Modern trams, "light rail vehicles" (LRV), have become more and more popular
since the 1980ies. To give a definition of "light rail" is not easy. Since
all tram systems are different depending on the city they are in. Light rail
is usually tram systems that can go on both tram tracks and train tracks.
During the first half of the 20th century trams where common in European
cities but disappeared during the 1960'ies. Motor traffic took over and tram
tracks were replaced by road. Later, when cities got environmental and
congestion problems, several cities choose to reintroduced trams.
This thesis work is an information gathering about modern trams, not only
about "light rail". Which also was one of the most important criteria's when
choosing case study cities. Saarbrucken and Karlsruhe have typical LR
systems, Mannheim has an upgraded tram system, and Strasbourg has a
completely new trams system, finally Zurich who has a more old fashion tram
The fact that all cities have tram systems so unlike the other ones means
that most possible information could be gathered.
Saarbrucken has had trams since 1890 but they were removed on behalf to
motor traffic. In the early 1990ies a decision were made to build a new tram
system with a LR system. Some lines are still under construction.
Mannheim has had trams since the end of 19th century and has modernised the
system with time. They have recently bought new trams and have also rebuilt
the tram stops.
Zurich has an old but huge tram system and will soon have to exchange their
vehicle fleet. In Zurich trams and motor vehicles use the same space have
therefore developed an efficient traffic system. This has increased the
travel speed for trams.
Strasbourg built a completely new tram system in the 1980ies. The city used
a lot of resources to make the tram a human friendly transport by special
trams, stops and lots of threes along tram routes.
Karlsruhe was the first city in the world that introduced LR. They have
since the start extended their LR system not only within the city but also
to the whole region. Karlsruhe had an old tram system in the city, which
were used together with train tracks. (In Saarbrucken they had to build
tracks in the city.)
One of the most important reasons to why many cities have reintroduced trams
is the environmental advantage. In a city there is a huge demand of
transportation, if everyone would travel with cars congestion and pollution
would be an extensive problem. With buses and trams you will get both lower
congestion and pollution.
The energy it takes to run trams is much less per personal kilometres
compared with a car, which makes it a more environmental friendly
alternative. The energy used by a tram comes from electricity which better
than petrol and reduces pollution.
Trams are a very space efficient transportation mode, which is important
since land often is in shortage in cities.
An environmental problem that is common in cities is noise pollutions. Tram
produce less noise than cars and the noise level becomes even lower if grass
is planted between the tracks.
Modern trams have proven to be a safe transportation mode in the city, with
low accident rates both for passages and other traffic groups. The accident
types that is most common for trams are collision between trams and cars.
These are especia...