Medium-capacity rail transport system
In rail transport, a "medium-capacity system" (MCS) is a non-universal term coined to differentiate an intermediate system between light rail and heavy rail. As such, it can be regarded as a medium-capacity rapid transit system. The concept is similar to "Light Metro", found in European countries. Since ridership determines the scale of a rapid transit system, statistical modeling allows planners to size the rail system for the needs of the area. When the predicted ridership falls between the service requirements of a light rail and heavy rail system, an MCS project is indicated. An MCS may also result when a rapid transit service fails to achieve the requisite ridership due to network inadequacies (e.g. single-tracking) or changing demographics.
In contrast with most light rail systems, an MCS usually (though not always) runs on a fully grade separated exclusive right-of-way. In some cases, the distance between stations is much longer than typically found on heavy rail networks. An MCS may also be suitable for branch line connections to another mode of a heavy-capacity transportation system, such as an airport or a main route of a metro network.
The definition of a medium-capacity system varies due to its non-standardization. Inconsistencies in international definitions are even reflected within individual countries. For example, the Taiwan Ministry of Transportation and Communications states that each MCS system can board around 6,000–20,000 passengers per hour per direction (p/h/d or PPHPD), while the Taiwan Department of Rapid Transit Systems (TCG) suggests an MCS has a capability of boarding around 20,000–30,000 p/h/d. For comparison, ridership capacity of more than 30,000 p/h/d has been quoted as the standard for metro or "heavy rail" standards rapid transit systems, while light rail systems have passenger capacity volumes of around 12,000-18,000 p/h/d. However, passenger capacity volume is just one possible criterion used to define a medium-capacity rail transit system.
Another criterion that can be used to define a medium-capacity rail system is vehicle type. For example, the train in an MCS may have a shorter configuration than the standard metro system, usually three (though, in some cases, just two) to six traincars, allowing for shorter platforms to be built and used. Rather than using steel wheels, rubber-tyred metro technology, such as the VAL system used on the Taipei Metro, is sometimes recommended, due to its low running noise, as well as the ability to climb steeper grades and turn tighter curves, thus allowing more flexible alignments.
Fully heavy rail or metro systems generally have train headways of 10 minutes or better during peak hours. Some systems that qualify as heavy rail/metro in every other way (e.g. are fully grade separated), but which have network inadequacies (e.g. a section of single track rail) can only achieve lesser headways (e.g. every 15 minutes) which result in lower passenger volume capacities, and thus would be more accurately defined as "light metro" or "medium-capacity" systems as a result.
Variants of the term
"Light Metro" is a common alternative term used to describe the system worldwide. For example, it is used in European countries, India,and South Korea. VAL (Véhicule Automatique Léger), also uses this term to define its capacity, up to 30,000 p/h/d), and thus can also be categorized in the medium-capacity rail systems family. A nonprofit organization, Light Rail Transit Association (LRTA) also uses the term. In Hong Kong, MTR's Ma On Shan Line could, in some contexts, be classified as a MCS, but can attain up to 32,000 p/h/d which is comparable to the passenger capacity of some full metro transit networks.
Advantages and disadvantages
The main reason to build a light metro instead of a regular metro is to reduce costs, mainly because this system employs shorter vehicles and shorter stations.
Light metros may operate faster than heavy-rail rapid transit systems due to shorter dwell times at stations, and the faster acceleration and deceleration of lighter trains. For example, express trains on the New York City Subway are about as fast as the Vancouver SkyTrain, but these express trains skip most stops on lines where they operate.
Medium-capacity systems have restricted growth capacities as ridership increases. For example, it is difficult to extend station platforms once a system is in operation, especially for underground railway systems, since this work must be done without interfering with traffic. Some railway systems, like Hong Kong and Wuhan, may make advance provisions for longer platforms, for example, so that they will be able to accommodate trains with more, or longer cars, in the future. Taipei Metro, for example, constructed extra space for two extra cars in all its Wenhu Line stations. The Ma On Shan Line in Hong Kong has even applied the railway standard, with a configuration of fewer cars, for a possible link with the other existing heavy rail route without having to reconstruct the current system.[clarification needed]
List of MCS/light metro systems
|Toronto||Canada||Line 3 Scarborough (RT)
(part of Toronto rapid transit)
|1||1985||Categorized by APTA as being "intermediate rail" (i.e. between "heavy rail" and "light rail"), and categorized as a "light metro" by LRTA.|
|Vancouver||SkyTrain||3||1985||Debatable that SkyTrain Expo and Millenium lines still qualify as "medium-capacity" over "rapid transit" as it now often operates with 4- and 6-car trains. Canada Line operates with 2-car trains.|
|Copenhagen||Denmark||Copenhagen Metro||1||2002||Driverless vehicle system. Trains: 3-car config., 39 metres length.|
|Lille||France||Lille Metro||2||1983||VAL people mover system. Trains: 2-car config., 26 metres in length, with a maximum passenger capacity of 208–240 per train (depending on VAL 206 or VAL 208 train).|
|Paris||Orlyval||1||1991||VAL people mover system, using VAL 206 vehicles.|
|Rennes||Rennes Metro||1||2002||VAL people mover system – while trains have 80 second headways, they can only carry 158 people per train.|
|Toulouse||Toulouse Metro||2||1993||Although a VAL system, LRTA defines the system as "Metro." On the other hand, UrbanRail.net describes it as a "light metro VAL system".|
|Gurgaon||India||Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon||1||2013||Driverless vehicle system. The line is designed to carry up to 30,000 passengers per hour. Some articles define the system as "Light Metro."|
|Brescia||Italy||Brescia Metro||1||2013||Trains: 3-car config, 39 metres length.|
|Catania||Catania Metro||1||1999||Single-tracked at-grade section limits headways to 15 minutes. Not included in list of world metro systems from UITP.|
|Genoa||Genoa Metro||1||1990||Generally considered to be a "light metro" considering its low frequency, limited hours of operation and reduced transport capacity. It is actually categorized as "light rail" by LRTA.|
|Milan||Milan Metro: Line 5 & Line 4||1||2013, (2015)||Portion of Line 5 is in operation; Line 4 in under construction. Driverless vehicle system. Trains: 4-car config., 50.5 metres length, capacity for 536 passengers maximum.|
|Naples||Naples Metro||1||1993||Line 6 is categorized as "Light Metro," with only 16 minute headways. Line 1 has a single-tracked tunnel section.|
|Turin||Turin Metro||1||2006||VAL people mover system.|
|Hiroshima||Japan||Astram Line||1||1994||Driverless vehicle system. A small part of the underground section was built as Metro system.|
|Kobe||Port Island Line
Rokkō Island Line
|Trains: 4-car config (300 people per train), but the platforms are made for fitting to 6-car config.|
|Osaka||Nankō Port Town Line||1||1981||Trains: 4-car config, but the platforms are designed to apply to 6-car.|
|Saitama||New Shuttle||1||1983||Trains: 6-car config, rubber-tyred and operated manually.|
|Trains: 6-car config, driverless vehicle system.
Trains: 5-car config, driverless vehicle system.
|Yokohama||Kanazawa Seaside Line||1||1989||Driverless vehicle system.|
|Busan||South Korea||Busan Metro Line 4,
Busan–Gimhae Light Rail Transit
|Unmentioned by LRTA, though UrbanRail.net categorizes the line as a "light metro."
Driverless vehicle system. Trains: 2-car config. Unmentioned by LRTA, but the operator calls the system "light rail".
|Uijeongbu||U Line||1||2012||VAL driverless system. Trains: 2-car config.
Categorized as a "light metro" by LRTA and elsewhere, though there are also articles categorizing it as "Light Rail."
|Yongin||Everline||1||2013||Uses single-car Bombardier Advanced Rapid Transit vehicles, so is much closer to a traditional people mover line.|
|Kuala Lumpur||Malaysia||Kelana Jaya Line
Ampang Line & Sri Petaling Line
KL Monorail Line
|Trains: 6-car config. fleet.
Trains: Mixed 2-car & 4-car config. fleet.
Trains: Mixed 2-car & 4-car config. fleet. 
|Manila||Philippines||Manila Light Rail Transit System,
Manila Metro Rail Transit System
|Manila Light Rail Transit System – Trains: LRT-1 Line began with 2-car configuration, reconfigured to 3-car in 2004, and procured new 4-car configurations in 1999 and 2007. LRT-2 has always used 4-car config.
Manila Metro Rail Transit System (MRT-3) – Trains: 3-car config., with a max. capacity of 1,182 passengers, and running with 4–5 minute headways. However, line is designed for 23,000 p/h/d capacity.
Categorized as "light rail" by LRTA.
|Moscow||Russia||Moscow Metro: Line 12 – Butovskaya Line||1||2003||Can carry 6,700 p/h/d. Trains: 3–4-car config.|
|Mecca||Saudi Arabia||Makkah Metro (Al Mashaaer Al Mugaddassah Metro): Pink Line||1||2010||Considered a "full" metro system by UITP. Runs 12-car trains when it operates, however it only operates during the Hajj, and thus is not a year-round transit system.|
|Singapore||Singapore||Singapore MRT: Circle MRT Line and Downtown MRT Line||2||2009,
|Trains: 3-car config.|
|Barcelona||Spain||Barcelona Metro: Line 8 & Line 11||1||2003||Driverless vehicle system. Trains: 2-car config. LRTA also categorizes Line 8 as "Light Metro."|
|Málaga||Málaga Metro||1||2014||System contains at-grade intersections on surface section of Line 1. Described as a "light metro" by at least one rail publication.|
|Palma, Majorca||Palma Metro: Line M1||1||2007||Mostly underground line operates with just 15-minute headways and two-car trains (306 passengers max.); one reference even categorizes line as "light rail".|
|Seville||Seville Metro||1||2000||Trains: 31 metres length with a max. capacity of 192 passengers.|
|Valencia||Metrovalencia||9||1995||A hybrid metre gauge system of light rail, tram and even commuter rail, with underground metro (subway) sections in Valencia city, including the whole of line 5, though also with numerous single track sections, and some at-grade intersections.|
|Taipei||Taiwan||Taipei Metro: Line 1:
Wenshan Line & Neihu Line;
|Wenshan Line – Trains: Rubber-tire system; 4-car config; categorized as a part of the "metro" by LRTA.
Neihu Line – Extension of the Wenshan line.
Yellow Line, that planned to open in 2017, will use AnsaldoBreda Driverless Metro vehicles, and is categorized as a "light metro" by LRTA.
|Ankara||Turkey||Ankaray Light Metro (A1 Line)||1||1996||Trains: 3-car config, approx. 90 metres length. Categorized as a "light rail" by LRTA, though Current capacity: 27,000 p/h/d.|
M1 Line (Istanbul Hafif Metro)
|1||1989||Trains: 4-car config. "Hafif Metro" literally translates as "Light Metro". Categorized as a "light rail" by LRTA.|
|Glasgow||United Kingdom||Glasgow Subway||1||1896||Gauge: 4 ft (1,219 mm). Trains: 3-car config.|
|London||Docklands Light Railway||7||1987||Driverless vehicle system. Trains: generally 2–3-car config. Categorized as a "light rail" by LRTA.|
|Newcastle upon Tyne||Tyne and Wear Metro||2||1980||Hybrid 'heavy rail'/'light rail' system – e.g. multiple at-grade intersections (like light rail); also shares some track with regional diesel train services (any track sharing is, by definition, not "metro"). Also categorized as a "light rail" by LRTA, and not included in the list of world metro systems from UITP.|
|Detroit||United States||Detroit People Mover||1||1987||Considered to be a "people mover".|
|Jacksonville||Jacksonville Skyway||2||1989||Considered to be a "people mover".|
|Miami||Metromover||3||1986||Considered to be a "people mover".|
|New York City||Airtrain JFK||3||2003||Steel wheel/steel rail system. Considered to be a "people mover".|
|Philadelphia||Norristown High Speed Line
(part of the SEPTA rail system)
|1||1907||Has been categorized by APTA as being "Light rapid rail transit" (i.e. between "rapid transit (heavy rail)" and "light rail").|
|Maracaibo||Venezuela||Maracaibo Metro||1||2006||Trains: 3-car trainset config, ~58 metres length (originally designed for Prague Metro). Categorized as a "light rail" by LRTA.|
|Valencia||Valencia Metro||1||2007||Trains: 2-car Siemens SD-460 config, ~55 metres length. Categorized as a "light rail" by LRTA.|
The following is the list of former-MCSs that either developed into a full rapid transit system, or which are no longer in operation:
- Guangzhou, China
- Line 3 (began with 3-car configuration, changed to 6-car in 2010)
- Komaki, Japan
- Peachliner – Abandoned on 30 September 2006.
- Automated guideway transit
- Passenger rail terminology
- Rail transport
- Rubber-tyred metro
- Light Rail
- People mover
- "Transportation term definition" (in Chinese). Ministry of Transportation and Communications (MOTC). Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- "Comparison between high capacity and medium capacity systems" (in Chinese). Taiwan Department of Rapid Transit Systems, TCG. Retrieved 2008-06-30.[dead link]
- Great Britain: Parliament: House of Commons: Transport Committee, ed. (2005). Integrated Transport: The Future of Light Rail and Modern Trams in the United Kingdom. The Stationery Office. p. 216. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
- Schwandl, Robert (2007). "What is a metro?". UrbanRail.Net. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
- "Kerala opts for light metro, not monorail". business-standard.com. 2014-10-24. Retrieved 2014-11-29.
- "BJP promises light metro in Bhopal and Indore". dnaindia.com. 2014-11-21. Retrieved 2014-11-29.
- "Korean city opens automatic light metro". Rail Journal.com. Retrieved 2014-11-24.
- "VAL and NeoVAL". Siemens TS. Archived from the original on 2008-06-26. Retrieved 2008-06-30.
- Michael Taplin (March 2013). "Index of Countries + Totals for each Country". Light Rail Transit Association (LRTA). Retrieved 2014-11-28.
- "MTR train frequencies of railway lines in different periods, number of cars on each train, train carrying capacity, train loading rates and number of seats" (pdf). MTR. Retrieved 2014-08-23.
- Michael Taplin (March 2013). "A world of trams and urban transit - A complete listing of Light Rail, Light Railway, Tramway & Metro systems throughout the World". Light Rail Transit Association (LRTA). Retrieved 2014-11-28.
- "Transit Ridership Report Fourth Quarter and End-of-Year 2014" (pdf). American Public Transportation Association (APTA) (via: http://www.apta.com/resources/statistics/Pages/ridershipreport.aspx ). 3 March 2015. p. 34. Retrieved 2015-03-14.
- "Toulouse". UrbanRail.net. 2004. Retrieved 2014-11-29.
- "Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon opens". Railway Gazette International. 15 November 2013. Retrieved 2014-12-28.
- Simon Crompton-Reid (18 November 2013). "Rapid MetroRail Gurgaon launched". Total Rail. Retrieved 2014-12-28.
- "Gurgaon automated metro". Subways.net. Retrieved 2014-12-28.
- "Metros: Keeping pace with 21st century cities". uitp.org. International Association of Public Transport (French: L’Union internationale des transports publics (UITP)). Retrieved 2014-08-07.
- "Busan". UrbanRail.net. 2007. Retrieved 2014-11-30.
- Busan-Ginhae Light Rail Transit
- "Uijeongbu Light Rail Transit, South Korea". Railway-technology.com. Retrieved 2014-02-22.
- Robert Schwandl (2012). "Malaysia". UrbanRail.net. Retrieved 20145-06-22. Check date values in:
- "About Us - Background". Metro Rail Transit. Retrieved June 8, 2014.
- "Malaga metro problems - before work's even started". EuroweeklyNews. 27 March 2014. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
- Puente, Fernando (30 July 2014). "Malaga light metro network opens". International Railway Journal. Retrieved 2014-07-30.
- "Mallorca Rail Development, Spain". Railway-Technology.com. Retrieved 2014-05-16.
- Robert Schwandl (2012). "Valencia". UrbanRail.net. Retrieved 2014-08-07.
- Robert Schwandl (4 January 2013). "Valencia". UrbanRail.net (Blog). Retrieved 2014-08-07.
- "TEKNİK ÖZELLİKLER" [TECHNICAL SPECIFICATIONS] (in Turkish). Ankaray LRT. Retrieved 2014-05-24.
- "American Public Transportation Association - A MULTIMODAL TOUR OF THE DELAWARE VALLEY" (PDF). American Public Transportation Association (APTA). June 1, 2013. Retrieved 2013-11-10.
- Taplin, Michael. "A world of trams and urban transit". lrta.org. Light Rail Transit Association.
- "Metros: Keeping pace with 21st century cities". uitp.org. International Association of Public Transport (French: L’Union internationale des transports publics (UITP)).
- Schwandl, Robert. "UrbanRail.Net". UrbanRail.Net.
- Urban rail transit definitions by the US Transportation Research Board and the American Public Transportation Association
- Jane's Urban Transport Systems