Tram/Train to cure our poorer timetable since December 2008? ….

Posted on October 13th, 2009, by The Chairman

An article on Tram/Train appeared in our Summer 2009 “Rail Report”.

In brief “tram/train” is a concept where the “trains” involved can run on both conventional (heavy rail) railway lines as well as on tramway systems with their lighter rail and tighter curves. The best example of this is Karlsruhe in Germany, where this has developed over the last 30 years. There are other examples now in Germany as well as in France, Holland, Switzerland and, I think, the US.

For our line, since we had the poorer timetable imposed on us in December 2008 to hand over more paths between Stockport and Manchester to long distance trains, tram/train could help us get the service back we deserve. Many of you know prior to Metrolink our trains used to go into Manchester via Sale. Our aspiration is to have three trains an hour (two of which would be all stations), and two of these three trains going into Manchester via Metrolink probably also stopping at Sale (as our trains used to) and Old Trafford on match days, with the remaining one still going in via Stockport – we have a lot of passengers who now use the line to get to/from Stockport.

A tram/train trial has been very slow to start in the UK, but did get going around Sheffield earlier this year. Phase 1 of the trial has now been postponed, though Phase 2 will shortly start instead with Phase 1 to follow. Even if everything goes to plan the full outcome is not expected until 2015. Quite why we in the UK have to spend so long trialling something that works perfectly well elsewhere in the world is not clear to me. Indeed, Iain Coucher, Chief Executive of Network Rail complained about this last May, asking for the trial to be speeded up. He says he’s sure tram-trains will be successful, complaining “The rail industry must have more pilots than BA.”!

Whilst we wait all this time for an outcome, mid-Cheshire continues to be starved of the public transport services its economy needs and deserves.

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