Letter: Old rails or wide roads needed

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ATTENDING yet one more public meeting earlier this month, I became convinced that it is a waste of time to propose green alternatives to the trolleybus, so intent are some councillors and MPs on ploughing ahead come what may on what they consider to be an integrated rapid urban transport system (though it can hardly be called integrated in so far as it goes nowhere near the bus station).

The head of NGT told us about the reliability of his daily train journey to work. Unfortunately, the proposed trolley route is not on a straight anonymous rail track, but through a succession of living neighbourhoods, full of green spaces, gardens and trees, and with people walking, cycling and using local buses.

I am writing from just outside Avignon, where they are about to start work on an entirely new tram system. Under pressure from the public, they have abandoned plans to take the trams across the Rhône to Villeneuve, being forced to admit that there the roads are simply not wide enough.

Rapid urban transit systems only work well on broad avenues and open boulevards, or on old rail tracks, as in the case of the Wimbledon to Croydon tram.

I have lived in Headingley for over 45 years and seen fashions change, moving away from the untoward love of urban motorways to a desire to put rapid transit systems everywhere, even where they clearly do not provide the best solution to traffic problems.

We know we cannot expect funding comparable to the £15 billion or so set aside for London’s Crossrail, but the fear of losing a pittance promised by central government should not be used as an argument for imposing on us a system which might perhaps be suitable elsewhere.

Christopher Todd, email