The Government of Wales is pressing forward with total overhaul of its urban transport network in Cardiff and the South Wales area. A new Metro system that utilises the existing local and regional railway infrastructure is already approved. This envisages a tramtrain cross city line that runs into and through Cardiff's Central station. This week the Welsh Government with Local Authority involvement is taking these plans a stage further. Traffic into the central area of the city will have penalties attached to reduce both congestion and air pollution.
A complete city circular tramtrain operation is now being considered creating an electric rail service on a loop line around Cardiff. Not too dissimilar to the concept scheme for the Fylde coast put forward as a part of Wyre Dock Development's outline proposal for regenerating Fleetwood's riverfront area. This would have utilised the existing tramway into Fleetwood as well as the dormant railbed running from Wyre Dock as far as the junction at Poulton Station - with a hybrid tramtrain capable of operation without need for overhead wiring or external power supply. Ironically the only proposals for using part of the former railway running to Burn Naze and Wyre Dock involves running a vintage British Railways diesel powered multiple unit with polluting emissions.
This latest electric tram initiative in Wales follows UK tram extension schemes already activated in Edinburgh, Birmingham, Nottingham, Croydon, Sheffield/Rotherham, Manchester and of course Blackpool's modest onstreet extension to North Station. In fact all of the existing electric tram (light rail) systems in the UK are building on their original lines with further capital investment. Only the Manx Electric Railway with its heritage rolling stock operating on a coastal line out of Douglas is seemingly immune to modernisation or expansion. A brief flurry of excitement on the prospect of modern trams appearing on the Isle of Man was caused by arrival of a 1950s German tram from the Aachen system upon its closure. The photo shows it being unloaded in 1976 after shipment from Germany. The tram was one of several similar units purchased so that their regenerative braking systems and other components could be used to upgrade Snaefell Mountain Railway trams. The Snaefell line still operates with its original fleet from the 1890s.
Aachen 1010 arrives at the Isle of Man in 1976 and is being offloaded from the cargo vessel. The tram was built by Talbot - an Aachen based manufacturer. Photo Courtesy and copyright : Mike Goodwyn.