Rednoses Autumn Blog Post

October 2015 Autumn Blog

Bluenoses Autumn Blog Post

Why have a Tram when we can have a Maglev!

While I understand the cost implications involved with introducing a monorail system, rather than a tram system, I sincerely believe that it's a gamble, if indeed it is one, that we have to take. We are the Liverpool City Region after all, we don't do things by half, so why not! Why are we pushing for an outdated form of transport when we should be looking to the future and introducing the "First City Monorail System in the UK". We are still a city of firsts aren't we, has this stopped being the case, did I miss that email?

How a new Maglev for the Liverpool City Region could look

This is the 21st Century, not the 20th, we should be leaving these old ideas where they belong, in the past! We can leave other cities behind with a new futuristic network that will indoubtably be the envy of every British city.
The trams in Liverpool are a thing of the past, yes, great while they lasted, but why are we looking backwards? We should be looking forwards! Trams aren't suitable for new modern cities, they take up more room on the roads and cause just as much traffic congestion as they solve. Trams are also a danger to other vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians. Shanghai's Maglev Station could be just the ticket for the Liverpool City Region The new Mersey Monorail would not be subject to these dangers, whilst decreasing the traffic on our road network at the same time.
The Liverpool leaders that built the "First Fully Electrically Powered Overhead Railway in the World" had the right idea, where are those forward thinking visionaries today? Other cities throughout the world have already built inner-city monorail networks, like our sister city Shanghai, with their futuristic looking Maglev Monorail network. This is the city we should endeavour to emulate, not the other city 30 miles down the road. We should roll out a plan to build the first phase of our new network, with a view to extending it further on down the line, excuse the pun.

Liverpool Waters Proposed Monorail

As part of the massive £5.5 billion Liverpool Waters development, investment giants the 'Peel Group', have anounced plans to build a monorail system in Liverpool.
The proposed monorail network is expected to run between the Liverpool Waters development, through the city centre and on to Liverpool John Lennon Airport. This exciting new proposal could be the seed on which an entire city regional network could grow. The future prospects for Liverpool and indeed the wider city region are mind blowing. The Mersey Monorail, together with Liverpool Waters, Wirral Waters, the Super Port, the Mersey Gateway Bridge and other forward thinking ventures, will almost certainly catapult the region out of the dark days of the 'Thatcher Era', into a future that other city regions can only dream of!

The failed Mersey Tram venture

Back in 2001, some people in Merseyside got together and proposed a new vision for the city region, one that would see an outdated transport network brought back to the streets of Liverpool and Knowsley. While their intentions were undoubtably sound, the plan they executed wasn't. It consisted of three new lines dubbed 'Mersey Tram', intended to resolve a problem with the existing transport infrastructure in place.
The first line was set to run from the Liverpool city centre in a north easterly direction through West Derby and Croxteth, eventually terminating at Kirkby some 18 km of track and overhead cable later. The total cost of this initial line was set to cost around £316 million in today's money. However, this didn't come to fruition. So the other two supposed lines, being phase two and three, never left the drawing board. The unfortunate problem when the whole venture was scrapped, was the £70 million bill we had to fork out. Money now lost, down the drain pipe, never to be seen again without a single piece of track being laid. Of course you can't solely aim the blame at the people who just wanted what they thought was best for the city region. Part of the costs incurred were paid for consultancy, development planning and legal fees. Legal fees fighting a government that blatantly refused to back the plan, while supporting other cities throughout the UK with similar plans and even extensions to existing networks.
So yes, we found ourselves out of pocket! But we shouldn't give up and pack our bags, we should brush ourselves off and come up with a better plan, a more brazen plan, one that will leave other UK cities behind!

Comparing Transport Networks

Per Km
The UK flag for Liverpool Edinburgh Tram Line 1 14 Km £55.43m £776m
The USA flag for Liverpool Las Vegas Monorail Line 1 6.3 Km £50.49m £318m
The Russia flag Moscow Monorail Line 1 4.7 Km £41.98m £197m
The UK flag for Liverpool Mersey Maglev Proposed Line 1 ? ? ?
The China flag for Liverpool's sister city Shanghai Shanghai Maglev Line 1 30.5 Km £35.74m £1,090m
The Malaysia flag Kuala Lumpur Monorail Line 1 8.6 Km £27.92m £240.08m
The UK flag for Liverpool Sheffield Tram Line 1 14 Km £19.57m £274m
The UK flag for Liverpool Mersey Tram Cancelled Line 1 18 Km £17.55m £316m
The UK flag for Liverpool Manchester Tram Airport line 23.3 Km £15.90m £370m
The Mexico flag Mexico City Monorail Line 1 3 Km £14.76m £44m
The UK flag for Liverpool Sheffield Tram Line 1 29 Km £13.31m £386m
The India flag Mumbai Monorail Line 1 20.21 Km £13.16m £266m
The UK flag for Liverpool West Midlands Tram Line 1 21.6 Km £11.34m £245m
The Japan flag Okinawa Monorail Line 1 12.9 Km £3.41m £44m

The varying prices estimated for the table above were done so with great difficulty. First I had to research each of the network systems, find and corroborate each of the construction costs for each line mentioned, as best as I could. Secondly, I had to take into consideration the inflation increases of each projects overall cost, for 2015. Once I had the overall length of an individual line and the overall cost in today's money, I was able to extrapolate the overall cost per kilometre of each network. Obviously, you'll need to exercise caution if you intend to use these estimates, given the vagueness of each project's cost assessments, they really should just be used as a guide.

Why Liverpool should look to the Future and not the Past!

Trams have had their day

A tram from the old Liverpool Tram Newtwork I'm sorry, but trams are ugly! There I've said it. They are, they take up much needed road space, they have horrible overhead cables that run the full length of the track, just waiting for some kid to throw his Reebok Classics up there.
Now I understand that some people reminisce back to the good old days of the tram in Merseyside, with poignant nostalgia. Rightfully so, they were the good old days of the tram, but I'm afraid those days have long gone. This isn't the 19th century anymore, when the pioneering town of Birkenhead opened the "First Public Tramway System in Europe". Neither is it the 20th century, so why seek to introduce something that in all honesty, isn't the best option out there, but rather the most convenient.

Construction Disruption

The costs of building a tram network can accumulate fast, just ask Edinburgh. Their initial plan saw an estimated cost of £375 million spiral to over £776 million, in fact it is actually estimated to be somewhere closer to the £1 billion mark. The table's conservative estimate hasn't taken into consideration the extra costs they've incurred through extra interest payments, due to the huge delays they encountered during the construction. But that's not what I'm getting at here, when I'm talking about 'Construction Disruption'.
What I'm talking about is the extra pressures put on an already congested road network, and I don't mean once everything's up and running, that's another debate entirely, no I'm talking about during construction. When building a tram network, expect traffic jams aplenty! Expect businesses to be left out of pocket too, due to the expected traffic issues. I'm talking 'Taxi Drivers', 'Delivery Firms' and 'Shops', that rely on passing trade to stay afloat. Building an overhead network will also bring additional temporary congestion too, this can be expected, but it pales into insignificance incomparison. Tram lines require tearing up the road, modern monorail lines are constructed by installing pre-fab columns, every 100 or so feet along the road.

Trams bring extra problems on our roads

A tram crashing into a bus in Dublin To put it bluntly, trams are dangerous! They add another obstacle to our already busy streets. Just one more thing to crash into, one more thing for a bicycle to dodge, one more thing that can knock you over. Monorails run along their own dedicated tracks, with nothing for it to run into. Tram crashes are not as unlikely as we'd like to imagine, don't get me wrong, they are far safer than many other forms of transport, but not as safe as a monorail. Monorails take traffic off the road, away from pedestrians, easing congestion.
In an age of bicycles, when city councils are trying to provide safer lanes, specified bike paths, how do trams fit into this?
The tram track has to go somewhere! Where does that leave the cyclist when a tram is coming, or a car for that matter, clogged together on a single lane, in what was previously a four-lane two-way street. I understand that some benefits can come from a new tram network, for sure, but none that can't be acheived via a new monorail system. Installing something as permanent as a new transport infrastructure in the Liverpool City Region, shouldn't be done purely out of convenience, but from a pragmatic stand point. Monorails can be more expensive yes, but in the long run, they're safer, more affective and a hell of a lot more attractive.

All aboard the Mersey Monorail

Our Sister City has the Right Idea!

The Shanghai Maglev in Liverpool's sister city Opened in 2004, the Shanghai Maglev monorail is a wonder of the modern age, and goddammit, it's beautiful! The length of the track is 30.5 kilometres long, that's 18.95 miles for you diehard imperialists. The old Liverpool Overhead Railway was roughly a third of its length, at just 9.66 kilometres long, or 6 miles.
The top operational commercial speed of the Shanghai Maglev is 268 mph, making it the "Fastest Train in Regular Commercial Service in the World".
Liverpool is in a better position to capitalise on the fortunes of our sister city than any other UK city. We can call upon the people of Shanghai for their expertise when introducing such a system in our region. They have the know-how to construct such a network and have certainly led by example with the Maglev, we should follow their suit and seek this form of transportation as a sensible solution to our own congestion woes.
Since the latter part of the 20th century, Shanghai and China as a whole, have propelled themselves into the modern age and beyond. Cities like Shanghai have forward thinking visionaries in abundance, their ever-changing landscape is virtually unrecognisable to what it was in the mid-20th century. New Sky Scrapers have been built, Arenas, Museums and Transportation networks to accomodate its massive 24 million population.
The Shanghai Maglev line was also the "First Commercially Operated High-speed Magnetic Levitation Line in the World".

Another alternative to a tram network

A Tubular Rail Network is a mouth watering prospect for Liverpool and the city region This alternative solution to our congestion problems is a mere concept at this moment in time. The Tubular Rail is definately one for the future, there is no track as such, but rather an alignment of loops in which the train, if you can call it that, travels through with ease. Since the length of the train is longer than the distance between three loops, there's no danger of derailment, or falling out shall we say. The train can expect to reach excessive speeds as it accelerates through a network of hoops.
The new concept offers a drastic reduction in construction costs, however, since it's not been brought to fruition yet, additional planning costs may be incurred. Two places in the USA may become the first to introduce the new concept, with both Ohio and Las Vegas believed to be playing around with the idea. It's certainly worth keeping an eye on for now!

The conclusion.

We should leave the tram to less forward thinking cities than us, we don't need another form of transport congesting our already congested roads. As I said before, look to the future, be brazen and go with what's best for the Liverpool City Region in the long run. Don't just pick a form of transport that we're going to be stuck with for the next 50, 60 or a hundred years. Go with what we know to be the right solution for our region, not the cheapest. If it means saving up and doing it right, then so be it, don't rush towards a tram system that's just going to look ugly!
We could integrate a new monorail system with the miles of underground tunnels we have in the city, take it underground, overground, just not on the ground! We already have enough problems on our roads, traffic chaos, road fatalities. These kind of decisions affect the lives of everyone in the region today and everyone that's yet to be born or may move to the city within the next 50 or so years.
Do we want to be the city of the future, or a city stuck in the past?