Using Modularity to Tailor Transit Systems

Using Modularity to Tailor Transit Systems


R Hesse, TransTec, DE



Among core expectations of public transport users usually considered are

* high service frequencies and regular headways

* direct links or at least minimum transfers

* high travel speeds on origin to destination (door to door) basis

* comfortable, modern vehicles and stops / stations

* accessible facilities and rolling stock

* affordable fare levels. There is no doubt that modern rail and road based transit system enable meeting these demands. In some cases, passengers' needs are however contradictory to what system are traditionally able to accommodate, such as the combinations of

* high commercial speeds and short distances between stops * high speed rural lines and direct access to city centre streets.

Tailoring transit systems around customers' needs sometimes means to overcome boundaries of systems traditionally distinguished, such as railways and tramways, and to combine elements of both. (The same applies to rail and bus systems, where recent guided bus applications combine both bus and tramway elements.) Transit systems with light and heavy rail features have become quite popular in recent years and are good examples for

* how to use modularity to tailor systems

* how to identify suitable cost-effective technologies and

* how to design systems around desired services (rather than vice versa). Meanwhile, some 20 such systems are operating or seriously considered world wide, with a wide rangefrom full integration of light and heavy rail to just converting (used or disused) railway corridors to create tramways. It is obvious that there is a range of success factors common to these systems such as

* providing direct links between city centres and suburbs

* increasing the number of stops and reducing their distances to customers' doorsteps

* facilitating usage of modern, lightweight rolling stock

* allowing greater flexibility to adapt to different environments. The essential success factor may however be cost-effectiveness, with

* affordable off-the-shelve products combined in intelligent ways,

* complemented by a smaller number of purpose designed elements. Today, all such elements are available from different suppliers on a competitive basis, leaving the need to be combined to tailored systems and to deliver design criteria with adequate sustainability for future extensions. The presentation gives an overview of

* which customers' expectations can be addressed by such systems

* how elements can be used to tailor transit systems and

* which success factors can be derived from recent experience. Examples shown include systems where light rail is extended into heavy rail (which is the common approach) as well as a system where the opposite took place, with heavy rail sharing a tramway right ofway in the inner city. Examples comprise

* Karlsruhe and Saarbrücken where light and heavy rail are integrated, and urban tramways extend intothe region

* Cologne - Bonn where light rail is combined with heavy goods service for decades

* Manchester where converted heavy rail lines are linked by an inner-city tramway

* Paris (Val de Seine) where a suburban line was converted to light rail and extended into the heart of passenger demand (La Défense)

* Kassel with daytime tramway and night time freight services on the same line

* Croydon and Porto where light rail systems were / are created out of railway corridors to a large extent and

* Zwickau (Vogtlandbahn) where standard gauge diesel trains share an inner-city alignment with metre-gauge tramways.


Association for European Transport