By Prof. Lewis Lesley: Claverton Conference 24/26th October 2008
Light rail is a passenger transport system using steel rails to support and guide electrically power vehicles, running on street with other traffic and on separate dedicated lines. Normally light rail is driven “on sight” without railway signaling, so it can share road space or road alignments, and mix safely with road vehicles.
Ideally light rail should enjoy 100% priority over other traffic, through dedicated lanes and the pre-emption of traffic lights. Sustainable light rail emits no CO2 in the operating cycle, using renewable generation. When attracted car trips are included, light rail reduces total CO2 emissions. It is also financially viable so not vulnerable to public spending squeezes. Consistent market research and experience over the last 50 years in Europe and North America shows that car commuters are willing to transfer some trips to rail-based public transport but not to buses. Typically light rail systems attract between 30 and 40% of their patronage from former car trips. Rapid transit bus systems attract less than 5% of trips from cars, less than the variability of traffic.Read More