R van der Bijl, RVDB/LIGHTRAIL, NL; A Kuehn, Independent Consultant, DE



In our paper we like to discuss the full potential of tram-train in the near future. After the first generation of systems in Germany (Karlsruhe) nowadays a new generation evolves in both Germany and other countries, France particularly. As a follow-up to the initial Karlsruhe step the mid-nineties have been a real boom period regarding tram-train feasibility studies. Many cities and regions with a regional railway network, with or without an urban tramway and of about the same size as Karlsruhe have been asking the question of transferability. Most of these projects have been buried again or have at least been heavily delayed and not put in first priority. The reasons differ certainly, but we question whether asking the right basics early enough would have avoided big studies which went into the archives very soon.

Still we believe that many European cities feature characteristics which favour a next generation of tram-train applications. We like to investigate criteria in order to grasp this potential of urban and regional areas which could benefit of this rail bound high quality public transport.

The current and near-future practices in principal reflect the key characteristics of tram-train. However, due to historic, local and other context the characteristics vary from city to city. Almost all current generation tram-train projects differ from each other in some or even many respects. As a matter of fact these different practices prove the flexibility of tram-train technology.

Despite the flexible and context sensitive nature of tram-train our aim is to establish generic tram-train characteristics, since we feel that a clear view on that with a kind of checklist provided will enable to recognise a new collection of (potential) applications of tram-train or to revise earlier ones which may have been reviewed before under narrower conditions.

The EC-project CROSSRAIL was an attempt to deliver a standardised or at least harmonised approach to tram-train, but concentration was heavily on rolling stock issues and specifications. The current LIBERTIN thematic network goes into a similar direction, but also covering light rail in general. Missing is from our point of view a more urban context based approach to tram-train which does not mean that technical issues become obsolete for decision making. However a pure technical approach is not enough to evaluate feasibility. The central aim of our paper is to elaborate the generic characteristics of tram-train systems - and apply them on a well defined collection of older as well as next generation examples in order to give ground to our partly new found characteristics, as well as to investigate possible strengthnesses and weaknesses of the use of tram-train on a larger scale, in yet unknown areas and cities.

Beyond merely technical matters, like gauge, wheel and rail profiles, electrification/voltages, platform issues with regard to accessibility, safety issues, the characteristics will stress properties of urban areas which could suit tram-train, like:
* size of city and hinterland, and related sizes of people
* spatial structure of the city and its region
* quality of existing PT-structure
* economic and social parameters
* institutional and financial features

The selection of our examples will be backed by the elaborated characteristics above, and will contain about five ?older? potential tram-train cities like Rostock (Germany), Graz (Austria), Ljubljana (Slovenia), Oslo (Norway) and Luxembourg and five ?new generation? examples. On our short list for the latter are example-cities like Groningen (Netherlands), Helsingborg (Sweden), Antwerp and Liège (Belgium), and also Adelaide (Australia).

The inclusion of both ?old? and ?new? tram-train cities will also allow a comparison of earlier results with our ?quick check? using our set of characteristics.

Each of the selected examples will be described in a fixed format which will contain a map of the city, including existing public transport networks, existing railway station(s) and accessibility of city centres or other areas of major interest. We will develop a (new) set of criteria which suits our assessment of the potentially new generation of tram-train systems in that city particularly and in Europe generally.

Firstly we will conclude that it is possible to define common characteristics of first and second generation tram-train systems (including the ongoing projects) which do reflect both strengthnesses and weaknesses of tram-train technology and practice. Secondly our conclusion will be that indeed the found characteristics can be made operational in the search for a new generation of tram-train cities in Europe (and possibly elsewhere too). Thirdly we will deliver some recommendations how to approach the new found tram-train candidates in Europe.

* Rob van der Bijl; Light rail & regionale planning. Portland (OR): voorbeeld van ?transport oriented development?. In: Hugo Priemus, Robert Kloosterman & Willem Korthals Altes (ed.); ICES, Stad & Infrastructuur. Koninklijke Van Gorcum, Assen 2003, pages 67-74.
* CrossRail (1999 RD.10843), EU DG Tren.
* Revue Générale des Chemins de Fer, Numéro Spécial PERIURBAIN, 12/2001.
* Joint operation of Light Rail Transit or Diesel Multiple Unit Vehicles with Railroads, TCRP Report 52, Transportation Research Board, Washington D.C., 1999.
* Rob van der Bijl ; Leicht durch Stadt und Landschaft ? Light Rail ? a convenient means of regional and city transport. In: Topos 24, Munich, September 1998, pages 23-31.
* Rob van der Bijl; Light rail in Nederland: veel praten, weinig doen. Stadtbahn-project in Karlsruhe geniet aandacht, maar nog geen navolging. In: Blauwe Kamer 1, Wageningen 1998, pages 24-35.
* Dieter Ludwig / Axel Kühn; Das Karlsruher Modell und seine Übertragbarkeit. In: Der Nahverkehr 10/1995.


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