'Folly Trolley' claim about Coventry's light rail trams plan denied by council chief - The Coventry Observer

13th Aug, 2022

'Folly Trolley' claim about Coventry's light rail trams plan denied by council chief

Felix Nobes 25th Jun, 2018 Updated: 25th Jun, 2018

A PLANNED tram-style light rail system for Coventry streets has been slammed by a public transport campaigner as a ‘folly trolley’.

Resident traffic expert, James Avery, has criticised plans for an electric people mover which would connect the train station and the high speed rail network at a new HS2 interchange station near the NEC.

The network could also potentially include routes to Warwick University, the Jaguar Land Rover plant in Whitley and the University Hospital Coventry and Warwickshire in Walsgrave, Coventry.

Mr Avery said the network would need significant and secure right of way and is therefore incompatible with Coventry’s already busy streets.

He has also suggested it will cost much more than the £40million projected.

But Coventry City Council cabinet member for jobs and regeneration, councillor Jim O’Boyle, praised the ‘very light rail’ vehicle as a ‘world-first’ and one that will be low-cost for passengers and environmentally friendly.

He said the plan – which he first mooted two years ago – would provide a better public transport service, discouraging driving and easing traffic.

Mr Avery said: “It’s grossly over-optimistic. The council can’t be trusted to deliver it when it’s ripping out bus lanes, and unlike bus lanes, it’s totally incompatible with the rest of the transport system.

“This city can’t even run a bus in a bus lane, let’s please stop pretending it can deliver a £1billion scheme for less than 10 per cent of that.

“Edinburgh trams cost nearly £1billion to deliver half the line planned.

“A tram needs a secure right of way – the track itself and the wiring are much smaller parts of this cost.

“Coventry is removing mass transit rights of way, not delivering them.

Mr Avery pointed elsewhere for answers to Coventry’s traffic problem.

He said: “Take a look at recent guided bus projects such as in Cambridgeshire.

“A guided bus route (or the bus lanes we have) works with routes like the number 12, which terminates at Warwick University, and with number 11, which continues to Leamington Spa.

“A tram can only operate on the tracks that are laid for it and in a city with so much traffic coming via our very near neighbours, that’s not very helpful.”

Coun O’Boyle said: “This isn’t a traditional type tram operation that people might see in Birmingham or Manchester.

“It won’t have overhead wires and they will be half the weight of those trams.

“We are looking at 2021 for some kind of exhibition for people to start seeing them.

“It is early days in terms of routes. I recognise it would have to fit in with the city’s existing streets.

“It’s important it doesn’t take up space that would otherwise be utilised – because what I don’t want to do is take out a significant amount of road space which would lead to congestion and completely defeat the object of the exercise.

“But it’s far too early for anybody to say this is where it is going to go and this is how it’s going to look.

“This project is not to add to congestion, it is to ease congestion.

“It’s too early to say yet but in principle we believe that will be the case.

“What James is talking about is old technology what we are talking about is new technology.”

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