A comprehensive list of frequently asked questions collected via our online questionnaire.
What is Light Rail?
Light rail is rail based rapid transit. It has the benefit of being able to run along former railways, alongside highways or in the street as a tramway sharing space with pedestrians..
Why light rail?
Light rail is a preferred option for towns & cities that want to provide an attractive and competitive alternative to motor vehicles.
Steel wheels on steel rails benefits considerably from rolling resistance of about 10% – 15% compared to rubber tyres. This significantly reduces the energy input required to move light rail vehicles and contributes to their efficiency.
Steel wheel on steel rail also eliminates toxic PM2.5 “non-tailpipe” emissions created by tyre, brake and road wear.
What about Tram Vehicles?
Trams are a form of light rail that operate within streets and pedestrian areas.
Are Tram Vehicles User Friendly?
Most new trams have low level boarding making the vehicles much easier to board & alight for all users regardless of their ability. Trams are quite spacious and have a rail ride quality making them an attractive form of transport.
While tram systems have typically collected power from overhead catenary, many modern systems now employ vehicles fitted with super-capacitors to power on-board electric motors. This works by rapidly charging the tram vehicle at given intervals along the route, typically at specific tram stops. Charging can take place in under 20 seconds. Alstom’s world-class expertise in catenary-free technology, Citadis Ecopack guarantees the reliability and availability of tram services whilst enhancing the streetscape. Thames Gateway Tramlink Ltd are reviewing technology like this for potential use on KenEx.
Streets shared with other traffic
Trams are able to operate on streets shared with other vehicular traffic. To ensure that the service is not unduly hindered by traffic congestion traffic management methods are normally used to ensure that trams are not held up unnecessarily. Where the street or road is wide enough then a simple reservation can be created by using white lines or a slightly raised surface. If necessary, emergency vehicles can use these reservations speeding their progress.
Light rail can operate on a variety of different alignments. One of the factors that differentiate LRT from a pure tramway is the amount of segregation used. Segregation generally speeds up services.
On street operation
The performance of LRVs means that they are capable of running in streets shared with pedestrians and delivery traffic. Operation is obviously much slower than where there is a segregated alignment.
Quick Fire Questions
Does Light rail really help fight congestion?
Trams have a proven track record when it comes to attracting car drivers from their cars. Typically 20 percent of the peak-hour passengers on a light rail system transferred from car.
Does Light Rail reduce congestion on the routes it serves?
In Manchester, traffic flows on key routes into central Manchester reduced by up to 10 per cent at peak times.
Does introducing light rail really increases overall patronage of public transport?
In Nottingham there were “Initial indications that the public transport market has increased by over 20 per cent.”
Is Light Rail better for the environment?
- Electric light rail makes no pollution at the point of use.
- It uses energy more efficiently than buses or cars, and so has a smaller carbon footprint.
- Electric systems can be powered from renewable sources.
- Light rail is quiet in operation. It enhances the urban landscape, making city centres more attractive places to live and work.
- Introducing light rail helps tackle climate change, improve air quality and reduce fossil fuel use.
- Tram networks benefit individuals by improving their accessibility to a wide range of destinations including work & recreation.
- The biggest beneficiaries are those who previously were unable to use other modes of transport or when previously used modes were less frequent, reliable, slower or required changes.
- Light rail systems lead to less street level traffic pollution and fewer road accidents.
- Light rail frees up road space for walking or cycling, and reduces the need for town centre car parking requirements.