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Mechan: Faster, lighter, more frequent

Mechan: Faster, lighter, more frequent

Faster, lighter, more frequent. This is the mantra of those of us serving the light rail industry. As commuters turn increasingly to tram and metro networks, the pressure is on to deliver more efficient, express services. Consequently, maintenance teams are being asked to keep vehicles in operation longer and minimise downtime. Those of us in the supply chain are, therefore, being challenged to develop products that will speed up servicing and simplify labour intensive tasks. Here at Mechan, we have seen a notable rise in enquiries from light rail depots seeking similar equipment to their heavier cousins, where through projects like the Intercity Express Programme, huge investment has been made in advanced workshop technology. Thanks to our European partners, we can supply sanding systems, electric shunters and quicker, more accurate methods of measuring wheelsets, that not only streamline the maintenance process, but also offer real environmental benefits. As tram operators look to extend their services and replace aging fleets, investment is being made in the development of very light vehicles. This has subsequently opened up an emerging market for lower capacity lifting equipment. At the moment, we are working on a new range of jacks, designed specifically to lift the latest, lightest railcars. So far, we have discovered they usually need a bespoke base arrangement and lower lifting heights, due to the proximity of the vehicle to the rail. But, just like our tried and tested heavier versions, they can still be synchronised in sets of almost any length to raise complete trains, eliminating the time lost in decoupling. The future looks bright for those of us serving the...
Melbourne’s iconic fleet comes full circle

Melbourne’s iconic fleet comes full circle

Recently, the Bendigo Tramways launched a 102-year-old tram back into service in December 2017 thanks to a crowdfunding campaign that helped raise over $35,000 towards its restoration. The campaign which was launched at the end of 2016 with a hugely popular video featuring tramways staff and volunteers, resulted in people and businesses quickly jumping on board to play their part in bringing Tram No. 7 back to life. “We were overwhelmed by the response to the crowdfunding campaign for Tram No. 7,” said Luke Jenkins, Bendigo Tramways Manager. The campaign included the opportunity to donate for perks such as advertising boards on the tram, having your name on a seat, driver’s cabin, controller or etched on a window and even getting a six pack of beer with specially designed labels. “Both businesses and individuals responded to our call for support and even after the campaign came to an end, we continued to receive significant donations, so we are delighted to return this tram to our service fleet for them to see what they have made possible,” explained Luke. The campaign has also uncovered some great stories from Bendigo families whose relatives were involved with the trams during their public transport years. “A number of people have used the opportunity to remember their parents and grandparents who used to be employed at the tramways, by dedicating a part of the tram to them,” said Luke. One plaque reads: “Dedicated in memory of Hugh McKenzie Harvey 1906-1996. ‘Hughie’ (Badge No. 2) was a tram driver in Bendigo for 40 years! He concluded his career by driving the last public transport service from...
Tramway current demand

Tramway current demand

A significant cost for any tramway operator is the one introduced by the vehicles themselves. This is not only important in the annual costs of supplying electricity for traction power and auxiliaries, but also in the initial infrastructure construction as well as its ongoing maintenance. In this article I will present the factors that determine the current demand of a modern tram vehicle, consider some of the losses that need to be overcome, and some ways of achieving these. Defining the demand In order to design an efficient overhead and power distribution system, the first thing we need to establish is the current demand. The current is proportional to the power demand, and forms two parts: that required to accelerate or decelerate, and that to keep the tram running at a constant speed. With the rate of acceleration normally required, the former is by far the highest, except in locations with steep gradients. Rail vehicles running at moderate speeds have very low rolling resistance, much less than that of road vehicles and in the order of 5kg per Tonne weight. So, for a laden weight of 60t, we need a tractive effort of 300kg (or approximately 3kN). To determine the power demand, we must multiply tractive effort by speed in metres per second. So at 50km/h (14m/s), we have a mechanical power demand of 42kW. To this we need to add electrical losses, which in this case should be less than 10%, so we get a traction power demand of approximately 46kW, which at 750V is 61 amps (61A). This seems like a very low amount, but then we...
125 years of the MER

125 years of the MER

At first glance it may seem like a bold statement, but there really is nowhere else in the British Isles, or indeed worldwide, quite like the Isle of Man. Situated in the middle of the Irish Sea only 19km (12 miles) from Scotland, its nearest neighbour, the Island is a transport enthusiast’s paradise with electric trams, horse trams, steam trains, a mountain railway, miniature railways and museums. At its heart is a true gem: the Manx Electric Railway. Visitors can travel on Victorian tramcars, little changed since the 1890s. Trams amble along, up and down hills and around sharp curves, through wooded glens and along rugged cliff tops with spectacular views across the unrivalled coastal scenery. It was in early 1893 that true visionaries began the construction of the tramway northwards along the eastern coast from Douglas, the Island’s capital. Electric traction was in its infancy at the time, so it was a bold decision to build an electric tramway on an island still relatively difficult to travel to and where a public electricity supply was many years in the future. The first section to Groudle opened in September of that year, with an extension to Laxey in 1894. The following year, the Snaefell Mountain Railway was built in just seven months from Laxey to the summit of Snaefell, the Island’s only mountain. Ramsey, the northern terminus, was reached in 1899. During the following year the tramway company, by now seriously overspent, was placed into liquidation and was purchased in 1902 by the newly-formed Manx Electric Railway Company. Tourism was now booming as workers from the industrial areas of...
Light rail in Denmark

Light rail in Denmark

Denmark has a rich tramway history. Its capital opened one of the earliest horse-drawn passenger services in Europe in 1863, passing through phases of steam power and onboard battery operation before overhead electrification just before the turn of the 20th Century. The mode was never widely spread across the nation however, with city tramway operation only developed in Aarhus, Odense and Copenhagen (as well an unusual 750mm-gauge service on the island of Rømø). Mirroring the familiar tale worldwide, the increased cost of maintenance fought against the competition from other modes and the growth of the private automobile; Denmark’s final passenger tram ran in Copenhagen on 23 April 1972, with its rolling stock sold to Alexandria in Egypt. A handful of these cars were repatriated for preservation in 2001. Examples of the country’s city tramcars can be found at the Sporvejsmuseet Skjoldenæsholm museum around 65km (40 miles) south-west of the capital. Another important factor which makes trams an ideal transport solution for Danish cities is their generally moderate size. Copenhagen, the capital, is the exception, and here the Ring 3 LRT line will encourage development and inward investment in the municipalities investing in the scheme, forming a key part of the overall regional development plan. The city of Aarhus may be the location of the first modern tramway in Denmark, but more are to follow. As the pathfinder for the mode, many lessons are being learnt and there is a great deal of collaboration and sharing of experience. Because street-running light rail is, in effect, a brand new mode to the country, one of the biggest challenges surrounds regulations and...
Denmark’s LRT revolution

Denmark’s LRT revolution

Following a couple of false starts, the new tramway in Aarhus, Denmark, opened for business on 21 December 2017, returning steel wheel-on-steel rail service to the city following a hiatus of 46 years. The final parade of first-generation tramcars ran on the city’s metre-gauge rails on 7 November 1971. As the first such installation of the mode in the country in the 21st Century, the first phase of this eventual 110km (68-mile) mix of standard-gauge tram and tram-train operation is the first step in re-establishing light rail in a nation that boasts some of the highest environmental credentials in Europe. Aside from being a Danish pioneer, what makes the Aarhus project interesting is that it covers just about every application of modern light rail: street-running in mixed traffic, segregated rural sections, complex bridge construction and tram-train running. Driving the green agenda With a population of 330 000, Aarhus is Denmark’s second-largest city. Over the past ten years the largest population centre in the East Jutland region has welcomed 15 000 new residents and created 20 000 new jobs. Conservative projections suggest that by 2030 the city will grow by an additional 50 000 inhabitants, creating a further 30 000 employment opportunities and student places at the city’s expanding and world-renowned university. The greater Aarhus city region is now almost as big as the capital region of Copenhagen, although its urban and interurban infrastructure is nowhere near as comprehensive. Yet given the city’s ambitions to establish itself on the world stage and move away from the private car in stimulating urban regeneration, it is therefore apt that its first tramline opened...