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Local Rail Extras II

by DoDo Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 01:58:47 PM EST

My Local Rail diary turned into a mini-series on dKos (1, 2, 3, 4, 5). While I added/edited some text, too, I added much more pictures. Later I posted half the extras for ET; this is the long overdue second part.

U-Bahn (subway) Munich, a C set at Karlsplatz station, an interchange with the S-Bahn rapid transit, 2005. Photo by Jonas Frey from RailFanEurope.net

At bottom, an also long overdue list of train diaries on ET – tell me if I missed one.


I had to see that I was too dismissive of elevated railways in the original version, so I made up for it with additions to multiple sections, here I unite these.

While elevateds lost out to subways as the dominant form of urban rapid transit a century ago, they are the preferred choice in some situations now. In monsoon-frequented Delhi, and a number of high-density East Asian cities, putting heavy rail on long concrete bridges became common practice. The latter are typically in suburbs.

Since 2004, Binhai Mass Transit's 45.4 km (28.3 mi) JinBin line runs from a suburb of Tianjin to the Tianjin Economic Developing Area, mostly elevated, though the in-construction downtown extension is in tunnel. Here one of the automatic trains (made by Chanchun Railway Vehicles) turns at the temporary terminus Zhongshanmen, with the ramp to the subway extension visible. Tianjin also has a subway, China's second-oldest. Photo by Pierre2427 from 2427junction.com

The idea of rubber tyres on rail, and the ideas of platform doors and automation were united in the VAL type metro, first realised in the French city of Lille. These can be counted as light metro, or some just as peoplemover (a category I didn't deal with in detail).

A four-car train (VAL256 type of French maker Matra [now Siemens]) reaches Zhongxiao Fuxing station on Taipei Metro's first line, the elevated Muzha Line, June 2005. After initial troubles, it is well-frequented at over 100,000 riders a day. Photo by user Kwb from Japanese Wikipedia

There are a number of elevated light metros, for example Vancouver's SkyTrain. But, like normal trams, they have a capacity limit, and thus are no substitute for heavy metro in larger cities. Indeed, all other lines of Taipei Metro (see below) are heavy metro, and mostly subway. In Bangkok, even if both lines of the BTS SkyTrain are to expand, two further lines will be heavy metro subways, and a normal rail rapid transit network is also in construction.

Metros (Subways)

I added more on rapid metro expansion in Asia, beginning with the system the above VAL is part of.

The metro of Taiwanese capital Taipei is only 11 years old, but during the same time the expensive Taiwan High-Speed Rail was constructed (it opened in January this year), Taipei Metro expanded to a network of six lines totalling 74.4 km (46.2 mi), carrying over a million daily riders, and these numbers are to be tripled in another 11 years.

As example of extra-rapid Chinese development, Guangzhou Metro's current four lines totalling 89.7 km (55.7 mi) were built in a mere ten years, and just counting in-construction lines, network length is to triple by 2010!

A subway train (made by Siemens & Zhuzhou Electrical Locomotive Works) arrives at its terminus under Guangzhou East Railway Station on the just 22-month-old line 3. All stations on the Guangzhou Metro have transparent platform doors. Photo by Pierre2427 from 2427junction.com

Metros are expanding in other parts of Asia, too. In India, the now three-line Delhi Metro started less than five years ago. Iran isn't only busy building a nuclear industry, but Tehran Metro, too. In the rich oil-producing Arab countries, the in-construction Dubai Metro will be the first urban rail system.


Extreme capacity: two five-car bi-level EMUs (Z1547 and another type MI2N of Paris transport authority RATP) on RER A outer branch A3 near Achères, April 7, 2007. The inner part of RER A is one of the busiest railways in the world. Photo by Patrick Meunier from RailFanEurope.net

As an addendum, I note that one of the  Paris-RER-inspired projects I mentioned, London's Crossrail, got the decisive go-ahead (that is, the approval of the financial scheme) from the Brown government just this past week – impressive from a post-Thatcher British government, considering that the price tag ballooned to £17 billion.


A French-made tram in an Aussie town, courtesy of BruceMcF:

Yarra Trams class C tram No. 3008 (low-floor type Citadis 202 of French maker Alstom) in Melbourne; January 24, 2003. Photo by Stuart Jackson from Perthtrains

In the dKos version, I added two paragraphs on economics:

Since light rail can determine cityscape, projects can become prestige objects, with municipalities accepting higher costs. The latter can result from senseless spending on glitch, but also from well thought-through planning, especially in France. For example, while line extensions in Germany cost as little as 10 million €⁄km (22 million $⁄mi), Houston's METRORail 43 million $⁄mi, and Minneapolis's Hiawatha Line (which has a tunnel section!) 60 million $⁄mi; Paris's 7-month-old T3 line comes in at around $87 million per mile.

But benefits like commercial development in a more attractive area with more greenery, traffic also reduced by taking 1-1 lanes away from a busy road, while the 304-place trams provide twice the capacity of the earlier bus line at a 38% higher travel speed, made it worth, with extensions underway. And even with such high-cost, high-quality light rail projects, French cities manage to simultaneously expand their bus services (for example Strasbourg).

Stylish low-floor trams in Strasbourg (three types: the 7-part/33.1 m and 9-part/43 m versions of the ABB [now Bombardier] EUROTRAM used since the 1994 opening, new 7-part/45.056 m [147.8 ft] Alstom Citadis 403 (2005)), January 2007. Video by YouTube user Roberto Amori

I later photographed Strasbourg's trams during my vacation. For the dKos series, I included one own photo, picked from a dozen shots made extra for the tram diary:

Giant caterpillar: tram No. 2008 (Siemens type Combino Supra) on the Grand Boulevard in Budapest, in front of West Terminus railway station. With a length of 53.99 m (177'1½"), they are only surpassed by Dresden's CarGoTram. My own photo of July 5, 2007


This section was entirely new, so I include the text, too.

Electric buses (trolley-buses) have the carbody of buses, but transformers and inverters in place of the diesel. They are bound to certain streets by poles having to reach overhead wires, but drive normally on streets. They can get their own special lane, though, and special guiding tracks or fixed route markers an automated system could keep the vehicles to. What they won't have is light rail capacity (whatever US Bus Rapid Transit advocates claim).

Now what if we start with a tram, put rubber tyres on its wheels, and replace its two riding rails with guiding rails? Is that a trolley-bus? Well, it has pantograph rather than poles, has a different and larger carbody, is fixed guideway, and operates just like light rail, though these differences might get further diluted in the future, if a new niche is found. But the only obvious benefit over normal light rail I can see at the moment is not cost, certainly not ride quality, but the ability to climb higher grades.

The described 'off-rail light rail' of French company Lohr Industries was pioneered with a test track in Paris, there are a few applications elsewhere so far.

Translohr vehicle No. 004 on Binhai Mass Transit's guided-rail, which serves Tianjin Economic Technological Development Area (TEDA) near Tianjin, China since May this year. Photo by Pierre2427 from 2427junction.com

Light Metro

Example of a Stadtbahn:

Looks like a tram, but runs in a subway: then new K4513 (from Bombardier's Felxity Swift family) at station Ebertplatz of Cologne's Stadtbahn, September 6, 2006. Photo by Valentin Brückel from RailFanEurope.net under Creative Commons

:: :: :: :: ::

I closed the series on dKos with a video filmed from a Thalys train on a 300 km/h test run on the Antwerp–Amsterdam high-speed line, overtaking cars on the parallel highway:

:: :: :: :: ::

Check the Train Blogging index page for a (hopefully) complete list of ET diaries and stories related to railways and trains.


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 02:01:08 PM EST
Noticed and Intellectually entertained as usual.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 02:23:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Love these diaries, and the pictures of local rail. Yesterday my fiancee and I took a trip up to Berkeley, one of her first times on BART, and it was a reminder of how even a workhorse, no-frills system like it makes a metro area so much easier to navigate. I can't wait for the light rail line in Seattle to open in 2009.

Also, thanks so much for the links to the other rail diaries on ET. I'm starting to get my own high speed rail site together, a project specifically aimed at drumming up support for the November 2008 vote on whether to build an HSR system here in California. Those other diaries are useful, and I'll be asking folks at ET to chime in with their thoughts on what makes HSR a success, and what they'd say to Californians about it, in the coming weeks.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 05:09:12 PM EST
Last week, I was at a conference in London, and the hotel was stuck between the Waterloo station railways and the Thames.

And my room (@£210 per night) was on the third floor, overlooking the rail...

There's about 2 trains per minute passing there (including the eurostars, for now) from 5am till midnight. In fact, it's frequent enough that it's almost a permanent noise and thus makes it easier to get alseep with.

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes

by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 05:33:07 PM EST
210 pounds. That more than my studio costs (chambre really) for one month in Paris.
I recently had some rich cousins from LA visit Paris for a few nights. They stayed at the Renaissance Hotel at a tariff of over 700 euros a night. That's a lot of money to pay just to have some uniformed people open some doors for you.

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Mon Oct 8th, 2007 at 05:19:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose that's what Republicans would call "trickle down economics."

Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Mon Oct 8th, 2007 at 06:06:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
are pretty outrageous indeed. I guess it's a deserved part of "success."

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 8th, 2007 at 06:25:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
One third of Crossrail is being funded by an increase in the Business Rate in London - so businesses will be forced to pay for the scheme, whether they use it or not, at a time when they're already being asked to pay for the Olympics.

It's also an incredibly stupid route plan. The Western and Eastern end points are in the green belt in the middle of nowhere. The obvious extension to Crossrail would be to Reading in the West, which could potentially eliminate a fair proportion of road traffic on the M4 by providing a park and ride option to Heathrow, London and London City airport.

Instead it's going to start at Maidenhead, which may possibly pick up some of the existing commuter rail traffic, but will do next to nothing for drivers.

There are other idiocies, which deserve a diary of their own. (If I can be bothered to write one, which I probably can't.)

There was an alternative scheme which was much more imaginative, but because of the sclerotic nature of infrastructure, and especially rail in the UK, it would have meant starting the design and funding process from scratch. So - not happening.

So Crossrail is going to be hugely wasteful, providing somewhere between a third and a half of the regional throughput it could have provided if managed and planned properly.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sun Oct 7th, 2007 at 08:03:05 PM EST
It's simply down to the "problem" that rich people in the City want to live in West london cos it's posh and has better restaurants, so Cross rail is being built so that they can go straight from the office to their first class carriage.

I imagine it will extend to Reading eventually for the very reason you specify. In fact, just as Thamelink goes from Brighton to Bedford, Cross Rail will probably go from Colchester to Reading/swindon.

It's a compete waste of money that doesn't address a single strategic requirement in the South East. Biggest screaming need are decent transport links along the south side of the Thames.

Although frankly, if you were gonna throw £16 billion at any infrastructure need, I'd say a hi-speed rail link to Scotland might be useful

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Mon Oct 8th, 2007 at 02:41:36 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Can we get these back?

In the long run, we're all dead. John Maynard Keynes
by Jerome a Paris (etg@eurotrib.com) on Mon Oct 8th, 2007 at 06:24:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You actually want them?

We have met the enemy, and it is us — Pogo
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu Oct 11th, 2007 at 06:02:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This weekend was town of "Clifton Day" in Fairfax County Virginia and we took our grandson (a 22 month old train addict) on his and our first ride on the Virginia Railway Express (VRE) commuter train from Manassas to Clifton.  The VRE ran special excursion trains for the event from Springfield station in the North through Clifton to Manassas station in the South.  This commuter line uses regional freight and Amtrak rail lines to run a series of morning, noon and afternoon trains on two routes from the Virginia suburbs to stations in Northern Virginia and Washington DC that connect to the Metro lines there.  Seeing the passenger cars and your achived diary list reminded me that the VRE also uses double decker cars (subj. of two of your diaries)

Departing Manassas Station

Clifton Station

I can swear there ain't no heaven but I pray there ain't no hell. _ Blood Sweat & Tears

by Gringo (stargazing camel at aoldotcom) on Mon Oct 8th, 2007 at 10:19:15 PM EST

The Union Pacific maintains a few old steam engines, including the giant 4-8-4 number 844, the last steam engine delivered to the railroad--and still in service for use on special runs. The Colorado State Fair is held each summer in Pueblo, about 130 miles south of Denver. Once in a while the UP runs a State Fair passenger special from Denver to Pueblo, just to prove that the existing rail line, which is used heavily to move monstrous coal trains, can also be used for passengers.

There is some small movement towards passenger service north and south of Denver, but no action.

A series of really good photographs is at the following site, but I won't attempt to post it because the site requests permission. This one shows the train just north of Colorado Springs, and gives a good idea of what the countryside looks like as well as the very impressive train. The diesel locomotive is included in the consist to provide assistance uphill to minimize wear on the old engine's rods, and downhill to provide dynamic (electric) braking.

by asdf on Thu Oct 11th, 2007 at 09:31:06 AM EST

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