Time to bring back Bath trams?

Could trams help ease Bath’s traffic problems? Seems they work in other European heritage cities.

Energy expert David Andrews has organised a public meeting in the city on November 17th when urban transport experts will present the case.


David told Bath Newseum:

‘In the course of my work (I am an energy expert) I have spent a lot of time travelling in European cities of all sizes and ages, and the one thing that stands out is that the ones with trams do not have to tolerate the level of congestion we put up with in UK cities generally, and Bath in particular.’


Professor Lewis Lesley is an authority on urban transport and will talk around how trams would – he thinks – solve Bath’s traffic issues.

Dave says Bathonians might be interested to know that:

  • there are 26 European heritage cities with trams, including Vienna (where the wires are attached to the Grand Opera House)
  • There are 120 cities with trams of the same size or smaller than Bath
  • The original and much loved Bath tram system was built as part of the development of Oldfield Park, by the same private developers who realised that the house purchasers would need to get into Bath
  • whilst trams are expensive to construct, the overall costs of operation are much lower than buses and fares can be effectively half that of the equivalent bus service – in Vienna 1 Euro per day gives unlimited usage of the system.
  • trams typically offer a 6 minute service interval at peak – much better than buses.
  •  in Lisbon, which has steeper hills and narrower roads than in Bath 75 year old trams still operate primarily for the residents, but also have become  a tourist attraction.

Well it’s not the first time in recent years that a tram revival for Bath has come up for discussion.

I caught up with David outside the old Bath Tramways Depot – now housing a restaurant and residential accommodation – the only survivor of a transport system that served the city for 35 years.

The public meeting – Bath Needs Trams – is free and open to all. It takes place at the BRLSI in Queens Square on Thursday, November 17th from 7.30 pm. All of B&NES councillors have been invited to attend.

The old pictures of Bath trams – used in the interview – come from www.bathintime.co.uk which has many wonderful photographs of the trams in action.

There is also a great history of Bath trams presented on-line by the South West Electricity Historical Society via http://www.swehs.co.uk/swehs-trams/xx01.html