The Anonymous Widower

£690 Million Competition For Local Authorities To Tackle Urban Congestion And Get Local Transport Networks Moving Again

This quote is directly from today’s budget and is the real joker in the pack.

Is the £690 million all for one project, or is it to be split between say thirty ones of £20 million or so.

What I like about it, is that several towns and cities will come forward with very good well-structured schemes.

Schemes, I’ve seen in Europe that I like include.

In some ways the Kassel tram-train system is the most impressive.  I sat in a cafe and watched trams and large trams (tram-trains) cross in front of me. Passengers would get off and on and then when their next tram or tram-train arrived they would board and go on their way.

When you see Kasssel, you realise what an opportunity was missed in Manchester, where tram-trains could come into Piccadilly station, take to the streets and pass through Piccadilly Gardens and then go to Victoria station, where they took to the tracks again.

If we look at the cost of the latest Manchester Metrolink extension to the Trafford Centre, it is disclosed in this article in Railway Technology Magazine at £350 million.

So you could get two tram lines for the whole £690 million. Or one line and a lot of tram-trains, trams or trains.

  • Large central squares are rare in the UK compared to Europe.
  • Birmingham has one, but it’s already got a local transport network. It was also have their version of Seville’s trams.
  • Liverpool has the waterfront, but it’s buying new trains.
  • Nottingham has one, but like Birmingham has a tram network.

The interesting one is Middlesbrough.

This Google Map shows the town centre.

Note the railway passing through the town with the Grade II Listed Middlesbrough station to the North of the town centre.

One line through the station is the Tees Valley Line from Saltburn on the Coast to Bishop Auckland a few miles inland.

If this line were to be run by tram-trains or at least modern trains  (London Overground Class 172 (?)) that looked like trams, they could go walk-about through the gardens and the shops in the centre of the town and have stops by the shops in the centre, the Town Hall and the Riverside stadium.

Stops on the line would include Redcar, Darlington and Newton Aycliffe.

Branches from the line go all over the area to Hartlepool, Stockton, Whitby and Sunderland and Newcastle via the Durham Coast Line.

A lot of people will have fun with this competition.

Places to watch would include.

  • Brighton to Hove along the front.
  • Southend.
  • Portsmouth to Southampton
  • Cardiff
  • Milton Keynes
  • Huddersfield
  • Leeds-Bradford and the Airport.

Some of the schemes that don’t get funding could even be picked up by the various infrastructure funds, that are always looking for investments.

Spreadsheet Phil has had an idea with vision!

The size of the fund could bring forward some very innovative ideas, other than the usual by-passes, car-parks and more of the same shops.


March 8, 2017 - Posted by | Transport | ,


  1. You are missing the obvious. A new crossing is planned for the Tees. This really has to be downstream of Middlesbrough centre to supplement the existing bridge to the north bank (a transporter with a capacity of less than 50 or so cars an hour). As the Tees is navigable for at least a mile upsream of the bridge, a new one would have a roadway which would be ridiculously high! A tunnel is the only solution ( the geology is soft sediment overlying soft desert sandstones and shales). Put a rail link in there. Study the OS map. Freight Lines exist on the north bank. One almost reaches the Stockton to Hartlepool line. An obvious solution to getting a 10 minute link to the Durham coast instead of the present 30. Also allow through trains from York to Newcastle and beyond. Would also improve Tees Metro lines with a circle Middlebrough to Stockton. Suggested site is near the Riverside Stadium.

    Comment by Craig Wall | March 29, 2017 | Reply

  2. That obviously, is not the sort of project that fits the fund. But if it was built, it would transform Middlesbrough.

    Am I right in thinking that Middlesbrough gets a raw deal compared to Newcastle and Sunderland?

    In the 1960s, when I worked at ICI and came up once every few months to Wilton, you were always collected and taken to the train at Darlington. It’s not much better now.

    Comment by AnonW | March 30, 2017 | Reply

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