The International Light Rail Magazine
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Taking our cities back from the private car

We live in a world undergoing rapid urbanisation. Today, 54% of the world’s population live in cities, and by 2050 that number will grow to nearly 70%. In addition, road congestion and pollution are at all-time highs. Life in city environments is becoming increasingly challenging and less liveable. Finally, the rise of digitalisation and an ‘always on’ culture has transformed the way passengers perceive mobility services. It is therefore becoming more and more important for mobility service providers to have a deeper understanding of passengers’ needs – and it is also more important than ever to develop smarter mobility and flow management. At Keolis, we believe that mass transit is the best solution to provide the necessary capacity, frequency and fluidity to handle urban growth and passenger demands. It is also one of the best ways to meet today’s – and tomorrow’s – environmental challenges. We are convinced that mobility must be Connected, Autonomous, Shared and Electric (CASE). Building future mobility upon these four pillars will help us address the issues cited above. On 1 February 2018, together with 14 of the world’s leading transport and technology companies including BlaBlaCar, Lyft, Via and Uber, we signed the Shared Mobility Principles for Livable Cities, pledging to prioritise people over vehicles, lower emissions, promote equality and encourage data sharing, amongst other goals. The ten principles of this charter are: 1.  We plan our cities and their mobility together 2. We prioritise people over vehicles 3. We support the shared and efficient use of vehicles, lanes, curbs and land 4. We engage with stakeholders 5. We promote equality 6.  We lead the...
Hamburg’s green depot

Hamburg’s green depot

For the first time since the 1960s, Hamburg’s Hochbahn is building a new depot for its U-Bahn system. The urban rail network in this north German harbour city is growing – and that makes greater capacity for fleet stabling and maintenance essential. The most recent ridership figures show a 2.5% rise, to 455 million a year, and the current ‘big ticket’ projects are the five-stop line U5, as well as a one-stop extension of U4. Hamburger Hochbahn is also expanding its fleet: in 2016 the number of vehicles was 230, but 260 are expected by 2030. That means the existing combination of a workshop in Barmbek (north of the city centre) and a running depot in Farmsen (in the north-east) will no longer be enough. So the solution is a new depot – for which the foundation ceremony took place in October 2017. Environmental ‘upper league’ The new Billstedt depot will literally be a green facility – the main building incorporates a grassed roof – and also features heating from the district grid; a rainwater reclamation system; and insect-friendly lighting. Billstedt is described as playing in the “upper league” when it comes to Germany’s innovative standards. The choice of location was driven by more basic considerations. Expanding the existing facility at Farmsen was a non-starter because it has insufficient space. In what had previously been a yard area, between Billstedt and Legienstrße to the east of the city, there was more space however. Choosing this spot put the new depot adjacent to U2 and U4, maximising efficiency by minimising empty stock working. Once it opens (in 2019), Billstedt will maintain trains...
Moveable OCS systems

Moveable OCS systems

Furrer+Frey have always believed that there is more to great customer service than just technical expertise. Successful design involves listening to and working closely with customers to develop solutions that enhance safety, efficiency and the reliability of railway systems. Our innovative moveable overhead conductor-rail system (MOCS) not only ensures that safe maintenance can be carried out on rail vehicles by enabling safe and free access to roof-mounted equipment in depots, but it can also be adapted for situations like lifting and swing bridges, temporary works and tunnel refurbishments. Our MOCS has a proven track record of safety and reliability on a wide range of networks and voltages around the world. It is already operational in more than 125 installations in over 20 countries. Based on our Rigid Overhead Conductor-rail System (ROCS), it can be moved away from the track as required, switched off and earthed, enabling obstruction-free access to the infrastructure. As the system is rigid in nature, it can also be simply isolated from adjoining electrified sections. It is always accompanied by an integrated control and communication system that provides a proven safe and efficient way of controlling various electrical and mechanical interfaces linked to the overhead line. Making depots safer Vehicle inspection and maintenance tracks in depots and workshops are often electrified to allow uninterrupted train movement or require diesel/battery operated shunting locomotives. If these tracks are electrified, the overhead system can cause obstructions for staff who need to access the vehicles’ roofs, with associated safety hazards similar to those associated with electrified lines above operational tracks. Over the past two decades we have developed and supplied...
Free public transport: why not?

Free public transport: why not?

The concept of a ride on a tram or bus without having to buy a ticket is not something that may be easily understood by many, but it’s by no means impossible. Remarkably, running a public transport system where people can hop on and off with freedom of the city can also be done at a profit. We have proved this in Tallinn. To many European Union members, particularly in the Baltic region, the United Kingdom’s rigid policy of charging relatively high fares appears puzzling. I cannot see any fundamental reason why there cannot be some form of concession in certain areas, at particular times of day, or for special groups of people. The largest city in Estonia, Tallinn’s urban population is currently 450 000 (a third of the national total) and is growing at an annual rate of around 5000. Yet while Tallinn still retains a ticketing system for visitors, since January 2013 we have offered free travel to residents for all trams, buses, and trolleybuses (managed by municipal operator Tallinna Linnatrasnpordi Aktsiaselts TLT), and also rail services (managed by state-owned Elron AS) within the city boundaries. The main reason for this quantum policy shift is what we describe as ‘social urgency’. After the world financial crisis of 2008-09, Estonia needed to survive economically and there was the serious threat of a population exodus to other countries. In a country of just 1.3 million, only the capital region is prospering and we expect to lose around 15% of our people over the next 30 years. The results of a 2010-11 municipal satisfaction survey clearly indicated that the ticket price...
Victoria’s working museum

Victoria’s working museum

If the Melbourne Tramway Museum contains representatives covering the entire tramway period in Melbourne; that at Haddon is complementary by demonstrating tramcars operationally. The Melbourne Tramcar Preservation Association (MTPA) is based 12km (seven miles) from Ballarat. Its origins date from 1974, when a group of individuals formed the Haddon Tramway Workshops (HTW). Purchase of the Haddon site allowed erection of a building for tram restoration work, the first project being Ballarat 30. Following a reorganisation of HTW this tram moved to the USA, where it has been restored. The HTW was incorporated as the MTPA in 1984, and development has continued as its restoration programme has proceeded and an operating line has been created. Now that regular operation of heritage tramcars in Melbourne has ceased, Haddon has become the operating museum for Melbourne trams. Most comprehensive collection Haddon specialises in the preservation of Melbourne tramcars with no exhibit from beyond the metropolitan area. By a judicious collection policy, the MTPA has assembled examples of almost the entire range of W-Class drop-centre bogie cars, illustrating design and livery changes over the years. W-Class cars have found their way to many tramway museums and heritage lines, not just in Australia; however, all MTPA cars are maintained in full operational condition and the collection is the most comprehensive of these iconic cars on any single museum site. The oldest Melbourne & Metropolitan Tramways Board (MMTB) car is class L 103, one of six ordered in 1919 by the Prahran & Malvern Tramways Trust. These drop-centre bogie cars paved the way for the MMTB’s W-Class cars, production of which continued in various forms...
Connecting Canberra

Connecting Canberra

In recent decades, citizens of cities the world over have become used to the idea of urban sprawl – particularly in the years after World War Two when new car-based developments encouraged suburban living and out of town shopping. However, in the Australian capital, the prospect is for new developments that in the years up to 2030 will create a more compact city. Canberra’s population is expected to increase to more than 500 000 in the next 15 years, up from around 400 000 today. The city currently has a population density of under 450 residents per square kilometre – low compared to other capital cities around the world. The plan to drive this in the coming decades will help support both more efficient public transport and vibrant neighbourhood centres. Canberrans recognise the relationship between this evolution and greater accessibility. However they also understand the convenience of having a car; as such, a symbolic moment in the push to reduce the reliance on private vehicles came in December 2017, with the arrival of the first of 14 CAF LRVs for the first stage of Canberra’s light rail. Opening of the first line between the city and Gungahlin is expected late this year. It has been estimated that light rail could make public transport travel times 30% faster than that of general traffic. Delivering light rail Since 2016, delivery of the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) Government’s vision of a high quality integrated public transport system that is convenient, efficient and affordable has fallen to Transport Canberra. This organisation combines the former Public Transport Division with the Capital Metro Agency, established by...