Chairman Pip's Railway Thoughts

More service for minimal cost? The Treasury must be cock-a-hoop!

Posted in Customer service, London, Metro, Rolling stock by Chairman Pip on 8 February 2011

TfL have announced that they’re putting out a tender for an additional 10 vehicles for Tramlink. Presumably this is intended in part to merely strengthen the existing fleet that currently stands at 24 CR4000 vehicles. However, Tramlink have announced that the new vehicles would also be employed on a new service between Therapia Lane (the location of the depot) and Elmers End. Tramlink currently operate three distinct routes, and have long held ambitions to build a fourth. Given that the proposed Route 4 would involve significant construction of new tramway to a terminus at Crystal Palace Parade, the chances of this being given the go-ahead anytime soon in the current climate are pretty much zero (especially since there is no sign of anything for Tramlink in the government’s list of projects it intends to provide funding for). So for Tramlink to find a way of implementing a new route for just the leasing costs of some new trams (whether new or second hand) is pretty good. Of course, the value comes from where they are able to obtain their new vehicles, which they would apparently want for at up to 20 years. There are certain limiting factors, not the least of which is that the platforms at Tramlink’s tram stops are for the most part 32.2m (106ft) long, which is fine for the CR4000 vehicles that are 30.1 m (just under 99ft). What would seem ideal would be for Tramlink to obtain the use of the stored vehicles intended for Edinburgh Trams, given the delays in construction the Edinburgh route, except that these are more than 42m long. So how’s this for an idea? Blackpool Transport are in the process of having their new Flexity 2 vehicles delivered for the restoration of the Tramway service. Blackpool has ordered 16 of these, but who’s to say that they won’t be used so much that the fleet would need strengthening? So, why not bump the order to 26 and lease the extra ten to TfL for a decade? These could be jointly funded by Blackpool Transport and TfL, ensuring both have a stake in them. If there isn’t the need for them in Blackpool after ten years, extend the lease. That way, Blackpool makes money on them even while they aren’t being used along the Golden Mile. Additionally, the Blackpool trams come from the same family as Tramlink’s CR4000s, saving on maintenance costs. Is everyone a winner from this? I think so.

“London Tramlink seeks bids for additional trams”
“More trams for Croydon”
“New Blackpool tram design unveiled by council”

An impression of the Flexity 2 vehicle intended for Blackpool - could adding extra vehicles to the Blackpool order be the solution to Tramlink's requirement for more trams?

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