Mini-tram seafront link could be just the ticket

A Severn Lamb mini tram which one day could run along Hastings seafront
A Severn Lamb mini tram which one day could run along Hastings seafront

HASTINGS and St Leonards could become the first resort towns in the country to operate eco-friendly mini-trams along its seafront.

The exciting concept could see two of the state-of-the-art vehicles run from the Old Town to West St Leonards.

Hastings and St Leonards are believed to be the only resort towns in the country that do not operate a public transport system along its entire seafront.

Last October council officer Kevin Boorman recently visited the Severn Lamb factory in Alcester, Warwickshire.

The company specialises in making light, urban transport such as monorail systems.

The council has been considering a transport link along the seafront for several years but were recently spurred on by St Leonards businessman Naz Uddin.

Mr Uddin lobbied the council for a rail or bus link along the entire seafront and last summer presented a 430-name petition.

A rail link extension of the Hastings Miniature Railway was dismissed for not being practical or economical.

But the council agreed to investigate sustainable transport links.

On Monday evening, Mr Boorman will present a four-page report to the council’s cabinet committee asking it to consider the feasibility of a seafront link.

In his report, Mr Boorman has considered three types of transport, a Dotto train similar to that currently used in Eastbourne, a dedicated seafront bus service and a mini-tram. Mr Boorman recommends the battery powered mini- tram is given further consideration as it is the most attractive option.

The 22ft-long trams can accommodate 28 people and only require one driver. They are double ended and do not need to turn around.

The plan would see two mini-trams operating every half-hour potentially throughout the year if there is enough demand.

Mr Boorman states that the potential opening of Hastings Pier by 2015 could have a ‘significant impact on demand’.

He also states that financing the project would be difficult.

“It is clear that financing a major project of this type will be difficult especially in the current economic climate.

“If robust business case can be developed and a suitable model found the earliest a mini-tram service could be operation would be 2015.”

Speaking to the Observer before the meeting Mr Boorman said: “We must give credit to Mr Uddin.

“He was the catalyst for us to give the scheme further consideration and galvanised us to into looking into it.

“We get quite a lot of complaints that there is no public transport service up and down the seafront. People have to go into Hastings to get another out along the front.

“We can’t do anything until the pier is finished but that will be a major factor.

“Lots of people will be drawn here and the mini-tram could take them to the pier.”