An overview of the light rail mode is presented. General characteristics and application of the mode are described, emphasizing the versatility of its guideway, the railway track. Physical characteristics of the right-of-way and ranges of dimensions for right-of-way and vehicles are discussed. Stations are discussed briefly. Basic technical simplicity of the light rail mode is pointed out as a significant virtue. Operating characteristics (both maximum running speeds and typical average operating speeds) are indicated. Acceleration of typical vehicles is noted. Frequency of service is discussed, and ranges for various traffic control systems are given. Riding quality and visual impact are pointed at as being favorable. Capacity of light rail lines is given as a few thousand to 12,000 passengers/h. In special cases, a high of 18,000 passengers/h can be achieved by using multiple-unit trains of 3 or more cars. Choices a designer has to attain maximum capacity are stated. Capital costs of contemporary new light rail systems are given as ranges of costs for various configurations. It is concluded that light rail transit is a medium-cost mode providing a medium level of capacity at medium speeds that can find application in many corridors or areas in medium and larger sized urban areas. It is pointed out that light rail is an existing mode with proved capabilities that needs little or no new research and development.

  • Record URL:
  • Availability:
  • Supplemental Notes:
    • Distribution, posting, or copying of this PDF is strictly prohibited without written permission of the Transportation Research Board of the National Academy of Sciences. Unless otherwise indicated, all materials in this PDF are copyrighted by the National Academy of Sciences. Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved
  • Corporate Authors:

    Transportation Research Board (TRB)

    Washington, DC   
  • Authors:
    • Vigrass, J William
  • Conference:
  • Publication Date: 1975

Media Info

  • Media Type: Print
  • Features: References;
  • Pagination: pp 19-25
  • Monograph Title: Light rail transit
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 00129808
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB, ATRI
  • Created Date: Apr 21 1981 12:00AM