Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Tram Trains

This is something I'd like to see more thought on in the United States. The Tram Train:
Netherlands has been building a intercity light rail network for the past years, reusing previous sections of tram lines, metros and heavy rail and extending them with new sections of elevated rail and tunnels. The RandstadRail currently operates on the southern region of the “round city”, namely connecting the Hague to its suburbs and Rotterdam.
Check out the photos at the link. I think it's a great idea to have regional railways that turn more into light rail in city centers. This is what Austin would have had to a certain degree with the first light rail proposal in 2000. A light rail line with limited stops in the burbs with greater connectivity in the center city.


rob jackel said...

This reminds me quite a bit of the Riverline running from Trenton to Camden, or for that matter the light-rail lines in Suburban Philadelphia

Justin said...

Never going to happen with the Draconian rules in place in Canada, and the US. Also, the roads will not want to pay for the safety upgrades, and signals to allow trams to run along freight. It would be nice though.
The RiverLINE, SPrinter, O-Train, and Austin's line is about as close we are going to get with Tram-Train.

BruceMcF said...

The River line runs on a freight rail line without being FRA compliant to run alongside freight, by time-separating the runs.

And that seems the most likely scenario for a tram train in the US ... a streetcar that is designed to run on a regular freight rail corridor, which uses that capability to connect short urban or "suburban village center" streetcar sections using existing lightly used track, with strict time separation between the Rapid Streetcar and the freight traffic.

If it is desired to keep the network open wiht late night service, an FRA compliant heavy rail train, perhaps used as a regional stopping train during the day, could run on the rail corridor alone, bypassing the streetcar sections.

Looking ahead, in order to support a transition from energy intensive cross country diesel truck freight to electric rail freight saving more than 90% of the energy, we would want a distinct Rapid Rail class of rail path in any event, with a higher standard of signaling and automatic train control. A streetcar designed to inter-operate run on regular track would be better suited to running on a freight rail path designed for 100mph container freight than one designed for 30mph coal trains.

theo said...

Also quite similar to the Tyne & Wear Metro (Newcastle, UK).

Part tram, part metro, runs long distances on disused heavy rail alignments.

Matt Fisher said...

The rules are bad already. What makes them want to keep it out?

A number of places in Germany - Karlsruhe, Saarbr├╝cken, Chemnitz, and Kassel - already allow this. Karlsruhe is the pioneer of the tram train concept. You're right that this is kind of like what Austin would have had if the 2000 LRT proposal was approved. I've felt the same way looking at the proposal myself, although this was some time after its narrow defeat.

Some other places in France with new tram installations are going with the tram train, which is underway in Strasbourg, Mulhouse, and Nantes. Quite a number of other European cities have plans as well. I figure that the Tyne & Wear Metro is LRT, but is similar. It isn't fully like other new LRT installations in England, though, like in Manchester or Birmingham (although the last two do use former rail lines in part).

I wish there had been some posting about this already. I wish there was more of this!!! The RandstadRail you're talking about is going to have some intergration with metro lines in Rotterdam, and it's already being built.

In two other German (former East Germany) cities, Nordhausen and Zwickau, there is partially diesel operation that comes close. Both are metre gauge tram operations. In Zwickau, a three gauge track is interesting to see if you look at this picture.

Adam said...

It's reasons like this I really want to see the FRA relax or repeal its antiquated guidelines. Clearly the FRA doesn't know about things like PTC or CBTC based signaling systems. Advanced signaling prevents more fatalities than rustalicious diesel engines do over Desiros, Talents, and Coradias (for commuter rail), MX3000s for subways, and Citadis and Desiro trams.

Pedestrianist said...

"A light rail line with limited stops in the burbs with greater connectivity in the center city."

Sort of the opposite of Muni Metro.

BruceMcF said...

There is also a group in Newcastle, Australia, that has proposed something along the lines of the tram-train as an alternative to ripping out the existing heavy rail line into the CBD.

Newcastle Deserves Better

Anonymous said...

Tram-train? There use lot of these in North America, though they were called interurbans.

Cap'n Transit said...

"Never going to happen ... the roads will not ... is about as close we are going to get"

Nice constructive comment there!

Spokker said...

"Nice constructive comment there!"

What was wrong wit his comment?

Matt Fisher said...

Uhhh, these interurbans were more of a different story. In Ontario, they're called "radial railways".

And there is no such thing as the Desiro tram. You must be thinking of the Combino. There is a EMU version of the Desiro train, and it's used in England, as well as Greece, Slovenia, and Bulgaria. Bush appears to have confused Slovenia and Slovakia.

Cap'n Transit said...

Spokker, he was being a wet blanket, that's what.

Bob Davis said...

When I lived along the Pacific Electric line in Monrovia CA, we had a daily gravel train running in between interurban cars. One of the electric locomotives that powered these trains still exists, and will probably be running next month at Orange Empire Ry. Museum. PE did have some nasty wrecks, but most of them involved trolley cars of different grades of sturdiness colliding.

njh said...

Do wet blankets put out flame wars?