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Old February 9th, 2007, 06:15 PM   #1
Otis LA
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MISC | Railways in Urban Areas

I wanna see pics from railways (freight and passengers) crossing urban areas at ground level! What solutions in architecture and engineering can we find to minimize the problems in safety, noise and landscape?
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Old February 10th, 2007, 10:58 AM   #2
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There's a good example of bad engineering/design solution posted in the Seattle Link Light Rail thread. Here's direct links to those posts with pictures:

http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=186
http://www.skyscrapercity.com/showpo...&postcount=187
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Old February 13th, 2007, 05:45 AM   #3
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That's just as much a problem caused by poor driver education.

In Melbourne, a tram extension was built where the kerb comes out to the tram tracks at every stop, requiring traffic to weave in and out. And it's been praised as a good thing, since it prevents cars from driving past boarding passengers (road rules state that cars must stop behind a tram in all lanes between the tracks and the footpath, but a lot of people ignore or are unaware of this rule).

As for emergency vehicles, it's not good enough saying that they have right of way, when drivers should be well aware that rail vehicles take a long distance to stop. Especially with facing seats or standees, when you make any public transport vehicle have to use its emergency brakes, that's a major hazard for passengers.

I guess the advantage here is that trams have been here before the motor car, and there are very specific rules relating to trams which are tested.


As for freight and passenger rail, all regional lines travel through the suburban system. As far as safety is concerned, there are only boom gates at level crossings which is all that's required (it's illegal to cross tracks, or any intersection, if there's not enough room on the other side, so if you get hit by a train it's almost always your fault). Ground level lines are not fenced off (unless it adjoins a property boundary) and pedestrians can freely cross the tracks.

Last edited by invincible; February 13th, 2007 at 07:35 AM.
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Old February 18th, 2007, 05:12 PM   #4
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My own humble opinion is that separation from motor vehicle traffic should be a top priority. The main reason is to allow higher operating speeds, which is an important factor in attracting ridership. Safety is often stated as the reason for providing separation from motor vehicle traffic and photos of collisions certainly grab the attention of the public; however, I think that speed should be the more important reason.

For examples of what not to do, look at the light rail line in Houston. At six intersections, the left turn lane for motor vehicles is on the tracks:



The Houston light rail line has perhaps the worst safety records of any light rail line in the United States. The accident rate has been reduced as drivers become more familiar with the line and as changes have been made to the signage and traffic signals. Some fairly draconian measures have been instituted such as having the traffic signals for motor vehicles go red for all directions when a train traverses an intersection. Not even traffic parallel to the train is allowed to move.

Other examples of what not to do can be found on heritage trolley lines across the United States. Most of these lines operate in lanes shared with motor vehicles. The potential problems are obvious. The following image of a car crossing onto the wrong side of the road to get around a streetcar is from a photo page touting the "success" of the heritage streetcar in Little Rock, Arkansas:



In terms of ridership, the F-Line in San Francisco is perhaps the most successful heritage streetcar line in the United States. Streetcars have been in continuous use in San Francisco for over a century. Drivers are well familiar with them; however, accidents still occur on a regular basis:



The speed of most heritage trolley lines is fairly low, so the damage resulting from collisions is generally not so severe. This is perhaps the only advantage that low speed might have for a transit line.
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Old February 21st, 2007, 01:20 AM   #5
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I must say that "solution" in Houston is one of the worst ideas I've ever seen. I firmly believe that trains and traffic should not travel in the same lane, regardless of scale (light rail and traditional street cars). I've seen problems personally where I'm from. I've been on a train numerous times where traffic gets in the way of the trains. It hasn't resulted in an accident, but it sure could have.

Anyhow, here's a new project being built in Portland Oregon where busses share lanes with train traffic, which will be two car lightrail trains. I've posted a link to the project website as well as a link to an animation of how the train traffic will be handled. Note, you do need Quicktime to view the video.

http://portlandmall.org/
http://portlandmall.org/about/videosimulation.htm

This is a document explaining the specific day-to-day operations of lightrail on the mall in conjunction with busses and autos:

http://portlandmall.org/documents/Ma..._03_8_2006.pdf
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Old February 21st, 2007, 05:01 PM   #6
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Commuter trains near Paris:





Tram-train T4 near Paris, previously it was a "classic" commuter train:

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Old February 22nd, 2007, 03:33 AM   #7
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Alameda Corridor Freight Line, CA, USA

http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/alameda/

Alameda Corridor Freight Line, CA, USA









Severe congestion on rail routes on the West Coast of America resulted in a $2.4bn investment in the Alameda Corridor to provide a suitable route for heavy trains from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, in California's San Pedro Bay.

It followed a decade of spectacular growth which has made the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach the busiest in America. Booming trade with Pacific Rim nations saw trade in the two ports reach 100 million tonnes per year and forecasts show that growth is set to treble in the next 20 years, with the volume of high-value containerised freight.

About one-quarter of all products arriving in the USA moves through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, and the complex is the third busiest container port in the world, behind Hong Kong and Singapore.

The region is served by two major rail operators, Burlington Northern Santa Fe (BNSF), and Union Pacific (UP). The BNSF was formed in 1994, following the takeover by Fort Worth, Texas-based Burlington Northern, of the Atchison and Topeka and Santa Fe Railway Company. The combined company has a total network of 52,800 route km (around 33,000 miles), and is the second largest rail carrier in the United States, behind CSX Transportation. The UP is one of four business units of the holding company Union Pacific Corporation.

UPRC lost out to Burlington Northern in the takeover battle for Santa Fe, but in 1995 bought the Southern Pacific Rail Corporation for $5.4bn.

The UP’s first move into passenger operations came in 1993, operating commuter trains into Los Angeles under contract, and UPRC has set up a commuter rail development team to pursue similar openings. But it is far and away still predominantly a freight carrier, with grain, coal and intermodal traffic all important traffic areas.

THE PROJECT
Both companies had to face the considerable obstacle of four single-track routes into the ports area, which involve trains up to 2.5km long having to negotiate up to 200 level crossings that are strung along the four lines, and necessitate a maximum speed of just 32km/h (22mph). Up to 35 trains per day have had to thread their way through the streets of LA at speeds of between 10 and 20mph, which was unsustainable with the massive growth in rail born freight traffic.

The idea of developing a single, consolidated rail corridor in the area was first floated in 1984, but it was five years before Los Angeles and Long Beach established the Alameda Corridor Transport Authority (ACTA). Design and construction work on the $2.4bn (£1.35bn) project was completed in 2002. The four existing routes are replaced by a single consolidated, grade-separated 32km (20 mile) line, connecting with the existing rail network at Redondo Junction, near where the present route crosses the Los Angeles River.

Promoters hope the line will handle 100 trains a day by 2020, significantly reducing the number of road freight movements a day into the area – which stood at 20,000 per day before the new line. Average speed of freight trains is expected to double to 35–40mph, and during 2005 more than 17,000 trains used the route with, on average, 47 running every day.

During 1995 the project was given federal authorisation, and designated a high-priority intermodal corridor, opening the door to a range of ground-breaking financing options, but the acquisition of federal approval came far more quickly than the necessary finance. In January 1998, approval of a $400m federal loan by President Clinton put the final piece of the funding jigsaw in place, to which the federal government added $47m in an Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act and other payments.

The project has been funded by a public-private partnership to raise the necessary $2.4bn. Of this $1.165bn has come from revenue bond proceeds, $394m from the port authorities, $347m administered by the Los Angeles County Metropolitan Transportation Authority and $154m from other state and federal sources. The $400m federal loan will be repaid by a $30 levy on each loaded container, with $8 for empty containers and other rail vehicles.

ROLLING STOCK
Trains using the line are standard US rolling stock, with large General Motors or General Electric diesel locomotives hauling container wagons, often stacked two high, piggyback trains, mixed freight and other bulk goods such as coal or oil.

In 2005, ACTA began trials with an alternative fuel locomotive for shunting duties at the yards of Pacific Harbour Line, to try and reduce further the amount of air pollutants released by the ports. The ‘Green Goat’ Bo-Bo locomotive uses a small diesel generator combined with a set of high powered long life batteries, which reduce emissions by more than 80%. Although no new locomotives had been ordered by 2006, the trials were an all out success.

INFRASTRUCTURE
Construction work began in 1997, and started on the bridge over the Los Angeles River at Redondo Junction in May 1998. All work was completed by 2002, with the Redondo Junction allowing a three-minute journey time reduction for passenger trains from Los Angeles Union Station due to the loss of tight curves. Motorists also benefited from the construction of the new line, as 200 level crossings which were often blocked by 2.5km long trains have been removed.

The central feature of the Alameda Corridor is a 33ft deep trench, running for 10 miles parallel to Alameda Street from downtown LA to ports on the Pacific Ocean coast. This is the centrepiece of the Alameda Corridor, and the largest contract to be awarded. Construction of the trench took three years between 1998–2001.

TRACK AND SIGNALLING
The ten mile (16km) Mid-Corridor Trench at the centre of Alameda Street, which carries the line under the existing road from Route 91 in Compton to 25th Street near Los Angeles city centre, is 15.2m wide, and accommodates two tracks plus a roadway for maintenance access. This could be converted into a third rail line if required. The trench has an overhead clearance of 7.5m for double-stack container trains.

Linking the new route with existing rail lines at its northern end has required extensive construction works. The line curves eastward at 25th Avenue, and rises to surface level alongside Santa Fe Avenue, where major grade separation works will be needed.

A two-track link is provided between the corridor, over an existing bridge over the Los Angeles river, into Union Pacific's East Los Angeles Yard, connecting with existing lines to the north. A new double-track flyover and bridge over the Los Angeles River also avoids freight movements along the new corridor conflicting with Amtrak and Metrolink passenger services. At the southern end, there is a grade separation to carry the corridor over Henry Ford Avenue in Wilmington. Another major river crossing is over the Dominguez Channel in Long Beach.

THE FUTURE
Negotiations over construction management contracts for the scheme were begun in mid 1998, and the 2001 completion target was achieved by adopting a 'design-build' strategy for the Alameda Street trench section. However, the line did not open officially until April 2002.

Other agencies involved in the project are the cities of Carson and Los Angeles, who have constructed road overbridges.

The main priority for ACTA is to continue reducing emissions from the ports and increase traffic levels. After three full years of operation, the Alameda Corridor has collected $173m in revenues, and 45,000 trains have moved more than five million containers.

The first months of 2006 witnessed further increases in traffic, with average daily train use growing to an average of 49 trains, above the previous year's 47. There is still some way to go before the target of 100 trains per day is reached.
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 03:53 AM   #8
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Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor - ReTRAC

http://www.cityofreno.com/gov/retrac/

Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor - ReTRAC



Traffic congestion and safety concerns brought about the largest public works project ever undertaken in Northern Nevada, the Reno Transportation Rail Access Corridor, or ReTRAC.

The ReTRAC project depressed over 2 miles of train track that run directly through Downtown Reno. A 54-foot wide, 33-foot deep train trench was built utilizing state-of-the art planning and construction processes.

The change in Downtown Reno is astounding. No more train/car/pedestrian accidents in the ReTRAC area, traffic flow is greatly improved, emergency vehicle access is enhanced, property values of buildings adjacent to the trench have significantly increased and there are even various environmental benefits.

Check out the Master Plan section to see the latest progress on the plan designed to be the blueprint for the future of certain properties surrounding the ReTRAC trench.

NEW! ReTRAC recently won the Aon Build America award. The Build America awards showcase the best of America's buildings, bridges, roadways and municipal and utility construction.

NEW! ReTRAC also won the Outstanding Achievement in Civil Engineering Award in the structural category from the Truckee Meadows Branch of the American Society of Civil Engineers.
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 09:45 AM   #9
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KCR passing through a HK New Town

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Old February 22nd, 2007, 09:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WANCH View Post
KCR passing through a HK New Town
Hong Kong does not have any trains that pass at ground level (ie. at grade crossings).
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Old February 22nd, 2007, 10:01 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greg_christine View Post
http://www.railway-technology.com/projects/alameda/

Alameda Corridor Freight Line, CA, USA

What has happened to the old railway lines (the red and green lines)? Are freight trains still using them? Could they be used for public transport routes e.g. light rail or busways? Or will they be sold off for redevelopment?
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Old March 9th, 2007, 12:37 AM   #12
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Some metro line in the outskirts of Chicago has level-crossing barriers to it, I can't think where on the net I must've seen a picture of it
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Old March 9th, 2007, 09:38 AM   #13
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Light metro

Stadtbahn Essen (Germany):

Tracks in the middle of a motorway






Light metro

Stadtbahn Cologne (Germany):

Tracks in the middle of a street




Commuter railway

S-Bahn Cologne (Germany):

Tracks in the city




Tracks at the city border




Commuter railway

S-Bahn Berlin (Germany):




Last edited by JoKo65; March 9th, 2007 at 09:50 AM.
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Old March 9th, 2007, 10:45 AM   #14
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Commuter railway
Cercanias Barcelona (Spain):




Commuter railway
Электричка/Elektrichka
St. Petersburg (Russia):








Vladivostok (Russia) main station:






Tracks in the city:





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Old March 9th, 2007, 01:49 PM   #15
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Commuter
Valencia/Spain:



Pasajes (Guipuzcoa)/Spain:



Fuengirola/Spain:



Cercanías de Sevilla (Spain):

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Old March 9th, 2007, 02:10 PM   #16
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Ferrovia Circumetnea

Catania, Italy. Circumetnea light rail.

















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Old March 9th, 2007, 04:31 PM   #17
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A4 Holland, for the HSL;

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Old March 9th, 2007, 04:35 PM   #18
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Also in Holland, in The Hague,

Randstadrail;





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Old March 11th, 2007, 04:06 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by xlchrisij View Post
A4 Holland, for the HSL;

The topicstarter asked for pictures of railways in urban areas at ground level.
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Old March 11th, 2007, 04:26 PM   #20
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Here is a railway in UK crossing urban areas at ground level.
The Weymouth Quay branch, linking the town to the harbour, the train goes through the town on the streets on a tramway. But today its no longer in operation, as far as I know the tracks are stil there and connected to the mainline so its possible to reopen it but I can't see it happening.


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