Pods would run to Cabot Circus
TRANSPORT chiefs in Bristol are looking at building a £40 million unmanned tram system in the city centre.
Tim Kent, the man in charge of transport at the city council, has announced he is looking at introducing the system, which would link the city centre with the new Enterprise Zone at Temple Meads station.
A similar system designed and built by a South Gloucestershire firm is already in operation at Heathrow Airport and talks with the award winning company have already taken place.
The fully automated system, known as Ultra, would see unmanned pods travelling on guided rails between Temple Meads and Cabot Circus. Each journey would cost between £2 and £3 and the pods would be able to carry up to eight people at a time.
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Mr Kent said the pod system was just one of many options being considered by the council.
He added: "This would be a lot cheaper than a traditional tram and it is good for an area as small as the Enterprise Zone.
"It obviously wouldn't be a very large system, it would be quite a small system but we think the option is very good and we have been talking with one provider and looking at it as a possibility. You could be looking at anywhere between £30 million and £40 million to build such a scheme in reality."
The zone was announced in April by the government and aims to encourage firms, with a business rate discount and simplified planning rules. An event is being held tomorrow to showcase plans for the area which is expected to include a new indoor arena on derelict land behind the train station.
Temple Meads station is also in line for a major revamp which will include a new entrance and a new platform.
Ultra Global PRT has been working on the environmentally-friendly transport system for more than a decade and at one stage there were plans to set up a system linking Cardiff city centre with Cardiff Bay.
The Thornbury-based firm has installed its system at Heathrow Airport's Terminal 5.
The system uses battery-powered, driverless, zero-emission vehicles and has the capacity to carry more than 500,000 passengers each year along a dedicated 3.8 kilometre route. It took six years to develop at a cost of £30 million.
Ultra Global PRT started life as a university research project which then won backing from the private sector.
Professor Martin Lowson, from Bristol University, developed the concept and technology behind Ultra over 17 years ago.
An open day is being held in the Enterprise Zone tomorrow which is expected to include plans of how the area will look in ten years time. There are high hopes that a developer will be found to build the long-awaited indoor arena on the former diesel depot site behind Temple Meads station.
Meanwhile, a bike manufacturer has signed a deal with Temple Meads station which means commuters can climb onto the saddle as soon as they arrive at the station.
Brompton Dock has joined forces with First Great Western to offer customers the new service. A new bike dock has been built at the station allowing customers to get off the train and straight on to a folding bike. People who sign up to the scheme will get 24-hour access to the folding bikes which can be taken on trains and other forms of public transport, even during peak times.