The Performance of Light Rail on a Network Basis and Options for Improvement: a Case Study of Melbourne

The Performance of Light Rail on a Network Basis and Options for Improvement: a Case Study of Melbourne


S Luke, Mott MacDonald, UK



Melbourne's tram network is the fourth largest in the world with almost 500 trams servicing 28 routes and covering over 240 kilometres of track. Around 80 per cent of Melbourne's tram network is on shared road space with motor traffic, a factor that significantly constrains the performance of tram services.

Tram travel times compare very unfavourably with car travel times and are deteriorating on nearly all tram routes.

However major opportunities exist to significantly improve the frequency, reliability, speed and efficiency of the existing network particularly at ?redspots? ? blockages that exist throughout the road network, which limit the movement and performance of trams.

This paper presents a suite of potential initiatives that have been identified as potential solutions to the deteriorating performance of the light rail network. Examples include:

* Segregated lanes
* Tidal flow lanes (dynamic segregation)
* Stop locations
* Stop and platform improvements)
* Counter peak initiatives
* Boarding and alighting protocols
* 3rd track
* Vehicle designs
* Active signalling
* Area wide traffic signal prioritisation
* Gating
* Tram speed limits, acceleration/deceleration requirements
* Pedestrian improvements
* General traffic management including clearways and right turn bans

The causes of delay and unreliability across the tram network are identified through analysis of Automatic Vehicle Location data, onboard surveys and other sources. The paper discusses the applicability of potential solutions to address causes of delay and unreliability. The paper also presents the development and application of a multi criteria framework covering social, environmental and economic aspects to assess potential solutions. Finally barriers to implementation of potential solutions are outlined (including public, political and institutional aspects) and potential mechanisms to overcome these barriers are presented.


Association for European Transport