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Leeds trolleybus proposal killed off by ministers

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nerd

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Been clearly the wrong solution for quite a while, and now been put out of its misery; Leeds now needs to put together something much better urgently. Strong hints from DfT that the 'something much better' should be based around eco-friendly BRT double-deckers, with strong integration with an uprated existing standard bus network.

With regard to the assessment of alternative options in the Business Case Review
submitted to the inquiry, the Inspector considered that the applicants had not properly taken
into account evidence that other forms of technology were progressing, while trolley vehicle
technology had not been widely adopted in recent years; nor had they given significant
weight to the environmental harm caused by over-head wiring compared with other modes
of propulsion (IR 9.52-54). He considered that, since the cancellation of the Supertram
scheme in 2005 and in the more recent re-examination of options, the applicants had not
fully examined whether there were more suitable corridors for a rapid transit system to meet
the scheme’s objectives, nor whether better or more cost-effective ways to improve public
transport were now available taking into account, for example, the higher infrastructure
costs of trolley vehicles or issues concerning integration (IR 9.56-60).

The Secretary of State shares the Inspector’s concerns that the various
assessments of alternative options in terms of modes and technology have not convincingly
demonstrated that the applicants’ proposals represent the most appropriate means of
meeting the objectives set for the scheme. While recognising that no detailed alternative
set of proposals has been put forward, like the Inspector he considers that with the latest
advances in bus propulsion technology many of the environmental and performance
benefits claimed for the NGT scheme could be achieved by measures which involved less
environmental harm and at lower cost.

Leeds can still keep the promised £173m of DfT money to fund an alternative; but they need to come up with a proposed solution which will deliver sooner than the trolleybus proposals, cover a wider network of routes, impose less environmental harm, and at lower unit cost.

Fairly clear hints to develop Busway-type BRT proposals. Metros (and even trams) need not apply.

https://www.gov.uk/government/uploa...cle-planning_permission_inspectors-report.pdf
 
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Bletchleyite

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To be fair, battery electric buses have come a long way very quickly - so the infrastructure for fixed wires may well be a waste of money within 5 years or so - instead everything could be battery-electric, and all you'd need to buy is a load of buses and some kind of terminus charging point[1], which would be far, far cheaper and thus allow conversion of far more routes.

[1] There are many complex answers to this, but in my view a cable is probably easiest, cheapest and most reliable.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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Another council scheme nobbled by the interests of the big bus companies. Just fancy that.

To be fair, I don't think the scheme was particularly attractive in this instance. The trolleybus is now being overtaken by electric and hybrid technology anyway so not a surprise.

Problem is that the Edinburgh debacle has unfortunately handicapped tram schemes (despite the success of Manchester) plus the high capital cost. Trolleybuses arguably offer a halfway house but technology may overtake that.

BRT however is perhaps attractive because of the relatively low capital outlay - see Bristol Metrobus at £203m vs. Edinburgh Trams £976m (incl. loan interest)

EDIT: Neil beat me in regard to the first line!! Also, the Bristol cost is £203m - I was looking at only one line.
 
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Tetchytyke

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I'm not so sure where the "environmental harm" of a few electricity cables comes from. They're not attractive to look at, sure, but even a diesel-electric hybrid gives more emissions than an electricity cable. As for the environmental harm of the mining required to manufacture the batteries and the environmental harm of disposing of the spent batteries, well...

I don't know enough about the specific proposals to know if they were a good or a bad idea. I don't think Metro have the best track record with the guided busways.

I am just surprised that, yet again, that the DfT have decided that the status quo- a shoddy, under-invested and overpriced privatised bus service- should be maintained based on hypothetical advancements in technology that may or may not happen.

Quite simply, a significant part of the problem in Leeds is the fact that the bus operator is useless. I am sure that Metro have not forgotten the amount of money they spent in upgrading certain bus infrastructure in Leeds only for First to decide, literally months later, that they'd rather route the bus a different way after all. I said the same thing about the Tyne and Wear Quality Contract: the issue is that bus companies are effectively free to do what they want when they want, including abandoning investment they asked for.

The cost overruns on Edinburgh Tram were unfortunate, and have damaged light rail in this country. But, then again, the Dunstable and especially the Cambridge busways were completed late and significantly overbudget.

Leeds needs significant modal shift and, with the best will in the world, a Poundland BRT project with some bright green Borismasters, as First proposed, isn't really going to cut it.
 
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AB93

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Another council scheme nobbled by the interests of the big bus companies. Just fancy that.

It really isn't - the scheme went up in front of the public inquiry for over six months of detailed scrutiny, and fell flat on its face.

Perhaps you should try reading some of the evidence!
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I'm not so sure where the "environmental harm" of a few electricity cables comes from. They're not attractive to look at, sure, but even a diesel-electric hybrid gives more emissions than an electricity cable. As for the environmental harm of the mining required to manufacture the batteries and the environmental harm of disposing of the spent batteries, well...
The need to chop hundreds of trees down in the main. Also, the fact that in 2014-5-6, trolleybus does look rather outdated. Even though Metro weren't actually sure what trolleybuses they were buying, there was talk about a need for them to have batteries to run off the wires, so they might have had batteries anyway.

The scheme's business case showing that it would increase congestion and emissions probably didn't help it, either!
I don't know enough about the specific proposals to know if they were a good or a bad idea.
.....
I don't think Metro have the best track record with the guided busways. I am just surprised that, yet again, that the DfT have decided that the status quo- a shoddy, under-invested and overpriced privatised bus service- should be maintained based on hypothetical advancements in technology that may or may not happen.
They haven't - everyone (expect Metro obviously) agreed that the status-quo shouldn't be maintained - but that the trolleybus wasn't the right answer (and there is no point just building the wrong answer just because the money is going to be lost otherwise (one of Metro's arguments)).

Metro gave evidence that they didn't think advancements such as battery electric double deckers would be possible for years, if ever. What entered service in London last week - a battery electric double decker! In the end, the DfT has said Leeds can keep the money put forward, but to use on a better solution.

Quite simply, a significant part of the problem in Leeds is the fact that the bus operator is useless. I am sure that Metro have not forgotten the amount of money they spent in upgrading certain bus infrastructure in Leeds only for First to decide, literally months later, that they'd rather route the bus a different way after all. I said the same thing about the Tyne and Wear Quality Contract: the issue is that bus companies are effectively free to do what they want when they want, including abandoning investment they asked for.
The cost overruns on Edinburgh Tram were unfortunate, and have damaged light rail in this country. But, then again, the Dunstable and especially the Cambridge busways were completed late and significantly overbudget.
Leeds needs significant modal shift and, with the best will in the world, a Poundland BRT project with some bright green Borismasters, as First proposed, isn't really going to cut it.
The business case for the trolleybus wasn't going to achieve significant modal shift either. In fact, the proposals Metro submitted actually expected three quarters of users to come from public transport, that the scheme would increase congestion, increase air pollution and decrease the amount of walking and cycling (!!)
 
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nerd

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.

Leeds needs significant modal shift and, with the best will in the world, a Poundland BRT project with some bright green Borismasters, as First proposed, isn't really going to cut it.

Which is the basic point at issue; moving passengers from one sort of bus to another doesn't constitute modal shift.

If Bus Rapid Transit is competing with stopping buses, it is not doing its job. We know that there are large numbers of reluctant regular car drivers would are keen to shift to an alternative means of transport, should a suitable one be made available.

The problem being that most would not class a stopping bus as 'suitable' - and what was proposed here would not have offered service that much different from that on a stopping bus.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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I'm not so sure where the "environmental harm" of a few electricity cables comes from. They're not attractive to look at, sure, but even a diesel-electric hybrid gives more emissions than an electricity cable. As for the environmental harm of the mining required to manufacture the batteries and the environmental harm of disposing of the spent batteries, well...

I don't know enough about the specific proposals to know if they were a good or a bad idea. I don't think Metro have the best track record with the guided busways.

I am just surprised that, yet again, that the DfT have decided that the status quo- a shoddy, under-invested and overpriced privatised bus service- should be maintained based on hypothetical advancements in technology that may or may not happen.

Quite simply, a significant part of the problem in Leeds is the fact that the bus operator is useless. I am sure that Metro have not forgotten the amount of money they spent in upgrading certain bus infrastructure in Leeds only for First to decide, literally months later, that they'd rather route the bus a different way after all. I said the same thing about the Tyne and Wear Quality Contract: the issue is that bus companies are effectively free to do what they want when they want, including abandoning investment they asked for.

The cost overruns on Edinburgh Tram were unfortunate, and have damaged light rail in this country. But, then again, the Dunstable and especially the Cambridge busways were completed late and significantly overbudget.

Leeds needs significant modal shift and, with the best will in the world, a Poundland BRT project with some bright green Borismasters, as First proposed, isn't really going to cut it.

I do agree with you in some areas. I'd much rather see trams but I think you're not being entirely fair. To say a cost overrun on the Edinburgh scheme is "unfortunate" is a massive under statement. It was £375m over budget and to a much smaller scale than envisaged whereas the Dunstable scheme overran by c.£8m whilst Cambridge was £64m overspent though BAM Nuttall picked up over half of that. That Edinburgh debacle may have blighted similar schemes for possibly a generation.

Also, you mention the Nexus Quality Contracts as an example. Now, being blunt, Nexus tried to make a land grab. They didn't do their sums and after having a second go, they were embarrassingly wrong. That's not nobbling by the private sector - that's incompetence in the public sector. Nexus would've been much better to pursue partnership agreements that are mutually agreed with operators and that lock in commitments. Instead, they had an agenda and royally f***ed it up. Amateurish, and no one with half an ounce of business acumen and common sense would've approved the QCS proposal.

I do think that the Trolleybus is being overtaken with new technology and so the simple point being made is why pursue all that infrastructure work that may be wasted and redundant in a few years time
 

Bletchleyite

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To be fair I wouldn't say BRT has to be guided at all - the scheme around Portsmouth isn't. I would say the key elements of quality BRT involve:-

1. Junction/traffic light design such that the bus only ever stops for as long as it wishes, and never any longer than it wishes. The Europeans, particularly Germans and Dutch, have been at this for years.

2. Quality stops with RTPI.

3. Off-bus ticketing, or if ticketing is done on board it is using TVMs or conductors, and does not delay the bus. Ideally contactless/smartcard from day one with either no cash taken on board, or if it is significant fare incentives not to use it.

4. Integrated network-based fares incorporating no change penalties.

5. Quality vehicles - not fancy bodywork like First's attempt, but quality interiors along the lines of Stagecoach Gold.

That do for a start?
 
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TheGrandWazoo

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To be fair I wouldn't say BRT has to be guided at all - the scheme around Portsmouth isn't. I would say the key elements of quality BRT involve:-

1. Junction/traffic light design such that the bus only ever stops for as long as it wishes, and never any longer than it wishes. The Europeans, particularly Germans and Dutch, have been at this for years.

2. Quality stops with RTPI.

3. Off-bus ticketing, or if ticketing is done on board it is using TVMs or conductors, and does not delay the bus. Ideally contactless/smartcard from day one with either no cash taken on board, or if it is significant fare incentives not to use it.

4. Integrated network-based fares incorporating no change penalties.

5. Quality vehicles - not fancy bodywork like First's attempt, but quality interiors along the lines of Stagecoach Gold.

That do for a start?

You talking about the Gosport to Fareham Eclipse, rather than Portsmouth?

I've been on it and the vehicles are much nicer than Gold and it benefits from being on a private designated route and the lack of guided bus infrastructure isn't too bad. Same is obviously on the way for Bristol.

In terms of ticketing, I'm no fan of precluding on bus purchase but if it can be done with contactless, then fair enough.
 

Bantamzen

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To be fair I wouldn't say BRT has to be guided at all - the scheme around Portsmouth isn't. I would say the key elements of quality BRT involve:-

1. Junction/traffic light design such that the bus only ever stops for as long as it wishes, and never any longer than it wishes. The Europeans, particularly Germans and Dutch, have been at this for years.

2. Quality stops with RTPI.

3. Off-bus ticketing, or if ticketing is done on board it is using TVMs or conductors, and does not delay the bus. Ideally contactless/smartcard from day one with either no cash taken on board, or if it is significant fare incentives not to use it.

4. Integrated network-based fares incorporating no change penalties.

5. Quality vehicles - not fancy bodywork like First's attempt, but quality interiors along the lines of Stagecoach Gold.

That do for a start?

In Leeds? To be honest no. Having a BRT that isn't as separated as possible from the road network simply won't work. There are various corridors, particularly from the West / North West that are heavily used and very congested, with a lot of pinch points that separated traffic lights cannot solve. Not separating out a new BRT network would simply mean more buses stuck in the same traffic, and would provide little incentive to cars users to switch mode. Only much more rapid transit into the centre will have a chance of coaxing people out of their cars. This is being demonstrated for example with the opening of Apperley Bridge station on the Airedale Line. This has reduced the transit time from that area (albeit in the Bradford area) into Leeds significantly, and has proved very popular already. I expect similar popularity when Kirkstall Forge finally opens (although 1tph isn't really enough TBH).

In all honesty, I would argue that if Leeds can't have a new separated system, then the focus may be better applied on using a combination of the existing network and rail parkways served by local bespoke services. A tricky solution in itself, given that many lines around the city are close to capacity, but probably easier to solve that trying to ram bespoke bus services onto an already overcrowded road network.
 

carlberry

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I am just surprised that, yet again, that the DfT have decided that the status quo- a shoddy, under-invested and overpriced privatised bus service- should be maintained based on hypothetical advancements in technology that may or may not happen.

The cost overruns on Edinburgh Tram were unfortunate, and have damaged light rail in this country. But, then again, the Dunstable and especially the Cambridge busways were completed late and significantly overbudget.

Leeds needs significant modal shift and, with the best will in the world, a Poundland BRT project with some bright green Borismasters, as First proposed, isn't really going to cut it.

Whatever the reason for the refusal it is the right thing to do. Within the timescale of building a trolleybus battery electric is either going to prove itself (or not). The chances of not are small because so much of the technology needed is also being progressed by the car, and other, industries. The percentage cost overrun of Edinburgh is out of all proportion to Cambridge and Dunstable but all of them are single corridor solutions. If Leeds really wanted to make a difference it could use the money to come up with a proposal to cover the cost of a large scale battery electric trial covering an area of the city with smaller improvements in infrastructure. I suspect it’s more likely that it’ll sulk a bit and keep on about trolleybuses because high cost infrastructure looks better when you do PR shots to show how important your role is!
 

Bletchleyite

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You talking about the Gosport to Fareham Eclipse, rather than Portsmouth?

I've been on it and the vehicles are much nicer than Gold and it benefits from being on a private designated route and the lack of guided bus infrastructure isn't too bad. Same is obviously on the way for Bristol.

Yes, that was the one I meant.

In terms of ticketing, I'm no fan of precluding on bus purchase but if it can be done with contactless, then fair enough.

I can see how on-bus ticketing keeps it simple, but it does really slow things down - compare speed of London boarding and alighting with that in a typical regional city.

I'd go keep it really simple.

- Flat single fare payable by contactless or by purchasing a smartcard at a local shop with say 10 single fares on it.

- Second touch in within an hour free for connections (to avoid passbacks not usable on the same bus within a specified time)

- No further charge after second chargeable touch-in on the same day

- Smartcard season tickets available for online and phone purchase and at any other relevant off-bus sales point

Possibly then allow the driver to sell "emergency" on bus tickets, but at say 50% more than the contactless/advance purchase fare and no change given, no discounts of any kind, even child (so no arguing about how much it is and thus reduced risk of driver assault). Could even sell these from a vending machine on board to avoid any risk to the driver carrying cash.
 
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Blamethrower

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Its still a bus, operated by a private company so all I can see is this money being lost in "consultants fees".

A bus is still a bus, it uses the roads, which in Leeds are chronically congested. Building more bus lanes only worsens the traffic.

What is it about Leeds that means they are always late to the party? (Arena, trams, roads)

When I lived there the excuse was always that the council was split and so could never reach a consensus, is that still the case?
 

Busaholic

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Its still a bus, operated by a private company so all I can see is this money being lost in "consultants fees".

A bus is still a bus, it uses the roads, which in Leeds are chronically congested. Building more bus lanes only worsens the traffic.

What is it about Leeds that means they are always late to the party? (Arena, trams, roads)

When I lived there the excuse was always that the council was split and so could never reach a consensus, is that still the case?

Leeds and Bristol - now what do they have in common, other than an over-reliance on car transport? A near-monopoly bus operator that stifles any meaningful alternative transport provision for locals, aided and abetted by some local politicians and council officers who find it easier to deal with the devil they know, especially where a cosy arrangement has grown over the years. Are First in West Yorkshire still pushing the Borismaster as the answer? If they are, then they're sure asking the wrong question.

Trolleybus operation is still a facet of many towns and cities around the world, although it has, admittedly, been abandoned in a few places, often because finding a supplier of new trolleybuses has proved difficult. Battery technology is still in its infancy, a remark that could also have been made a decade ago. The next few months should see a fairly large-scale operation of Chinese-built electric buses in London, and the results will be studied with interest worldwide.
 

Mojo

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I do agree with you in some areas. I'd much rather see trams but I think you're not being entirely fair. To say a cost overrun on the Edinburgh scheme is "unfortunate" is a massive under statement. It was £375m over budget and to a much smaller scale than envisaged whereas the Dunstable scheme overran by c.£8m whilst Cambridge was £64m overspent though BAM Nuttall picked up over half of that. That Edinburgh debacle may have blighted similar schemes for possibly a generation.
I'm not convinced at all that Edinburgh has anything to do with it.

Despite some really positive moves in the early years of 1997 Labour Government, and the "10 year plan" promising us 25 new Tram routes across England, when Alastair Darling was Transport Secretary he really went off Trams and made a number of changes to policies and funding agreements for Trams.

Utility firms saw the construction of Tramways as a cheap way of renewing their underground services and at the same time the construction of infrastructure projects skyrocketed.
 

Deerfold

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It really isn't - the scheme went up in front of the public inquiry for over six months of detailed scrutiny, and fell flat on its face.

Perhaps you should try reading some of the evidence!

If it was as clear cut as that why has it taken 2 years for the result of the inquiry to be published?
 

TheGrandWazoo

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I'm not convinced at all that Edinburgh has anything to do with it.

Despite some really positive moves in the early years of 1997 Labour Government, and the "10 year plan" promising us 25 new Tram routes across England, when Alastair Darling was Transport Secretary he really went off Trams and made a number of changes to policies and funding agreements for Trams.

Utility firms saw the construction of Tramways as a cheap way of renewing their underground services and at the same time the construction of infrastructure projects skyrocketed.

I think you slightly misconstrued me. The Edinburgh debacle means it's an easy get out to not invest in trams
 

nerd

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I think you slightly misconstrued me. The Edinburgh debacle means it's an easy get out to not invest in trams

Since, debacle or no, Edinburgh are now investing yet more in trams.. maybe that is no longer the case.
 

AB93

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If it was as clear cut as that why has it taken 2 years for the result of the inquiry to be published?

I don't know, as the inspector's report was finished last year. Presumably something to do with waiting until after the local elections.

The inquiry was only meant to last 6-8 weeks. It ended up lasting for six months, such was the level of scrutiny. The business case got opened up in a way which doesn't happen at most inquiries.
 

Mojo

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I think you slightly misconstrued me. The Edinburgh debacle means it's an easy get out to not invest in trams
l'm not so convinced. Alastair Darling's alleged anti-Tramway comments came some 4 years before construction on Edinburgh even started, and the Edinburgh Tramway funding comes from a totally different source compared to Tramways proposed in England.
 

TheGrandWazoo

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l'm not so convinced. Alastair Darling's alleged anti-Tramway comments came some 4 years before construction on Edinburgh even started, and the Edinburgh Tramway funding comes from a totally different source compared to Tramways proposed in England.

Was thinking more of the current and future administrations than ones of the past!

It's an easy get out to avoid similar projects in future. That said, I agree in this instance that technology may well overtake the trolleybus
 

nerd

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Was thinking more of the current and future administrations than ones of the past!

It's an easy get out to avoid similar projects in future. That said, I agree in this instance that technology may well overtake the trolleybus

There is no doubt that these things go in fashions; five years ago, tram technology was looking distinctly old-hat, with the very real prospect that the Edinburgh scheme could be so drastically curtailed as to become unviable. Now the pendulum has swung back.

Paradoxically, the Edinburgh fiasco may help promoters of tram schemes elsewhere; in that it has reset expectations as to what schemes may cost, and how long they may take to get going.

In that respect, the original Manchester Metrolink did tram promoters few favours; as it appeared to show that a tram system could be built quickly on the cheap, and might be expected to generate immediate rapid growth in patronage. Consequently, schemes such as Tramlink were being written off as being over-budget and failling to achieve passenger targets when they were in fact doing well; simply because they were falling short of their promoters over-optimism. Edinburgh's problems have made other tram schemes look like good value.
 

ivanhoe

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It would be interesting to know whether Countries like France and Spain are any better in building new systems in budget, cheaper and on time ( give or take 6 months).
 

Mojo

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It would be interesting to know whether Countries like France and Spain are any better in building new systems in budget, cheaper and on time ( give or take 6 months).
The French city of Besançon has just built a "budget" Tramway.

http://www.railwaygazette.com/news/...ew/view/besancons-low-cost-tramway-opens.html

It is about a third less than other Tramways in France, which are all significantly cheaper than Tramways that have been built in Britain in recent times!
 
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