Talk:Light rail

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Former good article nominee Light rail was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
April 25, 2006 Good article nominee Not listed
WikiProject Trains / Rapid transit (Rated B-class, High-importance)
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Talk:Light rail/Archive 1

Good Article nomination has failed[edit]

The Good article nomination for Light rail has failed, for the following reason:

There are no references listed, only external links. While it may be that these links were used as references, the reader has no way of knowing this. References are especially necessary in the discussion about costs. Also as a matter of formatting, the large line of rather large thumbnail images is a bit overwhelming. Slambo (Speak) 19:56, 25 April 2006 (UTC)
Plus there's the issue of how light rail simply doesn't arouse the same passions in people (pro or con) as freeways do, which is why it's generally easier to find references for freeways (as I have done for that article). --Coolcaesar 22:13, 20 May 2006 (UTC)

Sites opposing light rail[edit]

Since these are all U.S. special interest sites (and highly opinionated, too), I am proposing to move them to the Light rail in North America article so that readers elsewhere don't have to put up with them. Unless someone objects, I will do so soon. RockyMtnGuy 04:00, 8 September 2006 (UTC)

As proposed, I moved the list of U.S. sites opposing light rail to Light rail in North America. Their mileage seems to differ from other countries kilometreage. RockyMtnGuy 22:30, 19 September 2006 (UTC)

After reading the article on the General Motors streetcar conspiracy about the historic conspiracy by General Motors, Chevron Corporation, Firestone and others to buy up hundreds of electric railways in the U.S. and shut them down in favor of diesel buses, I began to be suspicious about these American sites opposing light rail. So I checked them, and according to sites such as and, the organizations behind many of them are funded by automobile and oil companies. This goes along way to explaining why many of their facts are bogus and a lot of their arguments are specious. Yes, Virginia, there still is a streetcar conspiracy. So, please be aware when editing this article that many U.S sources oposing light rail are corporate shills. You have been warned. RockyMtnGuy 04:38, 17 November 2006 (UTC)

P.S. having worked and consulted for oil companies for decades, I enjoy a good conspiracy as much as anybody, but not when it screws up an article I'm trying to edit. RockyMtnGuy 04:38, 17 November 2006 (UTC)
We aren't even sure whicb is the cause and effect. The organizations could well be funded by automobile and oil companies precisely because they were already opponents of light rail in the first place, and not, as you assumed, the other way round. Always assuming the hypothesis that some lobbyists of whatever opinion stand [that we don't like] believe in this is because someone paid them money is a type of guilty until proven innocent fallacy. --JNZ 00:12, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
When people are not totally aboveboard about who is paying the bills, I get a little suspicious. You have to realize that General Motors is in a "When did you stop beating your wife?" situation. If someone asks you that question, and the correct answer is "When they sent me to jail for it," it just doesn't play well in the media no matter how you spin it. So the best solution is to hire someone completely unrelated to lie about it on your behalf. Preferrably without anyone knowing you paid them. The tobacco companies did that quite a lot in the past, but unfortunately for them it all came out in the lawsuits, and it's all posted on the internet now. RockyMtnGuy 03:38, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
Again, you are transcribing motives and this does not logically hold. You need to prove that lobbyist A did not believe in this until GM or whoever paid them and then A decided a turn around for your thesis to hold. This is not an internet forum so I won't go further, but I can say that even the most pro-rail people in New Zealand will consider your arguments hilarious and not on firm groundings. --JNZ 09:23, 10 January 2007 (UTC)
Well, first of all let me say that New Zealand is a great country from all reports, and I hope to visit there some day, but it's possible you people are a bit naive. We here in Canada are very close to the U.S. and I have been to many of the cities mentioned by lobbyist A. When I checked his facts, and when they turned out to be seriously inaccurate, I begin to wonder why. After seeing a list of contributors to his cause, I began to suspect why. The oil companies in particular have lots of money, and having worked for them myself in the past I know they are not always totally honest, so I suspect that lobbyist A may not be a paragon of intellectual honesty himself. However, that aside, the bottom line is that his data is inaccurate and misleading, so I feel free to discount his conclusions. I rely more on the Transportation Research Board because they seem to do pretty good research. However, I have also been riding the most successful light rail system in North America for the past 25 years so I know what the systems can do if well designed. Your kilometrage in New Zealand may vary. RockyMtnGuy 00:53, 12 January 2007 (UTC)

To conspiracy nuts or just those that avoid some possible facts: Please look at substance & stop bringing up ad hominem fallacies & source of bread. If there really is truth in the streetcar conspiracy, mention those points, not just GM. If you really want to look at ideology:

"This guy can't say anything valid because he... or some of his money comes from..." Get real. Get an open mind. And don't be a socialist. By the way, do you buy any of the types of products that are offered by the companies that are slandered?

I get paid by _________. Does that mean that anything I say is false & supported by that company. I pity a thought process that does not look at content. Did you know that oil companies believe that the Earth revolves around the sun? (talk) 15:09, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Now, the great thing about the General Motors streetcar conspiracy, which sets it apart from the general run of conspiracy theories, is that General Motors was convicted in court of conspiring to buy up and shut down streetcar lines. If you don't believe me, you can do a search and find the court decision for yourself. This, in legal terms, makes it a matter of fact, and not of theory, that GM engaged in a conspiracy. For conspiracy fans, it just doesn't get any better than this. GM can resort to the "I don't do it any more", "You didn't read the decision right", and "The devil made me do it" defenses, but they can't deny that they did it. So, they won't deny it, they'll just obfuscate, or pay people to obfuscate for them.
And, no, I don't buy the products made by the companies in question, but that's not a matter of conviction (cheap joke) but of the fact that their products are crap. But I won't get into that here. I'm a confirmed capitalist and have retired early on the money I've made from the unnamed oil companies you don't mention. However, seeing how the price of oil is trending lately, maybe reviving those old streetcar lines might be a good idea... RockyMtnGuy (talk) 18:47, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

External Links[edit]

I have removed the following link from the external links section of the site, feel free to re-instate: "A Common Sense Plan for a Dublin Metro" [1] On looking at the site's content it's just total pie in the sky and anyone with even a limited knowledge of Dublin transport infrastructure would recognise that - Cut-Paste 17:52, 7 November 2006 (UTC)Cut-Paste

Well, I don't have a limited knowledge of Dublin's transportation, but what are the "pie in the sky" aspects of the proposal?
The proposed plan doesn't seem that ambitious compared to, say, Oslo. It had two disconnected railway stations on opposite sides of the city, so they bored a tunnel through solid granite to connect them, and built an underground opera house in it just to show that they enjoy a challenge. Oslo is a smaller city than Dublin (and is 80% forest as they are fond of pointing out). Dublin is in the metro population range (1-2 million) where light rail makes the most sense. RockyMtnGuy 21:27, 3 November 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, I wanted to avoid going into detail but perhaps I should have.
No previous comprehensive study of Dublin's transport requirements, of which there are many, have made any recommendations similar to what is being proposed on the above link, though I admit this is insufficient reason to remove it. However, there are many sufficient reasons and they are as follows;
- The article opens with the question "What are the advantages of rail" as opposed to bus corridors and the like. It then outlines two advantages. The number one advantage outlined being energy efficiency but on the proviso that "stops are infrequent". Its argument against Dublin's Luas is that the stops on the Luas system are very frequent. However, even according to the main Wikipedia article on the subject one of the main characteristics of light rail is that stops are very frequent. This is an established precedent and for good reasons. Presumably there is a bias against light rail on this site in favour of heavy suburban rail, even though the two serve different functions.
The Wikipedia article defines two types of light rail: 1) the "traditional" model which has frequent stops, and 2) the "modern" variety, which has stations spaced further apart. In my experience, successful LRT systems have stations spaced very close together in the urban core (sometimes not much more than 200 metres apart), widening to two or three kilometres in the suburbs. It doesn't make a great difference in energy efficiency because the trains use regenerative braking and dump power back into the grid when they decelerate. It it can be difficult to distinguish between "modern" light rail and heavy rail, except in terms of construction costs.RockyMtnGuy 19:57, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
The second main advantage of rail over road according the author is that they are more economical to tunnel underground in built-up areas because they take up less space. This point doesn't constitute a reason to put a light rail/tram system such as Luas underground even though it's being suggested that it is. It also ignores the main objective of Luas to reduce car dependency in the Dublin area by limiting car access to the city centre.
Light rail takes up less space underground because it only requires space for two tracks, but pushed to its limits can carry as many people as a 16-lane roadway. It is also easier to run underground because electric trains do not require extra ventillation to get rid of carbon monoxide and there is no chance of a disasterous tunnel fire from a collision spilling gasoline on the roadway. However, I do think the Dublin Metro proposal overemphasizes the idea of building tunnels. There look to be a lot of opportunities for cheaper at-grade construction in the pictures. RockyMtnGuy 19:57, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
Both advantages strike me as totally absurd and I would have thought this would be the common perception.
-The author of above site appears of the impression that Dublin's Luas and proposed Metro are interchangeable with Dublin's suburban rail. There's no acknowledgement of the fact that Luas/Metro and Irish Rail operate on differing gauges.
It's entirely possible to build dual-gauge railways by using three parallel tracks instead of two, but most countries avoid it because it is more expensive than using a single standard gauge. An exception is Switzerland, where the cost of adding a third rail is insignificant compared to the costs of building railways in the Alps, and narrow gauge saves money. In Ireland, however, it opens the larger question of why the country is still using a non-standard gauge on its railways. RockyMtnGuy 19:57, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
The guage of the national rail network is uniform and being an island means it isn't an issue, nor is it the case that there exists an intention to change to standard guage. Cut-Paste 17:52, 7 November 2006 (UTC)Cut-Paste
- The most laughable point of the article on the above site is the suggestion that part of the existing (and new) Luas infrastructure should be put underground to connect Dublin's two main intercity railway stations instead the Irish Rail proposal for an interconnector[2] via a different route. It suggests cut and cover as the method to tunnelling under Dublin's main river, the Liffey. How is this common sense??
Cut-and-cover as applied to rivers usually means dredging a trench in the riverbed, sinking pre-fabricated tunnel sections in it, and connecting the sections together. It's a standard way of crossing where tunneling conditions are poor. I assume the author suggested it because Dublin's tunneling conditions are inferior to London's famous blue clay layer, for instance. However, light rail systems also have the option of using a bridge, because they can climb grades steep enough to climb out of a tunnel onto a bridge and back again. RockyMtnGuy 19:57, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
The shortcomings of Dublin's more valid public transport plans aside, there are many established precedents and examples of best practice followed by these plans that the above article totally ignores. I could go on about them but I won't, I simply feel that the link if left on this Wikipedia entry would actually tarnish the contents of it by association since the site reads more like a blog than anything else. Cut-Paste 17:52, 7 November 2006 (UTC)Cut-Paste
There are some links of dubious quality on this and related articles. However, I don't know that this one is too far out to allow people to see. I don't have sufficient experience with Dublin to critique it, but on the surface it looks feasible. (And based on what I see on various sites, Dublin could use some outside-of-the-box thinking. What is inside the box doesn't look too rational.) RockyMtnGuy 21:07, 6 November 2006 (UTC)
It wasn't my intention to argue the contents of the link, I accept your points even though I am still struck by how far fetched the site actually is. Mostly I take issue with the validity of it being included on this Wikipedia entry. As a suggestion I would say the other links of dubious quality should also be removed, in the above example the link I removed was removed because it read like a blog and Wikipedia entries are not suppose to link to blogs Cut-Paste 17:52, 7 November 2006 (UTC)Cut-Paste

Beyond the validity of the linked document itself, it doesn't make self to have a proposal for a light rail system for the city of Dublin in the resources to the general Wikipedia article on light rail. Links should be about light rail as a concept, not to documents focused on specific systems, real, planned, or proposed. Otherwise the references section would become a godawful mess. --Jfruh (talk) 18:10, 7 November 2006 (UTC)

Light rail in different Regions[edit]

After attempting to add "Regional variations" above Light rail in Germany and Light rail in North America someone believed it was vandalism and reverted. I only changed it as i was about to add "Light rail in Australia" (which had now been added) and believed it would be better if there was a header for these Regional topics. I agree "Regional variations" was a bad choice of name but i still stand with my view there should be some sort of heading. Would "Light rail in different Regions" be more suitable? L blue l 02:43, 18 December 2006 (UTC)

I am not here to do vandalism if you would so kindly look to see my history you would relies this. L blue l 03:59, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
It was apparently a misunderstanding of your intent, which is not an uncommon occurance around here. The section and its link looks fine. Now, if someone would be good enough to add a "Light rail in Britain" article, we would have enough to justify putting them all under a "Light rail in different regions" section. RockyMtnGuy 17:35, 18 December 2006 (UTC)
Sorry, “Mea Culpa”, I reverted Light rail in Germany, was trying to organize. It's amazing the interest on this topic, lets all work together, I personally really enjoy the freedom of transporting myself “sans” one ton of metal and 100+ horses. -- Ciudad jardin 21:22, 6 February 2007 (UTC).

Light rail in South America[edit]

To keep things consistent with the other sections in Light Rail around the World i think there should be a new page Light Rail in South America and only a introduction to that section included on this page. Also i think the section Argentina should be moved to Transportation in Argentina and links placed to that section similar to what has been done to Trams in Europe. This is to try and keep duplication to a minimum. L blue l 05:36, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

An example of this duplication can be found at Tram#Regional variations. L blue l 06:02, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

Hi everyone, yes, what i would sugest is "Trams of Argentina" or "Trams of South America", very possible but it would take plenty of time to gather information and definatelly it should be totally separate from Transportation in Argentina since we're dealing with a very particular nitch, so don't kick me out yet.

I also have a question, wouldn't it be logical to fuse together Light rail and Trams together, it seams one is a British version and the other American, regards, JU.

By the way, I'm new in wikipedia so please bare with me as i learn Wikipedias Protocol ! 5 February 2007

Welcome to the Wiki, i just have one comment could you please sign your post with four tildes (~), like this: ~~~~.
Sadly there is to much variation between the definition of Light Rail and Trams for them to be merged but i believe some sections can be merged together to form new pages. A couple of example are, History and Development of Trams and Light Rail and Trams and Light Rail around the World. Also it may be possibly the merge of Pros and Cons of light rail and Tram System. I cant for see there being a problem with the first two examples but the third one there may be a problem so a discussion may be necessary for that merge. For now i will place a tags for these sections to be merged to see the response of other members.
Its great to hear you agree there should be a new section "Trams of Argentina" and i am not going to "kick you out" but i would appreciate the section being moved. L blue l 01:49, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
After reading both section Light Rail and Trams i have changed my views and believe it could be possible to merge the two but i doubt many people would agree with this and to archive this it could be done in stages with just some section being merged until it gets to a stage where it could be one single article. For specific information refering to Europe of America they can be placed in there respective sections Light Rail in America and Trams in Europe. L blue l 04:08, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
OK, will merge Argentina data and create "Trams of Argentina", there's plenty of info for a nice separate short article, will have preliminary layout by next week. -- Ciudad jardin 20:00, 6 February 2007 (UTC).

Just caught some inappropriate distortion of my edit[edit]

RockyMtnGuy messed up my reference to the Santa Clara County Transportation Agency book at this edit in August 2006 [[3]] and I just caught it. I have corrected the sentence back to the original version which is actually supported by the original source. There were several major problems with the VTA system when it opened. First, there are no crossing gates on the main VTA line throughout the San Jose downtown mall and the North First Street corridor. Nor are there any now. Crossing gates were not used because they are expensive, noisy, and take up a lot of space. Especially in the transit mall, VTA was trying to achieve the quiet, elegant dance between trolleys, pedestrians, and vehicles that one sees in certain European cities like Zurich, and noisy crossing gates would be the exact opposite of that. Thus, the system relies entirely upon the ability of trolley operators and automobile drivers to see each other and the traffic lights. Second, trolley signal lights look a lot like left-turn arrows to nearsighted senior citizens. Third, a lot of senior citizens in the San Jose area had never driven around trolleys their entire lives or had not done so since the 1950s when trolleys were phased out of most American cities. So the result was a lot of collisions (several dozen a year) between senior citizens and VTA trolleys in the 1980s and 1990s. These gradually dropped off around 2000 as most people got used to driving around trolleys.

If I recall correctly (I haven't read the book for a while), the most common cause was senior citizens mistaking the trolley signal lights for left-turn signals and turning left from a dedicated left-turn lane across the path of a trolley that was approaching from behind on tracks in the median. Another problem was that many drivers did not understand trolleys cannot stop on a dime like ordinary automobiles; they also cannot swerve like automobiles. Yet another problem is that right turns on red were and are still permitted at many of the transit mall intersections, and there were quite a number of collisions before VTA put up a lot of warning signs to warn drivers that they were about to turn across tracks and needed to look out for trolleys as well as cars. --Coolcaesar 09:15, 5 February 2007 (UTC)

I was referring to the general case of LRT systems, not the particular one of San Jose, which from what I read appears to be a rather cozy low-volume high-cost system. I made the changes because "Unfamiliarity with the physics and geometry of trolleys" seemed a little nebulous as a cause of accidents. The Transportation Research Board's TCRP Report 69 - Light Rail Service: Pedestrian and Vehicular Safety identified people running red lights, dodging around crossing gates, jaywalking and doing similarly illegal things as the major cause of accidents.
I'm used to high-speed, high-volume LRT systems such as Calgary, which runs eight times as many passengers three times as fast through its downtown transit mall as San Jose, and has a large number of level crossings outside of downtown because it shares a right of way with a freight railroad. Under such circumstances, obeying the laws is very important, because anyone running red light (usually a tourist) is very likely to be broadsided by a fast-moving train, which is usually a seriously bad experience for the car.
But, to get back to your points:
  1. Crossing gates are necessary where an LRT system operates at high speed with level crossings. Most LRVs are capable of 50 mph and some of the new ones can do 65 mph. Grade separating crossings is nice, but expensive, so level crossings are the norm in low cost systems.
  2. Nearsighted senior citizens should have their drivers licenses revoked. Anybody who can't see shouldn't drive. This is going to become a bigger problem as the baby boom generation ages.
  3. The left-turn problem is one that should have been avoided in system design. Unfamiliarity with rail systems is a big problem for the LRT systems starting up in the US. In other countries people are used to them so they know not to get in their way. In the US designers should avoid mixing cars with the trains.
Note that I use "LRT" and "trains" instead of "trolleys" to differentiate modern LRT trains from your grandfather's trolley car. There's a big difference in size and performance.
Looking over the statistics, I see that San Jose and Calgary seem to be at opposite ends of the LRT spectrum. Calgary cost less money to build but has 8 times as many passengers. On a per-passenger basis, San Jose's capital costs were 12 times as high as Calgary's, and its operating costs are 30 times as high. Calgary has a lot more accidents, but on a per-passenger basis, it's not that bad. RockyMtnGuy 12:20, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Well, one way to handle this issue is to make the sentence specific to San Jose's experience and then cite the other source you mentioned for people going around crossing gates and making illegal maneuvers (which I am aware is a huge problem in many other light rail installations like the LACMTA Blue Line). VTA has a 15 mph speed limit in the transit mall but I think the speed limit for the rest of the North First Street line is 25 mph. And the speed limit for vehicles is 35 mph in the North First Street corridor. Many of the cross-streets like Montague Expressway have speed limits of 45 mph or higher. As for the left-turn problem, it was unavoidable because there was no other place to put the tracks but the medians. San Jose doesn't have a lot of convenient alleys like Sacramento to run tracks through, or the money to put the entire downtown segment underground. --Coolcaesar 08:26, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

You guys make some good points, although maybe not quite appropriate. You are debating issues & ideology of the SJ LRT, while the original point was just in explaining extra infrastructure to insure that people who don't see so well are preserved.

OK, for the value of the SJ LRT, it's is an expnesive mistake. When I moved here 3 years ago I thought that it's not dense enough for rail, and it's true. Cost: ~$80 million/mile, Riders: <50,000 (talk) 15:24, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Merges with Trams[edit]

As there are differences between the two system i don't believe its possible to merge the two pages together but there is a lot of overlap with Trams and Light Rail i believe it is time for some of these sections to be merged and made into there own page. I am unsure if this should be a new page Trams and Light Rail or separate pages for each topic, please add your opinion. L blue l 02:49, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

After reading through both article i have changed my view on the subject and believe Trams and Light Rail would be best if there was a super article with both light Rail and Trams and specific information about Trams or Light Rail can go to there respective sections (this may even be Light Rail in America or Trams in Europe). I understand that this should be not taken lightly and i am not here to create a debate about this at this point in time but would just like to merge some respected sections listed below. L blue l 04:37, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

I have created a page Trams and Light rail where i have started to play around with merging parts of the two pages together. L blue l 12:01, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

The page has been moved to User:L blue l/sandbox please feel free to make changers. L blue l 12:47, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

What's happening? I am really confused. My .2 cents is the term "light rail" is just invented by someone who thought "trams" sounded old-fashioned (hence my favourism of "tram"). I don't think the separation is there in so many other languages than English. I was going thru some disambig-problems, but really, there is no way I can decide whether something is a "tram" or "light rail" based on objective criteria. To me, this articles basically just looks "the same". This merger is highly needed. Greswik (talk) 16:56, 28 January 2008 (UTC)
The problem is that the word "tram" means different things in different dialects of English. It is an old Scottish word that means a coal mine cart. In American English, it has come to mean an aerial cable car. Americans don't use "tram", they use the word "streetcar", which they derived from German, not British English, to mean the same thing as the British mean by "tram". However, in the western states, they often use "trolley", which usually means "shopping cart" in Britain. In the 1970s, the Americans chose the term "light rail" to mean "modern streetcar", which they derived from the German word "stadtbahn", but modified so that it was similar to the British term "light railway", which means almost the same thing as the Americans mean by "light rail". Clear? No, but that's the nature of the English language.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 18:53, 30 January 2008 (UTC)

History and Development of Trams and Light Rail[edit]

As History of Trams refer to Europe and History of Light Rail refers a America these section could be retained in there respective local sections Trams in Europe and Light Rail in America while a new section "History and Development of Trams and Light Rail" could compromise of both these sections. L blue l 04:37, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Trams and Light Rail around the world[edit]

This section is available at User:L blue l/sandbox. L blue l 12:47, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Pros and Cons with Trams and Light Rail[edit]

As there is a difference in the Two systems it may not be possible to merge the two sections but with clear separations between the advantages that just apply to light rail or Trams i believe it could be done. L blue l 02:49, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

What's the difference?[edit]

The light rail and tram articles don't say much about the difference, simply saying that light rail "is most consistently applied to modern or modernised tram or trolley operations employing features more usually associated with metro or subway operations, including exclusive rights-of-way, multiple unit train configuration and signal control of operations." However, the American Public Transportation Association defines light rail as:

An electric railway with a "light volume" traffic capacity compared to heavy rail. Light rail may use shared or exclusive rights-of-way, high or low platform loading and multi-car trains or single cars. Also known as "streetcar," "trolley car" and "tramway."[4]

Other definitions are similarly ambiguous. --NE2 04:31, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

After reading through these sections i have come to the same view about them being ambiguous. With many regional variations to the Definition of Light Rail it may be particle to have separate definitions. The European definition and the America Definition. L blue l 05:04, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Where are you seeing these separate definitions? Both the US and UK-based definitions on [5] say that light rail can run along roads. --NE2 05:12, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
It is true that they both can run along roads but as i understand it America has a more relaxed standard to this then Europe and in some ways my view is it is contradicting itself. (example below)
The two general versions are:
1. The traditional type, where the 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.
2. A more modern variation, where the trains tend to run along their own right-of-way and are often separated from road traffic.
Then later states that only "In some countries (esp. in Europe), only the latter is described as light rail."
This is basically an American Definition of Light Rail with contradictory statements placed in the definition for the European standard. L blue l 05:33, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
We should cite reliable sources for the definitions. --NE2 05:47, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
I have found this definition - Light Rail, a metropolitan electric railway system characterized by its ability to operate single cars or short trains along exclusive rights-of-way at ground level, on aerial structures, in subways, or occasionally, in streets, and to board and discharge passengers at track or car floor level. [here]
I believe this should replace both definitions i sated earlier with a later reference to the first definition as it is more of an abstract(less used) definition of Light Rail. L blue l 08:01, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
That is the Transportation Research Board's official definition of Light Rail Transit. It is a good definition, however, I should point out that even some other parts of the Transportation Research Board don't agree with it. RockyMtnGuy 12:29, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
The Light Rail article says this about trams (AKA streetcars): "LRVs generally outperform streetcars in terms of capacity and top end speed, and almost all modern LRVs are capable of multiple-unit operation. Particularly on exclusive rights-of-way, LRVs can provide much higher speeds and passenger volumes than a streetcar. Thus a streetcar capable of only 70 km/h (45 mph) operating on an exclusive right of way cannot be considered as “light rail”. The latest generation of LRVs is significantly larger and faster, typically of length of 25 m (80 ft with maximum speeds of 100 to 110 km/h (60 to 70 mph)." Whyaduck 12:51, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
Light rail transit developed from the historic streetcar systems by adding the features of metro systems, so it is hard to distinguish it from streetcars on one end of the scale and light metro systems on the other end. However, some of the historic streetcar systems still exist and wouldn't be considered light rail by their users.
Note that there is a problem with the word "tram" because it has a different meaning in the United States (a cable car suspended from an overhead cable). Americans often use "trolley", (which in Canada means a wheeled cart pushed by hand). Some American cities operate both "trams" (overhead cable cars) and "trolleys" (streetcars). It's a good think we all speak the same language or we'd be confused by this. RockyMtnGuy 12:59, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
My experience is that "light rail" tends, indeed, to be used for modern systems that have significant amounts of separate ROW. However, I know of many fans of older streetcar systems, particularly in Europe, who feel that the term "light rail" is essentially a euphemism, used to advocate for new systems without the negative connotations of words like "streetcar." Since there are so many gradations between a traditional "streetcar" system that runs in the public streets and, say, one of the "light rail" systems that runs entirely on its own ROW (Calgary?), I think a hard line is pretty much impossible to draw. --Tkynerd 13:17, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
As for the vehicular distinction: I used to work on Lidingöbanan, which to my mind is clearly a light-rail system (it operates entirely on its own ROW, although it has grade crossings with several roads), yet it uses old streetcars -- the youngest car in the fleet was delivered in 1952. Does that make it a "streetcar" line? I really, really don't think so. --Tkynerd 13:20, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
The Mattapan High-Speed Line similarly uses PCC streetcars but is often called light rail: [6] I don't think we can draw a line; maybe light rail should be an article about the application of the term, and tram (or another article: street railway?) should be used for general characteristics of the systems. I suggest splitting tram and street railway because tram is about the vehicles, but there is also a lot to say about the other parts of the infrastructure. --NE2 17:58, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
I disagree that the articles should be merged. There is a difference between "tram" and "light rail", although the latter was derived from the former.
The term "light rail" was invented in 1972 by the U.S. Urban Mass Transit Association, to describe a new type of rail transit system they were proposing that was intermediate between the historic streetcar (tram/trolley) systems and new rapid transit systems that were too expensive for cities. They borrowed the concept from Germany, and derived the name from the German word "stadtbahn" meaning "city rail", not "straßenbahn" meaning tram. In addition, most of the light rail vehicles used in North America have been German designs built by Siemens in its U.S. plants.
Confusion arises in the definition of light rail because different cities can use the same light rail vehicles in different ways. The first three light rail systems built in North America used the same Siemens-Duewag U2 vehicles. Edmonton used them for a light metro system, Calgary for a light rail system, and San Diego called theirs a trolley.
There is a progression of rail transit modes which could be categorized as follows:
  1. Tram/trolley/streetcar - a system using low-speed single vehicles that usually operates in the street mixed with automobiles
  2. Light rail - a system using short medium-speed multiple-unit trains that usually has an exclusive right of way, but can operate in the street where necessary, and may be mixed with automobiles (although that is undesirable).
  3. Light metro - a system using short medium-speed multiple-unit trains that almost always has an exclusive right of way and is never mixed with automobiles.
  4. Metro/subway/underground - a system with long medium-to-high-speed multiple-unit trains that always has an exclusive right of way.
  5. Rail rapid transit - a system with long high-speed multiple-unit trains that always has an exclusive right of way.
RockyMtnGuy 05:51, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
Can you please provide a reliable source that defines light rail this way, and explain why it's better than the other definitions that group streetcars under it? Never mind; this is the standard ambiguous definition, where there is no clear line between light rail and tram systems. Is the Mattapan High-Speed Line light rail or tram? It's completely in an exclusive right-of-way, but doesn't use light rail vehicles. --NE2 06:11, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
I normally use Transportation Research Board definitions when editing transportation articles, just for the sake of consistency. People don't realize there are wide national variations in English in this area, so it's important to not get bogged down in different English dialects. The Mattapan line would probably be a classic streetcar system operated in a separate ROW. I'm more used to large, high-tech rail vehicles operated in shared ROW's, the point of light rail being to get maximum performance while saving money. RockyMtnGuy 05:12, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

It's good you use a definition. How about DOT though? Please keep your Canadian dialect out of here. Who the hell cares what you are used to on the Pataman line & its right of way. What does freight not getting involved mean? (talk) 15:32, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

This article is about light rail in the global context, so we get a wide mix of Americans, British, Australians, etc., who are all convinced that their own particular dialect of English is the correct one. The result is a lot of disagreements in which the equipment is the same, but people are arguing about the words used to describe it. Being Canadian, I speak what is technically known as a non-distinct dialect of American English, which is to say it doesn't differ noticeably from the northern and western U.S., but I'm apt to confuse Americans by using British words and vice-versa. The U.S. DOT appears to be concerned with heavy rail (defined as anything that's not light), so I don't refer to them much. The comment about freight relates to regulations in the U.S. which prevent light rail systems running in a shared ROW adjacent to a freight railroad. This is generally not a problem elsewhere in the world, where light and heavy rail can use the same ROW, and sometimes run on the same tracks.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 18:02, 27 May 2008 (UTC)

Fusion of Light Rail and Tram[edit]

As mentioned further up, sections named Trams of Europe and Light Rail of America sound good BUT, would Light Rail in America be all the Americas, Light Rail is known as Trams in Argentina so how do we fit it all together, I personally think the Article should be under one heading, “Trams and Light Rail” and then within, each continent and country would call their systems by their respective names.

Its interesting to note that Tram page will link in German to Straßenbahn witch translates to “Street Car” in English so according to the Germans there is a difference between the two, and especially in Europe where its more densely populated and “Trams”, aka Street cars, do run on streets.

Further more when you link Light Rail to German you get Stadtbahn and when you link from Stadtbahn to English you get a translation of Stadtbahn, it doesn't go back to Light Rail, it's really all very confusing, what are “prospect rail fans” going to think of us “World Saviors of Global Warming”, well at least in may case, or “Urban Renaissance folks” if you like.

The problem really started when the description “Street Car or Trolley” was buried by some conspiracy as some say and “Light Rail” was adapted, truly Light Rail should define rail witch travels in its own reserved lane and we should have kept the term “Street Car” as in most of the world, the difference being that now instead of being “old fashioned” Street Cars they've “metamorphosed” into modern artifacts witch are still called Trams around the world.

So my conclusion is that the difference between Trams and Light Rail is almost non existent except where the systems are applied and to me, and I believe on a world view, all of this should be canalized into one Mega Article with it's appropriate links and Trams and Light Rail would really define the whole context of this magnificent mode of transport.

I'm new at wikipedia's protocol, it'll take me time to sail across smoothly.-- Ciudad jardin 16:06, 6 February 2007 (UTC).

There is already a Light rail in North America article, thanks to User:RockyMtnGuy. There is also discussion above about splitting off a new article, Light rail in South America. That seems a reasonable solution to me. --Tkynerd 16:09, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
I agree, although “Tramways of South America” would be a more appropriate title, could be worked on but it make take some time, plus it's almost all history. Light Rail terminology in South America is being applied mostly to some Underground Metros with light rail infrastructure.
Upon further research about Fusion of Light Rail and Tram, even though they overlap, maybe articles should be kept separate. Tram (Streetcar) and Light Rail (exclusive rights-of-way rail)??. -- Ciudad jardin 17:33, 6 February 2007 (UTC).
As there is no clear way to define the difference between the two terms i also agree that they both should be separate articles but with some sections should be merged including History and Development of Trams and Light rail and Trams and Light rail around the World.
The two current history sections on the Trams and Light rail pages are very localized to Europe and North America respectively and do not represent the Global view of the subject. To fix this those sections can be moved to there respective localized pages Trams in Europe and Light rail in North America(or Street cars) and a new summary of the subject can be made from the collective resources of history and Development of Trams in Light Rail from all regions of the World. L blue l 20:28, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
  • Tram covers general information about the vehicles.
  • One article (what shall we call it?) covers general information about systems that these vehicles use. This covers the operations and right-of-way aspects, which are currently combined with the vehicles in a rather confusing manner.
    • Light rail covers specifics about the term "light rail".

Does this seem reasonable? --NE2 21:40, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

:There are two main problems with that idea the article wont relate well to the definition and a Light Rail Vehicle is often not considered to be a Tram.

:Information like this could go in the "Trams and Light Rail" section. This could be a new page titled "Trams and Light rail vehicles" or just a section title "Vehicles" in the Trams and Light Rail page. L blue l 22:20, 6 February 2007 (UTC) I retract this statement L blue l 22:56, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

Can you please be more clear? I don't understand what you mean when you say "the article wont relate well to the definition". As for your statement that "a Light Rail Vehicle is often not considered to be a Tram", can you provide a source for that? The definitions in the articles don't appear to agree with that. --NE2 22:27, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
What i meant by that is i think both section should still retain there individuality referring to trams being old and Light Rail being new. And placing things like Light Rail Vehicle in the Tram section might blur the line even more between light rail and Trams. But After some consideration i agree with your proposal. A possible name for Operation of the different Systems could be "Rapid Transit Systems" where it includes information on all three forms of rapid Transit Trams, Light rail and Metros and there operations. L blue l 22:54, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure I agree with joining rapid transit with trams and light rail. Rapid transit is almost always totally grade-separated, and has more in common with "steam" heavy rail (Port Authority Trans-Hudson, for instance, is or was once regulated as one). However, it would be good to have a solid definition with which we can classify systems as rapid transit, tram/light rail, or a mix of the two. Dictionaries generally define rapid transit as a "fast" system with grade separation: [7][8][9] Once upon a time, the term was used for some surface operations ([10]) but I'm pretty sure this is no longer done. The APTA agrees with this: [11] Strangely, Random House calls light rail a form of rapid transit: [12] --NE2 23:30, 6 February 2007 (UTC)
I understand there is a clear difference in the Definition of Light rail and Metros but for the purpose of comparing the Operations of the Trams and Light Rail it would likely be necessary to include information about Metros as some Light Rail systems could be considered Metros by some standards. One example of this may be the Docklands Light Railway. Also the Gold Coast Rapid Transit System proposal uses Rapid Transit for the descriptions of both light Rail and bus rapid transit technology.
My view isn't likely to be the most Global view on this subject so i will drop the "Rapid Transit System" idea unless other people agree with my view. L blue l 00:06, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
My understanding of the term "light rail" is that it denotes rapid transit on the cheap. Light rail is used primarily to carry suburban commuters, but in lower numbers and usually at lower speeds than traditional rail rapid transit systems. A street railway is used primarily for short trips within a city and, while some people use it for commuting (but mostly over fairly short distances), it gets fairly steady use most of the day. Emphasis in the U.S. recent years has been on suburban commuters, so even as light rail systems have been developed in the, street railways have continued to decline and vanish.
Also, in case you haven't seen it, here's a PDF of an academic paper by Gregory L. Thompson about light rail. It appears to be several years old, but is informative about the beginnings of light rail in the U.S. [13] Whyaduck 01:27, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
Additionally, I came across a PDF of an interesting article on light rail from the March, 2004 issue of Japan Railway & Transport Review: [14] It has quite a bit of information about contemporary LR vehicle types in both Europe and Japan.
  • Rapid Transit (Metro) is in a separate league so definitely it has nothing to do here.

In a global perspective, today there is really three systems:

Tram (Streetcar), modern low floor, single or articulated style units trough city streets and includes Vintage systems witch could also be single or articulated units.

Light Rail modern low or high floor, articulated or train style units with exclusive rights-of-way at grade with street crossings and in some cases, underground or elevated witch require more elaborate stations.

and third would be a mix of the above two, these where also around 50 to a 100 years ago believe or not, they where called Trams, Trolleys and Street cars, never Light Rail.

All of the above are in today's terminology — Light Rail.

and yes, they should should still retain their individuality since Light Rail may evolve into a separate category with units capable of handling low speed city streets and high speed interurban speeds at the same time, something between a Metro and Tram. Ciudad jardin 01:09, 7 February 2007 (UTC).

So we agree there should be a page for general information about Trams and Light Rail and there operations?
If so could this Page simply be titled "Trams and Light rail" or is a more specific Tile we could use? L blue l 01:19, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
What reliable sources do you have that define trams and light rail that way? --NE2 01:27, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
Sources would be all of Europe, and Germany and France in particular since they are the vanguard of “Urban Renaissance”!
Lets not make this one sided, lets go global. -- Ciudad jardin 02:21, 7 February 2007 (UTC).
Please read Wikipedia:Reliable sources. Do you have reliable sources that define light rail in this way, and why does that trump sources that define it to include older tram systems? --NE2 02:23, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

User:NE2/sandbox is my general proposal for one of the articles. --NE2 01:51, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

I don't agree with the title Surface rail for your article, how about Lightweight Rail Transit. Besides that i agree with your proposal. L blue l 02:39, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

Wikipedia:Use common names doesn't agree with that: [15] I'm not sure though that "surface rail" is the best name, since I haven't found a good definition of it. --NE2 02:40, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
How about Lightweight Rail. L blue l 02:55, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
If I saw that, I'd think of the weight of the rails, as in pound (rail). --NE2 02:57, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
Not everything being built as light rail is on the surface, though. The Gold Line in Los Angeles is a light rail line, but not only is much of the Pasadena portion grade separated (sharing a right-of-way with a freeway) but the new east side extension is going to be partly in a subway. [16] Whyaduck 06:41, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
That's the major problem I'm seeing with that name too. Is "light and surface rail" any good? --NE2 06:43, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
  • "in other languages"

Tram / Straßenbahn / Tranvía; A modern or traditional Light Rail single or articulated style vehicle witch travels trough city streets, (Streetcar)

Light Rail / Stadtbahn / Métro léger; A modern Light Rail articulated or multiple train style vehicle witch travels trough exclusive rights-of-way.

This is roughly the translations of other language links on this article, they've got it right, they are experts on this matter, why are we inventing and complicating things?, contrary to what i said earlier, we really should keep it the way it is, this article is geared at a global level, yes, it needs to be polished, terminology is mixed, Images are mixed.

Shouldn't we respect the original creator of Tram and Light rail, did we consult with him? -- Ciudad jardin 03:58, 7 February 2007 (UTC).

We are not talking about merging both article totally together. Just a common space where general information relating to both topic should be located instead of having duplication in both topics.

This is a long shot but how about "Light transit". L blue l 04:03, 7 February 2007 (UTC)

If so I would go with Trams and Light Rail or just plain “Light Rail”, something familiar! Ciudad jardin 04:22, 7 February 2007 (UTC).
For relief, check this out: —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ciudad jardin (talkcontribs)
Reminds me that I need to write 42nd Street Crosstown Line (about the old streetcar line). --NE2 05:21, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
I second that Trams and Light Rail L blue l 05:19, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
But a tram is a type of vehicle, while light rail is a poorly-defined type of system. --NE2 05:21, 7 February 2007 (UTC)
Instead of Surface rail how about Tramway Definition: "the track on which trams or streetcars run" L blue l 10:28, 8 February 2007 (UTC)
  • The confusion stems from the fact that UMTA invented the word (Light rail) witch was derived from from the German term Stadtbahn in order to eliminate antiquated trolley and streetcar terms and monopolize Light Rail.

Confusion about this is somewhat spread around globally too.

... The difference between Trams and Light Rail is almost non existent except where the systems are applied

It's interesting to note that in German term Straßenbahn witch translates to “Street Car” is still in use so according to the Germans there is a difference between the two. The same goes with every other language

(UTC) Congratulations for the UMTA finding, well placed too, brilliant!

Tram instead trolley and streetcar should be used because it's an internationally used term, links and descriptions to regional systems will of course stay the same; New Orleans trolley, San Fransico Cable Cars, San Diego Trolley, etc

  • I would suggest the following:

Have articles the way they are;

Tram and Light rail

On top of Tram and Light rail articles have a Two Charts next to each other comparing differences of both system, Charts will be identical on both pages except placements will be left-right for one and right-left for other.

Charts could be called: Differences between Trams and Light Rail and Differences between Light Rail and Trams

Tram: Eliminate all “Light rail” related info, specs and images from “Tram”. Modern and Vintage Tram systems to be included here, European systems would dominate.

Light Rail: Eliminate “most” “Tram” related info, specs and images from “Light Rail”, “some” crossover in inevitable since Light rail evolved from Trams. Street operation should be in the Tram Section. The San Diego Trolley would be classified as a mixed use system, (sort of a Hybrid), should be included in both sections!, American Systems may dominate here, “Pre-metros” from Europe will take up a chunk here too.

Please note that there is inconsistencies in some copy, most of it is excelent!

I'm a graphic designer, if you need charts or graphics please let me know, will be out traveling for the next couple of weeks. Lol -- Ciudad jardin 18:04, 7 February 2007 .

Consistency in image sizing[edit]

Hey guys, I've mest up trying to keep consistency in image sizing, Tram article has inconsistent px sizing (galleries are fine) and mostly thumb and while trying to standardize I've mest up and don't know how to revert, sorry, I'm new at this I believe Both articles should have same sizing images, 300px on Light rail seems also too big, like to know thoughts about this! -- Ciudad jardin 07:21, 8 February 2007 (UTC).

I agree that the size of the images are to large. This was also mentioned in the Good Article nomination which can now be found at the start of the page. L blue l 10:56, 8 February 2007 (UTC)

Thumbnails are useless for me as I surf wikipedia, I'm not going to be enlarging every thumbnail to see what it's about, images should be a nice comfortable size like maybe 250 pixels accross maximum, (200 px vertical) so as i read article I may look at images without enlarging them. Galleries are fine for further image research!
I have unified consistency of images on “Regional variations” in Tram page, check it out. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ciudad jardin (talkcontribs) 14:04, 8 February 2007 (UTC).

Image selection[edit]

I believe there is too many images of Trams and light metro style systems. These should be replace with more modern Light Rail Vehicle images. What are your thoughts?? L blue l 08:18, 13 February 2007 (UTC)

Yes, I agree, there are Trams on Light Rail page witch should be transferred to Trams page.
Images should include contemporary and also vintage trams if they are running presently. Moebiusuibeom 07:07, 23 February 2007 (UTC).

Do we really need to Split Tram to Tram system[edit]

Please! this is really getting confusing

Do we need another Tram Page?

Do we really need to Split Tram?

Do we really need Two (2) Tram Articles!

Please read discussion about the merge on the light rail talk: “Merges with Light Rail / Fusion of Light Rail and Tram”

Talk:Light rail#Merges with Trams L blue l 02:56, 6 February 2007 (UTC)

I think we may need professional help – Moebiusuibeom 16:08, 26 February 2007 (UTC) (ex Ciudad jardín / user info coming soon)

Please discuss this on Talk:Tram system. --NE2 16:37, 26 February 2007 (UTC)

National Differences in English[edit]

One of the sources of confusion on this topic is that everyone is using the same terms to mean different things. I would like to point out that the English speaking world consists of a number of different countries, separated by a common language.

  • Tram is a Britishism. It originally was a Scottish term for a coal mine cart, that was adapted to mean an electric street railway car. This definition never made it to North America (except for Canadian French). In Canadian English it still means a mine cart. However, in the U.S. it usually means an aerial cable car.
  • Trolley is an Americanism which meant the same thing as the Brits meant when they said Tram. This definition never even made it into Canada, where a trolley is a cart pushed by hand.
  • Streetcar is the generic North American term for an electric street railway car. This definition will work in both the U.S. and Canada. I don't know how it plays in Britain.
  • Light Rail was invented by the Americans in 1972 to describe a rapid rail transit system that cost less than the Bay Area Rapid Transit System. It was based on German Stadtbahn technology, and most of the North American systems use German designs. Interestingly, two of the first three implementations were in Canada rather than the U.S.
  • Light Railway is the equivalent British term to the American Light Rail concept, as in the Docklands Light Railway.

Just to provide an example of what we are dealing with, the city of Porland Oregon operates 1) a light rail system, 2) a streetcar system, and 3) an aerial tram system. The technology is completely different. The Portland MAX is a high-tech mini-metro system, the Portland Streetcar is a classic streetcar 10 inches narrower and 1/3 the lenght of the light rail trains, and the Portland Aerial Tram is an aerial cable car. RockyMtnGuy 04:47, 28 February 2007 (UTC)

So in a global perspective, what should we call the modern or traditional vehicles witch travel by rail trough city streets – Moebiusuibeom 21:01, 28 February 2007 (UTC)
In the North American context traditional electric street railway cars are variously called "heritage trolleys" or "vintage streetcars". Modern electric street railway cars are called "trolleys (U.S. only) or "streetcars" (U.S. and Canada) RockyMtnGuy 02:29, 3 March 2007 (UTC)
IMHO the difference is the level of separation from individual road traffic: Light rail tracks, while often in the middle of the road, are usually seperated from other traffic - not completely, but whereever reasonable. Light rail tracks may cross an intersection, but the majority of the line should be separated. Otherwise it's a tram. Of course, with all the "mays" and "shoulds" there is a significant gray area in between. --Qualle (talk) 20:29, 1 March 2007 (UTC)
The term "tram" is not used by North America transit systems, except for aerial cable cars, which is a problem for this article since it seems to have been Britishized while I was away. Streetcars meet the technical definition of light rail vehicles, but are generally not recognized as such in North America. The key differences are that LRVs are bigger, faster, and often operate in multi-unit trains whereas streetcars are smaller, slower and only operate as single units. A number of North American cities operate both streetcar and LRT systems, but operate them as separate systems with incompatible vehicles. Some American cities attempt to operate LRVs as streetcars, but this leads to a lot of accidents because American drivers are not used to rail vehicles operating in the street. RockyMtnGuy 02:29, 3 March 2007 (UTC)

Dubious Statements[edit]

I'm getting concerned about a number of recent edits which have been made in this article, so I've started to flag them.

1) Use of the word "tram". - This is a British English word which means something different in American English, so if you want to use it, you need to define what it means, otherwise people from different countries will read it with different meanings.
2) Statement that the term light rail can apply to any old tram (a.k.a. streetcar) system. I can cite authorities who disagree, e.g. [17]
3) Other dubious statements about the origins and definitions of light rail. These seem to be based on differences in technology between different countries.

We apparently are not all on the same page with regards to terminology and technology. RockyMtnGuy 18:53, 6 March 2007 (UTC)

"Light rail" can apply to any streetcar system; see the references at the end of that paragraph. --NE2 18:56, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
The use of either British English or American English is worrying. What is the "Standard" for WP? Is Wikipedia for an American audience, or a European Audience? I do not know the answers, but the possibility of a war of words will not do this page any favours. ALECTRIC451 20:32, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Neither is standard for WP. The MOS says that an article should use one dialect consistently, regardless of which is chosen for a particular article, only placing a preference for the style that is used when the article is first created. Slambo (Speak) 20:36, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
For a case like this article, though, where use of one dialect can cause genuine confusion in the other, we need to be crystal-clear throughout about the differing meaning of the terms on both sides of the Atlantic. --Jfruh (talk) 21:25, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
Seems like we need a new section in the article that will "Translate" the terms, such that the article can be written in a consistent style, but which will allow others to understand it. The definitions given in the section above this might serve as a good starting point. One thing is quite clear to me, we need to get this sorted out now, else the arguments will never end, and this page will forever be edited/reverted.ALECTRIC451 22:18, 6 March 2007 (UTC)
There is already quite a good Wikipedia article on passenger rail terminology which identifies many of the problems and which we could reference. People just need to read it before editing this article to ensure they understand the differences. The historic differences arose because the streetcar/tram was invented after the American Revolution separated the English and American language dialects, but before the invention of radio and television began unifying them again. One more modern difference, I think, is that Britain abandoned almost all of its old tram systems before starting to build new light rail systems, while a number of North American cities continued to run historic streetcar systems while using different technology for their modern LRT systems. And, at the beginning of the light rail movement, it was the Americans who originally coined the term "light rail" as a translation of the German word "stadtbahn". Although I don't speak German, I have heard that the Germans make a distinction between light rail and streetcar systems. In this article it would be best to use generic English, rather than a mix of dialects, because the differences tend to baffle people whose native language is not English. RockyMtnGuy 17:45, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
"Light rail" is definitely not a translation of stadtbahn, which simply means "city [rail] line." I think the best approach for this article would be a brief discussion of the terminology differences (and an explanation of the terminology, British or American, that the rest of the article consistently uses), and an accompanying reference to passenger rail terminology for more detail. --Tkynerd 20:20, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
The Americans took the light rail concept from Germany, but not the exact translation of the words, in the same way as they borrowed the concept of the Interstate Highway System from the German Autobahns after World War II. The idea is the same, but they changed the words to suit their own interests. RockyMtnGuy 16:11, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
There seems to be an emerging view that we have a page that explains the terminology and the american/british english issues. I guess all we need to do is provide a link to it, explain that this page uses american english, and every thing is great. (If only everything in life were so easy!) ALECTRIC451 21:04, 7 March 2007 (UTC)
It can't really be described as American English when it starts off by saying "Light rail or light rail transit (LRT) is a form of tram system", which an American might interpret to mean that "LRT is a form of aerial cable car". British English often baffles Americans. The alternative American definition that "light rail is a form of streetcar" isn't viable either, because most American transportation planners make a distinction between LRT and streetcar. It needs to be written in generic English with links to defining Wikipedia articles, as for instance "Light rail or light rail transit (LRT) is a category of urban rail transit with a lower capacity and lower speed than more expensive rapid transit systems." After that you can get into a debate about whether LRT = tram or not, with appropriate explanations of what a tram is for the benefit of those who don't know. RockyMtnGuy 14:38, 11 March 2007 (UTC)
Has the issue been settled? It does not appear so. It seems to me that seprate pages are needed for light rail; one for America and one for Europe. Perhaps new page titles could be Light Rail (American) and Light Rail (European)? --Track Legs (talk) 04:17, 20 February 2008 (UTC)

Light rail must be manually operated?![edit]

The article currently states: "An important factor crucial to LRT is the train operator. Unlike rail rapid transit, traveling unattended with automatic train operation (ATO), the operator is a key element in a safe, high-quality LRT operation. Thus, a train with ATO is not “light rail”. The philosophy of light rail is that a qualified person should be on each train to deal with emergencies, and while that person is there, he or she might as well operate the train."

This is, to be blunt, ridiculous. Eg. the Singapore LRT and VAL systems are all automatic, and they're light rail down to the name. Jpatokal 05:16, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

Singapore's is "Light Rapid Transit", not light rail, and VAL looks like rapid transit too. On the one hand, it doesn't seem like there would be anything wrong with driverless light rail, and that paragraph on train operation is badly-written. But operators are presumably needed whenever there are grade crossings, and if there are no grade crossings, isn't it rapid transit? We need to find reliable definitions, or alternatively repurpose this article to talk about the "marketing term" rather than the somewhat ill-defined type of system. --NE2 05:28, 17 April 2007 (UTC)
There's also a class of system called "automated light rail". It's looking like light rail is basically a term used to describe some tram and rapid transit systems, and the only thing shared by light rail systems is their "lightness" compared to pre-existing rapid transit. --NE2 05:40, 17 April 2007 (UTC)

I would like to state an example, to test the definition of "light rail". What is the Copenhagen Metro ? It has short trains, about 100 people capacity, about 90 sec schedule. It is driver-less, automated, lightweight vehicles, not so high speed. It is usually defined as a Metro, that is Rapid transit, since it is officially called Metro. This article says the definition of Light Rail is "An electric railway with a 'light volume' traffic capacity compared to heavy rail". -- BIL 14:32, 15 May 2007 (UTC)


Could we add a section about ultralight rail (The tiny cabin thingies)? It is relevant and more or less important. Alx xlA 01:20, 15 May 2007 (UTC)

Too much images[edit]

Hej, I just came across this article. It's ok but it has MUCH to much images. They repeat vehicles that may differ to railway fans but are not helpful for someone who wants an encyclopaedic overview over the article's topic. You (i.e. the ones caring for this article) should select two or three, that show different aspects, and dump the rest. -- 16:28, 28 October 2007 (UTC)

Cleaned up to form a gallery at the end, leaving a couple examples at the top. (talk) 20:39, 6 February 2008 (UTC)
I have to agree. There are too many images. Additionally, some do not appear to be LRT. Should trams and what appear to be a commuter station be here? --Track Legs (talk) 18:03, 31 March 2008 (UTC)


It would be interesting to know how many such systems are deployed in the world, and how the total ridership, number of cars, etc. compared to other systems (like subways, intercity, etc.). -- Beland (talk) 13:59, 28 January 2008 (UTC)

What, you mean like a List of United States light rail systems by ridership?--Loodog (talk) 02:49, 7 February 2008 (UTC)
Also available in commuter rail, bus, and heavy rail stats.--Loodog (talk) 02:50, 7 February 2008 (UTC)

Light rail definition, grade separation and DLR[edit]

I'm a little confused by the fact that this article seems to say that some on-street running is a defining feature of light rail, listing 'not fully grade separated' as part of the definition. By that definition, the Docklands Light Railway does not qualify since as far as I am aware it is fully grade separated.

And yet the article mentions the DLR as an example of light rail (and the DLR article describes DLR as light rail, linking here).

So, is the DLR light rail or not? Is there perhaps a difference in UK and US usage of the term light rail? Or is the term simply not used in a consistent way? Roy Badami (talk) 20:00, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Hmm, there are three references given in the article for the statement that light rail is not grade separated. However, the only one of those that is a UK reference defines light rail as A local railway or tram system, sometimes capable of sharing roads with traffic and heavy railways. So I think it's clear here both that in the UK the term light rail is rather broader in application than in American usage. Light rail can be grade separated (my point above), and also encompasses systems that we in the UK would describe as trams (my point below). Roy Badami (talk) 13:55, 2 March 2008 (UTC)

The more I think about it the more I think what this article describes is simply what would generally be described as a 'tram' in the UK. But then we have a problem here, too. The comparison section of the article makes a point of saying that trams are distinct from light rail, and Manchester Metrolink is described in this article as light rail. And yet, Manchester Metrolink is also listed in the article on Trams. Both terms seems to be used interchangeably on the Metrolink website, although I think locally it tends to get referred to as 'the metro', despite not satisfying Wikipedia's definition of a metro, either. (Well, that's what I call it but I haven't really been a local since before the metro was built so what do I know?). But see eg this headline to support that idea Roy Badami (talk) 20:23, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

‘Light rail’ has many meanings, but the U.S. systems called by that name are usually straightforward tramways roughly comparable to Manchester’s. UK usage is more difficult to define, but the DLR is the only system formally called ‘light rail’, so it would be difficult to say it doesn’t qualify. I believe ‘light railway’ was originally defined — perhaps even still is — as anything not qualified to run on the main lines. David Arthur (talk) 18:33, 2 March 2008 (UTC)
That seems a reasonable definition of UK light rail. I think I would argue that mass transit, light rail and metro are all used pretty interchangably in the UK. But the article still needs to be internally consistent. If it is going to define a light rail system as involving some on-street running - essentially a modern tramway - then it can't list the DLR as an example of light rail Roy Badami (talk) 12:27, 9 March 2008 (UTC)
Light rail can run on streets, but it doesn't have to. OTOH, trams (trolleys, streetcars) do run on streets. There is a little bit of overlap between light rail and metro on the one hand and tram on the other, and there is no single criterion that makes something light rail. This is, in part, due to the flexibility of the light rail concept. In general, light rail is an attempt to provide much of the service quality of a metro but at a lower cost, largely by avoiding tunneling and sharing rights of way (ie, roads) where there is no low-cost alternative. This means that segregated routing is generally desirable, but the system should be able to operate on roads like a tram where segregation is not an option. Running on-surface also has certain advantages, such as visibility, lack of steps/escalators needed to reach the vehicle, compared to an underground metro, thus mitigating some of its disadvantage in terms of journey time. ProhibitOnions (T) 23:23, 9 March 2008 (UTC)
I think that's the basis of the concept: Light rail can run on streets but doesn't have to. However, note that "not fully grade separated" does not necessarily mean a system runs in a street shared with traffic. It may run in a traffic-prohibited transit mall, it may run in a separate right-of-way with level crossings, it may run in the median of a roadway, or it may share a right-of-way with a freight railway. All these are ways of saving money while maintaining high average speeds. It costs a quarter to an eighth of the price to build track at-grade versus buried or elevated, so its best to build at-grade wherever possible. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 05:08, 20 March 2008 (UTC)

Cost efficiency[edit]

Now it is written in the chapter Light rail#Costs of light rail construction and operation the following text: "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 2400". Why is there similar capital and operating costs? If there are 20,000 people per hour and 200 people per tram, then 50 trams per direction per hour is needed. If there are 2,400 people per hour then there must be much fewer trams, 6-10 per direction per hour. Must cost less. Less amount of capital bound in expensive trams and fewer drivers. --BIL (talk) 10:28, 9 December 2008 (UTC)

I believe you're missing the economies of scale aspect of light rail. The cost that goes down is cost per rider.--Loodog (talk) 14:30, 9 December 2008 (UTC)
The economies of scale result from the fact that you can form light rail vehicles (LRVs) into trains. If 20,000 people per hour per direction can be carried in 100 LRVs (50 per direction), these 100 LRVs can be formed into 20 five-car trains. This means you need to employ only 20 drivers rather than 100 to operate the trains. Also, while you need to buy the 100 LRVs, you don't necessarily need to build any new trackage to carry them, since a two-track light rail system can handle 10 trains per hour per direction (one every six minutes on each track). So, while you do need to buy additional LRVs to handle the additional passenger load, you don't necessarily need to hire any new drivers or build any new track. Typically, labor is the biggest operating cost of a transit system (80% of the cost of a bus-only system), and track is the biggest capital cost of a rail transit system, so the economies of scale can be huge.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 17:08, 11 December 2008 (UTC)
Your argument about using less drivers makes ZERO sense because you're confusing light rail with trams. Tram systems that are intermixed directly into mixed vehicle/pedestrian traffic where vehicles and pedestrians mingle freely without sidewalks or lanes (which is done in a few cities like the CBD of Zurich) could operate in the way that you describe, in that the whole five-vehicle train could just stop and pick up or drop off people anywhere.
But all new light rail systems are separated on their own right of way for a whole bunch of safety and maintenance reasons, which means that they need platforms for boarding unless you are seriously proposing that people simply walk over gravel to board trains. In turn, that would violate the Americans with Disabilities Act (keep in mind that many people who use mass transit are the old and infirm who may have difficulty walking over anything but a flat level surface), which all U.S. operators are required to comply with (and it has many international equivalents like the UK's Disability Discrimination Act 1995). And most light rail operators are reluctant to build long platforms that may see only minimal utilization. This is a huge problem with the Bay Area Rapid Transit system, where all stations are engineered to support a maximum train length of 10 cars with a platform length of 700 feet, which is ridiculously expensive (along with the BART system's stupid decision to use broad gauge so all rolling stock must be custom-built). But of course, only a small number of stations in the core part of the system actually see utilization of the entire length of trains and platforms, so most of the BART system consists of empty cars meeting empty platforms at the front and rear ends of each train. You're also failing to take into account the fact that most American cities lack sufficient residential density in the urban core to see efficient utilization of what you describe (remember, most people do not like to walk more than half an hour to transit).
So the problem with binding together LRVs into long trains is that you would either have to violate a ton of federal laws (and piss off the disabled and senior citizens who frequently use light rail), build very long platforms in high-density neighborhoods where right-of-way is expensive (which has been a major problem for the long trains of rapid transit train systems like BART), bring each LRV in a train to the platform separately (too slow), or have a situation where people board only through the LRV in the middle and then have to go back to the middle just to get off the train. None of these scenarios is feasible, which is why practically all operators build one or two-car-long platforms and run a maximum length of two LRVs stacked together. --Coolcaesar (talk) 21:09, 13 December 2008 (UTC)
BART is not a good model because it's heavy rail and basically a technological dead-end. I don't think you're familiar with the modern generation of LRVs. Modern LRVs can be run in single-unit mode as trams or multi-unit mode as trains. They can run in streets mixed with traffic or at 105 km/h (65 mph) in exclusive rights-of-way with sophisticated train-control systems. They can have low floors in the 300-360 mm (12-14 in) height range. These low-floor units can load from low platforms that are not more than high sidewalks, which allow wheelchairs to roll right onto the train from the sidewalk, saving a ton of money. The main constrain on train length is city block length, which typically limits them to 4-5 car trains (10 cars is heavy rail territory), but that is enough to allow them to pack as many as 1000 passengers on each train. By the simple expedient of synchronizing the traffic lights, one train can run every two minutes in each direction on an ordinary street, right through the middle of a downtown core. And, while most American cities have low residential density, so do most German cities. The difference is that Americans decided to build urban freeways and Germans decided to build light rail systems. You pays your money and you takes your choice. However, from an economic perspective, a light rail system with these characteristics can move as many people as a 16-lane freeway, right through the middle of a downtown core, using an existing two-lane street. You can argue that it can't be done, but I have seen it done, albeit not in the United States.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 04:03, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
You're glossing over the sidewalk problem (you need to study crowd control and the massive liability problems involved in moving large amounts of people and all the idiotic ways they can trip over anything and fall down and sue everyone in sight). Most sidewalks have a height of eight inches or less, especially in the West, where there's no snow and thus no need to build deep gutters. You're also forgetting that regular sidewalks are full of "street furniture" which would block loading as you envision becuase it cannot be moved without stirring up a huge ruckus and hundreds of lawsuits (power and lighting poles, newspaper stands, sidewalk peddlers, fire hydrants, etc.). Newspapers are particularly protective of their newsstands (automated or human-manned) and will scream First Amendment violations at the drop of a hat. And if we get away from the sidewalk and build new platforms, well, building a new platform in the middle of the street, even only half-a-block long, is hugely expensive and difficult (as San Jose learned the hard way when it tore up its downtown streets in the 1980s). --Coolcaesar (talk) 19:09, 14 December 2008 (UTC)
None of that has anything to do with the economics of light rail, you're just arguing that nobody can build low-cost low-rise platforms because someone might sue. That may be true in some places in the US, but most other countries, if you fall off a 12-inch high sidewalk or walk into a streetlight, it's your own fault for not paying attention.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 02:54, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
You're forgetting that most other countries also have universal healthcare and strong regulatory systems (in the form of huge government bureaucracies who promulgate detailed regulations covering the tiniest bits of modern life) that decreases the need for private enforcement of individual rights. Unfortunately, thanks to its large population of extreme libertarian and right-wing fanatics (the ones somewhere between Robert Nozick and Murray Rothbard), the U.S. has very weak regulatory agencies and no universal healthcare, resulting in one of the most inefficient accident compensation and regulatory systems in the world---but to be fair, one that keeps me gainfully employed as a defense litigator! No rational economic actor in the U.S. will undertake any construction project unless it's insurable, and to be insurable, one has to think ahead through all the ways one can get sued.
You're still not seeing the problem with loading light rail from the sidewalk; it sounds like you've never actually walked on a sidewalk in downtown New York, Los Angeles, or San Francisco and actually counted up all the stationary crap one has to maneuver around. Try making friends with people in wheelchairs; they're much more sensitive to street furniture than able-bodied persons because it's harder for them to maneuver. The problem is not falling off the sidewalk or walking into streetlights, it's the fact that you simply cannot just run rail along a sidewalk and expect people to jump on board, without clearing all the objects at the curb first. It's a matter of basic physics: people cannot board a train if there is a public toilet, giant newspaper dispenser (one of the big monsters that can dispense 10 different papers at a time), or a sidewalk florist's booth sitting in the way. Every object you see mounted on a sidewalk cost money to install, and it will cost money to move. That cost must be incorporated into the total cost of any mass transit project that is predicated upon access to that sidewalk. This is why even systems that run light rail mixed with car traffic (SF MUNI is a great example) build platforms in the middle of the street specifically to get away from sidewalk issues.
If you're truly serious about public transportation issues, you need to start reading environmental impact reports for new rail projects, cover to cover (I have read several dozen over the years) to understand how insanely complicated it is to build any kind of transportation project (starting with utility relocation), and the hundreds or thousands of concerns that must be dealt with. You also need to talk to some civil engineers and construction workers sometime to understand how hard it is to build any large transportation project (that's why I didn't go into transportation despite my lifelong passion for transportation issues). As a wise professor once taught me, only simple people think everything is simple. --Coolcaesar (talk) 11:33, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
None of this has much to do with the economics of light rail, but while we're completely off topic I thought I'd mention that I'm just back from visiting Bhutan. Their kings have promoted the concept of "Gross National Happiness" instead of Gross National Product. In theory they're one of the poorest countries in the world, but in fact, they have free health care and free education; they have all kinds of detailed regulations covering how people can dress (they have to wear the goa, the traditional costume); and any foreigner who visits has to pay a minimum of $200 per day for the duration of their (typically short) visit. No wonder they're happy.
In fact, I have walked down the sidewalks in New York and Los Angeles and can cite them as examples of how not to do things. On the other hand, I was living in Calgary when they built their LRT system, which is arguable the most successful one in North America. What they did was get a bunch of great big bulldozers, drove over everything in the street, and rebuild it the way they wanted. The city, after all, can pass bylaws, does own the sidewalks and streets, and anyone who uses them does so under the city's bylaws. All it takes is politicians with enough intestinal fortitude to pass the right laws. Once they had the street ripped up from storefront to storefront, it was quite easy to relocate the utilities and do all those other things you need to build a rail system.
Now, back to the economics of scale. A light rail system at the high end of the range mentioned above (20,000 passengers per hour) will have several hundred thousand passengers per day, in the same range as BART. If it charges two or three dollars per fare, that will give it revenues of several hundred million dollars per year. If it amortizes the capital costs over 25 years, it will have a multi-billion dollar capital budget. You can build a lot of block-long platforms for a billion dollars. Now, again you can argue that it can't be done, but you should read Calgary Transit (2006). "Calgary’s CTrain – Effective Capital Utilization". City of Calgary. Retrieved 2008-12-15.  first.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 14:05, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
What you describe is how some freeways were built in the early days (circa 1950) in the U.S., but governments can't just take a bulldozer to the streets any more because thousands of lawsuits from outraged landowners over the past six decades have established that due process and the Takings Clause require that property interests of practically any kind cannot be taken by the government (this includes access to property from public streets and privately owned fixtures attached to sidewalks) until one gets advance written notice, an administrative hearing, and just compensation (as in lots of money). What you're talking about would require a very drastic amendment to the U.S. Constitution as well as many state constitutions. Keep in mind that the U.S. couldn't even pass the Equal Rights Amendment, and many people are still sore about the weakening of the Takings Clause in Kelo v. New London, so restructuring American constitutional law in the direction you propose is a virtual impossibility for the foreseeable future. The Canadian model is not apposite because the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms is much weaker than the U.S. Constitution when it comes to property rights (as well as many other human rights). Sounds like you're ignorant of law and economics analysis, which has become one of the most prominent schools of thought in the United States in the past thirty years. Richard Posner, its main exponent, is the most heavily cited judge in the United States. The point is that economics and law cannot be analyzed in isolation from each other but are closely interrelated. The economics of light rail must be analyzed in terms of the structure of the cities it will serve, and that in turn is governed by law.--Coolcaesar (talk) 14:56, 15 December 2008 (UTC)
It sounds like you're dealing with some fairly creative interpretations of the law, which is not surprising for California. In this particular jurisdiction (Alberta), we're on the Torrens title system (which exists in the U.S. but is relatively uncommon). The basic concept of this system is that everything to do with real property has to be registered on the title, which they have digitized and keep in the computers at the land titles office. As a result, you can't acquire rights to real estate, especially not public space, by the old common law method of adverse possession. If you put something on city property, and you don't have a license from them allowing you to do that, they can order you to remove it. If you don't remove it, they can remove it for you and bill you for the removal costs. If you don't pay the bill, they can add it to your property tax. If you don't pay your property tax, they seize your property. It's all very simple and the basic concept is YOU CAN'T FIGHT CITY HALL. It makes it much simpler to do public works.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 17:33, 15 December 2008 (UTC)

I'd also add to this that there is way too much content coming from this single blogspot site Part of the introductory material appears to be lifted word for word from that site. The cost-benefit analysis that he computes is only relevant to the Sacramento system, and it appears to me that his math and analysis is also extremely flawed. He considers the entire cost associated with operating a low usage light rail which he compares to a free way operating at full capacity. In his cost analysis of the freeway he does not include the cost of operating a gasoline vehicle: the purchase price, fuel, insurance, , highway patrol force and enforcement, highway maintenance, accidents, etc. Furthermore, he doesn't even begin to consider things like the externalities caused by smog and pollution.) This is of course all included in the cost of light rail. His analysis shouldn't be included in the article and should be replaced with a more comprehensive study. (talk) 02:25, 4 June 2009 (UTC)Nick


"Operating on 2 minute headways using traffic signal progression, a well-designed two-track system can handle more than 30 trains per hour,"

This is a picky point but using 2 minute headways you can NOT have more than 30 trains an hour. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 16:07, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

Such is true, it should say "up to 30 trains per hour per track". I think I'll change it.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 16:27, 18 December 2008 (UTC)

"20,000 per hour" - needs elaboration.[edit]

"20,000 per hour" not a meaningful figure without elaboration. At 30 trains per hour the capacity would have to be 667 per consist but the maximum capacity vehicle cited is the Siemens with only 220 passengers. Since most installed systems operate at well below this maximum it is misleading to the uninitiated that are likely to use Wikipedia as a point of reference. (Also the link to the reference that supports the 20,000 per hour figure is broken).

Since this is a theoretical maximum one would have to say that a freeway lane with 2,000 cars per hour should be taken as potentially having five passengers per vehicle or a theoretical capacity of 10,000 passengers per hour per lane. This could be extended to buses per hour per freeway lane. Likewise comparing the average loading of 1.2 cars should be made against the average loading of LRT. Compare "Apples with apples" I would say. Tjej (talk) 02:35, 27 May 2014 (UTC)

The latest Siemens SD 160NG cars have a crush capacity of 256 passengers, and you can couple them into 4-car trains to carry 1000 pass./train.
From Calgary Transit Technical Information
  • Maximum PRACTICAL single direction capacity at design capacity of 162 pass./car and 2 min. headway:
    • 3-car train (present) 14,580
    • 4-car train (future) 19,440
  • Maximum THEORETICAL single direction capacity (pass./hr/dir) at 256 pass./car and 2 min. headway:
    • 3-car train 23,040
    • 4-car train 30,720
  • Actual peak hour passenger load (pass./hr/dir): a.m. peak 7,255
  • Average number of boarding passengers per day: (2012) 259,000
Calgary LRT is moving over a quarter of a million passengers per day through the middle of its downtown core using a narrow downtown street shared with buses, and is now running at about half its practical capacity with 3-car trains, so they are extending them to 4 cars to ease the crowding. OTOH, Ottawa built a dedicated busway to do the same thing, but it cost almost as much as Calgary's LRT, it hit capacity much sooner than expected, and the noise and diesel fumes from hundreds of buses per hour made it very unpopular with downtown businesses and residents. Ottawa is now adding an LRT system.RockyMtnGuy (talk) 03:53, 27 May 2014 (UTC)


"It is generally characterised by a raised track and platform, commonly between 23 feet and 50 feet high." It does not seem to apply to the modern light rail systems discussed in the article. It does apply to many of the systems discussed in the Medium-capacity rail transport system. These could I suppose also be called" light rail" -- the above discussions indicate the difficulty in defining the difference. It is possible that there might be some modern light rail in the sense used in the article that meets the description, but I know of none. Certainly at least that sentence cannot be given as a general summary. DGG (talk) 03:42, 8 August 2009 (UTC)

Service Equity[edit]

The article should make some mention of the demographics of light rail - typically wealthier white suburbanites. This has been a major criticism of light rail; for example see Los_Angeles_County_Metropolitan_Transportation_Authority#Bus_Riders_Union_agreement. TCRP Report 28 considers light rail one of the least equitable services and describes it as "targeted at a few high-income or highly educated, largely male, workers." MakeBelieveMonster (talk) 13:44, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

This strikes me as being something of a local issue. One would expect that the demographics of light rail ridership in Germany would be quite a bit different from that of the United States, for instance. Even here in Canada the demographics of ridership are quite a bit different. Perhaps a better place would be the light rail in the United States article, although even in the U.S. the demographics would vary from place to place. It would also be difficult to find good references - the TCRP Report 28 is over 10 years old, and qualifies its findings by saying "The assumptions on which these conclusions are based are controversial—the conclusions depend on currently observed ridership patterns—not on potential ridership."RockyMtnGuy (talk) 15:20, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

Cost estimates[edit]

The article uses this source for the claim that typical freeway lane expansion "costs $20 million per lane mile for two direction." However, I can't find that anywhere in the cited source. Can anyone please point to where the source makes this claim, or another reliable source for this information? Thanks. ~ UBeR (talk) 03:37, 10 March 2010 (UTC)

I noticed a source that said highway and road construction costs tended to be cheaper than that, between $2 million per lane-mile and $20 million (but without "restrictions" such as union work rules, utility relocation, and right-of-way eminent domain; with such restrictions costs can be higher, ranging from $16.8 million per lane-mile up into the seventies and perhaps even more). I also noticed that light rail lines have been built rather recently for costs ranging from $2 million per mile (yes, Kenosha, Washington!) to the Seattle light rail system's $179 million per mile (a project in Hampton Roads was described as the "cheapest among recent rail projects" at $45.7 million per mile). The real story here is unnecessary costs being expended on light rail systems that can conceivably be done for far cheaper. Perhaps light rail is being built with too many "restrictions", no? (talk) 18:09, 2 June 2010 (UTC)

High speed light rail[edit]

Have there ever been any serious proposals out there for a high speed light rail line (a "bullet trolley" or a "bullet interurban")? And, if so, what were the outcomes (if any) of the decision-making relevant to those proposals? And why were those decisions (if any) made? Just curious. — Rickyrab | Talk 03:24, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

I am not sure if there has been any proposal to install a high speed light rail but I do know that they are going to install a new loop service in Sydney. The line will be on the road going up George street to Circular Quay, through the rocks, around Hickson road then back to China town via Sussex street. They are also extending the current line to Dulwich Hill. This will have stops at Dulwich hill train station, Lewisham, Marion street and a few other places. ***Adam*** 04:18, 17 April 2010 (UTC)

Elevated Light Rail[edit]

As if the definition of 'light rail' were not controversial enough, there are version of light rail that are elevated on a dedicated line. Usually it is 'heavy' rail -- that is, high capacity rail -- that has a dedicated rail path, be it elevated or underground. But light rail can also have a dedicated guideway, be it elevated or not. The real crux of the matter is the passenger capacity: Lower capacity is what makes it 'light'.

I just found this out on the Internet and will do some more reading and I hope to alter this article. cheers-- Bustakey (talk) 03:34, 9 May 2010 (UTC)

The weight of the vehicle is also important, LRV usually have lower crash standards because they only come into contact with each other rather than longer passenger trains or heavier goods trains, this shaves a lot of weight off the vehicle design and reduces wear on the tracks. Docklands is agood example of this. WatcherZero (talk) 11:06, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
That's generally incorrect. LRVs are often heavier than "heavy" rail vehicles because they are designed to survive collisions with automobiles, whereas rapid transit systems are normally grade separated from automobiles and not mixed with freight trains. As a result, many "heavy" rail vehicles are lighter than "light" rail vehicles because their collision standard are lower. The word "light" refers to the standard of construction of the track and the capacity of the system, both of which are "lighter" than rapid transit and commuter rail systems. Docklands is an atypical example - most LRVs are designed to share the same right-of-way as road vehicles, even if the particular system using them does not actually do so.
Also, as usual on Wikipedia, there is a disconnect between American and British terminology. Most American LRT systems use German-designed vehicles and are translating German terms into English rather than using British terms. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 14:07, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
Give me some examples of heavier vehicles then. What your describing is a people mover system or rapid transit. Heavy rail vehicles are designed to withstand impacts with several hundred ton trains moving at 100kph or more, LRV are designed to withstand 10 ton trucks or each other in the 35-60t range moving at 80kph which is much lower impact energy. WatcherZero (talk) 14:31, 9 May 2010 (UTC)
Okay, compare the Siemens SD-160 light rail vehicle (160-200 passengers, 40.6 tonnes) to the R160B (New York City Subway car) heavy rail vehicle (246 passengers, 38.6 tonnes). Light rail vehicles are designed to withstand impacts with automobiles, but heavy rail vehicles are not designed to withstand impacts with other trains. They are designed to avoid impacts with other trains. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 05:07, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
A subway train is not a heavy rail vehicle, it doesnt come into contact with freight trains or other long distance passenger trains, its segregated from road traffic, its a Metro system which has similar charachteristics to light rail but with longer trains of around 8-10 cars vs 1-4 cars and usually even more doors per car. The Subway cars meet the US LRV standard crashworthiness of being able to survive a collision with a vehicle twice its length and not the US heavy rail standards of being able to survive 800,000lbs of force. WatcherZero (talk) 09:19, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
According to the R160B (New York City Subway car) article

The R160B is a heavy-rail car model for the New York City Subway, and built by Kawasaki Heavy Industries

It is heavy rail vehicle according to the normal US definition of the phrase - see Passenger rail terminology#Heavy rail for an explanation. I'm Canadian, and we would normally use the American definition in this area, as per this quote from the Canadian Encyclopedia:

Subways and Light Rapid Transit Subways, sometimes referred to as heavy rail transit, are urban, electric, rapid-transit lines capable of carrying large numbers of people: between 20 000 and 40 000 passengers per hour in each direction.

I think we may be dealing with the usual incompatibility between American English and British English here, which causes no end of trivial bickering on Wikipedia. See Wikipedia:National varieties of English for editing standards. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 15:23, 11 May 2010 (UTC)
AHMURICA!WaltBren (talk) 16:55, 12 May 2010 (UTC)

Article too America-centric[edit]

Looking at the pictures on this article, it strikes me that a good half of them (including the four at the top) seem to be from the USA. There's only one from the UK, and only a couple from mainland Europe, which is the place where LRT systems are the most common and varied. I'm not saying there should necessarily be less focus on American systems, but I think this article could do with some changes to make it, especially the pictures, a bit more of a balanced worldwide selection of systems. Tom walker (talk) 20:59, 27 October 2010 (UTC)

Thats probably because light rail is more of an American phenomenon. Most European systems are streetcar systems, premetros ([Medium-capacity rail transport system]]) or otherwise. While European systems do exist in healthy numbers, the majority of planned and operating light rail lines are in the US. WaltBren (talk) 01:58, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
That is probably due to naming convention. The term light rail is used in the USA, while other terms are used elsewhere. --BIL (talk) 07:20, 28 October 2010 (UTC)
Both fairly good points, but speaking from a UK perspective the term 'light rail' is used heavily to refer to systems such as the Manchester Metrolink and the Docklands Light Railway. Like I said I don't want any America content removed, I just think it would be good to give a slightly more balanced overview and have a picture or two from a European/Canadian/Australian system in amongst those four at the top. Please discuss, I don't want to make any changes without running it by on here first. Tom walker (talk) 19:30, 30 October 2010 (UTC)

missing pdf in references[edit]

Getting a 404 from: "McKendrick et al. (2006) (PDF). Calgary's C-Train - Effective Capital Utilization. Joint International Light Rail Conference, St. Louis, Missouri. Calgary Transit. Retrieved 2008-02-11."

Does anyone have a copy of the PDF or a working link to the report?

-- Intractable (talk) 21:46, 23 December 2010 (UTC)

Trams operating on mainline railways[edit]

[There is a history of what would now be considered light-rail vehicles operating on heavy-rail rapid transit tracks in the U.S., especially in the case of interurban streetcars. Notable examples are Lehigh Valley Transit trains running on the Philadelphia and Western Railroad high-speed third rail line (now the Norristown High Speed Line).]

Note that the FRA does NOT regulate the safety of 'heavy-rail rapid transit'. Furthermore, the Lehigh Valley Transit would have likewise escaped FRA safety regulation since they never tried to move standard railroad freight cars over their tracks. I think that the author of this section became confused in thinking that heavy-rail (rapid transit) cars are as heavy as standard railroad cars, when in fact they are roughly the same weight as light rail cars (on a per-foot of length basis).

Had the Chicago North Shore & Milwaukee Railroad and the Chicago Aurora & Elgin Railroad survived into the era of FRA safety regulation, the fact that these interurban lines moved standard railroad freight cars on their own tracks would have certainly led the FRA into regulating their passenger operations and rolling stock. Then because these regulated passenger trains entered the 'heavy-rail' (Elevated/Subway) lines of the Chicago Transit Authority, the FRA might have in turn tried to regulate the CTA's 'heavy-rail' operations and rolling stock. Indeed the case where a CTA 6000 series train ran into the back of a CNS&M train stopped at Wilson Station resulting in the deaths of four passengers on the CTA train would have added great weight to their argument.

The Chicago South Shore & South Bend Railroad (Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District) doesn't face a similar problem with its entrance into Chicago over the Electric District tracks of Metra (formerly Illinois Central Railroad Suburban District), in spite of the superficial resemblance between Metra Electric and the CTA Elevated/subway lines, and the near (or complete?) absence of standard freight car movements on Metra Electric tracks. The lack of a problem is that that both IC and Metra Electric defined themselves as suburban railroad operations and thus gracefully accepted FRA regulation.

KenyonKarl (talk) 17:35, 29 June 2011 (UTC)

Ambiguity in the concept[edit]

There seems to exist the ambiguity in the concept of light rail as follows:
# a kind of North American rail transit system
# a kind of rail transit system further including German Stadtbahn and others
# a kind of rail transit system further including modern trams
# a kind of rail transit system further including non-modern trams
This article is essentially based on (2).

The above was removed from the article, with the note that it belonged on the Talk page instead. However, it was not actually moved here, so I have recovered it and done the move. I am not advocating any particular point of view (or even copyediting it), just preserving the material as a base for discussion. Reify-tech (talk) 13:51, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

Re. Bank of St Louis commentary[edit]

$133m, 55,000 passengers $2418 a year or $12,090 after five years, Car+5 years running costs $54,330. Amount of new cars given away after 5 years 12,244 so only 1/5th as many would have transport, factor in only 7,700 of 55,000 riders dont have cars in first place so most are choosing to use it when they already have a car and are already paying car upkeep. This article is also only about St Louis and neighbours, there are many light rails in the rest of the world which dont operate on a single cent of subsidy, purely on revenue. Theres not any breakdown of costs at any other light rail network. Altogether there is no way this source can be used as a blanket indictment of the transport mode across the world. WatcherZero (talk) 20:07, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Addendum, the article has also been pretty comprehensivley professionally panned, see for instance
Then, it is our duty as editors to qualify all that in the paper. It is not our place to remove sources we as editors believe have flawed methodology, but to include all the details, and, if possible, include other sources that contest them. Describe the controversy is wikipedia policy.--Louiedog (talk) 20:17, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
It is our responsibility to peer review the quality of sources provided but my objection isnt to the content of the article itself, its the use of it to form a blanket statement applied to the world when it is only about the opportunity cost of one system compared to another form of public transport subsidy (free car giveaways), the authors have made no attempt to apply it to a larger context outside of St Louis and we should do the same. I would also like to hear the justification for putting it in the lead. WatcherZero (talk) 20:28, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
The source merits inclusion. Showing up in the lead as a blanket statement against light rail in all locations, however, is definitely overstating its weight. It probably belongs down in "pros and cons" with proper qualification that it is "one study" that looked at costs for the St. Louis area.--Louiedog (talk) 20:37, 19 December 2011 (UTC)
The source forgets the cost of building the roads needed if everyone travel by car, not public transport. --BIL (talk) 21:15, 19 December 2011 (UTC)

Definition inconsistency[edit]

Light in this context is used in the sense of "intended for light loads and fast movement", rather than referring to physical weight.

The opposite phrase heavy rail, used for higher-capacity, higher-speed systems...

Besides not being clear how light relates to speed, "light loads" does imply physical weight. -- (talk) 20:31, 7 October 2013 (UTC)

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American bias[edit]

"the DLR system was at the high end of what Americans considered to be light rail" So what?

There is also a bias in the first sentence "Light rail or light rail transit (LRT) is typically an urban form of public transport using the same rolling stock as a tramway" No one in their right mind would expect a DLR train to run on a tram way, apart from the weight and slow stopping speeds, squishy-squashy there's no driver!

And as it is mentioned that the DLR name is based on the Light Railways Act 1896 (not sure it is) why does the definition section not start with this late Victorian legislation rather than starting with the US Urban Mass Transportation Administration name of 1972?

-- PBS (talk) 22:34, 7 September 2014 (UTC)

The Docklands Light Railway is not really a light rail system. From the Wikipedia article,
The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) is an automated light metro system
Light metro redirects to Medium-capacity rail transport system which says,
a medium-capacity system (MCS) is a non-universal term coined to differentiate an intermediate system between light rail and heavy rail.
...and the article has a picture of a DLR train as an example of a MCS system. Notwithstanding that, the DLR rolling stock is based on a German light rail design which is capable of in-street running. The DLR designers just removed the manual driver controls and substituted fully automated controls, which is possible with almost any modern LRT equipment. Most light rail designers now prefer to retain driver control since eliminating the driver doesn't save as much money as designers used to think. RockyMtnGuy (talk) 05:00, 9 September 2014 (UTC)