Trams in Norwich? Brilliant idea

If they work for Padua, they’ll work for our fine city.

I’m joining the debate about trams for Norwich – and I’m all for modern tram systems. Cities around the world are battling to solve the problems of urban traffic jams and filthy air conditions – it’s not unique to Norwich. So it makes sense to look at what cities like ours are doing about it. And Padua in Northern Italy is a great example: an ancient university city with a medieval centre, lots of heritage to protect and lots of traffic congestion to manage. It’s about the same size as Norwich, with a population of around 212,500, and – like Norwich – it was an early adopter of electric trams. Padua’s trams disappeared in 1954, rather later than ours.

But the city took a bold step in 2007, installing a state-of-the-art tram system that I think would work really well in Norwich. When I was in Padua last autumn I used it all the time, so I know at first hand just what the passenger experience is like: fast, efficient, environmentally friendly. It operates on a single route, north to south, connecting the city suburbs with the railway station and the historic centre – but without damaging the ancient urban streets.

At the time I thought that something similar for Norwich, on a route from the railway station through Castle Meadow to UEA and the N&N hospital, would be top of my wish-list if I controlled the city council’s transport budget. So I was delighted to read that it’s high on the city council’s wish-list too, encouraged by the Norwich Society. Of course it has to be part of a bigger strategic vision – a mix of trams, buses of various sizes, maybe light rail connecting the park-and-ride hubs. And that’s exactly what forward-thinking city councils are doing elsewhere: bold steps, innovation, investing in infrastructure for a sustainable future. Go for it, Norwich!

Further reading here
(I have to declare an interest: I was involved in writing and editing this Urban Transportation brochure for Arcadis, working with The Point.)

Picture credit: ©Ivanfurlanis – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0,