Light Rail Transit Vehicles

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Lateral Vehicle Forces on the Track - Maximum lateral forces resulting from all speed and curvature combinations Dynamic Vehicle Forces on the Track Impact of car and truck natural frequencies Impact of wheel flats or damaged wheels

It is essential that the track designer, the vehicle designer, and the designers of systems such as signals, catenary, etc., coordinate and cooperate to achieve compatibility between the LRT system components under all operating conditions. These interactions can be facilitated by generating a comprehensive design criteria manual for any new LRT system and keeping it updated with ”as-built” information as the project is developed, constructed, and operated. It is generally inadvisable to design a new light rail line around the characteristics of only one make and model of light rail vehicle since doing so may limit choices for subsequent vehicle procurements as the system expands and matures. A transit system guideway may remain unchanged for a century or more, during which time it would not be unusual for three or more cycles of vehicle procurements to occur. Instead, it is recommended to consider a universe of candidate LRVs from several manufacturers and develop a fictitious “composite” LRV that incorporates the most restrictive characteristics of several cars, e.g., the longest, the widest, the one with the largest minimum radius capability, etc. In this fashion, the transit agency will not be forever restricted to using only one particular make and model of LRV. It also minimizes situations where parts of the track alignment are at the absolute minimum or maximum capabilities of the vehicle, a condition that is highly discouraged in any event. When new vehicles are procured for an existing transit line, the vehicle must be specified to operate on the existing track unless a concurrent rehabilitation and upgrading of the old guideway is proposed. When an existing transit line is extended, the track standards for the extension must accommodate both the old rolling stock and any new vehicles that might be procured. 2.2 LIGHT RAIL VEHICLE DESIGN CHARACTERISTICS 2.2.1 Introduction Light rail vehicles are built in a variety of designs and dimensions. In almost all cases, they are capable of being operated in coupled trains. Modern LRVs are generally much larger and heavier than their streetcar predecessors and can have axle loads just as large as, or even larger than, so-called "heavy rail" transit vehicles. Notably, the modern streetcars used in one U.S. city actually have slightly higher axle loadings than the light rail vehicles also used there. Light rail vehicles vary in the following design characteristics: • Unidirectional versus bi-directional • Non-articulated versus articulated and, for the latter, the location(s) and configuration of the articulation joints • 100% high-floor versus partial low-floor (typically 70% or less) versus 100% low-floor • Overall size (width, length, and height) • Truck and axle positions • Weight and weight distribution

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Suspension characteristics Performance (acceleration, speed, and braking) Wheel diameter and wheel contour Wheel gauge

These characteristics must be considered in the design of both the vehicle and the track structure. 2.2.2 Vehicle Design 2.2.2.1 Unidirectional/Bi-Directional Nearly all of the legacy streetcar systems in North America that survived up through the 1960s used unidirectional vehicles, most often the Presidents Conference Committee (PCC) streetcar. Such “single-end” cars had operator’s controls in the forward end, doors on the right side, and a single trolley pole current collector at the rear. At the end of the line, cars negotiated a turning loop and ran to the opposite terminal. Because these vehicles could negotiate curves with centerline radii as small as 35 feet [10.7 meters], the amount of real estate needed for a turning loop was relatively small, usually only a single urban building lot. Transit companies typically found that the expense of buying properties and building loops was small compared to the savings associated with not having to maintain duplicate sets of control equipment in “double-end” trolley cars. Current designs of high-capacity light rail vehicles have much larger minimum radius limitations and the amount of real estate that is required to construct a turning loop is much greater. Accordingly, while a few European light rail lines continue to use single-end, single-sided vehicles that require turning loops, most contemporary LRVs have control cabs in both ends and doors on both sides. These cars can advantageously reverse direction anywhere that a suitable crossover track or pocket track can be provided. This arrangement is usually more economical than the turning loop in terms of real estate required and has become the norm for most modern light rail transit systems. Crossovers and pocket track arrangements can often be sited within the confines of an ordinary double-track right-of-way and do not require the supplemental property acquisition needed for turning loops. The following are some of the factors that should be considered when evaluating single-end versus double-end light rail vehicles: • • • Systems with stub-end terminals at either one or both ends of the line or at any intermediate turnback location will require bi-directional vehicles. Bi-directional vehicles with two operating cabs and doors on both sides of the vehicle will cost more than a single-end LRV with only one cab and doors on only one side. For slow speed movements in a yard or under an emergency situation, many single-end LRVs have a “back-up controller” in the rear of the car, often hidden behind a panel or under a seat. Unless equipped with doors on both sides, single-end LRVs require that all station platforms be located on the same side of the tracks. Having doors on both sides of the vehicle provides the capability of having stations on either or both sides of the track, regardless of whether the vehicle has one operating cab or two.

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Light Rail Transit Vehicles

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Single-end vehicles that have doors on both sides can be coupled back-to-back resulting in a double-end train. The choice of single-end versus double-end vehicles may have an impact on how yard and shop facilities are laid out. This in turn will affect the real estate requirements for that facility and hence its location. The yard location in turn may have a direct effect on the system operating plan. Double-end vehicles typically have more uniform wear of the wheels since the leading axle on each truck changes at the stub-end terminals. Single-end vehicles often develop thin wheel flanges on the leading axle of each truck while the flanges on the trailing axles incur relatively little gauge face wear. This directly affects the frequency and cost of wheel truing and ultimately wheel replacement. From a civil engineering perspective, stub-end terminals are less costly compared with the loops because, as noted above, of the land costs and other local space restrictions. Trackwork costs for a stub-end terminal versus a loop could be similar or greater depending on the configuration and amount of special trackwork associated with any terminal station, passing tracks, or storage tracks. Train control system costs are nearly certain to be greater for a stub-end terminal than for a loop terminal. Stub-end terminals have construction and maintenance costs associated with special trackwork and train control systems that differ from those of loop tracks. The designer must evaluate options based on life cycle costs. Dwell times for a loop terminal are appreciably less than those for a stub-end terminal, which can be advantageous at terminals with extremely close operating headways. If double-end cars are selected, it is still possible to have loops at some terminals should local conditions make that choice advantageous. Loop tracks are more likely to be sources of noise than stub-end terminals, possibly impacting both the wayside community and patrons alike. The crossover track movements associated with a stub-end terminal are more likely to be a source of groundborne vibration, particularly if a double or “scissors” crossover is used. Loop tracks at an intermediate turnback point will require a crossing diamond, which is more likely to be a source of noise and vibration than the ordinary frogs in the crossover tracks associated with a center pocket track. If there is a reasonable probability that a line might be extended beyond some initial terminal location, a stub-end track arrangement—and hence double-ended vehicles— would usually be the logical choice. Stub-end tracks provide greater flexibility for vehicle storage during off-peak hours.

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2.2.2.2 Non-Articulated/Articulated The earliest electric streetcars in the 1880s were four-wheeled single truck vehicles. Streetcar ridership quickly outgrew the capacity limitations of such vehicles, and eight-wheeled double truck streetcars were common by 1900. Often, these larger cars would pull a trailer car for even more capacity. The first articulated streetcars appeared in the United States about the time of World War I, often by splicing together two older single truck cars, and later as three-truck vehicles 2-5

Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit, Second Edition

functionally very similar to high-floor, articulated LRVs of today. The objective of this evolution in vehicle design was to maximize not only passenger capacity but also the number of passengers carried per operating employee since labor costs, then as now, were a high percentage of the cost of transit operation. That trend has continued up through the present with the result that multiple-section light rail vehicles have reached unprecedented lengths. Today, with the exception of legacy and heritage streetcar operations and three light rail systems that bought new rolling stock in the 1980s, all new and modernized North American light rail systems are using articulated cars with two, three, or more carbody sections. Two-section articulated LRVs, which were the most common design when the first edition of the Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit was published, are now being purchased only for those LRT lines that require a 100% high-floor car to match highplatform stations. The development of LRVs with multiple-carbody sections (up to seven sections in the case of trams purchased in Budapest, Hungary, in 2007) was driven by the same issues as a century ago—carrying more passengers with fewer operating employees. Multiple-carbody vehicles also have fewer motorized trucks per passenger and thereby provide substantial energy savings. Several North American systems are following this trend. Toronto ordered new five-section streetcars in 2008. Dallas Area Rapid Transit, following a trend started in Europe, modified older two-section, high-floor light rail vehicles to add a low-floor center section. New Jersey Transit has investigated adding two additional sections to their current fleet of three-section, 70% low-floor cars.[4] Where two body sections meet, a turntable and bellows arrangement connects the sections, allowing continuous through passage for passengers from one end of the car to the other. In the case of high-floor LRVs, a single such arrangement, centered over a truck of conventional design, is used to connect two carbody sections. Low-floor LRVs require two such articulations—one on each side of the center truck and center section of the carbody—since there is no room for the turntable above the special trucks required under low-floor cars. This usually results in a very short carbody section at each low-floor truck. Particularly in the case of low-floor LRVs, there are many variations on articulation joints, as each LRV manufacturer has devised its own specific design. These hardware variations can affect vehicle clearances since the pivot points of the articulation can be a considerable distance off of the centerline of sharply curved track. Variations in center section design also affect steering and relative roll, which might have some affect on vehicle curving and rail wear, thus influencing rail steel selection, track gauge, and track superelevation. The track designer has little control over this, but the problem is more difficult with low-floor vehicles using independently rotating wheels than with conventional high-floor vehicles equipped with solid axles. Existing systems contemplating a change to longer vehicles must consider overall train length and the impact that the revision might have on existing station platforms. Longer cars might require either a reduction of the number of vehicles in a train or lengthening existing platforms. One major LRT system in the United States initially designed their underground LRT stations for four-car trains of conventional two-section high-floor LRVs. When they added low-floor vehicles, trains had to be limited to three of the longer low-floor cars because the subway station platforms 2-6

Light Rail Transit Vehicles

could not be economically lengthened. Longer vehicles can affect other infrastructure and systems as well, particularly the layout of equipment within the light rail vehicle maintenance shop. There is a common misconception that articulated light rail vehicles can negotiate sharper curves than a rigid body car. This is not true. Rigid cars can negotiate curves that are as sharp, and even sharper, than an articulated vehicle. However, rigid cars are limited in both length and passenger capacity, primarily because the lateral clearances required in curves increase dramatically as the distance between the trucks increases. Where lateral clearances are not an issue, rigid body cars can be appreciably cheaper to procure and maintain than articulated cars of similar passenger capacity; however, this is a distinct exception to the normal circumstances. In North America, modern non-articulated light rail vehicles are used only in Philadelphia, Buffalo, and Toronto, but, as of 2010, those fleets, which are all high-floor designs, are in their third decade of operation. Outside of North America, the light rail system in Hong Kong and several cities in the former Soviet Bloc have continued to purchase rigid body cars, most likely for reasons peculiar to those systems. Therefore, while thousands of single unit, single-end trams, many of them of designs derived from the North American PCC car, still operate around the world, it is virtually certain that the LRVs for any new system will always be high-capacity, multiple-section, articulated cars. 2.2.2.3 High-Floor/Low-Floor LRVs 2.2.2.3.1 Introduction Getting passengers safely and expeditiously onto and off of light rail vehicles at stations has always been an issue. Time spent at stations—“dwell time”—can be a significant percentage of the overall running time from terminal to terminal. For a conventional “high-floor” light rail vehicle, with steps at the doors that are internal to the vehicle, the delays inherent in climbing up and down steps adds significantly to the dwell time. The various measures necessary to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act Accessibility Guidelines (ADAAG) means even more delay before such LRVs can resume forward motion. Level boarding from the platform to the vehicle is clearly the best way to accommodate the mobility-challenged transit rider. Level boarding also reduces station dwell times by making it easier and quicker for all riders, mobility-challenged or not, to board and alight from the LRV. Because of these advantages, heavy rail metro systems have always used level or near level boarding from high level platforms. Following that example, several light rail systems built during the 1980s, in both North America and Europe, incorporated level boarding from high level platforms, largely eliminating the need for steps. The problem with high level platforms is that they usually can fit alongside of the tracks only if the light rail line is in an exclusive guideway such as a subway tunnel, an aerial structure, or a private right-of-way. High platforms that are the full length of the train (usually no less than 200 feet/60 meters for a two-car train) are generally impractical where the LRT guideway is in an urban street. Urban locations often also have insufficient space for vertical circulation elements to get passengers from street and sidewalk level up to a station platform that would usually be 3 feet

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Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit, Second Edition

[0.9 meter] higher. Moreover, a two- or three-car long high platform will often be very intrusive on the urban streetscape, as well as quite expensive. Because of such issues, light rail systems that were constructed in the 1980s and early 1990s and included extensive operations in city streets typically used high-floor LRVs that were equipped with steps for patrons to board from sidewalk level. A variety of methods were used to get mobility-challenged persons on and off the vehicles, with mini-high platforms being the usual choice. However, these arrangements were generally less than fully satisfactory. Some means of providing level boarding for all riders without resorting to full-length high level platforms was desired. 2.2.2.3.2 Low-Floor Cars—General In response to these issues, low-floor light rail vehicles were developed. In a low-floor car, either the middle portion or all the vehicle floor is positioned a short distance above top of rail. A typical dimension is 300 to 350 mm [about 11.7 ¾ to 13 ¾ inches]. This enables station platforms to be little more than sidewalks that are just slightly higher than normal above the street surface, making them much more practical for construction in congested urban areas. Since about 1995, the partial low-floor car (often called a “70% low-floor” LRV) has become the preferred design for North American light rail transit systems that need level boarding from low platforms. The partial low-floor car has some middle portion of the LRV at the lower elevation while the ends of the car are at normal high-floor car elevation. The doors are usually all in the low-floor section of the car and the high-floor areas at the ends of the car are accessed by interior steps. The low-floor area usually represents approximately 70% of the total length of the car, hence the common name. (Boston’s Type 8 LRVs are a notable exception; clearance limitations in the Green Line tunnels substantially restricted the truck center distance so that the low-floor portion of each car is only about 60% of the overall length.) One advantage of a 100% low-floor LRV is that the low profile of the cab and windshield increases the probability of eye contact between the operator and persons on the trackside. A corresponding advantage to a high-floor or 70% low-floor LRV is that the operator’s higher seating provides a better view of the trackway ahead, which could be an advantage in some traffic situations. One possible issue with low-floor cars is that they maintain very close clearance to rails. With worn-out wheels, the vertical clearance between the underside of truck-mounted equipment and the plane of the top of rail can be a little as 35 mm [1 3/8 inches]. This could affect the use of some trackwork and signal system appliances mounted between the rails. The vehicle clearance also must be considered in design of tracks for hilly terrain, where the radius of the vertical curve over the crown of the street must be large. On one project, the low underclearance of the vehicle limited the height of discontinuous floating slabs that could be used, where maximum mass is needed for vibration control. 2.2.2.3.3 Low-Floor Car Truck Design The ends of the 70% low-floor car, including the operator’s cabins, are generally at the same height as a high-floor car, allowing trucks of conventional design under the ends of the car. But it is not possible to use conventional trucks beneath the low-floor portions of the car because the

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