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Midland Metro’s little sister

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West Midlands transport body Centro is “consulting” on the introduction of “Midland Metro’s little sister” — ‘Sprint’ bus rapid transit — along the Hagley Road in Birmingham. Although Sprint is supposed to be ‘rapid transit’, the consultation material doesn’t appear to give any journey times.

"Sprint will essentially be 'Metro's little sister'. This innovative mode of transport seeks to offer a 'turn-up-and-go' timetable with journey times and comfort levels that are based on those of light rail systems (trams)"

“Sprint will essentially be ‘Metro’s little sister’. This innovative mode of transport seeks to offer a ‘turn-up-and-go’ timetable with journey times and comfort levels that are based on those of light rail systems (trams)”


The Sprint vehicle

The modern, high-quality Sprint vehicle will run without overhead lines or tracks.

There will be benefits for passengers including:

An open and airy inside similar to a tram

Onboard real time information and ‘next stop’ announcements

Multi-door boarding for easy access

Low-level flooring throughout for easy access

Conductors and/or ticket machines


Onboard Wifi

Diesel/electric hybrid and the cleanest Euro 6 engines

Less pollution

In addition to having a high-quality and modern design, the low-emission vehicles will reduce environmental pollution. Fewer cars on the road will also improve the local environment

Lots of new buses are low-floor, have CCTV, wifi, real time information, etc. And all new buses have to meet tougher Euro emissions requirements. Sprint buses can’t be wider than existing ones, so they’re not going to be any airier.

Q. So what’s special about Sprint?

A. It looks like a tram, at first glance.

Introducing Sprint is extremely unlikely to mean “fewer cars on the road”. Most Midland Metro tram users previously used buses for their journey.

Although replacing more manoeuvrable double decker buses by Sprint would be a waste of public money and offer no environmental advantages, their introduction looks like a done deal. It’s Centro policy.

Written by beleben

August 14, 2014 at 11:35 am

Posted in Birmingham, Centro

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4 Responses

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  1. Having tried the optically guided buses in Rouen and the single rail guided TVRs in Caen I can vouch for the fact that neither is anything is like as good as a real tram. Wikipedia has more on the TVR system. The original Caen system cost €227 million in 2002. Apparently due to unreliability it is to be replaced by 2018 with a proper tram costing €170 million. You are not going to get much for £15 million.

    Sheffield has also got “a bus that thinks it is a tram”, but looks like a bus. Of course these places were once served by the now closed Woodhead route but the tracks were still there the last time I looked.

    Now if Centro could persuade Birmingham and the other West Midlands authorities to support the scrapping of HS2 and seek a few billion of the £50 billion plus that is going to be wasted on HS2 they could actually achieve some real improvements for most of the residents of the conurbation rather than just the few who might use HS2. Electrification and some new trains for the Chiltern Line could solve both the alleged capacity problems on the WCML and provide some very attractive journey times to London and other places in between without the problems of having to get to Curzon Street.


    August 14, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    • It seems quite odd to launch a consultation about a “turn up and go bus rapid transit”, but not tell people the journey times, or intended frequency of service. Even though the costs appear low compared to Midland Metro (or guided bus), Birmingham Sprint seems to be all about ‘image’ rather than the city’s mobility (and air quality) problems.


      August 14, 2014 at 5:28 pm

    • The diesel lines around Birmingham and the Chilterns are going to be electrified and HS2 isn’t going to change that either way. Once the backlog of electrification around the North has done and the worries about DDA compliance and the DMU shortage are gone it will be time to do these lines, as they are currently low on the list of priorities of electrification for various reasons. Other improvements can and will be done in the meantime, like platform lengthening, four-tracking and the like that will improve services no end.


      August 15, 2014 at 7:53 pm

  2. […] from the Department for Transport to introduce 24-metre double articulated buses on its proposed Sprint bus rapid transit corridors, Passenger Transport reported. Centro’s […]

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