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LIGHT RAIL, LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT (LRT) or FAST TRAM is urban public transport using rolling stock similar to a tramway , but operating at a higher capacity, and often on an exclusive right-of-way.

There is no standard definition, but in the United States, where the terminology was devised in the 1970s (from the engineering term _light railway _), light rail operates primarily along exclusive rights-of-way and uses either individual tramcars or multiple units coupled to form a train.

A few light rail networks tend to have characteristics closer to rapid transit or even commuter rail; some of these heavier rapid transit-like systems are referred to as light metros . Other light rail networks are tram-like in nature and partially operate on streets. Light rail
Light rail
systems are found throughout the world, on all inhabited continents. They have been especially popular in recent years due to their lower capital costs and increased reliability compared with heavy rail systems.

CONTENTS

* 1 History * 2 Definition

* 3 Types

* 3.1 Lower capacity * 3.2 Higher capacity * 3.3 Mixed systems * 3.4 Speed and stop frequency * 3.5 System-wide considerations

* 4 Track gauge
Track gauge

* 5 Comparison to other rail transit modes

* 5.1 Typical rolling stock * 5.2 Train operation * 5.3 Floor height * 5.4 Power sources

* 6 Tram
Tram
and light rail transit systems worldwide

* 7 Capacity

* 7.1 Efficiency * 7.2 Comparison with high capacity roads * 7.3 Practical considerations

* 8 Safety * 9 Health impact of light rail * 10 Integration with bicycles * 11 Construction and operation costs

* 12 Variations

* 12.1 Trams operating on mainline railways * 12.2 Third-rail power for trams

* 13 See also * 14 References * 15 External links

HISTORY

See also: History of Trams, Light rail in North America, Horsecar, Cable car (railway)
Cable car (railway)
, and Interurban Streetcar
Streetcar
built by Preston Car Company in Ontario

Many original tram and streetcar systems in the United Kingdom, United States, and elsewhere were decommissioned starting in the 1950s as the popularity of the automobile increased. Britain abandoned its last tram system, except for Blackpool , by 1962. Although some traditional trolley or tram systems exist to this day, the term "light rail" has come to mean a different type of rail system. Modern light rail technology has primarily West German origins, since an attempt by Boeing Vertolto introduce a new American light rail vehicle was a technical failure. After World War II, the Germans retained many of their streetcar networks and evolved them into model light rail systems (_Stadtbahnen_). Except for Hamburg , all large and most medium-sized German cities maintain light rail networks.

The basic concepts of light rail were put forward by H. Dean Quinby in 1962 in an article in _Traffic Quarterly_ called "Major Urban Corridor Facilities: A New Concept". Quinby distinguished this new concept in rail transportation from historic streetcar or tram systems as:

* having the capacity to carry more passengers * appearing like a train, with more than one car connected together * having more doors to facilitate full utilization of the space * faster and quieter in operation

The term LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT (LRT) was introduced in North America in 1972 to describe this new concept of rail transportation.

The first of the new light rail systems in North America began operation in 1978 when the Canadian city of Edmonton, Alberta
Edmonton, Alberta
, adopted the German Siemens-Duewag U2system, followed three years later by Calgary, Alberta
Calgary, Alberta
, and San Diego, California
San Diego, California
. The concept proved popular, and although Canada has few cities big enough for light rail, there are now at least 30 light rail systems in the United States .

Britain began replacing its run-down local railways with light rail in the 1980s, starting with the Tyne and Wear Metroand followed by the Docklands Light Railway
Docklands Light Railway
(DLR) in London. The historic term light railway was used because it dated from the British Light Railways Act 1896 , although the technology used in the DLR system was at the high end of what Americans considered to be _light rail_. The trend to light rail in the United Kingdom was firmly established with the success of the Manchester Metrolink
Manchester Metrolink
system in 1992.

DEFINITION

See also: Passenger rail terminology
Passenger rail terminology
Edmonton Light Rail Transit in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, was the first modern LRT line in North America The Metro Link light rail
Link light rail
in St. Louis, Missouri, United States The Buenos Aires Premetro , built in 1987

The term _light rail_ was coined in 1972 by the U.S. Urban Mass Transportation Administration (UMTA; the precursor to the Federal Transit Administration ) to describe new streetcar transformations that were taking place in Europe and the United States. In Germany the term _ Stadtbahn
Stadtbahn
_ (to be distinguished from _ S-Bahn
S-Bahn
_, which stands for _Stadtschnellbahn_) was used to describe the concept, and many in UMTA wanted to adopt the direct translation, which is _city rail_ (the Norwegian term, _bybane_, means the same). However, UMTA finally adopted the term _light rail_ instead. _Light_ in this context is used in the sense of "intended for light loads and fast movement", rather than referring to physical weight. The infrastructure investment is also usually lighter than would be found for a heavy rail system.

The Transportation Research Board(Transportation Systems Center) defined "light rail" in 1977 as "a mode of urban transportation utilizing predominantly reserved but not necessarily grade-separated rights-of-way. Electrically propelled rail vehicles operate singly or in trains. LRT provides a wide range of passenger capabilities and performance characteristics at moderate costs."

The American Public Transportation Association(APTA), in its Glossary of Transit Terminology, defines light rail as:

...a mode of transit service (also called streetcar, tramway, or trolley) operating passenger rail cars singly (or in short, usually two-car or three-car, trains) on fixed rails in right-of-way that is often separated from other traffic for part or much of the way. Light rail vehicles are typically driven electrically with power being drawn from an overhead electric line via a trolley or a pantograph ; driven by an operator on board the vehicle; and may have either high platform loading or low level boarding using steps."

However, some diesel-powered transit is designated light rail, such as the O-Train Trillium Line
Trillium Line
in Ottawa
Ottawa
, Canada, the River Line in New Jersey , United States, and the Sprinter in California
California
, United States, which use diesel multiple unit (DMU) cars.

_Light rail_ is similar to the British English
British English
term _light railway _, long used to distinguish railway operations carried out under a less rigorous set of regulation using lighter equipment at lower speeds from mainline railways. _Light rail_ is a generic international English phrase for these types of rail systems, which means more or less the same thing throughout the English-speaking world
English-speaking world
.

The use of the generic term _light rail_ avoids some serious incompatibilities between British and American English . The word _tram_, for instance, is generally used in the UK and many former British colonies to refer to what is known in North America as a streetcar , but in North America _tram_ can instead refer to an aerial tramway , or, in the case of the Disney amusement parks , even a land train . (The usual British term for an aerial tramway is _cable car_, which in the US usually refers to a ground-level car pulled along by subterranean cables .) The word trolley is often used as a synonym for _streetcar_ in the United States, but is usually taken to mean a cart, particularly a shopping cart, in the UK and elsewhere. Many North American transportation planners reserve _streetcar_ for traditional vehicles that operate exclusively in mixed traffic on city streets, while they use _light rail_ to refer to more modern vehicles operating mostly in exclusive rights of way, since they may operate both side-by-side targeted at different passenger groups.

The difference between British English
British English
and American English terminology arose in the late 19th century when Americans adopted the term "street railway", rather than "tramway", with the vehicles being called "streetcars" rather than "trams". Some have suggested that the Americans' preference for the term "street railway" at that time was influenced by German emigrants to the United States (who were more numerous than British immigrants in the industrialized Northeast), as it is the same as the German term for the mode, _Straßenbahn_ (meaning "street railway"). A further difference arose because, while Britain abandoned all of its _trams_ except Blackpool after World War II, seven major North American cities ( Toronto
Toronto
, Boston
Boston
, Philadelphia , San Francisco , Pittsburgh , Newark , and New Orleans ) continued to operate large _streetcar_ systems. When these cities upgraded to new technology, they called it _light rail_ to differentiate it from their existing _streetcars_ since some continued to operate both the old and new systems. Since the 1980s, Portland, Oregon
Portland, Oregon
, has built all three types of system: a high-capacity light rail system in dedicated lanes and rights-of-way, a low-capacity streetcar system integrated with street traffic, and an aerial tram system . SEPTA
SEPTA
's 101 trolley pulling into 69th Street Terminal

The opposite phrase _heavy rail_, used for higher-capacity, higher-speed systems, also avoids some incompatibilities in terminology between British and American English, as for instance in comparing the London Underground
London Underground
and the New York City Subway
New York City Subway
. Conventional rail technologies including high-speed , freight, commuter/regional , and metro/subway/elevated urban transit systems are considered "heavy rail". People movers and personal rapid transit are even "lighter," at least in terms of capacity. Monorail
Monorail
is a separate technology that has been more successful in specialized services than in a commuter transit role.

TYPES

Metrolink in Manchester city centre, England, is an example of street-level light rail The Docklands Light Railway
Docklands Light Railway
in London, England, is an example of light rail separated from road traffic. Like most light rail systems, the Tranvia de Tenerife(Tenerife, Spain) includes some operation at street level, but separated from other traffic

Due to varying definitions, it is hard to distinguish between what is called light rail, and other forms of urban and commuter rail. A system described as light rail in one city may be considered to be a streetcar or tram system in another. Conversely, some lines that are called "light rail" are in fact very similar to rapid transit ; in recent years, new terms such as light metro have been used to describe these medium-capacity systems. Some "light rail" systems, such as Sprinter , bear little similarity to urban rail, and could alternatively be classified as commuter rail or even inter-city rail. In the United States, "light rail" has become a catch-all term to describe a wide variety of passenger rail systems.

There is a significant difference in cost between these different classes of light rail transit. Tram-like systems are often less expensive than metro-like systems by a factor of two or more.

LOWER CAPACITY

The most difficult distinction to draw is that between light rail and streetcar or tram systems. There is a significant amount of overlap between the technologies, many of the same vehicles can be used for either, and it is common to classify streetcars or trams as a subcategory of light rail rather than as a distinct type of transportation. The two general versions are:

* The traditional type, where tracks and trains run along the streets and share space with road traffic. Stops tend to be very frequent, but little effort is made to set up special stations. Because space is shared, the tracks are usually visually unobtrusive. * A more modern variation, where the trains tend to run along their own 50' right-of-way and are often separated from road traffic. Stops are generally less frequent, and the vehicles are often boarded from a platform. Tracks are highly visible, and in some cases significant effort is expended to keep traffic away through the use of special signaling, level crossings with gate arms, or even a complete separation with non-level crossings.

HIGHER CAPACITY

At the highest degree of separation, it can be difficult to draw the line between light rail and metros , as in the case of Wuppertal
Wuppertal
's Schwebebahn hanging rail system, a branch of Boston
Boston
's Green Line (the "D " branch), or London's Docklands Light Railway
Docklands Light Railway
, which would likely not be considered "light" were it not for the contrast between it and the London Underground
London Underground
; many consider these not to be "light rail" lines but light metros . However, in Europe, the term _light rail_ is increasingly used to describe any rapid transit system with a fairly low frequency or short trains compared to heavier mass rapid systems such as the London Underground
London Underground
or Singapore's Mass Rapid Transit . For instance, the LRT-1 and MRT-3 in Manila
Manila
are often referred to as "light rail", despite being fully segregated, mostly elevated railways. This phenomenon is quite common in Chinese cities, where elevated light metro lines in Shanghai , Wuhan , and Dalian are called light rail lines. In North America, such systems are not considered light rail.

MIXED SYSTEMS

Many systems have mixed characteristics. Indeed, with proper engineering, a rail line could run along a street, then go underground, and then run along an elevated viaduct. For example, the Los Angeles Metro
Los Angeles Metro
Rail 's Gold Line "light rail" has sections that could alternatively be described as a tramway, a light metro, and, in a narrow sense, rapid transit. This is especially common in the United States, where there is not a popularly perceived distinction between these different types of urban rail systems.

It is even possible to have high-floor rapid transit cars run along a street, like a tram; this is known as _street running _.

SPEED AND STOP FREQUENCY

In some areas, light rail may also refer to any rail line with low speeds or many stops in a short distance. This inherits the old definition of light railway in the UK. Hong Kong's Light Rail is an example of this, although it is also called "light rail" because it is a lower scale system than the rest of the MTR. Sprinter in the San Diego area uses DMUs and is targeted towards a commuter rail audience; however, because of the large number of stops along the line, it is called light rail.

Reference speed from major light rail systems, including station stop time, is shown below.

SYSTEM AVERAGE SPEED (MPH)

Baltimore 24

Dallas (Red Line) 21

Dallas (Blue Line) 19

Denver (Alameda-Littleton) 38

Denver (Downtown-Littleton) 26

Los Angeles (Blue Line) 24

Los Angeles (Green Line) 38

Salt Lake City 24

However, low top speed is not always a differentiating characteristic between light rail and other systems. For example, the Siemens S70 LRVs used in the Houston
Houston
METRORail
METRORail
and other North American LRT systems have a top speed of 106 kilometres per hour (66 mph) while the trains on the all-underground Montreal Metrocan only reach a top speed of 72 kilometres per hour (45 mph). Los Angeles Metro
Los Angeles Metro
light rail vehicles have higher top and average speeds than Montreal Metroor New York Subway trains. The main difference is that Montreal Metroand New York Subwaytrains carry far more passengers than any North American LRT system, and the trains have faster acceleration, making station-to-station times relatively short in their densely populated urban areas. Most light rail systems serve less densely populated cities and suburbs where passenger traffic is not high, but low cost combined with high top speed may be important to compete with automobiles.

SYSTEM-WIDE CONSIDERATIONS

Many light rail systems—even fairly old ones—have a combination of both on- and off-road sections. In some countries (especially in Europe), only the latter is described as light rail. In those places, trams running on mixed rights-of-way are not regarded as light rail, but considered distinctly as streetcars or trams. However, the requirement for saying that a rail line is "separated" can be quite low—sometimes just with concrete "buttons" to discourage automobile drivers from getting onto the tracks. Some systems such as Seattle\'s Link are truly mixed but closed to traffic, with light-rail vehicles and traditional buses both operating along a common right-of-way.

Some systems, such as the AirTrain JFKin New York City, the DLR in London, and Kelana Jaya Line
Kelana Jaya Line
in Kuala Lumpur
Kuala Lumpur
, Malaysia, have dispensed with the need for an operator. The Vancouver
Vancouver
SkyTrain was an early adopter of driverless vehicles, while the Toronto
Toronto
Scarborough rapid transit operates the same trains as Vancouver, but uses drivers. In most discussions and comparisons, these specialized systems are generally not considered light rail.

TRACK GAUGE

Historically, the track gauge has had considerable variations, with narrow gauge common in many early systems. However, most light rail systems are now standard gauge . Older standard-gauge vehicles could not negotiate sharp turns as easily as narrow gauge ones, but modern light rail systems achieve tighter turning radii by using articulated cars . An important advantage of standard gauge is that standard railway maintenance equipment can be used on it, rather than custom-built machinery. Using standard gauge also allows light rail vehicles to be moved around, conveniently using the same tracks as freight railways. Another factor favoring standard gauge is that accessibility laws are making low-floor trams mandatory, and there is generally insufficient space for wheelchairs to move between the wheels in a narrow-gauge layout. Furthermore, standard gauge rolling stock can be switched between networks either temporarily or permanently and both newly built and used standard gauge rolling stock tends to be cheaper to buy, as more companies offer such vehicles.

COMPARISON TO OTHER RAIL TRANSIT MODES

With its mix of right-of-way types and train control technologies, LRT offers the widest range of latitude of any rail system in the design, engineering, and operating practices. The challenge in designing light rail systems is to realize the potential of LRT to provide fast, comfortable service while avoiding the tendency to overdesign that results in excessive capital costs beyond what is necessary to meet the public's needs.

ALTERNATIVE DIFFERENCES

Rapid transit
Rapid transit
Light rail
Light rail
vehicles (LRVs) are distinguished from rapid rail transit (RRT) vehicles by their capability for operation in mixed traffic, generally resulting in a narrower car body and articulation in order to operate in a street traffic environment. With their large size, large turning radius, and often an electrified third rail , RRT vehicles cannot operate in the street. Since LRT systems can operate in existing streets, they can often avoid the cost of expensive grade-separated subway and elevated segments that would be required with RRT.

Streetcars or trams Conversely, LRVs generally outperform traditional streetcars in terms of capacity and top-end speed, and almost all modern LRVs are capable of multiple-unit operation . The latest generation of LRVs is considerably larger and faster, typically 29 metres (95 ft) long with a maximum speed of around 105 kilometres per hour (65 mph).

Heritage streetcars A variation considered by many cities is to use historic or replica cars on their streetcar systems instead of modern LRVs. A heritage streetcar may not have the capacity and speed of an LRV, but it will add to the ambiance and historic character of its location.

Light metro A derivative of LRT is light rail rapid transit (LRRT), also referred to as _Light Metro._ Such railways are characterized by exclusive rights of way, advanced train control systems, short headway capability, and floor-level boarding. These systems approach the passenger capacity of full metro systems, but can be cheaper to construct due to LRVs generally being smaller in size, turning tighter curves and climbing steeper grades than standard RRT vehicles, and having a smaller station size.

Interurbans The term _interurban_ mainly refers to rail cars that run through streets like ordinary streetcars (trams), but also between cities or towns, often through rural environments. In the period 1900–1930, interurbans were very common in the US, especially in the Midwest
Midwest
. Some of them, like the Red Devils , the J. G. Brill Bullets , and the Electroliners , were the high-speed railcars of their time, with an in-service speed of up to about 145 km/h (90 mph). In Europe interurbans are making a comeback as "tram-trains " (locally known under different names) that operate on both railway and light rail tracks, often with different voltage. The Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe
Stadtbahn
Stadtbahn
is one well known example.

TYPICAL ROLLING STOCK

The BART
BART
railcar in the following chart is _not_ generally considered to be a "light rail" vehicle (it is actually a heavy rail vehicle), and is only included for comparison purposes.

TYPE Rapid transit Light rail Tram
Tram
/ streetcar Heritage streetcar

MANUFACTURER Rohr Siemens Skoda Gomaco Trolley Co.

MODEL BART
BART
A-Car S70 10T Replica Birney

WIDTH 3.2 metres (10 ft) 2.7 metres (8.9 ft) 2.6 metres (8.53 ft) 2.62 metres (8.6 ft)

LENGTH 22.9 metres (75 ft) 27.7 metres (91 ft) (articulated ) 20.13 metres (66.0 ft) (articulated ) 15.16 metres (49.7 ft)

WEIGHT (EMPTY) TBD 48.6t 28.8t 23.5t

CAPACITY 150 max 72 seats / 220 max 30 seats / 157 max 40 seat / 50 max

TOP SPEED 125 kilometres per hour (78 mph) 106 kilometres per hour (66 mph) 70 kilometres per hour (43 mph) 48 kilometres per hour (30 mph)

TYPICAL CONSIST 8–10 vehicles 2–5 vehicles 1 vehicle 1 vehicle

TRAIN OPERATION

For more details on this topic, see Automatic train operation
Automatic train operation
.

An important factor crucial to LRT is the train operator. Unlike rail rapid transit, which can travel unattended under automatic train operation (ATO), safe, high-quality LRT operation relies on a human operator as a key element. The reason that the operator is so important is because the train tracks often share the streets with automobiles, other vehicles, and pedestrians. If trains were fully automated on roads, nobody would be there to stop the train if a car pulled in front of it. Light rail
Light rail
trains are actually very sturdily built for passenger safety, and to reduce damage from impacts with cars.

FLOOR HEIGHT

For more details on this topic, see Low floor
Low floor
.

The latest generation of LRVs has the advantage of partially or fully low-floor design, with the floor of the vehicles only 300 to 360 mm (11.8 to 14.2 in) above the top of the rail, a feature not found in either rapid rail transit vehicles or streetcars. This allows them to load passengers, including those in wheelchairs or strollers, directly from low-rise platforms that are little more than raised sidewalks. This satisfies requirements to provide access to disabled passengers without using expensive and delay-inducing wheelchair lifts, while also making boarding faster and easier for other passengers.

POWER SOURCES

Overhead linessupply electricity to the vast majority of light rail systems. This avoids the danger of passengers stepping on an electrified third rail . The Docklands Light Railway
Docklands Light Railway
uses an inverted third rail for its electrical power, which allows the electrified rail to be covered and the power drawn from the underside. Trams in Bordeaux
Bordeaux
, France, use a special third-rail configuration where the power is only switched on beneath the trams, making it safe on city streets. Several systems in Europe and a few recently opened systems in North America use diesel -powered trains.

TRAM AND LIGHT RAIL TRANSIT SYSTEMS WORLDWIDE

The Tren de la Costain Greater Buenos Aires
Greater Buenos Aires
Main articles: Tram
Tram
and light rail transit systems and List of tram and light rail transit systems

Around the world there are many tram and streetcar systems. Some date from the beginning of the 20th century or earlier, but many of the original tram and streetcar systems were closed down in the mid-20th century, with the exceptions of many Eastern Europe countries. Even though many systems closed down over the years, there are still a number of tram systems that have been operating much as they did when they were first built over a century ago. Some cities (such as Los Angeles and Jersey City
Jersey City
) that once closed down their streetcar networks are now restoring, or have already rebuilt, at least some of their former streetcar/tram systems. Most light rail services are currently committed to articulated vehicles like modern LRVs, i.e. trams, with the exception of large underground metro or rapid transit systems. Metrotram in Kryvyi Rih ( Ukraine
Ukraine
) was separated from the streets, but later it was upgraded to be compatible with common tramways

CAPACITY

A Crystal Mover
Crystal Mover
LRT train on boarding

EFFICIENCY

The table below illustrates the capacity of a light rail train (the Siemens S70) compared to that of a standard car with five seats. The average length of a standard five-seat car is about 4.74 metres. The length of a Siemens S70light rail vehicle is 27.7 meters, approximately the same length as 5.8 cars. The maximum occupancy of a car is five people. The maximum capacity of the Siemens S70is 220 people. This means that one metre in a car has a capacity of one person and one metre in a light rail vehicle has a capacity of almost eight persons, so the capacity of light rail is about eight times higher than that of a car, if only the length of the vehicles is taken into consideration. The average width of an automobile is about 1.77 metres, while the average width of the Siemens S70is about 2.7 metres. The area of a car is about 8.4 m², while the area taken up by a light rail car is about 74.8m². In a car, each square metre has room for only 0.6 persons, while each square metre in a light rail car has room for 2.9 persons. This means that a light rail vehicle is significantly more capacity-effective than a car. Height is not taken into consideration, because it is not normally a problem given minimum-clearance regulations for underpasses.

LENGTH WIDTH AREA MAXIMUM PASSENGERS PERSONS PER SQUARE METER

Car 4.74 m 1.77 m 8.4 m² 5 0.6

Siemens S70 27.7 m 2.7 m 74.8 m² 220 2.9

Energy efficiency for light rail may be 120 passenger miles per gallon of fuel (or equivalent), but variation is great, depending on circumstances.

COMPARISON WITH HIGH CAPACITY ROADS

While the table above compares the maximum capacity of each mode, the _average_ use of a lane might be quite different, based on a number of factors. One line of light rail (requires 25' Right of Way) has a theoretical capacity of up to 8 times more than one 12' lane of freeway (not counting buses) during peak times. Roads have ultimate capacity limits that can be determined by traffic engineering . They usually experience a chaotic breakdown in flow and a dramatic drop in speed (colloquially known as a traffic jam ) if they exceed about 2,000 vehicles per hour per lane (each car roughly two seconds behind another). Since most people who drive to work or on business trips do so alone, studies show that the average car occupancy on many roads carrying commuters is only about 1.5 people per car during the high-demand rush hour periods of the day. This combination of factors limits roads carrying only automobile commuters to a maximum observed capacity of about 3,000 passengers per hour per lane. The problem can be mitigated by introducing high-occupancy vehicle (HOV ) lanes and ride-sharing programs, but in most cases the solution adopted has been to add more lanes to the roads.

By contrast, light rail vehicles can travel in multi-car trains carrying a theoretical ridership up to 20,000 passengers per hour in much narrower rights-of-way , not much more than two car lanes wide for a double track system. They can often be run through existing city streets and parks , or placed in the medians of roads . If run in streets, trains are usually limited by city block lengths to about four 180-passenger vehicles (720 passengers). Operating on two-minute headways using traffic signal progression, a well-designed two-track system can handle up to 30 trains per hour per track, achieving peak rates of over 20,000 passengers per hour in each direction. More advanced systems with separate rights-of-way using moving block signalling can exceed 25,000 passengers per hour per track.

PRACTICAL CONSIDERATIONS

Most light rail systems in the United States are limited by demand rather than capacity (by and large, most North American LRT systems carry fewer than 4,000 persons per hour per direction), but Boston's and San Francisco's light rail lines carry 9,600 and 13,100 passengers per hour per track during rush hour. Elsewhere in North America, the Calgary
Calgary
C-Trainand Monterrey Metrohave higher light rail ridership than Boston
Boston
or San Francisco. Systems outside North America often have much higher passenger volumes. The Manila
Manila
Light Rail Transit System is one of the highest capacity ones, having been upgraded in a series of expansions to handle 40,000 passengers per hour per direction, and having carried as many as 582,989 passengers in a single day on its Line 1 . It achieves this volume by running four-car trains with a capacity of up to 1,350 passengers each at a frequency of up to 30 trains per hour. However, the Manila
Manila
light rail system has full grade separation and as a result has many of the operating characteristics of a metro system rather than a light rail system. A capacity of 1,350 passengers per train is more similar to heavy rail than light rail.

A bus rapid transit (BRT) system using dedicated lanes can have a theoretical capacity of 3,600 passengers per hour per direction (30 buses per direction, 120 passengers in articulated buses ). BRT is an alternative to LRT, at least if very high capacity is not needed. Using buses, roads can achieve a much higher commuter capacity than is achievable with passenger cars. To have 30 buses per direction an hour, buses must have priority at traffic lights and have their own dedicated lanes. Buses can travel closer to each other than rail vehicles because of better braking capability. However, each bus vehicle requires a single driver, whereas a light rail train may have three to four cars of much larger capacity in one train under the control of one driver, or no driver at all in fully automated systems, increasing the labor costs of high-traffic BRT systems compared to LRT systems.

The peak passenger capacity per lane per hour depends on which types of vehicles are allowed at the roads. Typically roadways have 1,900 passenger cars per lane per hour (pcplph). If only cars are allowed, the capacity will be less and will not increase when the traffic volume increases.

When there is a bus driving on this route, the capacity of the lane will be more and will increase when the traffic level increases. And because the capacity of a light rail system is higher than that of a bus, there will be even more capacity when there is a combination of cars and light rail. Table 3 shows an example of peak passenger capacity.

CAR CAR + BUS CAR + LIGHT RAIL

Low volume 900 1,650 2,250

Medium volume 900 2,350 3,250

High volume 900 3,400 4,600

(Edson "> suggest otherwise. For example, an analysis of data from the 505-page National Transportation Statistics report published by the US Department of Transportation shows that light rail fatalities are higher than all other forms of transportation except motorcycle travel (31.5 fatalities per 100 million miles).

However, the National Transportation Statistics report published by the US Department of Transportation states that "Caution must be exercised in comparing fatalities across modes because significantly different definitions are used. In particular, Rail and Transit fatalities include incident-related (as distinct from accident-related) fatalities, such as fatalities from falls in transit stations or railroad employee fatalities from a fire in a workshed. Equivalent fatalities for the Air and Highway modes (fatalities at airports not caused by moving aircraft or fatalities from accidents in automobile repair shops) are not counted toward the totals for these modes. Thus, fatalities not necessarily directly related to in service transportation are counted for the transit and rail modes, potentially overstating the risk for these modes."

HEALTH IMPACT OF LIGHT RAIL

Main article: Health impact of light rail systems

INTEGRATION WITH BICYCLES

Light rail
Light rail
lines have various policies on bicycles. Some fleets restrict bicycles on trains during peak hours. Some light rail systems, such as the St. Louis MetroLink, allow bicycles on the trains, but only in the rear sections of cars. Some light rail lines, like San Francisco's, allow only folding bicycles on board. In some systems dedicated bike parking is available at select stations and others are integrated with local bike share systems.

CONSTRUCTION AND OPERATION COSTS

The cost of light rail construction varies widely, largely depending on the amount of tunneling and elevated structures required. A survey of North American light rail projects shows that costs of most LRT systems range from $15 million to over $100 million per mile. Seattle\'s new light rail system is by far the most expensive in the US, at $179 million per mile, since it includes extensive tunneling in poor soil conditions, elevated sections, and stations as deep as 180 feet (55 m) below ground level. This results in costs more typical of subways or rapid transit systems than light rail. At the other end of the scale, four systems (Baltimore, Maryland; Camden, New Jersey; Sacramento, California; and Salt Lake City, Utah) incurred construction costs of less than $20 million per mile. Over the US as a whole, excluding Seattle, new light rail construction costs average about $35 million per mile.

By comparison, a freeway lane expansion typically costs $1.0 million to $8.5 million per lane mile for two directions, with an average of $2.3 million. However, freeways are frequently built in suburbs or rural areas, whereas light rail tends to be concentrated in urban areas, where right of way and property acquisition is expensive. Similarly, the most expensive US highway expansion project was the " Big Dig" in Boston, Massachusetts, which cost $200 million per lane mile for a total cost of $14.6 billion. Since a light rail track can carry up to 20,000 people per hour as compared with 2,000–2,200 vehicles per hour for one freeway lane, light rail is comparable in construction cost to freeways on a per passenger-mile basis. For example, in Boston
Boston
and San Francisco, light rail lines carry 9,600 and 13,100 passengers per hour, respectively, in the peak direction during rush hour.

Combining highway expansion with LRT construction can save costs by doing both highway improvements and rail construction at the same time. As an example, Denver's Transportation Expansion Projectrebuilt interstate highways 25 and 225 and added a light-rail expansion for a total cost of $1.67 billion over five years. The cost of 17 miles (27 km) of highway improvements and 19 miles (31 km) of double-track light rail worked out to $19.3 million per highway lane-mile and $27.6 million per LRT track-mile. The project came in under budget and 22 months ahead of schedule.

LRT cost efficiency improves dramatically as ridership increases, as can be seen from the numbers above: the same rail line, with similar capital and operating costs, is far more efficient if it is carrying 20,000 people per hour than if it is carrying 2,400. The Calgary
Calgary
, Alberta, C-Trainused many common light rail techniques to keep costs low, including minimizing underground and elevated trackage, sharing transit malls with buses, leasing rights-of-way from freight railroads, and combining LRT construction with freeway expansion. As a result, Calgary
Calgary
ranks toward the less expensive end of the scale with capital costs of around $24 million per mile.

However, Calgary's LRT ridership is much higher than any comparable US light rail system, at 300,000 passengers per weekday, and as a result its capital efficiency is also much higher. Its capital costs were one-third those of the San Diego Trolley, a comparably sized US system built at the same time, while by 2009 its ridership was approximately three times as high. Thus, Calgary's capital cost per passenger was much lower than that of San Diego. Its operating cost per passenger was also much lower because of its higher ridership. A typical C-Trainvehicle costs only CA$ 163 (equivalent to $189 in 2016) per hour to operate, and since it averages 600 passengers per operating hour, Calgary
Calgary
Transit estimates that its LRT operating costs are only 27 cents per ride, versus $1.50 per ride on its buses.

Compared to buses, costs can be lower due to lower labor costs per passenger mile, higher ridership (observations show that light rail attracts more ridership than a comparable bus service) and faster average speed (reducing the amount of vehicles needed for the same service frequency). While light rail vehicles are more expensive to buy, they have a longer useful life than buses, sometimes making for lower life-cycle costs.

VARIATIONS

TRAMS OPERATING ON MAINLINE RAILWAYS

See also: Karlsruhe model On the Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe
Stadtbahn
Stadtbahn
sometimes share mainline tracks with heavy-rail trains

Around Karlsruhe
Karlsruhe
, Kassel
Kassel
, and Saarbrückenin Germany, dual-voltage light rail trains partly use mainline railroad tracks, sharing these tracks with heavy-rail trains. In the Netherlands
Netherlands
, this concept was first applied on the RijnGouweLijn. This allows commuters to ride directly into the city centre, rather than taking a mainline train only as far as a central station and then having change to a tram. In France, similar tram-trains are planned for Paris, Mulhouse
Mulhouse
, and Strasbourg
Strasbourg
; further projects exist. In some cases, tram-trains use previously abandoned or lightly used heavy rail lines in addition to or instead of still in use mainline tracks.

Some of the issues involved in such schemes are:

* compatibility of the safety systems * power supply of the track in relation to the power used by the vehicles (frequently different voltages, rarely third rail vs overhead wires) * width of the vehicles in relation to the position of the platforms

* height of the platforms

There is a history of what would now be considered light-rail vehicles operating on heavy-rail rapid transit tracks in the US, especially in the case of interurban streetcars . Notable examples are Lehigh Valley Transittrains running on the Philadelphia and Western Railroad high-speed third rail line (now the Norristown High Speed Line ). Such arrangements are almost impossible now, due to the Federal Railroad Administrationrefusing (for crash safety reasons) to allow non-FRA compliant railcars (i.e., subway and light rail vehicles) to run on the same tracks at the same times as compliant railcars, which includes locomotives and standard railroad passenger and freight equipment. Notable exceptions in the US are the NJ Transit River Line from Camden to Trenton and Austin's Capital MetroRail, which have received exemptions to the provision that light rail operations occur only during daytime hours and Conrail freight service only at night, with several hours separating one operation from the other. The O-Train Trillium Line
Trillium Line
in Ottawa
Ottawa
also has freight service at certain hours.

THIRD-RAIL POWER FOR TRAMS

Main article: Ground-level power supply

When electric streetcars were introduced in the late 19th century, conduit current collection was one of the first ways of supplying power, but it proved to be much more expensive, complicated, and trouble-prone than overhead wires . When electric street railways became ubiquitous, conduit power was used in those cities that did not permit overhead wires. In Europe, it was used in London, Paris, Berlin, Marseille, Budapest, and Prague. In the United States, it was used in parts of New York City and Washington, DC. Third rail technology was investigated for use on the Gold Coast of Australia for the G:link light rail, though power from overhead lines was ultimately utilized for that system.

In the French city of Bordeaux
Bordeaux
, the tramway network is powered by a third rail in the city centre, where the tracks are not always segregated from pedestrians and cars. The third rail (actually two closely spaced rails) is placed in the middle of the track and divided into eight-metre sections, each of which is powered only while it is completely covered by a tram. This minimises the risk of a person or animal coming into contact with a live rail. In outer areas, the trams switch to conventional overhead wires . The Bordeaux
Bordeaux
power system costs about three times as much as a conventional overhead wire system, and took 24 months to achieve acceptable levels of reliability, requiring replacement of all the main cables and power supplies. Operating and maintenance costs of the innovative power system still remain high. However, despite numerous service outages, the system was a success with the public, gaining up to 190,000 passengers per day.

SEE ALSO

* Automated guideway transit
Automated guideway transit
* Cater MetroTrolley
Cater MetroTrolley
* Capa vehicle * General Motors streetcar conspiracy * H-Bahn * Light rail in North America * Light Rail Transit Association * List of North American light rail systems by ridership * List of rail transit systems in the United States * List of town tramway systems(all-time lists)

* List of tram and light rail transit systems
List of tram and light rail transit systems
(operational systems _only_) * List of United States light rail systems by ridership * Medium-capacity rail transport system * Passenger rail terminology
Passenger rail terminology
* Railway electrification system
Railway electrification system
* Rubber-tyred trams * Streetcars in North America * Tram
Tram
* Tram
Tram
and light rail transit systems * Urban rail transit

REFERENCES

* ^ _A_ _B_ "Fact Book Glossary - Mode of Service Definitions". American Public Transportation Association. 2015. Retrieved 2015-01-06. * ^ "National Transit Database Glossary". U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Transit Administration
Federal Transit Administration
. 18 October 2013. Retrieved 2015-01-06. * ^ "What is light rail?". _ Public transport
Public transport
A-Z_. International Association of Public Transport . 2008. Archived from the original on 13 October 2008. Retrieved 2015-07-29. * ^ "This Is Light Rail Transit" (PDF). Transportation Research Board. pp. 7–9. Retrieved 2015-01-06. * ^ "What is Light Rail?". Light Rail Transit Association(LRTA). Retrieved 2015-01-06. * ^ "Welcome to Saskrailmuseum.org". _Saskatchewan Railway Museum _. BlackNova Internet Services. 11 September 2008. Archived from the original on 15 October 2008. Retrieved 2009-12-26. * ^ Courtenay, Peter (2006). "Trams in the UK". _thetrams.co.uk_. Retrieved 26 December 2009. * ^ _A_ _B_ Bottoms, Glen (2000). _Continuing Developments in Light Rail Transit in Western Europe_ (PDF). 9th National Light Rail Transit Conference. Portland, Oregon: Light Rail Transit Association. Retrieved 26 December 2009. * ^ Thompson, Gregory L. (2003). "Defining an Alternative Future: The Birth of the Light Rail Movement in North America". _Transportation Research Circular_. Transportation Research Board (E-C058). Retrieved 26 December 2009. From: 9th National Light Rail Transit Conference * ^ Gregory L. Thompson (2003), _Defining an Alternative Future: Birth of the Light Rail Movement in North America_ (PDF), Transportation Research Board. * ^ " Tram
Tram
(definition)". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-07-18. * ^ "The Yesterland Hotel Tram". _Yesterland.com_. Retrieved 2013-02-07. * ^ "Trolley (definition)". Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary. Retrieved 2007-07-18. * ^ "Light Rail Transit". Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved 2007-07-18. * ^ Smiler, Simon P. "Trams, Streetcars and Light Rail Vehicles". _citytransport.info_. Retrieved 2007-07-18. * ^ Plous, Jr, F.K. (June 1984). "A Desire Named Streetcar". _Planning_. American Planning Association. Archived from the original on 3 March 2006. Retrieved 2007-08-14. * ^ "Light Rail Schedule Speed – Faster Than Bus, Competitive With Car". * ^ " Link Light Rail
Link Light Rail
in the North American Context". 30 December 2009. * ^ Fazio, A. E.; Hickey, T. R. (2003). "Designing New Light Rail – Taking Engineering Beyond Vanilla". Circular E-C058: 9th National Light Rail Transit Conference. Transportation Research Board. Retrieved 2006-11-10. * ^ "Technical Data". _Light Rail Vehicle System Houston/Texas, USA_. Siemens. 2008. Archived from the original on 27 April 2008. Retrieved 2008-03-18. * ^ _A_ _B_ " Siemens S70Low-Floor Light Rail Vehicle" (PDF). Siemens. * ^ _A_ _B_ "Gomaco Trolley Company". Gomaco Trolley Company. * ^ Comparison of Energy Use & CO2 Emissions From Different Transportation Modes page 7, Results of Analysis. M.J. Bradley & Associates, May 2007 * ^ Matt Lorenz and Lily Elefteriadou (2000) _A Probabilistic Approach to Defining Freeway Capacity and Breakdown_ (PDF), Transportation Research Board. * ^ "Highlights of the 2001 National Household Travel Survey: A-15 Vehicle Occupancy Per Vehicle Mile by Time of Day and Weekend Status". US Department of Transportation. * ^ Tom Parkinson and Ian Fisher (1996) _Rail Transit Capacity_, Transportation Research Board. * ^ _Transit Capacity and Quality of Se