Trams Could Be The Answer To Lethal Air Quality

Waiting tram
Tram waiting at a stop in central Croydon; picture by the author

Lethal Air

Dear Editor,

I read the latest article in Kent Bylines with deep interest. Ella’s death certainly highlighted the need for us to address our lethal air quality urgently.

However, I was concerned that in all the discussion of replacing the internal combustion engine with electric engines, no mention was made of the tram as an efficient, economical and clean mode of transport for moving people locally.

Tram in Kyiv, Ukraine
Tram in Kyiv, Ukraine, on street alignment; picture by Romankravchuk, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

Medway, where I live, is another area of Kent which is expanding rapidly, with infilling of fallow farmland taking place constantly. While the tram might not suit other places, for reasons of size or geography, in my view Medway is ideal as a growing conurbation in need of a light rail system. Buses, even FastTrack buses (currently Medway Council’s favored solution), are not necessarily the answer. Integration of different modes, e.g. buses feeding into light rail and heavy rail, is called for.

Likewise imagination and foresight! At present it would seem that transport needs for inflated populations is added as a coda, an afterthought. My understanding, derived from such organizations as the Light Rail Transit Association  is that providing a form of rapid transit, such as a tramway, before development of new housing begins, seriously aids in the healthy growth of these schemes.

Manchest Tram at MediaCityUK
Manchester Metrolink Tram at MediaCityUK terminus, Salford Quays; picture by Zack Hallam, licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0

I’m certain that Medway is not the only area of Kent which would benefit from a light rail solution. How can we encourage our local councils, or even our national government, in spite of the initial capital outlay, to take light rail in our conurbations seriously? That would seriously enhance our urban air quality.

Yours sincerely,

Nicholas Kerr