Sunday, November 9, 2008

Going Underground

Until now, a huge challenge to keeping light rail track laying costs down has been the existing underground utilities. The location of these water, sewer and other utility lines can create expensive relocation costs that drive the LRT budget high.

The UK is a world leader in light rail passenger train systems and what they frequently call "community rail". Being the smart folks they are, they have found a solution to this costly mess with the LR55 tram track system. The system allows for quick installation and uses the existing road structure to support the load. This is revolutionary!

"To avoid or reduce these problems NET proposes to use the revolutionary LR55 rail system. This is laid in the road structure itself so that there is little or no disturbance to underground services. Instead a slot is cut in the road and the track laid in. The track exploits the strength of existing highway pavements by transmitting the static and dynamic loads from the upper surface, rather than the foot of the rail as in conventional track. This results in the load on the railhead being distributed onto the sub-base of the highway, being of a sufficiently low value not to require a separate foundation. Up to 100m can be laid in a night"


Light Rail Guy said...

The LR55 patented rail has been around for quite a while, with a short test section still in use on Sheffield's LRT/tram system.

As the British government is (and always have been) anti light rail, the LR55 rail has not been put in general service. The reason? There are several similar European rail laying methods, which are just as successful, as witnessed in Helsinki, where 5 km. of new tram line (and overhead) cost about CAD$5 million/km. to build!

The patent owner Professor Lewis Lesney is still looking for an operator to invest in the track system.

As for community rail, I have never heard the 'Brits' use this term and it seems to be a local manifestation.

Also remember that the privatized 'TROC' Track operating company, so poorly maintained the 'rails' of the former BR, that the track literally disintegrated under passenger trains and now has the 'track' has been renationalized.

Joe Zaccaria said...

It is still positive and encouraging to know that these processes are out there and that we can utilize them to save money and overcome the road blocks that may be presented to us.