The Reader: Could trolleybuses help ease congestion on London’s roads?

Trolleybus: Bologna has trolleybuses, could London get them back again? (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images): Getty Images

Trolleybuses are great in smaller towns and cities [“Bring on the age of the electric trolleybus”, July 16]. But where there are complex junctions they would be a nightmare, as they were back in the Fifties when traffic was much sparser.

Today trolleybuses would more likely bring the city to a standstill, or rather just keep it so all day. I remember that this happened frequently and hastened the demise of the service.

Whenever the pick-up poles came off the overhead wires at Hammersmith Broadway the whole gyratory locked up. The conductors had to get out, get a long pole and — at risk of injury — reconnect the pick-up pole to the wire. Also, the wires and their supporting posts did little to beautify the environment. Nostalgia is lovely but it’s not what it used to be.#
Roger Juer

The need for a complex “spider’s web” of overhead lines is gone — in fact, the principle of in-motion charging requires only a half to two-thirds of a route to be equipped with wires. “In-motion charging” is kinder to the batteries — better still, supercapacitors can be used instead — but best of all there’s no need for overnight charging (which requires massive infrastructure changes).

TfL needs to learn from Zürich and the other cities introducing trolleybuses.
Andrew Braddock

EDITOR'S REPLY

Dear Roger and Andrew

It’s great to see so many Evening Standard readers care about transport — even if I don’t completely agree with you on trolleybuses. When I was a special adviser at the Department for Transport I remember a vast document landing on my desk one day — the inspector’s report into the planned Leeds trolleybus route.

It turned the scheme down for the right reasons: trolleybuses are less flexible than ordinary electric, hydrogen or fossil-fuel buses, more intrusive and expensive, and require a lot of ugly wires.

They have less capacity than a proper train or light-rail system, they get stuck in traffic along with everyone else and they can’t divert around roadworks.

Technology has moved on — let’s invest in newer, better forms of clean transport and leave these relics in a museum where they belong.

Julian Glover, Associate Editor (Comment)

Winston Churchill would certainly have been a Remainer

FREDERICK Dale longs for a Churchillian orator to convince doubters of the perils of EU membership [“UK can regain its pride outside EU”, July 16], which for him implies an inevitable surrender to “restrictive and domineering” German and French leadership.

Churchill, who famously argued that national sovereignty might be “resolutely diminished for the sake of all men in all lands finding their way home together”, would have had no time for this. On the contrary, he would surely have been ashamed, as I am, by Britain’s abandonment of the greatest experiment in collaborative democracy in world history. If this country can regain its mojo it may once again aspire to play a central and influential role at the heart of the European Union.
Anthony Cary
Former British High Commissioner to Canada

We’re listening to worried NHS staff

IN THE context of Gosport War Memorial Hospital and Jeremy Hunt’s call to eradicate “blame culture”, your correspondent mentioned the need for a service through which workers could raise any concerns [“Whistleblowing just highlights why NHS needs more support”, June 28].

Every hospital in England now has such a service. Freedom to Speak Up Guardians are there to foster a culture of openness and transparency, and to support health workers with concerns, knowing the right action will be taken as a result.

Freedom to Speak Up is a green shoot of hope at a time of unprecedented challenges for the NHS. It is fundamental to helping the NHS move away from a blame culture and instead embrace a culture of learning and growth.
Dr Henrietta Hughes
National Guardian for the NHS

Ellis and the end of capital punishment

Your report on the exhibition of the Holloway prison [“Secrets of the Suffragettes’ prison unveiled”, July 16], mentioned Raymond Chandler’s comment on the execution of Ruth Ellis as “medieval savagery”.

Many of us wrote and urged the Home Secretary at the time to commute the sentence in view of all the circumstances in the case.

Incidentally, it has often been argued that the abuse and persistent beatings Ellis endured by the person she killed was not adequately brought out during the trial.

The hanging of Ellis, 63 years ago this month, did at least help activate the campaign against capital punishment. Later in Parliament I was among the majority who voted on every occasion against bringing back the rope.
David Winnick
Labour MP, Walsall North, 1979-2017

Greening plan is just a Remain ploy

The Conservative MP and former minister Justine Greening makes a case for a second EU referendum with three options: leave with a deal, whatever that may be, leave with no deal or remain.

If this were to happen — and I am not advocating that it should — voters would see through it as a not-so-clever attempt to split the Leave vote, thereby making Remain the winner.

What she has not made clear is what kind of Remain scenario she would like. I don’t see the EU letting the UK have the same deal we have now.
Paul Lebby

I agree that we were not informed fully on how Brexit would affect the country but a vote is a vote, after all. And we don’t get a second go at general elections if we do not like the outcome, do we?
Steve Ross