Designing for mass transit railways within freeway medians

The City of Perth in Western Australia has one of the highest car usages in the world, with only three other cities having higher car ownership per capita. In searching for an alternative to the unsustainable dependence on private car commuting in the metropolitan area, finding continuous rights of way for railway mass transit was extremely difficult. There were many constraints. Consequently, the medians of the major freeway systems had to be seriously considered and were adopted. Railways once preceded the development of other major infrastructure and this allowed total separation with generous buffers. Today, urban passenger railways must be integrated with existing infrastructure and the environment. There is a general lack of regulatory and industry guidelines for locating mass transit railways in the median of major road arteries, both in Australia and overseas. This is a major challenge for engineers, operators and regulators. Road and rail engineers in Perth have now developed standard minimum reserve widths. In the absence of other guidelines, design must be based on the codes of railway engineering practice of the time. New standards may have to be developed. The whole process must be subject to risk analysis. Perth's Northern Suburbs Railway (NSR) was built within the median of the Mitchell Freeway for the majority of its route. Its success has been outstanding and today it carries the equivalent of between three and four freeway lanes of traffic in the morning peak rush hour. In the planning and design of the Southern Suburbs Railway (SSR), a review of the Northern Suburbs experience and overseas practises showed that a railway can be located within more narrow freeway medians than was available for the Northern Suburbs. The design of that section of the SSR within the median of the Kwinana Freeway showed that the greatest risk to safety is from vehicle or debris fouling the path of an oncoming train. This paper describes the background issues, constraints, design standards, outcomes of risk analysis, different barrier types, final outcomes, operating parameters and conclusions appertaining to a railway in the median of a freeway.

Media Info

  • Pagination: pp. 23-40
  • Monograph Title: Rail achieving growth: CORE 2006: conference on railway engineering, 30 April-3 May 2006, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01517143
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Source Agency: ARRB
  • Files: ATRI
  • Created Date: Mar 4 2014 8:10PM