The ability to run in ordinary streets is one of the great advantages of a tramway. Passangers do not have to go to a station to catch a tram. The track is laid so that its top surface will be on the same level as the road surface when the tarmac is reinstated.
The major cost of laying street track in Britain until recently has bee the need to divert services of the utility companies which are under the road surface. In Manchester this has added costs estimated at £5.6 m to the city centre tracklaying costs which would normally have been £1.5 m per kilometre with the type of track used.
Another factor contributing to the high cost
of tramways is the associated road works. It does not make sense
to lay tram tracks in a road which may later need repair, so the
laying of a tramway is usually taken as an opportunity to renew
the road structure at the same time.
This has been done with every new British tramway and is responsible for the belief that the laying of tram tracks invariably causes months of traffic chaos, whereas it is actually the road replacement which causes most of the problem.
The LR55 track system
claims to reduce the cost of street tracklaying to about £500,000
per kilometre and result in minimal disruption . [Ref}
Many of the principles behind LR55 are sound practice and should be incorporated into whichever track system is chosen for Bath.
Reserved track is kept clear of other users,
it is very similar to railway track and high speeds can be achieved
in safety. It makes life easy for tramway planners but is not
as 'passenger friendly' as street track.
Reserved track is usually laid with sleepers and is the cheapest form of tramway track to install, costing around £300,000 per kilometre.
Grassed and Other Track
Because trams only need the narrow running
surface of the rail head and a shallow groove, it does not matter
very much what the rest of the space around and between the rails
is filled with. In areas where appearance is not critical, sleepered
track, as described above, is the cheapest option and is a guaranteed
way of prevent motorists using tram tracks as a short-cut.
Where the appearance of the tracks matters, decorative surfaces can be used or even grass. The centre strip of Wellsway (if widened to about 2.6 metres) is a good example of a suitable place to put tram tracks without unsightliness. This would also prevent mis-use by motorists.
The cost of grassed track is intermediate between street and reserved track and a figure of £400,00 per kilometre has been used in estimating costs.
There has been some controversy recently as to whether grassed track is a significant source of leakage currents, but it is finding increasing application in Germany where regulations are no less stringent than those in Britain.
The possibility of a lawn-mower attachment being fitted to one of the maintenance vehicles may sound amusing. but it would be an excellent economical way to maintain such large areas of grass.
Segregation of Track from Carriageways
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