RE: Trackless trams for Melbourne
  Radcliffe, John (L&W, Waite Campus)

Just to get the “trackless tram” in perspective, the attached may be of interest.

John Radcliffe

From:tramsdownunder@... tramsdownunder@...> On Behalf Of TP
Sent: Sunday, 2 May 2021 12:25 PM
To: TramsDownUnder tramsdownunder@...>
Subject: Re: [TramsDownUnder] Trackless trams for Melbourne

The discussion is even more inexcusable when there's an entire system with tracks and power supply already in place. They shouldn't even be talking about it at all for any area covered by the existing tram system. It's as bad as what happened in Wellington NZ. A lot of this either/or debate revolves around the cost of the infrastructure. If the infrastructure is already there and tram systems are higher-capacity anyway (the other issue that's mostly conveniently overlooked), there *is* no debate. However, if Melbourne downgrades the capacity of its trams to on par with the Brisbane "metro" buses, it's handing dangerous arguments to these trackless bus lobbyists. I think it's just monumentally stupid to be even considering it in a city the size of Melbourne.

When academics suddenly act out of character and change their tune it's usually something to do with new research funding and where it comes from.

When I wrote X class trams in my previous post, I meant Z class of course.

Tony P

On Sunday, 2 May 2021 at 12:41:29 wrote:

This fixation on eliminating track and wire is like a dog returning to its vomit, and the universe of ignorance displayed in that article from both the journalist and the so-called “experts” is abject.

If Graham Currie thinks Melbourne tram tracks are rough he obviously hasn’t been on a bus lately, either that or the ride quality of Melbourne buses is so much better than in Sydney.

In recent years Peter Newman has definitely lost the plot, becoming the shill for whatever shonky transport snake oil is being touted as the bogus solution to a non-existent problem. Tram tracks and overhead wires deliver the best ride and most efficient power distribution compared to any battery and rubber tyre based system. This is fact - a rubber tyre on bitumen or concrete has 7 times the rolling resistance of a steel wheel on a steel rail. Add that to the weight of the batteries that have to be hauled around and the inevitable deterioration of the road surface under those heavily burdened rubber tyres, and we’ll see how much of Peter Newman’s coffee remains in the cup after these things have been running for longer than a couple of years on the same wheel tracks.

Like David Hensher, the Sydney Uni bus shill owned and operated by the Bus and Coach Association, who has no credibility on the subject of trams, Newman has squandered whatever credibility he had by becoming the tout for flim flam crap like this “trackless tram” scam. Way back in 1972 there was an article in Modern Tramway magazine that compared the then-new Runcorn busway in England with recent extensions of the Gotenburg tramway in Sweden. On every criterion the tramway was superior to the busway, from the cost of civil engineering required for infrastructure and carrying capacity, to energy consumption.

In the past, it was often the case that the “trackless tram” marked the beginning of the end for electric, high capacity public transport. Trolley buses generally replaced trams when the cost of track and rolling stock renewal was considered excessive but there was still life left in the traction power infrastructure, and trolley buses were substituted as a cheaper, “more modern” alternative. This saving was often illusory as the roadway had to be strengthened for buses but that cost could be shifted to the road authority. When the tramway power system needed renewal it was then scrapped and diesel buses substituted. This would also be the case with these solutions-in-search-of-a-problem, when the shiny newness rubs off they would be exposed as what they are - a bus on a road, nothing else. Just a bigger version of the battery buses that will inevitably replace the IC powered buses, and always inferior in every way to a tramway with rails and OHW.

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1932-05-14 EXTRACT - Mail - Merits of Trackless tram