For a Better Brisbane

Light Rail for Brisbane 6: Light Metro

What do you do when you want to move a lot of passengers but the demand falls short of justifying a metro? Answer: use light rail, but build the system like you would a metro. The result is a light metro. Could something like this be tunneled in under Brisbane’s city streets?

The Docklands Light Railway, London, UK. Just like a metro, but using Light Rail. Image reproduced under creative commons licence from Davide Simonetti's photostream. Click for URL

The Docklands Light Railway (DLR) opened in 1987, with the intention of stimulating development and urban renewal in London’s declining docklands precinct. The DLR is automatic, powered by third rail, and a driver is optional. In the 1990’s a capacity increase was needed, so another vehicle was attached to the back of the existing one to create a two-vehicle light rail ‘train’.

The system has been extended a number of times, there is now 34 km of railway with 40 stations and over 100 ‘trains’. Being fully separated from street traffic, it has excellent reliability and measures have now been taken to allow three-vehicle trains with increased capacity. The system carried 70 million passengers in 2009 and is expected to carry over 100 million people in 2012. [1] For reference, all of Brisbane’s BUZ services combined carried about 19 million people in 2009.

An advanced signaling system allows for high frequency services – every 2-10 minutes (Canary Wharf-Lewisham) on weekdays and every 5-10 minutes on weekends. Timetable here.

In Brisbane’s case, something really effective could be to have the vehicles exit the underground light metro on to the surface to run in the reserved medians of suburban streets, once clear from the city and city congestion. Or perhaps exit on to the busway as well?

The Docklands Light Railway, London, UK. Creative commons attribution: wikipedia user Dtcdthingy. Click for URL

Further information
This post used information from Transport for London’s DLR website, the Docklands Light Railway Wikipedia article,  and [1] Railway’s DLR article here.
BUZ patronage figures are from the “On Board” brochure, Spring 2009, Translink and Brisbane Transport.


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June 23, 2010 at 4:53 pm

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