The Anonymous Widower

When Is A Train Not A Train?

Take a modern train, say something like a Class 172 DMU or a two-car version of say a Class 710 EMU.

The size and weight of these are very similar to that of one of Sheffield’s trams.

Many, if not all, trams in the UK run to a set of rules, which allow the following.

  • Running at up to 50 mph on a dedicated track, which can be either single or double track.
  • Running at slower speeds through City Centres and amongst pedestrians, as they do through Birmingham, Blackpool, Croydon, Edinburgh, Manchester, Nottingham and Sheffield
  • Trams are driven, by a trained driver, who takes notice of everything and everybody around the tram.
  • Passengers can cross the track in designated places provided they keep a good look-out.
  • Passengers can only board a tram at a designated stop.
  • All rail vehicles run to the same rules.

The rules must work, as you don’t often hear of trams having accidents with pedestrians. In fact fourteen people have died in accidents with modern trams in the UK since 2000. The rate seems to have dropped in recent years, so are drivers getting better and pedestrians learning how to live with the trams?

I believe that in Zwickau in Germany, local trains, run on the tram tracks in the City Centre. There’s more on it under Vogtlandbahn in Wikipedia.

So could some branch lines be run according to tram rules, but using standard modern trains, like Class 172 or Class 710 trains?

In A First Visit To Clacton, I said this about the Walton-on-the-Naze branch of the Sunshine Coast Line.

I do wonder whether some branches like the short one to Walton-on-the Naze could be run to tram rules using on-board energy storage. It might enable stations to be built step-free without electrification, lifts and bridges, provided trains kept to a safe slow speed.

In an ideal system, the rules could be.

  • No electrification. Zwickau uses diesel vehicles, but ones using on-board energy storage would be ideal.
  • Trains do not exceed an appropriate slow speed. Zwickau uses 80 kph.
  • Step free access from platform to train.
  • All trains on the line run to the same rules.
  • No freight trains.

The advantages would be.

  • There is no electrification.
  • Signalling is standard railway signals and rules. Often routes would run under One Train Working, which is very safe and well proven.
  • Many routes could be built as single-track without points and like the Sudbury branch trains would go out and back.
  • DMUs would be exactly, the same as others of their type.
  • EMUs would be too, but would have on-board energy storage.
  • Extra stations could be added to the line, by just building platforms.
  • The line could perhaps be extended past its current terminus.

I must get to Zwickau and see how the Germans do it.

A few examples of lines that could run to these rules include.

Whether some of these would need it, is doubtful. Some though, like Sudbury and St.Ives, terminate as a single platform in a car park.

The Felixstowe Branch certainly couldn’t as it has lots of freight trains, although the final section, from where it branches off the line to Felixstowe Port could.

I said that no freight trains could run on the routes, but those devilish Germans have designed a freight tram that runs in Dresden to supply  the Volswagen factory in the city. It’s called a Cargo Tram.

Could this be a way of bringing freight into a City Centre? as I said in The LaMiLo Project, this type of thinking is in the minds of planners.



July 16, 2016 - Posted by | Transport/Travel | , , , , ,


  1. […] In When Is A Train Not A Train?, I proposed running lines like this under tram rules. […]

    Pingback by Frinton-on-Sea Station « The Anonymous Widower | July 18, 2016 | Reply

  2. […] After my visit to Zwickau, I feel even stronger about what I wrote in When Is A Train Not A Train? […]

    Pingback by Riding The Vogtlandbahn « The Anonymous Widower | July 27, 2016 | Reply

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