TO GET THE NEWS IN DEPTH - READ "TRAMWAYS & URBAN TRANSIT" EVERY MONTH

URBAN TRANSIT NEWS

Latest news is always at the top of this page - select from index or scroll down page for earlier items
If you are a frequent visitor to this page, press "Refresh" or "Reload" to ensure you get the latest version of this page (your browser might load a previous version from cache)


News Index

August - December 1998

Click on item or scroll down this page

To go to most recent news page - click here

To go to continuation news page (July 1998) - click here

To return to the LRTA homepage - click here

This website carries just a tiny fraction of the total number of news stories which appear every month in Tramways & Urban Transit which has many pages of light rail, tramway and urban transit news from around the world - the best worldwide coverage of any publication!
To get your own copy - join the LRTA - click here for details


To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal


TYNE & WEAR SUNDERLAND EXTENSION GETS APPROVAL: This provisional acceptance for funding of this extension of the Newcastle Metro came in a package announced today by Transport Minister Dr. John Reid of a 135 Million boost for integrated transport as part of the Local transport Settlement for 1999-2000. Other major public transport projects included the East Leeds Quality Bus project: providing facilities and low-floor buses on the A63 (Leeds-Selby) and A64 (Leeds-York) roads and the Merseyside Rapid Transit: a guided light transit system based on trolleybus technology.

The allocation of resources to some of the schemes will depend on further assessments of eligibility and value for money and/or Transport and Works Act procedures.
Thursday 17 December 1998

To return to News Index - click here


To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal


GOVERNMENT GIVES GO-AHEAD FOR NOTTINGHAM TRAM SCHEME: A 167 MILLION bid to build a light rapid transit system for Nottingham has won Government approval.
Today's (3rd December 1998) announcement means that construction of the tram system - known as Nottingham Express Transit (NET) - can begin in 1999, with the service due to start operating in 2002.
The tram scheme is the largest local authority-led Private Finance Initiative (PFI) scheme to receive Government approval, and is a result of months of rigorous assessment by The Treasury to ensure the project offered value for money. Arrow Light Rail Ltd, in which Nottingham City Transport is an equal partner, is the preferred bidder for the project. This will be the first time that a local bus company has played a pivotal role in the development of a project of this nature.
The process to finalise the commercial contracts with Arrow Light Rail Ltd for the construction operation and financing of NET will now commence, with the construction due to start in 1999.
Nottingham Express Transit is forecast to carry more than 11 million passengers each year, reducing congestion in the City by removing an estimated 2 million car journeys annually.
The Chairman of Nottingham City Transport, Councillor Dennis Jones said, "The announcement today will ensure that Nottingham remains as the principal City of the East Midlands. The involvement of Nottingham City Transport in the project will provide the City with a highly integrated, high quality transport system for the new millennium. The involvement of Nottingham City Transport was always key to the development of this project, the fact that we have, along with our partners in Arrow, reached this stage as a result of a competitive tendering process displays the strength and determination of the company and Arrow to succeed with this project"
The Managing Director of Nottingham City Transport, John Pope said: "Nottingham City Transport has been involved in this project since it's inception, we are pleased that we have been given the opportunity to be involved with the eventual operation of this system. The involvement of Nottingham City Transport will provide the citizens of Nottingham with an integrated transport solution for the new millennium".
For details of Nottingham Express Transit
click here
Thursday 3 December 1998

To return to News Index - click here


To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal

French GLT order:Bombardier Transportation has won a (CAN)$70-million contract to supply 25 GLT vehicles for the city of Nancy. It is reported that the vehicles will be manufactured in France starting in June next year and the first cars are expected to be in operation by the year 2000. The GLT (Guided Light Transit) looks similar to a light rail vehicle but runs on rubber tyres and can be guided by a single grooved rail. When guided it operates on electricity through a single overhead wire with the guide rail as the return. When not in guided mode it uses an on board deisel motor/generator to produce the electric supply. It is understood that operation in Nancy will be on a segregated right of way.

LRTA Development Officer Brian Lomas comments: Although the idea of the GLT has been around for some time previous attempts to bring it into service have come to nothing. It is claimed to be a lower cost alternative to light rail especially for the smaller town. It remains to be seen how this will turn out in practice and whether the claimed savings will materialise.
Thursday 3 December 1998

To return to News Index - click here


To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal

To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal

To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal

Portland, Oregon - Light rail measure defeated - (unofficial result): Although the official results are not due to be announced until the 4th December indications are that the South/North light rail measure has been narrowly defeated by 49% to 51%. This line to run from Clackamas Town Centre through Portland to North Portland was originally intended to run to Vancouver, Washington and had already been approved twice by Oregon voters, but not by those in Clark County, Washington. The current vote, for a shortened scheme, was for a 475 million USD light-rail bond to cover the Oregon contribution to the $1.6 billion USD 16 mile line.

LRTA Development Officer Brian Lomas comments: It appears that the Metro Authorities have not convinced many voters who would normally support transit measures that the cost of 100 million USD per mile for this line was justified. It is not entirely clear why this line would have cost considerably more than the original line or even the recently opened Westside line which included considerable tunnelling. Whether this is a case of "Perfection being the enemy of the good" or terrain difficulties which would affect any other alternative to Portland's traffic problems is not easy to decide. It is unfortunate that Portland which is noted for its effective use of transit and land use planning should have got itself into this position and it is to be hoped that a satisfactory solution can yet be found.
Monday 09 November 1998

To return to News Index - click here


To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal

Edinburgh tram plan launched: It has been reported that the New Edinburgh Tramways Company has proposed a 4.5 mile line from Princes Street to the waterfront at Leith costing some 24M. The company is confident that it can raise the finance from private investors. Construction costs and time would be kept low by using the patented LR55 rail system developed by professor Lewis Lesley which, it is claimed, will not require the underground services to be diverted. It is intended to lay the tracks in the bus priority "greenways" where the ease of installation would allow sections to be laid overnight with the surface restored for the next mornings operation thus reducing disruption to a minimum. Edinburgh's Transportation committee will be studying the proposal shortly. The NETC Operations Director is Neil Mackenzie, formerly with Lothian Regional Transport.

Friday 02 October 1998

Despite scepticism and an officer report recommending councillors to refuse consent to a draft order seeking parliamentary approval for the project, Edinburgh City Council decided to defer its decision pending the result of a jointly funded study into the feasibility of the project. The draft order is not now expected to be lodged before early in 1999,


Wednesday 14 October 1998.

To return to News Index - click here


Midland Metro opening delayed until 18 January 1999 - or later?: The West Midlands Passenger Transport Authority at its meeting on Monday next (28 September)will receive a report from the Director General of Centro, Rob Donald which expresses concerns regarding the opening date of the Midland Metro Line 1 project. The report says: "Line 1 should have opened to the public on 2 August 1998. Altram has informed Centro that it now expects to have a full service in operation on 18 January 1999, and may open a partial service in the interim. Altram is no longer specifying a partial opening date in October 1998. A revised programme was submitted to Centro by Altram on 18 September in support of its 18 January date for full operation. This programme did not include the level of detail that Centro would normally expect either in terms of tasks to be completed or the inter-dependencies between tasks. Without this information it is not possible to confirm that the programme is achievable. "Given the uncertainty about the robustness of the programme and the range of works still to be completed on the project, (including the resolution of technical problems associated with modifications to the vehicle in advance of its submission to Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate for final approval), Centro is currently unable to share Altram's confidence that Metro Line 1 will be open by mid January 1999."

LRTA Secretary General, Bob Tarr commented: Altram, the consortium responsible for constructing and operating Midland Metro Line 1, faces big financial penalties if it fails to open and run the full service which it contracted to provide by the beginning of November. It has been rumoured for some time that, at best, only a partial service would be in operation by then and now Altram seem to have admitted that it will be late January before there is a full service in operation - Centro are clearly doubtful that they will even achieve this date.

Midland Metro Line 1 was a simple and straightforward project to build - indeed that was one of the reasons why it was selected as the first line of the eventual 16 to 18 line Midland Metro network - it runs for almost its entire length on an existing, disused, heavy rail formation - in other countries complete light rail systems have been built using new rights of way in less than the three and a half years that Midland Metro Line 1 will have taken by the time it is open (and eleven years from the decision to build it!) Why has this delay occurred? Undoubtedly there are a number of reasons but I suspect that a frequently recurring factor is probably Her Majesty's Railway Inspectorate - a division of the Health & Safety Executive which has the power of life and death over any rail project in the U.K., heavy or light. The British Railway Inspectorate seem unable to accept that practices and products which operate quite happily and safely in Continental Europe can do so here in the United Kingdom. For instance, the Midland Metro tram will be the only modern tram in the world where the stairs between the low floor and high floor sections of the vehicle have a 90 degree turn in them. This modification was "suggested" by the Railway Inspector and Ansaldo/Altram would have had little option but to take heed of the suggestion (otherwise, when it came to the Railway Inspector examining the whole system prior to granting permission for it to open for public service there would have been little chance that it would have been allowed to open). It may, without doubt, be said that there are two dead hands on the development of light rail and tramways in the U.K. - one is H.M. Treasury and the other is H.M. Railway Inspectorate!
Friday 25 September 1998

To return to News Index - click here


To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal

Date set for Merseyside Rapid Transit Inquiry: Glenda Jackson, Minister for Local Transport has announced that the Public Inquiry into Merseytravel's (Merseyside PTE) proposal of an electronicaly guided and electrically powered rapid transit system between the Waterfront (King's Dock/Albert Dock) through Liverpool city centre to Page Moss, with a spur route branching off between Old Swan and Page Moss serving Broad Green hospital and terminating at a Park & Ride site adjacent to the M62, will open at 10.00 hrs on 18 November 1998.

The Inquiry, under the Transport & Works Act 1992, will be held at the Peter Jost Centre, John Moores University, Liverpool and will be conducted by Mr R.V.Holley CB FRAeS MIMechE MIEE. A pre-inquiry meeting to discuss procedural arrangements will be held at 11.00 hrs on 8 October at the same location.

The Merseyside Rapid Transit has an estimated cost of 54m and, if approved by the Secretary of State after he has considered the Inspector's Report, will be built and operated by a public/private partnership involving Merseyside PTE and Transform. Transform is a consortium comprising bus operator Ariva North West (subsidiary of Arriva plc) and Cegelec AEG (which will provide the guidance system)
Wednesday 9 September 1998

To return to News Index - click here


To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal

Deputy Prime Minister solves South Yorkshire crisis: John Prescott, Deputy Prime Minister, has solved the funding crisis concerning the South Yorkshire Supertram. It is reported in the local Sheffield newspapers that he has agreed to convert the 81m trading credit approvals into non-trading credit approvals. This will mean that the metropolitan district councils in South Yorkshire, which fund the Passenger Transport Authority and PTE, which built Supertram, will now receive government grant for the cost of servicing this debt and it will not take them beyond their spending limits.

It is also reported that Mr Prescott has made it conditional that South Yorkshire & Supertram becomes a model case for the integrated transport plans that he proposes to introduce in all parts of the country.

LRTA Secretary General, Bob Tarr commented: If this story is accurate it is good news indeed - for the South Yorkshire councils and council tax payers, for Supertram, and for the public transport and light rail/tramways industry. Since the financial crisis erupted, when the previous Tory Government disowned its earlier pledges, there has been a real cloud hanging over Supertram which has not only affected the Sheffield Supertram itself but has also cast a shadow over all new light rail schemes. Hopefully this solution by John Prescott will allow Supertram to get on with the job of transforming travel habits in Sheffield and allow the system to be seen for what it is - probably the best light rail system so far built in the U.K. Mr Prescott's condition - that Supertram/S.Yorks participate in his integrated transport plans as a model is definitely good news - with two such cases now (Manchester and S.Yorkshire) it should be the case that the benefits of having modern light rail/tramways will really be acknowledged in the evolution of local integrated transport plans.

Friday 14 August 1998

To return to News Index - click here


To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal

Minister lays first track for new tramway: UK Transport Minister, Glenda Jackson, today laid one of the first pieces of track on Eccles New Road in Weaste, Salford where the Metrolink trams on the new Salford Quays And Eccles extension will share the road with other traffic. She said: "The integration of Metrolink into the rest of Greater Manchester's public transport network is a good example of what can be done when local authorities and operators work together to make public transport more reliable, more accessible and easier to use".

Chairman of the Passenger Transport Authority, Councillor Joe Clarke said: "The extension of Metrolink to Eccles via Salford Quays is the first extension to any street-running light rail scheme in the country, and so this event is a real landmark.

Evaluation work for the extension has shown that:

  • it will cover its operating costs out of farebox revenue
  • approximately 6m passengers per year will be carried
  • around 1m car journeys per year will be taken off the roads
  • 60m worth of benefits will be brought to the corridor, including reduced congestion, shorter journey times and increased economic activity with over 3,000 jobs likely to be created.
Work began on the extension in July 1997, exactly 5 years after the opening of Phase 1 of Metrolink, and this first extension is expected to be fully operational by spring 2000.

Thursday 6 August 1998

To return to News Index - click here


To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal

Powers granted for Metrolink extension to Ashton-under-Lyne: The Greater Manchester (England) Metrolink system has received a major boost with the announcement that the UK government has granted powers under the Transport & Works Act 1992 to build the 10 kms (6 miles) Metrolink extension to East Manchester and Ashton-under-Lyne.

The Chairman of Greater Manchester Passenger Transport Authority, Councillor Joe Clarke, said: "The Authority is committed to developing a truly integrated public transport system throughout Greater Manchester, and we see extending Metrolink further as a vital part of our plans. Indeed, in the recent transport White Paper, the government cited projects such as Metrolink as having an important role to play in delivering integrated transport in urban areas, particularly as part of an overall local transport strategy. The Authority's integration plans are clearly such a strategy.

Metrolink has already proved that people will voluntarily leave their cars at home if high quality public transport is available, and so we are looking forward to extending this very successful scheme to the Ashton-under-Lyne corridor. However, the policy of both the Authority and the Association of Greater Manchester Authorities (AGMA) remains that the Metrolink extension to Oldham and Rochdale is our top priority".

LRTA Secretary General Bob Tarr commented: The old adage that nothing succeeds like success is well demonstrated by Greater Manchester! Both politicians and officials have been given the confidence by the success of the first phase of Metrolink to boldly push ahead to achieve a proper network - the Ashton-under-Lyne extension is just one of these extensions which are planned. The success of the first phase also means that both the private sector and the government look upon Metrolink much more favourably than either do when it comes to cities which have not yet got any light rail at all. Whilst it is entirely sensible for Metrolink extensions to get government and private sector backing, the lesson that they should also learn is that if light rail can be so successful in Manchester, it is also likely to be successful in other well planned schemes, such as Nottingham and Leeds.


Monday 3 August 1998

To return to News Index - click here


To be well informed about light rail & urban transit developments you need to read Tramways & Urban Transit every month - the world's leading light rail, tramways and urban transit journal


To return to the top of this news page - click here

To go to most recent news index - click here

To go to continuation news page (July 1998) - click here

To return to the LRTA homepage - click here