Steer Davies Gleave & Ramboll consult on Southampton public transport overhaul

20 July 2017 4 min. read

In a bid to solve a £400 million sustainability challenge for Southampton’s transport system, The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership has commissioned Steer Davies Gleave to develop a case study for 'tram-trains' across the region. The consulting firm brought Ramboll on board to provide specific engineering and environmental expertise.

As a sea-side city, Southampton, like many around the globe, is facing risks on all fronts, facing air-pollution in its congested centre, and rising sea levels thanks to the climate change that pollution accelerates. Public transport is able to reduce inner city congestion and cause the number of cars on the road to fall – with various studies increasingly highlighting the risks from air pollution – while also reducing the carbon footprint of the city as a whole.

While public transport is often equated with busses and trains in the UK, in a bid to better connect with its neighbouring cities and towns, Southampton is exploring the possibilities of dedicated ‘tram-trains’. The tram-train, was first developed in Karlsruhe, Germany, as a multipurpose metro-vehicle that can run on street lines as well as heavier types of rail network – hitting 60/70 miles per hour on railway stretches and a slower pace on street sections.

The proposed lines would aim to connect Eastleigh South to a new station in Southampton’s St Mary’s district, before traveling to the Westquay shopping area and Southampton Central station. The next phase of the possible proposal would see the tram-trains extended from the towns of Fareham and Botley to Southampton, before travelling onwards to Romsey and Eastleigh. The region’s airport, Southampton Airport, would too feature in the trajectory.

The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership explores public transport in Hampshire

The project is being championed by The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), a partnership involving regional businesses, higher education institutes, and three unitary authorities, eight district councils and one county council. The organisations aim to drive sustainable economic growth for the Solent area. LEP had commissioned an earlier study that found that road congestion in the region was costing the Hampshire economy £0.4 billion per year.

The study will include a case study of the costs incurred by the development of the tram-train options, which will be performed by Steer Davies Gleave. The professional services firm will develop a feasibility study for the possible metro network, which includes, among others, a business case that includes an initial engineering and environmental study. Steer Davies Gleave were integral to Kingston-upon-Thames’ bid to overhaul the council’s cycling infrastructure, as they sought to decrease the environmental impact of traffic in the area.

For the project’s engineering and environmental risk management meanwhile, Steer Davies Gleave has brought consulting firm Ramboll on board to provide civil engineering, operational advice and environmental appraisal to the business case. Ramboll was also recently commissioned by the City of San Francisco to help engineer their respective climate change response, as the famous American city also faces rising sea levels and cloudburst pollution.

Commenting on the firm’s role in the wider project, Steven Brown, UK Market Director Rail at Ramboll, who have a regional staff of 300, said, “We are delighted to be able to bring Ramboll’s expertise in metro, light rail and tram-train to the UK. We are a local consultant that really understands the key local issues allowing us to combine global expertise with a strong local presence.”