Caen to replace its guided trolleybus system with trams

Caen Tram


An article in the International Railway Journal1 reports that Caen is to to replace its guided trolleybus system with a tram system. Apparently the trolleybus system has experienced technical difficulties since opening in 2012. Construction of the new tram system is due to begin at the end of 2017.

The trams will travel at ten minute intervals and carry 210 passengers. The trolleybuses currently carry 128 passengers.

The cost of the scheme is estimated to be €229.8m.


National Transit Database: Trolleybus Injury Statistics

Since 2008, the National Transit Database of the Federal Transit Administration has included extremely detailed urban passenger transport accident statistics.1

The table below has been produced using data extracted from the National Transit Database: Safety and Security Time Series Data. 2


National Transit Database: Safety & Security Time Series Data


Motor BusTrolleybus Motor BusTrolleybus Motor BusTrolleybus

The table shows that whereas on average between 2008 and 2013, trolleybuses travelled 0.60% of the urban vehicle miles travelled by all buses, they accounted for 1.32% of the injuries to cyclists, and 2.20% of the injuries to pedestrians.

This means that a trolleybus is twice as likely as a motor bus to injure a cyclist, and three and a half times as likely as a motor bus to injure a pedestrian.

The following graph illustrates the much higher trolleybus injury rate.


Of the 571 trolleybuses currently operating in the United States (APTA 2012),3 just 119 or 20% are articulated vehicles, which suggests that some factor other than the length of the vehicle is responsible for the significantly higher injury rate of trolleybuses. A possible explanation for the higher injury rate is supplied by Barry J Simpson in Urban Public Transport Today (1994)4

“They are also much quieter than buses, which may be a blessing environmentally but can be a hazard to pedestrians, especially the blind, cyclists and others who may detect a bus coming from behind by sound rather than sight, hence their unfortunate nickname, ‘whispering death’.”

As well as being known as ‘Whispering Death’ in Australia, trolleybuses were known as ‘Silent Death’ and ‘Granny Killers’ in the UK.


Metro and Tbus

At this evening’s public meeting at Heart, a lady asked how many meetings Metro has had with Tbus, the trolleybus lobby group.

Lady in the audience I’m really concerned about the problem of lobbying, both locally and nationally, I’m concerned too that the Tbus trolleybus lobby group is a key stakeholder in this project. So my question is, “How many meetings have you had with Tbus?”

Councillor Richard Lewis I’ll answer that from my point of view. I’ve never met them.

Councillor James Lewis I’ve never met them either.

Dave Haskins There was a slide I put up at the previous presentation where I listed a number of what I call “stakeholders”. It’s a horrible word. Stakeholders to me are people we communicate with, people we deal with. Operators are stakeholders. Passengers are stakeholders. I hate the word stakeholders by the way. But, there’s a group in the UK called the Tbus Organisation, I think their website is. There’s also groups around the world called UITP who are a global force in knowledge around transport and passenger transport and public transport. There are operators, there are manufacturers, there’s all kinds of people out there. I speak to all of them. All of them. Because they have knowledge, they can help me, give technical information. And I’d be stupid not to speak to these people quite frankly. I’d be stupid to sit at my ask in Leeds and try to learn about how to deliver some things of a high technical nature when there are people far more experienced than me round the world who can give that knowledge. Tbus are a voluntary group very much like what we would have here, a local business group. Tbus, a group of individuals who are enthusiastic about trolleybuses. If you look at their magazines, they’re quite enthusiastic about vintage trolleybuses in some respects, some of them. Some of them like to travel around on the vintage trolleybuses around Europe. I’ve met some of them who have talked to me at length about travelling around on vintage trolleybuses around Europe, which doesn’t interest me in the slightest OK? But equally, they know a lot of information about modern trolleybuses, and they point me in the right direction of who I should speak to, to get knowledge

Gentleman in the audience But they have quite a vested interest in trolleybuses.

Dave Haskins They have no financial interest whatsoever.

Gentleman in the audience I think they do.

Dave Haskins Not that I’m aware of.

Image courtesy of Beth Felice

Opening of the latest Metrolink extension

A Bombardier M5000 tram about to set off from East Didsbury station

The Chorlton to East Didsbury extension of the South Manchester Metrolink opened on the 23rd May. The line is 4.5km long and comprises five new stations and three new trams. It runs along the route of a disused railway line which was purchased by Greater Manchester Council in 1983 for a pound.

The cost of this extension and an additional 3.9km extension from Droylsden to Ashton is £161.2 million, with £120.89 million of the total being provided by central government.

The East Didsbury extension is the third extension to Metrolink to open this year. Trams to Rochdale train station started running in March whilst the East Manchester line to Droylsden opened in February.

The entire Metrolink network is currently being expanded from 37km to 97km at a cost of around £1.5 billion. Ridership is expected to increase from 54,000 in 2010 to more than 190,000 by 2016.

The expansion is being paid for by both central and local government. In 2011, Manchester secured a £500 million loan from the European Investment Bank to help it meet the cost of the expansion programme.




Dept for Transport press release
Manchester Evening News
Global Rail News

Geneva’s new electric bus service without overhead wires

Pictured above is TOSA, a new large capacity electric bus powered by batteries which are flash charged in 15 seconds at every stop and in 3 to 4 minutes at the terminus. TOSA stands for “Transport avec Optimisation du Système d’Alimentation” (Transport with Optimised Powering System) and it has been developed by the Canton of Geneva (OPI), Industrial Services (SIG), Transports Publics Genevois (tpg) and the manufacturer ABB Sécheron.

Thierry Wagenknecht, Technical Director of tpg :

For Transports Publics Genevois (tpg), the objective is clear: meet the challenges of urban public transport development by reducing the growing traffic congestion in the city centre and by making the modal shift – from private to public transport – attractive. Reducing polluting emissions by using renewable energy as much as possible (the electric power purchased by tpg is certified 100% hydro) and putting an end to the visual pollution of overhead trolleybus wires are also priorities. Boosting commercial speed by improving reliability is another. At present, the complexity of the network of overhead wires -serving both trams and trolleybuses – is a source of technical hitches and serious breakdowns.

TOSA is one of the highlights of the 60th International Public Transport Association (UITP) World Congress and Exhibition taking place in Geneva from the 26th to the 30th May 2013. The test vehicle can carry up to 140 passengers and will enter service at the start of the Congress and will transport visitors from Geneva International Airport to the Exhibition Centre at Palexpo until March 2014.




1. Statement by the sponsors of TOSA
2. TOSA website
3. AVEM electric and hybrid vehicle website

Standing room only at the trolleybus public meeting

Councillor James Lewis and Councillor Richard Lewis

The meeting was chaired by the Reverend Joanne Pearson, assistant rector at St George’s Church, and priest in charge at St Augustine’s, Wrangthorn and the speakers were Councillor James Lewis, head of the West Yorkshire Integrated Transport Authority, and Councillor Richard Lewis, head of Development at Leeds City Council.

After an introduction by Tony Green, deputy chairman of the A660 Joint Council, there were short talks from the councillors, followed by questions from the audience.

The councillors responded to a large number of questions and the meeting was good humoured. Several members of the audience expressed exasperation with the proposals when Councillor Richard Lewis said “Trolley does something different. It makes me quite frustrated that people can’t pick up on this fact.”

Paul Marchant responded “If people don’t see this, maybe it’s your problem.”

There were calls from the audience, “Tell us the difference.”

The Reverend Joanne Pearson asked, “What is the difference?”

Richard Lewis said, “It doesn’t stop frequently. It has a third the number of stops.”

A member of the audience said, “Why not just have some other buses do that then?”

Someone else said, “You’re just saying that a bus that stops less, will get there faster.”

Richard Lewis responded, “James is clearer than I am about the technology that will be employed. I struggle to understand it. If bus companies want to stop less, they can do that.”

There was only one neutral question put to the councillors, and one that was supportive (from a Bradford trolleybus enthusiast). All the rest were highly sceptical.

The meeting was attended by over 100 people from right across Leeds, and there was standing room only.

Large turnout to Alderman Townsley’s second talk

Over sixty people attended this evening’s talk by transport consultant Don Townsley on why NGT would be bad for Leeds. This was Alderman Townsley’s second talk on this subject in the space of a month. The previous talk was also given at the Heart centre, and was attended by over a hundred people. Tonight’s talk was given for the benefit of those who were unable to attend February’s talk. Those present this evening included Councillor Richard Lewis, the head of Leeds City Council’s Highways Department, and Councillor James Lewis, the head of the board of Metro.