Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Testing Times for Edinburgh Trams - Introducing the TREPPELIN

12th November 2013

Dear Marie,

I hope this email finds you well?

This is just a quick note to let you know that I've now submitted my applications for the 'Part-time Ticketing Services Assistant' and 'Part Time Tram Driver' roles advertised on your website. Please be advised that these applications are IN ADDITION TO, rather than a replacement for, my previous application for 'Ticketing Services Assistant (full time)'.

To be honest with you Marie, considering we've not actually conveyed a single paying passenger yet, I'm a bit confused what the difference between a part-time employee, and a full-time employee would entail, but such is my enthusiasm for Edinburgh Trams, I am prepared to accept any role to get ON BOARD Edinburgh Trams!

I'm sure you can empathise with me Marie, when I tell you that trams are never far from my thoughts. Why just the other day I was thinking about the recent tram testing debacle. As is now public knowledge, tram testing commenced a few weeks ago, and promptly ground to an abrupt halt quicker than an...erm...Edinburgh Tram... when we discovered that our state-of-the-art trams are so heavy that they are cracking the concrete track bed infrastructure.

My major concern is not that fact that we have spent a BILLION QUID on what appears to be a mismatched system, but that Edinburgh Council Tax Payers might get wind of this, and put an end to the EDINBURGH GRAVY TRAM before I’m even able to get onboard!

Image is everything Marie, if we want to stay ON THE GRAVY TRAM, we need to maintain the confidence of the public. In short, they need to see OPERATIONAL TRAMS as soon as possible, tested or not. This presents something of a conundrum, how can we deliver operational trams, when our vehicles are too heavy for the track?

Don’t worry Marie, it’s a rhetorical question – while Trams General Manager Tom Norris is probably crying himself to sleep at night by now, by contrast I consider every successive Tram foul-up as a NEW CHALLENGE, and once again I have come up with an INNOVATIVE, ICONIC and 21st CENTURY solution!

We must simply utilise the AWESOME POWER OF HELIUM to deliver Edinburgh's TRAM VISION!

A lot of people already refer to everyone involved with Edinburgh Trams as a ‘bunch of balloons’, but it’s time for us to CALL THEIR BLUFF, Marie. Balloons are in fact the answer to our prayers!

I have attached an illustration of how I envisage this would work, but basically my proposal involves tethering each tram to a helium gas balloon, thus dispensing with the need for ANY track whatsoever.

As a Human Resources Professional, you will of course be aware that the ‘lifting power’ of Helium at sea level and room temperature is approximately 1 gram per litre of gas, Marie.

I believe the average Edinburgh tram weights approximately 55 metric tonnes (unladen). Thus we will only require 55,000,000 litres of Helium gas to render a tram completely weightless. This might sound like a lot of gas, Marie, but it is only a quarter of the volume contained in the famous Hindenburg airship, and that all worked out fine, pretty much. Also remember that Helium is only one form of gas, we could also (like the Hindenburg) use the cheaper Hydrogen option, or even utilise some sort of mechanism to harness the vast amounts of hot air generated by the Edinburgh City Chambers?

To give you an idea of cost using Helium:

50 litre disposable helium gas cylinder = £30 (Amazon.co.uk)
10 pack economy latex balloons (1 litre capacity) = 99p (Tesco)

The latex balloons, once filled, would be contained within a large plastic sheet. I propose constructing this from recycled bin bags at no additional cost - there are usually plenty blowing about in our street after the cats have ripped open all the ones Lesley's bin men refuse to pick up.
Per tram we require:
5.5M balloon packets = £5.5M
1.1M Helium cylinders = £33M

Total cost to render each tram completely weightless = £38.5M

Total cost of each weightless tram as percentage of entire project budget = £38.5M/£1000M = 3.85%

For less than the cost of the track construction, I think we could easily create a fleet of 20 helium trams, capable of unrestricted flight.

"Is there a name for this new type of vehicle?", I can hear you asking, Marie.

There is now! I call it a TREPPELIN.

With our modern, iconic, and quite frankly FREAKIN' AWESOME LOOKING TREPPELINS , we can ‘fly’ round the track, and thus achieve an operational tram 'network' with no concerns about weight damage to the infrastructure! We can also forget about the previously discovered problem of ‘wheel deformation’ on stationary trams by simply ‘hovering’ our entire tram fleet a couple of feet off the ground even when parked up at the Gogar Depot!

This would also provide quite a unique spectacle for tourists visiting the city! And as we all know, impressing the tourists is what Edinburgh Trams is all about!

This is just the sort of thinking outside-the-box that you could have expected if you had given me that Tram Controller job, Marie.

Has Tom Norris come up with anything as good as that yet – I THINK NOT!

I look forward to discussing this, and many other pretty awesome ideas I have for Edinburgh Trams, at interview.


Aldo Broon

WARNING: on NO ACCOUNT should a balloon-equipped tram be left untethered and unattended close to Edinburgh Airport, as this could very easily escalate into a ‘near miss’ air traffic incident, which is just the sort of bad publicity we DON’T NEED. The newspapers already make a great big deal about us taking out a few cyclists, so I dread to think what they will write about something  serious!

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Thanks for your comment! I hope you continue to enjoy following Aldo's Quest to get himself on the Edinburgh Gravy-Tram!