# Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit, Second Edition

where the curves meet at a point of reverse spirals, and the spiral lengths and actual superelevation Ea meet the following equation: LS1 x Ea2 = LS2 x Ea1 where LS1 = length of spiral on the first curve LS2 = length of spiral on the second curve and maximum vehicle twist criterion is not exceeded. Speed will be limited by the acceptable limits for Eu in the adjoining curves. See Article 3.2.7 for additional discussion of reverse spiraled curves. Yard and Non-Revenue Secondary Track The use of main line criteria is preferred in secondary track. When that’s not possible, the acceptable minimum tangent lengths would be the smaller of either LT = 31 feet [9.5 meters] or LT = zero feet [meters] for R > 950 feet [290 meters] LT = 10 feet [3.0 meters] for R > 820 feet [250 meters] LT = 20 feet [6.1 meters] for R > 720 feet [220 meters] LT = 25 feet [7.6 meters] for R > 640 feet [195 meters] LT = 30 feet [9.1 meters] for R > 573 feet [175 meters] where the specified radius is the smaller of the two curves. Note that the radii thresholds stipulated above are approximations; hence the conversions between U.S. customary and S.I. units are somewhat coarse. Common sense should be exercised in the application of these rules. Where nothing else will work, the absolute minimum will be LT = zero provided coupler angles are not exceeded, superelevation is zero, and unbalanced superelevation in both curves is 2 inches [50 mm] or less. 3.2.2 Speed Criteria—Vehicle and Passenger 3.2.2.1 Design Speed—General Desirable LRT operating speeds are in the range of 40 to 55 mph [65 to 90 km/h]. Some LRT projects have used speeds as high as 66 mph [106 km/h]. However, few LRT projects have sufficient tangent track, flat curves, and unrestricted right-of-way for higher speeds to result in meaningful travel time savings. Restricted operating speeds are always possible at discrete points along the alignment corridor, but, for a stadtbahn-type operation, proposed design speeds

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Light Rail Transit Track Geometry

below 40 mph [60 km/h] generally create unacceptable constraints on the train control design and proposed operations. Streetcar/strassenbahn-type LRT operations are generally much slower. It is often presumed that maximum speed in embedded track needs to be restricted, and 35 mph [55km/h] is often cited as a maximum. This is not quite correct. It is not the embedded trackform that limits speed rather than the operating environment surrounding it. Speeds up to the vehicle’s maximum can be achieved on embedded track if the guideway is configured appropriately. The reason sharedlane, embedded track is likely to be operated more slowly than track in an exclusive lane is because of traffic conditions, adjacent parking lanes, pedestrian crosswalks, and other community-related issues. Some legacy streetcar lines that operated in shared lanes along wideopen streets and boulevards routinely operated at the vehicles’ balancing speed—sometimes as fast as 40 to 50 mph [65 to 80 km/h]. There is a requirement in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) that requires LRT crossings to be equipped with flashing lights if trains are running faster than 35 mph [55 km/h]. Technically, that rule has no effect on what happens between intersections, although transit agencies may elect to limit speed in such areas merely to avoid cycles of acceleration and deceleration when passing through a multiple crossing zone. Furthermore, if the LRT is in a mixed traffic lane, flashing light signals and gates would be completely impractical at each intersecting street regardless of speed. As of 2010, TCRP Project A-32 is investigating the MUTCD requirement for railroad-style warning systems at LRT crossings. Users of this Handbook should consult the TCRP program and the current edition of the MUTCD for the latest information. See Chapter 10 for additional discussion on this topic. 3.2.2.2 Design Speed in Curves The speed criteria for curved track is determined by carefully estimating passenger comfort and preventing undue forces on the trackwork, vehicle trucks/wheels, and vehicle frames. Vehicle stability on curved track is also an important consideration in the determination of LRT speed criteria. Curved track that cannot be used at the same speed as the adjoining tangent track slows down the operation by increasing the overall running time between terminals. This wastes kinetic energy in the form of the momentum the vehicle had prior to slowing down and requires the consumption of additional energy to speed back up. It takes more than 0.62 mile [1 kilometer] for a rail vehicle to decelerate from 70 mph [110 km/h] to 55 mph [90 km/h], run through a 1000 foot [300-meter] long circular curve, and accelerate back up to 70 mph [110 km/h]. The same curve designed for a reduction down to 45 mph [70 km/h] reduces the speed over a length of about 0.75 mile [1.2 kilometers]. The actual increase in running time is relatively small, but cumulative run time losses at successive curves can significantly increase the overall travel time from terminal to terminal. Repetitive slowing down and speeding back up often annoys passengers (particularly standees) by subjecting them to a jerky ride. This unpleasant experience could have an effect on individuals’ subsequent personal decisions as to whether or not to ride transit. Such a ride also causes additional wear and tear on both the vehicle and the track.

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Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit, Second Edition

Therefore, it is generally desirable to eliminate as many speed restrictions as possible and to maximize the design speed of all curves that must unavoidably be designed with speed restrictions. This can be achieved in three ways: • Using curve radii that are as broad as possible. This is the preferred method, but not always practical within the constraints of available right-of-way. Maximizing the speed on the curves by introducing actual superelevation (Ea) in the track and maximizing the value of unbalanced superelevation (Eu) used. Combinations of the above.

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Light Rail Transit Track Geometry

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Trac ck Design Handbook for f Light Ra ail Transit, , Second Ed Edition

Figure 3.2 2.1 Horizont tal curve and d spiral nome enclature

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Light Rail Transit Track Geometry

One frequently employed criterion for the desired minimum curve radius is the threshold limit for employing restraining rail, as determined from Chapter 4. In many cases, this is around 500 feet [150 meters]. Other possible thresholds for desirable minimum radius are either the limit selected for employing premium rail versus standard strength rail or the limit between the use of plain continuously welded rail (CWR) versus shop-curved rail. Sometimes a slight increase in radius will eliminate the need to utilize a more expensive trackform. Carrying that thought beyond trackwork costs, it should also be noted that sharply curved tunnels and aerial structures can have significantly higher construction costs than similar structures on tangent track or flat curves. In view of the design considerations indicated above, guideline criteria for modern LRV equipment are as follows for minimum curve radii. Main Line Track At-Grade Acceptable Minimum. Greater of • • • • • • • 500 feet [150 meters] or Threshold radius for employment of more expensive trackforms. 500 feet [150 meters] or Other value as suggested by the project’s structural designers. 300 feet [90 meters] 82 feet [25 meters] or Other value as permitted by the vehicle design.

Tunnels and Aerial Structures Acceptable Minimum. Greater of

Ballasted At-Grade Track, Absolute Minimum. Embedded Track or Direct Fixation Track, Absolute Minimum. Lesser of

Yard and Non-Revenue Secondary Track Acceptable Minimum. Lesser of • • • • 100 feet [30 meters] or Other value as required by the vehicle design. 82 feet [25 meters] or Other value as required by the vehicle design.

Absolute Minimum. Lesser of

3.2.3.3 Minimum Curve Length The minimum circular curve length is dictated by ride comfort and is, hence, unlike minimum tangent length, not related to vehicle physical characteristics. The acceptable minimum circular curve length is generally determined by the following formula: L = 3V [L = 0.57V] where L = minimum length of curve in feet [meters] V = design speed through the curve in mph [km/h]

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