Could trams finally return to the streets of Liverpool? They could if plans currently being discussed come to fruition but rather than having track and overhead to operate they would be trackless trams operated by batteries with rubber wheels and guided by sensors on the road. The relatively short line – being developed under the working title the Paddington Line, and previously having been known as the Lime Line – would link the university quarter in the city, the new Paddington development and Lime Street Railway Station with journey times as short as four minutes being suggested.
A consultation has just been launched asking for views on the plans which it is said would provide “last mile connectivity” in the city centre but would also have the potential for expansion across the entire city region. Once the consultation is completed it would be presented to the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority Transport Committee who could explore it further and investigate possible funding. But before that there is a long way to go!
The initiative of this line was first launched by Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson at a conference in London during 2017 and since then an in-depth demand study has been undertaken. This concluded that there could be 1,000 extra trips per hour during peak times as a result of various masterplans and new developments in the city.
In the preamble to the consultation the developers of the Knowledge Quarter say: “The Paddington Line has been designed to provide ‘last mile’ connectivity, joining Knowledge Quarter Liverpool to the places people commute to and travel in from, but with the scope to work across the entire city region. Using a carbon neutral, rapid transit, trackless tram system, the Paddington Line would ultimately build on the success of the City Council, its Knowledge Quarter Mayoral Development Zone partners and the Metro Mayor’s City Region Combined Authority funding at Paddington Village.”
While the first phase would be a short line from Paddington Village into the city centre possible extensions are also being considered. This would include connections to Pier Head, Festival Gardens and Liverpool John Lennon Airport.
The idea of trackless trams has been under development in recent years but nothing concrete seems to have happened just yet. However, the document says the technology is evolving quickly “not just in vehicle types but also in fuel types, size and flexibility to meet need and demand appropriately. At this stage we anticipate a ‘tram like’ service, reflecting quality and permanence, without the costly and less flexible infrastructure of conventional tram systems.”
This isn’t the first plan for a new tramway in Liverpool with the previous Merseytram being abandoned in 2007 after the then government pulled the plug on a number of schemes across the UK.
More details and the consultation document can be viewed here.
* If you Google (other search engines are available!) Liverpool Trackless Trams you also get lots of results about Liverpool, New South Wales who are also looking into the same idea! It’s a small world!