Thursday, April 19, 2018

Leicester Tories promise a tram to Market Harborough

Forget Daventry Conservatives and their canal. Leicester Tories are promising a tram to Market Harborough.

The Leicester Mercury quotes their chairman Jack Hickey:
“I discussed our ambitious plan with Transport Secretary Chris Grayling in Parliament recently, and he was enthusiastic about the benefits of light rail in Leicester and keen to listen to the business case for the project.”
Mind you, Mr Grayling doesn't look very enthusiastic in the accompanying photograph.

And you can understand it. Hickey was the man who complained that activists coming to Leicester West to campaign for his Labour opponent in last year's general election were trying to "skew the vote".

I would love to see trams return to Leicester just as I would love to see the Grand Union reach Daventry. But there would be many problems with the idea, even if the city could raise the capital to build a system.

Nottingham's trams - "I’m furious Nottingham has a tram and we do not" says Hickey - have been reported as losing almost £1m a week.

This at a time when the county Conservatives tell us they cannot afford a modest town bus service in Market Harborough.

Then there are the practicalities.

As the city's Labour mayor told the Mercury:
"We have done studies before and all parties have agreed the geography of the city – which is very different to Nottingham’s, is not suitable for a tram. 
"Weaving them out in and out of the city would be very, very difficult."
Still, full marks to the Tories for coming up with a startling idea to get some headlines.

They have to do that when, like the Liberal Democrats, they have only one councillor in Leicester.


Phil Beesley said...

When Leicester's tramway operated, the gradient along Welford Road past the cemetery was allegedly the steepest conventional tram route in the UK. I guess that Nottingham's new system has faced similar challenges, which partly explains the circuitous routes.

I'd like the council to suggest restoring trams along Clarendon Park Road and Queens Road -- just to hear residents' responses.

BTW, when Aylestone Road was closed for excavation and bridge reinforcements c.2000, buried tram rails were exposed at the Boundary Road junction.

Tom Barney said...

Do it like Germany: in the downtown area put the trams underground. Come to think of it there is the home-grown example of Kingsway. (Small boy: "a single to Holborn tram station." Conductor (glaring): "Trains 'as stations; trams 'as stops.")

Anonymous said...

The Mayor has been trotting out this rubbish about Leicester not being suitable for trams for more than a decade. Leicester has wide roads with verges, several disused railway lines and many bus lanes suitable for tramway operation. Its hills are a lot less steep than Nottingham and Sheffield that successfully operate a network. Basically, Labour in Leicester missed the boat when government support funding for this types of infrastructure was readily available and now has to come up with foolish excuses for its inaction.

Jonathan Calder said...

Thanks, Anonymous, I suspect you are right. Equally, this alleged new scheme has been written on the back of a fag packet to get the Tories some publicity at election time.

Anonymous said...

Soulsby has used the 'bad geography' excuse many times. He also proposed improvements to the bus network. However there are only so many improvements you can make to a bus network when there are already bus lanes, park and ride sites, regular services and large city centre bus stations. It's time for an actual congestion solution. I can't see the tories winning but I hope the labour party take note.