For a Better Brisbane

Light Rail for Brisbane 5

TramPower Ltd’s philosophy is simple: Lower costs and cheaper installation means LRT sooner and the potential to attract private funds. A precedent for a private, no operational subsidy LRT system does exist: Sydney’s Metro Light Rail.

The Sydney light rail service is excellent value for the taxpayer as it operates without any on-going subsidy, a remarkable feat in a city where the main public transport alternatives are heavily subsidised by the taxpayer. We are free to set light rail fares commercially, but in practice our fares are constrained by value for money comparisons against other transport operators in the market, and in particular Sydney Buses. For example, the light rail weekly ticket is $22, and this compares to a Sydney Buses brown travel ten of $25.60.

– Metro Transport Sydney, in a submission to the NSW State Government

TramPower’s three cost-busting innovations are:

1. The CityClass tram: A lighter LRT vehicle that uses less electricity;
2. LR55 track: A track innovation that allows rapid ‘cut and paste’-like track laying with minimal disruption or relocation of city services.
3. Overhead wiring system: A patented, simplified overhead wiring system;

The CityClass LRT vehicle. Image courtesy of, used with kind permission.

The CityClass tram

LRT vehicles and operation can be expensive due to high electricity usage and weight. The CityClass tram claims to lower vehicle costs by using a modular design and mass-produced components-off-the-shelf (COTS). The lower vehicle weight allows the vehicle to use less electricity (about 1 kWh/km) than its counterparts, which in turn means cheaper operating costs.

A 29 m LRT vehicle fits 200 passengers, but four vehicles can be connected to run together as an LRT ‘train’ boosting capacity to about 800 passengers.

LR55 track showing the rail and the concrete channel. The channel is embedded into the road surface and then the LR55 rail is bonded to the channel. Image used with the kind permission of Trampower Ltd

The LR55 track system

  1. A grooved concrete channel which is laid and embedded into the road or surface
  2. The LR55 rail which sits in the concrete channel
  3. a bonding polymer to securely bond the rail to the concrete channel

Often LRT track installation and associated relocation of city services (e.g. power, gas) may cause disruption, inconvenience, be costly and take up large amounts of time. The LR55 track system claims to reduce this as the nature of the innovation means the need to extensively relocate city services is avoided.

Of course, buses on roads need a road to exist before they can be run; The cost of road construction is not usually factored in as the road is usually already present. The exception to this is busway construction where the estimated cost is roughly $100-$200 million/km in Brisbane. (see: Boggo Road Busway, Eastern Busway for examples).

Trampower’s contracting partners claim to lay 100 meters of double track LR55 rail in an 8 hour shift. It also may mean that track laying on busy roads, intersections or busway can be made less disruptive and done more quickly.

Simplified overhead wiring

Trampower claims that the design uses less parts, a larger wire cross-section enables lower electrical resistivity and that the reduced mast spacing all means lower installation costs. More information about this is available on their website.

More information

Submission to the National Assembly of Wales
The website contains a wealth of technical documentation and a contact form.
The LR55 track website appears to be a little older, but contains more technical information.

BrisUrban welcomes your views: comments are now open- click “comment” under the title heading of this post.

Note: BrisUrban does not have a financial interest or connection with Tram Power Ltd and received no inducements or financial benefits for this feature. This blog is for information purposes only and is not professional advice. BrisUrban wishes to acknowledge Trampower’s technical director Prof. Lewis Lesley for the kind assistance and permissions to use material for this blog.


Written by .

June 6, 2010 at 12:39 pm

5 Responses

Subscribe to comments with RSS.

  1. It’s easy. You just need to say somewhere that the image is released under creative commons and the licence is [licence title]. The image itself does not need to be altered.

    License chooser:


    June 10, 2010 at 10:32 am

  2. Yeah absolutely! how do i make it creative commons?


    June 10, 2010 at 10:11 am

  3. Would you mind if the link image on your site was made creative commons? That way others could show their support by placing the same image on their site(s) too.


    June 10, 2010 at 9:15 am

  4. Sure. As the about page explains:

    There are solutions, but they are not always obvious. There is alternatives- sometimes a little bold or unconventional. This blog explores these ideas.

    Good (QUALITY) Public transport (in general, not just LRT) is essential for developers due to “spillover effects” which benefit people who do not use the system (less congestion on roads, increased amenity to the area, nicer street atmosphere) which makes developments near public transport more attractive to the market. It does not need to be expensive either, and there are many cheap & mundane things that can be done to make things better.

    Its easy to see this. Read the paper or look up a list of rentals and see how many times “close to public transport” appears or statements about how little time it takes to get to the CBD.


    June 10, 2010 at 8:54 am

  5. Hi brisurban,

    I hope you don’t mind but i’m going to put a link from my site ( to here (the light rail 1 blog).

    You’re both inspirational and clear in the way you convey the message about light rail, and more people need to see this.


    June 10, 2010 at 12:10 am

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: