My idea for Horse Trams in Oxford Street

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Mutant Lemming

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I remember a while back (to some obvious mirth) I suggested to TfL hierarchy that they might consider a horse tram service for Oxford Street. While at first it may seem like a step backward it would be considerably cheaper to build and operate than the conventional tramway now being mooted.
No costly overhead, substations, power supply etc, just lay rails in the street. The average speed would probably be an improvement on the current bus journey along the street. The horses could be stabled in Hyde Park and the tramway would become a tourist attraction in it's own right. The dung could even be bagged up and sold as genuine London Horse Tram manure. Would add a bit of life and character that is missing from Oxford Street as opposed to having just another bland electric tramway.
 
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Busaholic

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I remember a while back (to some obvious mirth) I suggested to TfL hierarchy that they might consider a horse tram service for Oxford Street. While at first it may seem like a step backward it would be considerably cheaper to build and operate than the conventional tramway now being mooted.
No costly overhead, substations, power supply etc, just lay rails in the street. The average speed would probably be an improvement on the current bus journey along the street. The horses could be stabled in Hyde Park and the tramway would become a tourist attraction in it's own right. The dung could even be bagged up and sold as genuine London Horse Tram manure. Would add a bit of life and character that is missing from Oxford Street as opposed to having just another bland electric tramway.

I regret to say that 'just laying rails' would probably lead to two years (min) of disruption and, let us not forget, the western end of Oxford Street, from Marble Arch to Selfridge's is open to all traffic 24/7 and not just buses and taxis. That said, your suggestion is no more ridiculous than the conventional tramway mooted. Where, precisely, do all the bus services currently serving Oxford Street divert or, in some cases, terminate short? I'd also imagine taxi drivers would have a few words to say about the 'manure' they'd have to drive through (that might not be the word they used!)
 

jamesr

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Here in Douglas, Isle of Man, they've got a horse tram running down the middle of the promenade road, which is also a major road artery. The road surface is falling to pieces, but the presence of the tram tracks makes it, apparently, horribly expensive and complicated to resurface the road. The government here has spent at least ten years discussing how best to get the horse tram tracks out of the middle of the road, and used the expense and upheaval involved in doing so as an excuse to do absolutely nothing.

It really doesn't seem at all practical to either build one, or keep one, in the middle of Oxford Street (unless Oxford St is pedestrianised, I guess).
 

Tetchytyke

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I thought the horse trams were going at the end of this summer season? Did Douglas Council change their mind?
 

EbbwJunction1

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I wrote to the Planning Committee of the Isle of Man Government protesting about the plans to reconstruct the Harris and Loch Promenades a while back.

I received a letter from them yesterday saying that "the above application has now been withdrawn."

Good news, I hope!
 

Mutant Lemming

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It really doesn't seem at all practical to either build one, or keep one, in the middle of Oxford Street (unless Oxford St is pedestrianised, I guess).

The idea with the electric tram proposal was to remove all traffic from Oxford Street so the horse trams would be the only traffic using it... cold even grass the track area to make it even more green.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
I regret to say that 'just laying rails' would probably lead to two years (min) of disruption and, let us not forget, the western end of Oxford Street, from Marble Arch to Selfridge's is open to all traffic 24/7 and not just buses and taxis. That said, your suggestion is no more ridiculous than the conventional tramway mooted. Where, precisely, do all the bus services currently serving Oxford Street divert or, in some cases, terminate short? I'd also imagine taxi drivers would have a few words to say about the 'manure' they'd have to drive through (that might not be the word they used!)

Whatever they decide to do will lead to disruption - even if they do nothing it will lead to disruption.
As for the buses - maybe if the horse tramway is a success it could lead to expansion and replacement of the inner London bus routes.
Without a major remodelling of roads in Central London or a complete ban on all traffic bar buses and delivery vehicles I can't see there being an answer to the bus traffic problems to and through the West End.
 

Johnnie2Sheds

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No one ever mentions Trolley buses as a solution for Urban Public transport.
So I will.
Clean*,quiet, flexible**, cheap infrastructure***.

* If power is generated using windmills or something that does not need to burn old trees or have its waste stored for thousands of years.
** Within traffic. Not trapped on rails. (See Bus)
*** Roadways unaffected/ cheap low voltage knitting.

No Lithium batteries to worry about either, as in the case of the hybrid/battery buses. No stinking poisionous diesel engine, clattering gearbox, less moving parts. So wont shake itself to bits in 10 years. No Reliance on OIL.

Why is no one using them? What did I miss?
 

edwin_m

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No one ever mentions Trolley buses as a solution for Urban Public transport.
So I will.
Clean*,quiet, flexible**, cheap infrastructure***.

* If power is generated using windmills or something that does not need to burn old trees or have its waste stored for thousands of years.
** Within traffic. Not trapped on rails. (See Bus)
*** Roadways unaffected/ cheap low voltage knitting.

No Lithium batteries to worry about either, as in the case of the hybrid/battery buses. No stinking poisionous diesel engine, clattering gearbox, less moving parts. So wont shake itself to bits in 10 years. No Reliance on OIL.

Why is no one using them? What did I miss?

Because trolleybuses have most of the disadvantages of trams and most of the disadvantages of buses, with few of the advantages of either.

Like a bus they have capacity limited by maximum vehicle length, higher rolling resistance on rubber tyres, and do not follow a precise path so more difficult to integrate in pedestrian areas. Like trams they need fixed infrastructure and can't overtake, and the overhead is more obtrusive due to needing two wires instead of one.

Trolleybus vehicles are expensive due to the limited market.

They do have electric propulsion, but other buses are slowly gaining on this, and they can climb very steep gradients but this isn't necessary in most places.

Running with traffic is not really an advantage. For anything other than a low capacity route on quiet roads (for which a motor bus is the obvious choice) public transport needs as much as possible to be segregated from other traffic, otherwise it just gets stuck in the same jams. Trams can also run with other traffic where necessary.
 

Busaholic

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No one ever mentions Trolley buses as a solution for Urban Public transport.
So I will.
Clean*,quiet, flexible**, cheap infrastructure***.

* If power is generated using windmills or something that does not need to burn old trees or have its waste stored for thousands of years.
** Within traffic. Not trapped on rails. (See Bus)
*** Roadways unaffected/ cheap low voltage knitting.

No Lithium batteries to worry about either, as in the case of the hybrid/battery buses. No stinking poisionous diesel engine, clattering gearbox, less moving parts. So wont shake itself to bits in 10 years. No Reliance on OIL.

Why is no one using them? What did I miss?

Part of the problem has been the lack of manufacturers in recent years, which has caused at least two places in Europe to abandon their trolleybus routes. On the other hand, there have been the salesmen/propagandists for so-called electric buses, with the Chinese getting in on the act and seeing this as an entrée to the European and other markets, especially the British.We keep being told the breakthrough in battery operation is just round the corner, but it strikes me as being the longest, blindest corner ever. Andrew Braddock, whose columns used to illuminate Buses magazine every couple of months, was always advocating trolleybuses, based on his own experiences, and was of the opinion battery technology was at least twenty years away from offering a practical everyday solution.
 

edwin_m

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With the huge automotive market behind them I'd expect batteries and fuel cells to make huge advances in the next few years. Just look at what's happened to the price of solar panels since they became mass-market items.
 

the101

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Trolleybuses are dead in the UK apart from at a handful of museums, and the principle reason for that is the ongoing development of electric buses. They're not quite there yet, but it won't be long until an electric bus is capable of the range required for a full day's work on urban routes. The Chinese claim that they can get nearly 300km out of one on a single charge already, although this claim is best taken with a pinch of salt.

Leon Daniels was asked about trolleybuses at a lecture he gave some time ago. TfL's view is that there is no way approval would be given for wires, such would be the volume of objections from natives and local businesses.
 

HSTEd

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No one ever mentions Trolley buses as a solution for Urban Public transport.
Because they aren't sexy big ticket projects or magical battery solutions.
Because trolleybuses have most of the disadvantages of trams and most of the disadvantages of buses, with few of the advantages of either.

Like a bus they have capacity limited by maximum vehicle length, higher rolling resistance on rubber tyres, and do not follow a precise path so more difficult to integrate in pedestrian areas.
And do not follow a precise path so don't require enormously expensive reinforcements of the road surface or enormously expensive in-street infrastructure. Electricity is not a major component of the operating cost of a tramway or trolleybus route and thus the slightly greater losses are irrelevant.

Trolleybuses can also handle any climb a normal bus can, and can often do it more rapidly, allowing them to use any existing bus route as long as overhead wiring is put up.

With the huge automotive market behind them I'd expect batteries and fuel cells to make huge advances in the next few years. Just look at what's happened to the price of solar panels since they became mass-market items.
So, like solar panels, they will go from hopelessly uneconomic to simply extremely uneconomic? After fifteen years of massive state support solar panel installation is still a zombie industry propped up by enormous government funding with no real prospect of that changing. ;)

Trolleybuses are dead in the UK apart from at a handful of museums, and the principle reason for that is the ongoing development of electric buses. They're not quite there yet, but it won't be long until an electric bus is capable of the range required for a full day's work on urban routes. The Chinese claim that they can get nearly 300km out of one on a single charge already, although this claim is best taken with a pinch of salt.

Recharging all the buses in the depot with the really really short turnaround times bus fleets can expect these days is going to be interesting.
We will probably need 33kV circuits deployed to the bus depot, if you have a hundred buses, all of which are trying to recharge 300kWh+ batteries in about six hours of turnaround. You are going to need 5MWe at the least, plus resistive losses and some enormous bus [heh] bars.
And if you want shorter turnarounds, and many bus routes do seem to in Manchester at least, that number will rise rather steeply.
Enormous quantities of high voltage infrastructure woudl be required, all of which has to be paid for.

Meanwhile you can build a trolleybus route using the Portland Streetcar substation philosophy using entirely low voltage equipment at surprisingly low capital cost.
 

fandroid

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Trolleybuses must be a potential solution for Oxford Street pedestrianisation. They tick the most important box of all- no harmful emissions at point of use. Next, they are quiet. The wires are only a problem if the designers go for big and heavy supports like the ludicrous tram wire supports in Balloon Street, Manchester. Where there are supported off buildings, as in central Sheffield, no-one notices them. Also, whatever else Oxford Street is, it's not renowned for great architecture! The wires need only be there for the street itself. The buses could do shuttles along the street length and rely on batteries to get to and from the depot. Trolleybuses may be expensive, but you can save zillions by not putting rails in the street.

Electric buses (battery) are taking an age to become a realistic option. As has already been mentioned, recharging the batteries represents a monster logistical problem. Better to continuously recharge in service from convenient overhead wires!
 

the101

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Meanwhile you can build a trolleybus route using the Portland Streetcar substation philosophy using entirely low voltage equipment at surprisingly low capital cost.
What you can or cannot 'build' a trolleybus route with is irrelevant. Trolleybuses are not happening in the UK, and for good reason.
 

HSTEd

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What you can or cannot 'build' a trolleybus route with is irrelevant. Trolleybuses are not happening in the UK, and for good reason.

Because they aren't shiny like trams.
 

Busaholic

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What you can or cannot 'build' a trolleybus route with is irrelevant. Trolleybuses are not happening in the UK, and for good reason.

If Sadiq Khan was to become enthused with the idea, then they could well happen, though maybe not in Central London. I'm sure he could persuade Wrightbus or whoever to produce some prototypes.:)
 

the101

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If Sadiq Khan was to become enthused with the idea, then they could well happen, though maybe not in Central London. I'm sure he could persuade Wrightbus or whoever to produce some prototypes.:)
But why would he 'become enthused' with an idea that would take years to progress from drawing board to reality (if indeed it ever were to) with all the inevitable objections, and one where buses are limited strictly to a fixed route and unable to divert during periods of construction without building them with the added complexity and cost of an auxiliary diesel engine?

There is a simple alternative and it is called the electric bus. Order them now, have them on the road in a few months' time.
 

edwin_m

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If Sadiq Khan was to become enthused with the idea, then they could well happen, though maybe not in Central London. I'm sure he could persuade Wrightbus or whoever to produce some prototypes.:)

As Sadiq Khan's Oxford Street policy is to pedestrianize it, I doubt he's going to become enthused with any of the ideas suggested in this thread.
 

Busaholic

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As Sadiq Khan's Oxford Street policy is to pedestrianize it, I doubt he's going to become enthused with any of the ideas suggested in this thread.

I'm willing to bet the Oxford Street pedestrianisation never happens. I certainly wasn't personally proposing trolleys on Oxford Street.

Both trams and trolleys can and do run 'off-wire' in many towns and cities throughout the world in everyday service, mostly under battery power but sometimes with auxiliary diesel engines.
--- old post above --- --- new post below ---
There is a simple alternative and it is called the electric bus. Order them now, have them on the road in a few months' time.

On the road or cluttering up bus stations waiting to recharge? Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE to see the concept work, day in day out, but it's been too many promises promises thus far.
 

HSTEd

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So, just for fun I decided to calculate what would happen if the entire UK bus fleet of roughly ~35000 vehicles was to be converted to electric, and all were fitted with ~100kW chargers based on ChaDEMO technology (which is good for 150kW now).

That would not cost that much, about £12bn and would save something like a million tonnes of diesel a year, which is a lot of carbon. [Assuming electricity decarbonisation it is about ~£40/t carbon dioxide abated, which isn't too shabby].
At around 1.2kWh/km you are going to be looking at 2 billion vehicle-km, or 2.4 billion kWh - 2.4TWh/yr
2.4TWh/yr works out at ~6.6GWh/day.
Plugging them all in to charge in a four hour window is going to give you a load of 1700MWe or so, which is far from trivial.

It is a low load period of the day I suppose, turns peaking power demand into baseload power demand.
Would need 35,000 ChaDEMO chargers that would be expensive at about £15k each including connections to the 11kV network, but that is nothing compared to the price of the buses, even if you do provide every bus with its own dedicated berth.
 
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Busaholic

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So, just for fun I decided to calculate what would happen if the entire UK bus fleet of roughly ~35000 vehicles was to be converted to electric, and all were fitted with ~100kW chargers based on ChaDEMO technology (which is good for 150kW now).

That would not cost that much, about £12bn and would save something like a million tonnes of diesel a year, which is a lot of carbon. [Assuming electricity decarbonisation it is about ~£40/t abated, which isn't too shabby].
At around 1.2kWh/km you are going to be looking at 2 billion vehicle-km, or 2.4 billion kWh - 2.4TWh/yr
2.4TWh/yr works out at ~6.6GWh/day.
Plugging them all in to charge in a four hour window is going to give you a load of 1700MWe or so, which is far from trivial.

It is a low load period of the day I suppose, turns peaking power demand into baseload power demand.
Would need 35,000 ChaDEMO chargers that would be expensive at about £15k each including connections to the 11kV network, but that is nothing compared to the price of the buses, even if you do provide every bus with its own dedicated berth.

Congratulations on a masterly assessment. There's been far too much 'pie in the sky' about electric buses, much of it spread by the Chinese for their own purposes of getting a real foothold in the infrastructure of this country. The Spanish manufacturer which was competing with the Chinese to provide the 51 electric buses needed to convert the former Red Arrow routes 507 and 521 in London was not nearly so gung ho with its forecasts and (surprise! surprise!) were not awarded the contract. Already major promises made by the Chinese have been broken - the whole conversion was due to take place over the August Bank Holiday weekend and, like rail blockades, it was vital it all happened then because of the limited space available at Waterloo Garage and the necessity to bring all the charging facilities in to replace the diesel tanks, etc, Now it appears it will happen gradually, which we were told originally was not an option, and no doubt more sporadic (at least) use will have to be made of the not-so-near Mandela Way garage/parking lot.
 

HSTEd

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It's probably still worth it since it provides more off peak load for the grid, reduces operating costs and helps with air pollution.

And if they can get CHAdeMO to work at 350kW like they claim then it might also work for light goods vehicles.

Really - outside London it would probably be better to create dedicated new "electric depots" and retire the old ones for housing.
 
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Comstock

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Getting back on topic, how many horses would you need for this? Each horse can only pull a single tram car, and since (quite rightly) TfL would insist on high welfare standards, managable loads and short working shifts for the horses, I can rapidly see this getting very expensive indeed.
 

edwin_m

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Getting back on topic, how many horses would you need for this? Each horse can only pull a single tram car, and since (quite rightly) TfL would insist on high welfare standards, managable loads and short working shifts for the horses, I can rapidly see this getting very expensive indeed.

There's also the "waste disposal" problem.
 

HSTEd

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Well in Bruge the police horses all have nappies on.
 

the101

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The Spanish manufacturer which was competing with the Chinese to provide the 51 electric buses needed to convert the former Red Arrow routes 507 and 521 in London was not nearly so gung ho with its forecasts and (surprise! surprise!) were not awarded the contract.
Yet more of this board's specialty: opinion presented as fact.

The reason Irizar was not in the running for the 50-something electric buses for the Red Arrow routes was that it was unable to satisfy the volumes required. It can only build a couple of electric buses at a time, and they take a while to complete as they are not produced on the same production line basis as its coaches.

Sorry if this shoots a hole in your conspiracy theory, but there we are...:roll:
 

Busaholic

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Yet more of this board's specialty: opinion presented as fact.

The reason Irizar was not in the running for the 50-something electric buses for the Red Arrow routes was that it was unable to satisfy the volumes required. It can only build a couple of electric buses at a time, and they take a while to complete as they are not produced on the same production line basis as its coaches.

Sorry if this shoots a hole in your conspiracy theory, but there we are...:roll:

The Chinese are way behind in their production promises - that's a fact, not an opinion:(
 

Antman

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I regret to say that 'just laying rails' would probably lead to two years (min) of disruption and, let us not forget, the western end of Oxford Street, from Marble Arch to Selfridge's is open to all traffic 24/7 and not just buses and taxis. That said, your suggestion is no more ridiculous than the conventional tramway mooted. Where, precisely, do all the bus services currently serving Oxford Street divert or, in some cases, terminate short? I'd also imagine taxi drivers would have a few words to say about the 'manure' they'd have to drive through (that might not be the word they used!)

The most ridiculous idea is suggesting leaving things as they are!

There is certainly nothing wrong with the conventional tramway suggestion, people scoffed at the idea of trams on the streets of Croydon years ago. Buses are going to be curtailed or rerouted as it is, hardly an insurmountable problem, and there is plenty of scope for some sort of interchange at Marble Arch.
 
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