[04-Dec-2018 21:31:38 UTC] PHP Fatal error: Call to undefined function add_action() in /home/mackius/public_html/wp-content/themes/period/inc/customizer.php on line 4 [05-Dec-2018 10:24:53 UTC] PHP Fatal error: Call to undefined function add_action() in /home/mackius/public_html/wp-content/themes/period/inc/customizer.php on line 4 City Alderman and Transport Consultant condemns NGT – HYDE PARK AND WOODHOUSE ONLINE Press "Enter" to skip to content

City Alderman and Transport Consultant condemns NGT

A four car electric train. The £250m cost of NGT would buy 60 trains like this.


In practice the NGT scheme would produce nothing that could not be achieved by conventional double decker buses in well maintained condition, on good roads, and to a specification at least compatible with that of Yorkshire Coastliner and Harrogate and District (Transdev) vehicles. Bendy buses, diesel or trolley, increase congestion because of their 80% increase in length with no increase in payload and a diesel bendy bus is roughly twice the cost of the double decker. The trolley bus is dearer still, partly on account of the smaller production volume. Mainly used in former Russian and Eurasion states the penalties in this country of using small isolated fleets with regard to spares and operating costs should not be under estimated. There are none currently in Britain and relatively few in Western Europe.

I am amazed at the promoters’ claims that the scheme will result in a projected increase in the annual GDP of Leeds of £176million, creation of 4,250 jobs and a substantial reduction in the City’s carbon footprint. At best these figures are nebulous and at worst economical with the truth. Five years on from its conception and at least six years estimated before completion it should be rebranded Next Generation Transport. These timescales are ridiculous for the solution of a problem that exists now. Surely it cries out for some highway improvements and a small injection of new up to date off the shelf buses to give benefit now without dipping into and wasting the DfT funding which would better be transferred to a sensible light rail scheme on the right route as allowed for in the Early Day Motion submitted to Parliament on 4 July. Thorpe Park to Leeds City Centre suggests itself as an easily realisable cost effective high speed tramway from a catchment point with great park and ride and local development potential for which the major cost could come out of the trolley bus funding. Couple this tramway and park and ride facility with a railway station at Thorpe Park (not Micklefield) and the combined effect on relieving traffic congestion would be enormous. Thorpe Park, at Junction 46 on the M1 with existing and expandable access to the M1, is not only an already committed growth area in itself but is the one place most ideally situated to absorb traffic heading into Leeds from most other areas of high population. Motorists will leave their cars for a fast frequent tramway service into the city centre or for a train to other destinations but they will not do so for a bus, diesel or trolley, which then stops every few yards to pick up the locals or serve the local hospital. There is no such thing as a fit all solution as hinted at by NGT.

A sobering thought is that the cost suggested for the NGT scheme would alternatively buy 60 four-car (240 vehicles) 100mph electric trains. I know which would produce the best return on capital and the greenest footprint. Under present operating conditions to replace NGT the bus companies would provide the standard buses as a normal part of their everyday business and take the commercial risk.

There are more opportunities available now for easing the transport difficulties than have been possible for some time. What is needed is a more pragmatic approach.

Don Townsley


As well as being a former Leeds Councillor and now an Honorary Alderman, Don Townsley is a Chartered Engineer and Transport Consultant with a proven track record over more than fifty years.


  1. Sue Buckle
    Sue Buckle November 28, 2012

    I was staggered when I read in Don Townsley’s article that the cost of NGT would pay for 60 electric trains. Metro must be out of their minds to throw away £250m on foreign built trolleybuses that no one will use, when additional trains would make such a difference on our badly overcrowded local rail network. Thanks for pointing this out Don and for this well argued critique of NGT.

  2. Dawn
    Dawn November 29, 2012

    Having read Don Townsley’s critique I really don’t understand how those promoting NGT can possibly continue. The scheme makes no economic sense at all and Don Townsley is a transport consultant so he should know.

    NGT seems to be being promoted by salesmen and marketeers and we hear nothing to back up their claims. Don Townsley’s statement that NGT’s figures are nebulous at best and at worst economical with the truth seems quite right. NGT cannot back up their sales pitch with facts and figures.

  3. K Cowell
    K Cowell November 30, 2012

    I’m grateful to Don Townsley for the above information. It’s good to have an expert’s point of view. Metro cannot give any good reason for the trolleybus but Don has given reasons, backed up by facts, that say why it should be scrapped.

  4. Klaus
    Klaus December 9, 2012

    My major fear is that we will move so far down the process that councillors will loose face at having spent so much poinltess money that they will want to proceed merely to prevent embarrassment. The cost of the suveyors alone last time was over £1million, of course that was a few years ago and it is likley that the same surveyors will come and do the whole thing again for double the price. Staggering waste of money, resources and time. I agree with Townsley’s comments and he is well placed to make them. Battery operated buses will be along in 18-24 months. three years before the projected completion time. By then Leeds will have forever lost street scenes and trees not to mention huge amounts of money….

  5. Jon Blythe
    Jon Blythe December 9, 2012

    Don has rightly pointed out that doing some relatively simple and cheap incremental improvements to the current bus service will deliver more per pound than the trolleybus system. Sadly, the whole NGT saga is a ‘bright new and shiny’ approach loved by politicians who can point out that it was party X thsst delivered the bright new and shiny – far better for them than incremental improvements to what is already there. The new buses on the 1 / 6/ 97 route are quite impressive. Using hybrid and battery technology and improving the roadway to favour buses will deliver the same benefits as a trolley system. People will not leave their cars to travel on a slow stopping expensive bus.
    Scarce resources need to be used to deliver the best value – the current Headingley trolley bus is not one of these.

  6. Douglas Gilliam
    Douglas Gilliam December 13, 2012

    Thank you for making your thoughts public, Don Townsley. The cost and desirability of the latest NGT proposal is plain crazy and should be scrapped now.
    I would be interested to hear Don Townsley assessment of the all elecric bus, the Optare Versa EV – particulary as this bus is being built in Sherburn in Elmlet. This is the type of local venture that need every encouragement, and to say the very least, should be given a good run out here in Leeds.

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