The Anonymous Widower

Study Concludes There Is Demand For A Light Rail System In Bath

The title of this post is the same as that of this article in Global Rail News.

This is the first two paragraphs.

Plans to bring a light rail system to the historic city of Bath, UK, have taken a step closer after it received backing from a preliminary study.

The study was produced by consultants Atkins and followed suggestions from the public to look at the potential for a new tram system, according to Bath and North East Somerset council.


  • Atkins are one of best consultants in the world, with lots of experience.
  • Many Continental cities, the size of Bath have a tram network
  • Darmstadt with a population twice that of Bath has nine tram lines.
  • Tram systems in historic towns and cities can be built without catenary, using batteries for motive power.
  • Smaller lightweight tram systems are being developed.

So I’m not surprised that, it was recommended that Bath get a tram network.

But if Bath can develop a viable tram network, then surely any town or city with the right set of problems and needs should be looking at trams.

My list of possible cities and large towns, where trams could start by connecting the the railway station to the main town centre would include.

  • Cambridge
  • Colchester
  • Coventry
  • Huddersfield
  • Ipswich
  • Leicester
  • Middlesbrough
  • Norwich
  • Wigan

There must be loads more.



January 24, 2018 Posted by | Transport | , | Leave a comment

The Great Western Main Line Through Bath Spa Station

This Google Map shows the route of the Great Western Main Line through Bath Spa station.

The Great Western Main Line Through Bath

The Great Western Main Line Through Bath

Trains from Bristol come in from the West with London to the East and the layout certainly wasn’t designed to be simple.

  • Bath Spa station is on a viaduct hemmed in by the river.
  • The railway crosses the River Avon twice.
  • The railway is on a raised viaduct to the West.
  • Bath is a World Heritage Site.

It is not the place, where you would want to electrify a major railway Line.

These are pictures I took of the Great Western Main Line through Bath.

It is certainly not how, you would create a railway today.

March 29, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , | 1 Comment

Electrifying The Great Western Through Sydney Gardens In Bath Spa

The Great Western Railway runs i through Sydney Gardens in Bath. This picture shows an InterCity 125 running through the gardens.

An InterCity 125 Passes Through Sydney Gardens

An InterCity 125 Passes Through Sydney Gardens


  • There is plenty of width, as the line was built for broad gauge trains.
  • Height might a bit tight, when you add in the pantograph.
  • I would think that the structure under the track is pretty sound, as it’s had masses of pounding for years from Castles, Kings, Warships and InterCity 125s.
  • I suspect that the bridges over the line have been fully surveyed and like most of Brunel’s structures are well designed.

So I suspect that the track could be arranged, so that it positioned the train in the right place, to allow a Class 800 train to pass through with absolute safety.


The tracks could be moved closer or further apart to match the geometry of the bridges.

The tracks could be lowered if required.

If necessary, as is often done in tunnels, a solid concrete slab track could be laid. But this can create more noise.


I wouldn’t be surprised to see an innovative rail system used in Sydney Gardens to make sure the trains run accurately, reduce noise and improve the look of the railway.

But then after Dawlish and some of the challenging situations, Network Rail has faced with tracks in the last few years, I suspect they’ll come up with a very acceptable solution.

The problem is the electrification.

Engineers will renew switches and crossings at Bathampton Junction, and will lower the track at Sydney Gardens, as well as at Hampton Mill and Meadow Farm bridges.

They will install specially designed electrification equipment in Sydney Gardens, which is classed as a World Heritage Site. Work on Box Tunnel will continue over the entire six-week period.

So as I thought height is tight.

This was a comment from the article.

When these plans were presented in the Guildhall last year, the Network Rail representative emphasised that the brackets hadn’t been finalised. The poor guy had the patient of a saint as he dealt with audience members insisting that trains be fitted with batteries to enable them to do without overhead lines in Bath as well as suggesting that they could coast through the city un-powered.

I don’t think it was a good meeting for Network Rail.

As an engineer, I agree with the comment about battery trains, but the Class 800 trains are not to my knowledge able to accept batteries at the present time. Although, judging by the way the industry is going, I suspect that within a few years, all electric trains will have provision for batteries, if the operator wants them.

In some ways, I feel that Brunel might be providing the solution.

To erect overhead wires for railway electrification, you need to support the wires every fifty metres or so.

This Google Map shows the gardens.

Sydney Gardens, Bath

Sydney Gardens, Bath

Note there is a solid road bridge over the railway at both ends of the gardens, with Beckford Road in the North and Sydney Road in the South.

I estimate that the distance between the two road bridges is two to three hundred metres.

In the middle is the footbridge from where I took the picture of the InterCity 125 and another wider bridge.

As the trains will not be going flat out at 200 kmh through here, as they’ll probably be stopping at Bath Spa station, I suspect that the four bridges could be used as support for the overhead electrification.

This Network Rail visualisation shows the footbridge with a Class 800 train going underneath.

Sydney Gardens Bridge And A Class 800 Train

Sydney Gardens Bridge And A Class 800 Train

It looks to me, that the wires are attached under Brunel’s bridges and that by clever design tNetwork Rail can get an solution acceptable to all.

One of the problems, is of course making sure, that pedestrians on the bridge are safe, with 25KVAC overhead electrification underneath.

By lowering the track, they are increasing the safety distance and also making it less likely that naughty dogs can get on the track.

I have a feeling that this problem, will be one that will haunt Network Rail.

This picture was taken from the Sydney Road bridge and shows the area of the visualisation.

The Footbridge In Sydney Gardens, Bath

The Footbridge In Sydney Gardens, Bath

As the train appears to be on the left track, the visualisation actually shows the back of a train.

This is a gallery of pictures that I took in Sydney Gardens.

It would be a shame to ruin the gardens, by some less than adequate design.




March 29, 2016 Posted by | Transport | , , , , | 1 Comment