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Thread: Consensus Developing on Rail-Based Rapid Transit System Design

  1. #1
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    Default Consensus Developing on Rail-Based Rapid Transit System Design

    This article from the urbantoronto.ca blog got me thinking:

    http://urbantoronto.ca/news/2019/04/...#disqus_thread

    The article tries hard not to be overly complimentary toward the Ford government's plan but ends up concluding maybe it's not so bad. How else to read the passive-aggressive tone of the paragraphs below?

    The Ontario Line, extending from the Ontario Science Centre to Ontario Place, is the new name for the subway-formerly-known-as-the-Downtown-Relief-Line. It's a key component of the province's transformational plan for Toronto transit.

    According to an enthusiastic provincial government news release, "Transit users and commuters across Ontario can look forward to transportation improvements as part of the Government of Ontario's historic new transportation vision… Joined by Jeff Yurek, Minister of Transportation, and Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure, Ford announced [the plan]… This is the most money ever invested to get shovels in the ground and get new subways built."

    The province expects that this new rapid-transit line will cost $10.9 billion. It will start somewhere on the Exhibition Place/Ontario Place site and wind its way along an unspecified route to Osgoode Station. It will then follow the path that the City of Toronto has already approved for the line to Pape Station and then head northward to end at the Science Centre Station on the under-construction Eglinton Crosstown LRT line. The line would mostly be underground other than for an elevated crossing of the Don River, likely in East York, but details are slim and that isn't completely clear.
    In large Canadian metro regions (Toronto, Vancouver, Ottawa, Calgary but sadly not Edmonton) there seems to be an emerging consensus developing between the heavy rail subway enthusiasts and the new urbanists who until recently promoted mixing different transportation modes including rail-based transit at street level.

  2. #2

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    They're doing / pursuing both in Vancouver, are wasting millions in Surrey for SkyTrain (Metro Van is expanding BRT currently)... and don't they do both in Ottawa and Calgary and expanding LRT along a former rail ROW in Montreal?
    Live and love... your neighbourhood.

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    Bus Rapid Transit is a cost-effective alternative to street-level LRT. Here's a useful backgrounder: https://skytrainforsurrey.org/vision/brt/

    When it comes to rail-based transit, separation from other modes of transport (vehicular, cycling, pedestrian) is key to achieving the speeds and frequency needed to get people out of their vehicles and using transit for their every day commutes.

    Despite the fierce lobby mounted by street level LRT advocates, Metro Vancouver ultimately made the correct decision to extend the Expo Line to Langley City Centre, and to keep using BRT (instead of LRT) to connect the old town centres of Newton and Guildford to Surrey City Centre (and thereby the Skytrain network).

    Metro Toronto has also had pitched battles between subway and light rail advocates. The ROW design ultimately chosen for the Eglinton Cross-Town Line reflects a compromise between these views (with some level crossings in less busy areas, and grade separations in the busier central portion).

    Doug Ford has always been known as a subway hard liner. It's interesting that his government is now considering using Skytrain - rather than heavy rail - technology to reduce capital and operating costs and thereby enabling the already approved Downtown Relief Line to be extended on both ends (to Exhibition Place on one end, and the Ontario Science Centre on the other end).

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    ^ I’m not up to date on my lingo with rail transportation, so excuse this if its a dumb question...

    Is subway considered heavy rail? And if so, what differentiates it from say LRT? Is it simply the speed of the cars traveling on the rail line, or is a subway vehicle similar in weight to that of say a freight train that it would be considered heavy rail...or is it actually how they construct the line itself?

    I guess these could be probably answered with a google search but you know.....the rum.....

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by GranaryMan View Post
    ^ I’m not up to date on my lingo with rail transportation, so excuse this if its a dumb question...

    Is subway considered heavy rail? And if so, what differentiates it from say LRT? Is it simply the speed of the cars traveling on the rail line, or is a subway vehicle similar in weight to that of say a freight train that it would be considered heavy rail...or is it actually how they construct the line itself?

    I guess these could be probably answered with a google search but you know.....the rum.....
    I think its to do with the stopping distance/size, all of them have about the same speed (max of 70 to 90, system average including stops of about 30 to 40). Subway tends to be longer trains that makes it heavier, so longer to stop, bigger stations needed. Light rail is lighter and shorter, so it can stop much faster, and regain speed faster. For the same ridership, with LRT you will have more shorter trains, and with traditional subway (think Toronto, NYC, London) fewer bigger trains. So if a cities population isn't huge, or a line won't be super busy, LRT is often a better fit as there won't be the ridership to make a longer subway train full on a sufficient frequency. There are all sorts of exceptions and variances though, Montreals subway uses smaller trains than Toronto, and rubber wheels instead of steel (Paris is like that as well). Vancouvers skytrain is a lighter system as well - its basically elevated and automated LRT (esp. the Canada Line).
    Last edited by downtownone; 09-05-2019 at 08:02 AM.

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    Thanks

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    That's not strictly correct. Most subways are heavy rail but a 5-car LRT vehicle is just as heavy as a similar capacity subway. The biggest difference in the vehicles is that LRT vehicles narrower, I think 8'6" is the maximum while Heavy rail can be over 10'.

    LRT was an invented marketing term for rail transit vehicles that are less infrastructure intensive than traditional heavy rail with more rapid-transit characteristics than streetcars.
    There can only be one.

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    I will second that opinion that LRT was just a marketing term.
    Advocating a better Edmonton through effective, efficient and economical transit.

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    In starting the thread, right of way design (ROW) was top of mind for me, not vehicle types.

    There is a continuum from ROW design involving complete separation from other transport modes both vehicular and active, to street level design where trains run in mixed traffic and are seldom if ever separated from other transport modes.

    Of the top six most populous metro areas in Canada, only Edmonton to its detriment is choosing a right of way design for new lines that involves less rather than more separation from other transport modes.

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