Monday, 16 December 2019

Battery Powered Trams Start Service in Birmingham

Ken Jones has visited Birmingham city centre to travel on and photograph the trams now running between Grand Central and Centenary Square.

In a UK first, all of the trams serving Centenary Square will all run on battery power from Grand Central which preserves the visual aesthetics of this part of the city centre and also has saved on the cost of erecting the catenary.

There will be be no overhead cables obscuring the views of landmarks including the 1879 Council House and 1834 Birmingham Town Hall.

There has been no fanfare of an opening ceremony although it is thought there will be an official opening in the New Year.

The Town Hall stop also serves Victoria Square

The Library stop seems to have several names. The actual tram stop is physically labelled Library Centenary Square - the moving LED display on the trams says Library for Centenary Square, the display at Grand Central shows Library - although one tram terminated here and went back to Wednesbury Parkway whilst the display on the monitors inside the trams read Library Centenary Square.

In addition the information on the westbound platform at Grand Central still reads 'use this platform for Wolverhampton', confusing many people, but they were not charged by conductors for their extra ride. Trams currently have about 4 min at Library Centenary Square

The pantographs are raised and lowered at Grand Central platforms

Tram 28 descending Pinfold Street - this tram was recently named Jasper Carrott 

 Tram 37 at Grand Central having lowered its pantograph before heading for the Town Hall

Tram 28 approaching Grand Central  

Trams 20 and 37 in Pinfold Street 

 Tram 25 leaving Town Hall heading West towards Library Centenary Square 

Tram 20 approaching Town Hall stop heading for Wolverhampton 

 Above & below, Trams at Centenary Square

 Platform at Library Centenary Square - showing the
different layout to previous metro stations

Previous Focus Posting here

Battery Powered Trams for other UK Cities - See below

The battery-powered trackless tram, or ART, in operation in Zhuzhou, showing the trackless autonomous guidance system. 

An impressive start to battery running in Birmingham rather than depending on overhead power. 

When trams are being considered by other UK cities maybe the idea of battery running will allow the system to run totally on battery power, dispensing with overhead lines completely.
We could even move to the idea of tram like guided vehicles on tyres avoiding the upset of laying rails through city streets. Something to think about!