The ULTRA LIGHT RAIL concept

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1Ultra light

A recent comment about Ultra Light Rail deserves an entry in the Rail for the Valley Blog. Though I do believe that ULT is not applicable for the 90 km. Valley Interurban, where larger vehicles are needed, Ultra light rail could have applications in specific niche areas in Metro Vancouver such as a downtown Vancouver to Stanley Park Link, Granville Island tram (tracks in situ), or a Davie St. Denman St. circulator. Certainly ULR could be used in tourist sensitive cities such a Victoria or Kelowna.

The following is from:   

Cost-effective, Sustainable, Public Transport SystemsSustainable Transport Company Ltd (SUSTRACO)

  • ULR is a intermediate transport system that uses self-powered or externally powered trams with or without some form of energy storage.Is a cost effective alternative to Light Rail, Guided Bus and Bus Ways (BRT) for many routes.
  • Carry traffic of 350 – 9,000 p/h/d and have “tramway, LRT, BRT and Guided Bus characteristics” it is able to mingle with pedestrians, negotiate historic city centres with , narrow streets.
  • All this for a cost that is between 75% and 30% less then standard LRT systems.

 It is low cost because: 

  • Vehicles use automotive and tram type technology/ economy of scale through standardisation.
  • There maybe no external electrification, overhead wires, sub-stations, and cables.
  • It is thus easier to route and find cheaper more attractive alignments.
  • It  uses a number of lower cost innovative track technologies .
  • It can use standard, off the shelf, not specifically designed components.
  • Services (gas, electricity, telephone, water pipes etc.) do not have to be relocated.
  • It can carry more people per driver than a bus.
  • One driver can move more people in a given time than is possible with a bus on congested roads.
  • It uses substantially less energy per passenger than a bus.
  • Trams last a lot longer than buses.
  • Stops are the same as bus stops.
  • It only needs a bus type depot and bus-operating organisation.
  • The public see it as a tram giving a superior quality service.
  • It is a fixed link system showing commitment whilst retaining its flexibility.
  • Significant environmental benefits.           
  • Stimulus to development.
  • Easy level access to low platforms
  • High safety levels.
  •   It also provides: 

    ULR is a novel concept but it uses well-established technologies. The principle is similar to the “streetcar” approach now being adopted in many US city centres in reaction to the high costs of conventional Light Rail, and may include the advantages of energy storage.

    It can be powered by any locally produced sustainable energy such as:-

    Biogas (from organic waste), Fuel Cells, Ethanol (from sugar) , Green Electricity (Wind, Wave, Sun, Hydro etc), SUSTRACO works with the local community to identify the most sustainable long term fuel .

    http://www.ultralightrail.com/index.htm

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6 Responses to “The ULTRA LIGHT RAIL concept”

  1. Drew Adamick Says:

    Not just Downtown Vancouver, Victoria, and Kelowna, this could be an option for all BC Transit Tier 1 systems (Central Fraser Valley, Prince George, Kamloops, Kelowna, Whistler) as a long-term transit project.

  2. Clive Hinchcliffe Says:

    Though I do believe that ULT is not applicable for the 90 km. Valley Interurban, where larger vehicles are needed.

    ULT vehicles are available with capacities of up to 300 passengers and can operate at speeds of up to 100KPH.

    These could br coupled together to produce vehicles for 600 passengers.

    WE can do anything LRT or BRT can do at a lower whole life cycle cost.

    A basic system can be installed for 75% less then an LRT system and produce no net carbon if combined with operation powered by gas produced from local organic waste.

    Zweisystem replies: Sadly you do not point to any ULT system in operation and your claims are nothing more than a sales pitch. If the ULT people could build their system for 75% less than LRT, there would be a whole lot of interest in the mode, but you do not have any ULT system in operation that one can make real cost comparisons.

  3. Clive Hinchcliffe Says:

    This is not strictly true, Ultra Light Railcars have been operating a service 7 days a week on a branch line of the UK National Rail Network near Birmingham since May this year. This follows a whole year of operation on Sundays. The ULR railcars have reduced emissions by 80% compared to the heavy rail unit that used to operate the service.

    A ULR tram was commissioned by Southport Council in the UK as part of the refurbishment of the second longest pier in the country. It has been in operation for several years covering over 9,000 Km per year with 99% reliability.

    Track of the type used for ULR has been installed for the Welsh Highland Railway at a cost of < 1m GBP per Km.

    A 200 passenger Light Tram is available for demonstrations on any standard gauge tramway.

    The reason why there are not hundreds of systems is lack of UK Government support for any type of tramsystem.

    We are also working with companies that use proven low cost technologies from India to produce the biogas fuel.

    Our website receives over 500 visits per month and we receive around 2 formal information requests per month. Recent enquires included Indian Railways and the Gov of Western Australia.

    Much more information can be found on our website.

  4. Anonymous Says:

    Maybe a ULR YXX link to the LRT Inter-Urban?

    There isn’t a whole lot of information available about ULR. Searching Youtube for ulrta light rail results in videos about a Heathrow PRT called Ulrta that doesn’t even use rail from what I can gather.

  5. Clive Hinchcliffe Says:

    There is quite a lot on YOUTUBE type in class 139 railcar to see a number of videos.

    139 is the UK National Rail Class for these 60 passenger Ultra Light Railcars.

    Ulrta and ULR are not the same thing and do not serve the same market.

    Type in Trampower to see a 200 passenger ULR tram in operation.

    This link will show the 100 all seat Southport tram.

  6. Anonymous Says:

    Clive, thanks for the links 🙂

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