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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Northern Powerhouse - tramtalk ?

From articles published his week online by the BBC there are background noises indicating reviews of options in strengthening the north of England's transportation links and infrastructure. Apparently several scenarios are receiving attention :

Widening the M62 cross pennine artery for most of its entire route and potentially creating a second cross pennine motorway potentially through a tunnel which would be assigned to goods traffic.

Electrifying the railway links between Manchester (and Liverpool) and major Yorkshire cities with further rail lines linking with Sheffield. This includes the HS3 (or 4) east west corridor which interestingly has been given a cautionary signal as the actual distances being covered between stations (40 miles) would not allow high speed trains to reach their optimum speed !

Utilising abandoned railway tunnels under parts of the Pennines to provide further track capacity is a definite (if not logical) option. The National Infrastructure Commission and Transport for the North - both being entities I have not previously heard of - are sharing views on deliverable schemes which aim to bring together the main urban centres and conurbations with faster and more efficient road and rail

infrastructure. Whether or not any of this actually is translated in to real new investment in our life times - is questionable as we have heard these noises before.

A surprising item which was included in the initial BBC online posting but then removed was reference to renewing schemes for the introduction of trams in both

Leeds and Liverpool. Perhaps unsurprisingly this deletion may have been due to the fact that the image used (Getty sourced) to illustrate the possibility of these two tram schemes involved an image of Liverpool trams in 1910 with centre entrance bogie cars (built in the USA) and Edwardian ironmongery designs. These must typify trams up north in the minds eye of London based organisations. No doubt complaints from Merseyside saw this section of the online article taken down promptly. Of course both of these great cities had marvellous tram systems renowned for foresight in constructing right of way reserved tracks on key arteries - and the operation of modern trams (for those times) up to the 1940s. All of this was developed 'in house' by municipal transport planners and engineers without any consultants in tow on a gravy train. These systems operated with British designed and built trams, track and infrastructural assets. Ah those were the days...... Images : John Woodman Archive

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