Innovative Traffic Control Practices for Light Rail Transit: A European Perspective

Descendants of the streetcar, light rail vehicles (LRVs) have their own distinct characteristics, including a broad range of operating environments (both on-street and in semi-exclusive or exclusive rights-of-way) and a wide extent of typical operating speeds (from 15 to 60 mph). This flexibility, coupled with passenger attraction and capacity of the vehicles, has made light rail an increasingly viable public transportation option. Accommodating light rail transit (LRT) in these multiple environments while maintaining or improving safety has led transportation planners and engineers to utilize a variety of innovative traffic control practices. These practices are used to manage conflicting movements with LRVs and to provide motorists, as well as pedestrians and bicyclists, with better information upon which to base their decisions. Over the years, traffic engineers and transportation planners in the United States have implemented a number of practices to minimize potential conflicts with LRVs, but because increased LRT safety is a worldwide need, other countries, particularly in Europe, have also implemented their own traffic control practices, which may have current or future value to LRT agencies in the United States. This paper examines and describes the observations resulting from visits to four LRT systems in Southwest Europe, where the author had the opportunity to observe firsthand traffic engineering practices related to solving LRT conflicts with motor vehicles, pedestrians, and bicyclists. Those practices that could have the greatest potential for implementation in the United States are identified.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Maps; Photos; References;
  • Pagination: pp 87-106
  • Monograph Title: Joint International Light Rail Conference: A World of Applications and Opportunities, April 9-11, 2006, St. Louis, Missouri
  • Serial:

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01044143
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Files: TRIS, TRB
  • Created Date: Mar 15 2007 8:45AM