties and early nineties a
key Government objective was to maximise risk transfer to the
private sector. There are major risks with tramway projects which
are inevitably complex with many interfaces with other authorities,
public bodies and the public in general. Revenue risk is a key
factor particularly where bus competition exists. It is now becoming
accepted that a more realistic form of risk sharing between public
and private sectors needs to be adopted. TfL is currently studying
options for procurement and funding of TfL's future tramway projects.
UKTram will be working with the DfT to develop a consistent, attractive
and economic set of models for procuring, funding and risk management
on future tramway schemes.
41. Light rail and tramways are two modes in the range
of public transport modes, as illustrated in the Table in Appendix
3. They are complementary to buses and not competitors. The Committee
previously recommended that the Government should adopt a "horses
for courses" approach.
This is still the case and this philosophy underpins the programme
of transit projects which form TfL's strategic plan including
rail based and bus based schemes.
42. Light rail and buses must be part of an integrated
network, each performing the role to which it is best suited.
As demand patterns change and growth in public transport demand
continues, changes to the network are needed to meet this demand
in the most cost effective way. In developing all the transit
projects to date, TfL has undertaken extensive research to determine
the most appropriate technical solution. In some cases this has
resulted in light rail or tram schemes (Tramlink extensions, WLT,
CRT) and in some cases bus based schemes (Greenwich Waterfront
Transit (GWT), 12 km linking Greenwich with Woolwich and Thamesmead,
and East London Transit (ELT), 11 km linking Ilford, Barking and
Dagenham). It must be noted that whatever tramway schemes may
be developed in the future, the majority of surface public transport
passengers will always travel by bus.
43. London has the largest planned bus network in the
world with over 7,000 buses. Bus patronage is growing at the fastest
rate since 1945 and buses are carrying the highest number of passengers
since 1969. This is in marked contrast to the situation in the
rest of Britain where bus use is still generally declining. Table
4 shows the patronage trends for buses and light rail in London
and the rest of England for the last seven years. Bus patronage
in London and light rail patronage in London and the rest of England
have grown almost continuously over this period while bus patronage
in the England outside London has continued to decline. In London
bus patronage increased by over 10% in the year to March 2004.
Accommodating this growth presents a particular challenge, especially
in major urban corridors, and is one important reason that TfL
is developing light rail, tramway and other intermediate capacity
CHANGES IN BUS AND LIGHT RAIL PATRONAGE IN LONDON AND
ENGLAND OUTSIDE LONDON
|England outside London||2,475
|England outside London||58.5
(p) = provisional.
44. A key factor is the level of priority that can be
provided to achieve competitive journey times and good reliability.
While buses can benefit from reserved lanes and other forms of
priority, tramways can utilise a wider range of alignment types
including street track, railway track, grassed tracks, pedestrian
areas, tunnels and viaducts. Reserved tram lanes on streets are
more easily "self enforcing" and must usually apply
24 hours per day compared to bus lanes which are often peak period
only. In all cases rigorous traffic enforcement is the only way
to guarantee effectiveness.
45. The capacity that buses can provide is adequate to
meet existing and future demand levels on most parts of the bus
network. Where demand is very high, as on some major urban radial
routes, then larger capacity vehicles may be needed. Articulated
buses have now been introduced on many routes with a passenger
capacity of 120. The maximum permitted length of a bus is currently
18 metres but 24 metres double articulated buses are operating
in some European cities with a capacity of about 150. Trams can
operate in lengths up to 60 metres and can therefore have much
higher capacity than a bus, up to 400 passengers (Croydon's 30
metres vehicles carry 208), and offer substantially higher productivity.
46. At demand levels of 2,000 pphpd or less, buses will
usually be cheaper (as a total of capital and operating costs).
Above this level trams may be cheaper in lower construction cost
corridors. In higher cost corridors, such as Central London, the
threshold is nearer 4,000 pphpd. This is illustrated in the diagrams
in Appendix 4 which show the total capital and operating costs
per place km against capacity in places per hour for buses, buses
with priority and street trams. While buses can provide capacities
well above 4,000 pphpd, their speed and reliability rapidly decreases
at higher bus flows.
47. A new tram route provides a major step change in
performance compared to an incremental approach with upgraded
bus routes through bus lanes and other measures. A tram route
must be engineered over the whole route. The level of benefits
that can be achieved is significantly higher than can easily be
achieved with buses including speed, reliability and consequent
modal shift. A tramway can complement congestion charging and
help to maximise the benefits of a package approach.
48. For any highway based public transport route, priority
can be given at traffic signals to minimise delays and help to
maintain reliability. However high levels of priority can generally
only be provided in London if the public transport vehicle flow
is not more than 20-25 per hour. For buses this is equivalent
to 2,400 pphpd and for trams around 7,000 pphpd. Above this level
regular bunching of trams or buses will occur with a decrease
in service reliability. Therefore trams can offer a higher capacity
with high priority than buses. This is an important factor in
determining the most cost effective mode for projects such as
West London Tram and Cross River Tram.
49. In its earlier report,
the Committee made 17 recommendations for the development of light
rapid transit systems. These are still valid today. Some progress
has been made since then with the opening of Croydon Tramlink
in 2000, the Sunderland extension to Tyne and Wear Metro in 2002
and Nottingham Express Transit in 2004. Elsewhere in Britain progress
has been slow with many schemes stalled. No more light rail lines
will open in London before 2010 apart from the DLR extensions
to London City Airport, Woolwich Arsenal and Stratford International.
50. Light rail can bring a wide range of benefits to
urban areas as shown by the success of Croydon Tramlink and DLR.
Projects currently being planned by TfL: WILT, CRT and Tramlink
extensions, could bring similar benefits to many more Londoners.
While capital costs are high, they are much lower than the cost
of new underground or heavy rail lines. Operating costs per passenger
place km are significantly lower than for buses at high passenger
volumes, as shown in Table 2.
51. To be successful light rail needs a high level of
priority and it must be fully integrated with other modes such
as bus and underground and with the urban development that it
serves. It must have strong political and stakeholder support.
52. In London, light rail systems are effectively part
of the integrated public transport network. This is a key reason
for their success. However only London benefits from this level
of integration and the Government should seek to extend it to
the rest of Britain to maximise the benefits from the major public
investment that light rail schemes require.
53. There are many barriers to light rail development.
Key factors are the timescales for authorisation under the TWA
procedure, costs and timescales for securing funding, issues regarding
risk transfer, high capital costs including statutory undertakers'
diversions, the need for stakeholder support and disruption during
construction. Some of these barriers can be overcome by the promoter
but many need intervention by Government to ease or assist the
smooth and efficient progress of projects to fruition.
54. The financing arrangements, coupled with the method
of procurement, remains the single most important issue. Methods
used to date have successfully achieved construction and operation
of light rail but with lengthy timescales and complex forms of
contract. Separating construction from operation is a more attractive
approach but further investigation of options is needed to achieve
lower costs and shorter timescales and a more realistic allocation
55. The role of light rail or tramways is as an intermediate
capacity mode. They fill the wide gap between buses and railways
and as such are not an alternative to buses. Buses will continue
to serve lower density corridors where demand levels do not justify
major investment and they will always remain the mainstay of the
surface public transport network. Buses can be complemented by
tramways and light railways in key corridors of demand which cannot
justify investment in heavy rail lines.
56. The Government should support local economies by
investment in light rail where appropriate. This is consistent
with policies to combat congestion, pollution and global warming
and urban regeneration.
57. TfL will appreciate continuing support from the DfT
for UKTram which will assist the future development and resolution
of issues for light rail and tramway projects.
Improving Public Transport in England through Light Rail. HC
518 (April 2004). Back
Light Rapid Transit Systems. Eighth Report of the Environment,
Transport and Regional Affairs Committee. HC 153 (May 2000). Back
Light Rapid Transit Systems (paragraph 64). Back
Light Rapid Transit Systems (paragraph 56). Back
Light Rapid Transit Systems. Back