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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

All 'EU' Trams Stop Here

Britain's tram systems - all seven of them - have proven to be the easiest of pickings for European salesmen promoting their expensive toys. At between £1 Million and £2 Million per tram that's nice business if you can get it. Plus of course the London DLR fleet naturally courtesy of a foreign supplier. The UK market is a wonderful free for all for foreign tram manufacturers, since this country's manufacturing base doesn't have a single company able to furnish domestic demand for trams (sorry - light rail vehicles). Instead as UK specialty rail business has been absorbed/taken over by conglomerates with little interest in developing purely UK market product - sourcing of expensive capital equipment has moved across the Channel. UK tram deliveries to date since the 1980s look like :

WEST MIDLANDS METRO 16 Trams from Italy - 1998 - 1999 (now withdrawn and replaced with) : 21 Trams from Zaragoza (CAF) delivered 2013 - 2015

BLACKPOOL TRANSPORT 16 Trams from Graz/Bautzen (Bombardier) 2011 - 2012 (Previously 8 Trams from Blackburn (East Lancashire Coachbuilders) 1984 - 88

EDINBURGH TRAM 26 Trams from Spain (CAF) 2010 - 2012

LONDON TRAMLINK 24 Trams from Austria (Bombardier) 1998 - 1999

10 Trams from Germany (Stadler) 2011 - 2015

LONDON DOCKLANDS 70 Units from Brugge (BN) 1991 - 1995

16 Units from Brugge (Bombardier) 1992

8 Units from Brugge (Bombardier) 1992

24 Units from Bautzen (Bombardier) 2007 - 2008

30 Units from Bautzen (Bombardier) 2009

Oh a Diesel Shunter (1962) and a Battery Tug both UK built!

METROLINK (Gtr Manchester) 32 Trams from Italy (Firema/Ansaldo) All now withdrawn and replaced with 120 Trams from Bautzen (Bombardier) 2008 - 2016

NOTTINGHAM EXPRESS TRANSIT 15 Trams from Derby ! (Bombardier) 2002 - 2003

20 Trams from Barcelona (Alstom) 2013 - 2016

S.YORKSHIRE SUPERTRAM 25 Trams from Dusseldorf (Duewag) 1993 - 1994

7 Trams from Valencia (Vossloh) 2015 - 2016

For the benefit of those with curiosity about Bautzen's origins. This was the town in Germany home to the firm of Busch in the period before WW1. Busch went on to become a partner in the eventual consortia - Linke Hoffman Busch (LHB) which designed and built trams up to the 1970s. Their engineering know-how and familiarity with modern tram construction was an attractive target for acquisitive Bombardier (a Canadian domiciled business) which went on to also purchase the

Belgian rail (and tram) equipment builder (BN); as well as assets in Spain (Zaragoza was home to the last Spanish tram builder); plus plants in Vienna, Graz and of course the former BREL operation in Derby - among other independent European businesses in the rail equipment sector. This certainly willowed out competitive bidding and design - at least in western europe. What chance has a UK startup

venture in this sector - more or less the same as the UK entry in Eurovision !

Above : Once upon a time Britain built and exported trams across the world. A Birmingham produced streamline bogie car for Johannesburg - one of fifty examples delivered in the late 1930s. Photo : John Woodman Archive

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