From the Abbotsford News – TramTrain perfect for Valley LRT



TramTrain perfect for Valley LRT

Published: November 10, 2009

The Light Rail Committee has long supported the reinstatement of the Vancouver to Chilliwack interurban service and has long corresponded to transportation experts in Europe and the USA, who also support the return of the interurban.

The concept of TramTrain, where specially designed streetcars or diesel light rail vehicles can safely ‘share the track’ with regular railways, has never been explored by TransLink, who prefer to squander billions of dollars building the SkyTrain metro system on routes that do not have the ridership to support the mode. It is all so easy for TransLink, grab taxes from valley residents and spend it on SkyTrain and subways in Vancouver.

For almost 20 years the city of Karlsruhe, Germany has operated a large and ever growing TramTrain network (the longest route is 210 km) and the success of TramTrain is such that over 20 cities around the world, including Paris, France, now operate TramTrain Lines.

It is cheap to build, with costs starting at about $7 million/km to build; compare this with SkyTrain, with costs surpassing $100 million/km.

In an age of ‘global warming,’ the need is to build a large network for the region and the question is: Do we build with LRT and TramTrain with costs starting at $7 million/km or SkyTrain metro, with costs starting at $100 million/km.

 Malcolm Johnston

Light Rail Committee


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3 Responses to “From the Abbotsford News – TramTrain perfect for Valley LRT”

  1. mezzanine Says:

    another view on tram trains can be found here:

    “The crucial necessity that drove the tram-trains’ invention is that Karlsruhe is (a) a small city with (b) a fairly compact downtown that is (c) the primary destination for a large share of trips but is (d) a little too far from the main rail station where normal commuter rail trains would logically terminate. Generalizing a little, I’d suggest that tram-trains make sense if:
    * You’re in a small market where the scale of demand doesn’t justify, say, running suburban commuter rail lines into a subway under the city, as large cities (e.g. Paris, Sydney) sometimes do.
    * The destination area you want to serve (the core downtown in Karlsruhe’s case) isn’t right around the rail station (or candidate rail station site) where a normal commuter rail service would cover it.
    * This destination area is so dominant that you don’t need to be too concerned about anyone wanting to go somewhere beyond that area.”

    tram trains should work in south fraser, but have the train component starting from vancouver, and have the tram component at the valley terminus, like langley or abbotsford.

    And the vancouver terminus (Pacific Central or Waterfront), I would put efforts to build the downtown streetcar that should link up well with the above train stations.

    Zweisystem replies: I read his blog posting a week or so ago and found it absolutely wrong. If the author of the posting cared to have read the history of the Karlsruhe tram and tramtrain system he would have found that what strove transit authorities to TramTrain was to bring a superior seamless or no-transfer transit journey to transit customers.

    Customers – this is the keyword of why European transit systems are successful, transit is designed for customers, not land developers, academics, or politicians.

    As Zweisystem has always observed: “If one fails to read transit history, one is doomed to make the same expensive mistakes.”

    I’m afraid the bloggist, tried to put an American interpretation on Karlsruhe trams and tram trains, but failed to understand the the nature of LRT or modern light rail philosophy, has failed dismally. Again another North American attempt to redefine light rail as a light metro.

    TramTrain is a mode of convenience, so convenient it reversed Karlsruhe declining ridership dramatically and only in a few short weeks. I hate to say it, one should read a book on the subject before commenting on it! May I suggest reading the article in Light Rail Review Volume one (published 1989 – Abe books for $10) “Karlsruhe Public Transit Showcase” by Jack Wyse to get some historical perspective on TramTrain.

  2. mezzanine Says:

    A major reason that European transit systems are so successful is that urban development happened way before the car was invented. To compare european examples to North american ones is a tough comparison. planned land use and zoning in north america is key and unfortunately, most planning is geared to the car. even portland’s new green line runs down a highway median.

    The first link does site north american examples of where we have close to tram-train-like service, like Portland’s LRT – express outside of downtown and local service in Downtown. The same can be said of calgary’s LRT.

    Tram train *to* vancouver might better be served by regular commuter rail/metro/LRT, and having a regular tram in Downtown. tram train might work better with train from DT to tram at the valley terminus.

    Zweisystem replies: Sorry Mezz, you are dead wrong, and again ignorance of recent transit history makes you believe in myth. Except for Germany and Eastern Europe, public transit was on the wane in the 60’s and 70’s. Growing affluence meant everyone used the car. France, Italy the Scandinavian, and even Germany countries were all running down their tram systems. Metro was the buzz word and metro was to win car drivers back to transit, but it didn’t work. Auto congestion and associated pollution was rampant in 70’s Europe and planners were desperate to reverse the trend. Light Rail or the modern low-floor tram was the ticket to attract the all important motorist from the car.

    Just look at the Renaissance in modern LRT over 200 new systems built or under construction since 1980.

    Get your mind out of the land-use issue, transit must be customer friendly, that is the key to success. SkyTrain and its cousin RAV/Canada Line are not customer friendly. You can’t force people onto transit and if government attempts to do so, watch for a new government at the next election.

    The sad fact is, we have a small industry in mock transit planning, which keeps a lot of people employed but in the grand scheme of things, no one cares about, no one copies our transit planning. Vancouver is a B-Movie and our regional transit planning is based largely on stuff and nonsense, yet we still persist in trying to reinvent the wheel and continue to fail at the task.

    Where has the ‘Vancouver’ light-metro model been copied? Nowhere – I wonder why?

  3. Justin Bernard Says:

    It’s off-topic, but why do people reference Human Transit? The blogger is quite biased, and most of hist posts are wrong. Like hell, he got the travel for the Gold Line wrong!

    The guy is clearly anti-rail, and pro-BRT.

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