Bath Area Trams Association (BATA) evaluating feasibility of wire-free hydrogen tram system

September 3, 2020

Bath Area Trams Association (BATA) has announced that it is in detailed discussions with American transportation system manufacturer TIG/m and consultants TenBroeke Engineering for a wire-free hydrogen tram project.

Hydrogen is a low or zero emission alternative to fossil fuels, which could be used to power industry and transport

TIG/m LLC has installed such tram systems around the world and the intention – assuming positive feasibility study outcomes and detailed independent engineering evaluations – is for TIG/m to carry out a full turnkey design, install and build and then operate of the system.

11 lines have been surveyed by BATA and a study by WS Atkins found that at least four of them were likely to be viable. This “turnkey” approach is said to avoid the extensive costs and timescales of the normal complex procurement processes used in the UK which are dependant on UK Government loans. It was also noted that overhead wires in conventional trams add a significant cost in the wires themselves.

David Andrews, Chair of BATA, said: “Discussions are obviously at an initial stage and we are not committed or allied to any technology or supplier at this early stage. BATA and other authorities will have to be satisfied that such a system meets all Bath’s needs, and it may well be that we find the traditional heavy European type tram is the most suitable –  that have been found to be cost effective in eight of the recent British tram re-installs after all. However, given that this proposal offers to be significantly lower in cost, avoids overhead wires which many people object to, and faster to install than the alternative approaches, we need to look closely at this option.”

Brad Read, CEO of TIG/m, said: “The number one goal of any public transportation system is to get people out of their private automobiles by giving them a complete end-to-end solution for their travels; creating a communal sense of place that is a connected, walkable, exciting place to be. This is done by connecting all of the alternate modes of travel into a seamless whole. In the case of Bath Trams this means making as many stops as possible a multi-modal stop for buses, rail cars, and bicycles. These three modes support one and other; when we give motorists a viable opportunity to leave their cars at home (or let them go altogether) all three of these modes of travel will see increased ridership. These modes do not compete, they complement one another.”

Andrews concluded by stating that we face “exciting times within the transport world” with the realisation that trams form a great back-bone to any integrated transport plan and that he is pleased to see the close liaison the West of England Combined Authority and Bath & NE Somerset Council is paying off.