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Light Rail for better public transport


  1. LRTA advocates the provision of reliable, safe, cost-effective, accessible, environmentally sustainable, and integrated public transport systems. It particularly believes that well designed and operated rail-guided systems have major role to play in the context of urban transport .

  2. LRTA recognises that very large flows may necessitate totally segregated ‘Mass Transit’ systems such as suburban rail or metros. The scope for constructing new suburban lines is, however, likely to be limited. There is much more scope for constructing lighter rail systems which may be fully segregated, partially or un-segregated from road vehicles as best suits local circumstances, and which can operate in city centres, in the street, or in pedestrian areas. Such rail systems are often referred to as ‘Light Rail’, ‘Supertrams’, or simply ‘tramways’.

  3. At the other end of the demand spectrum, LRTA recognises that buses have a substantial role to play in providing urban transport. Bus transport can be enhanced by means such as priorities at junctions, bus lanes or operation on segregated busways. LRTA believes, however, that in corridors of high demand buses are unlikely to provide the speed, capacity and attractiveness to passengers that a tramway can offer. In high demand corridors tramways represent better long-term value, and a greater return on investment, than bus-systems.

  4. Light Rail and tramways offer a complete transport system, and are, therefore, particularly well suited to providing an integrated service. Integration includes, but is not limited to, such items as through and joint ticketing, ease of physical transfer between modes, incorporation within new land use development, and co-ordinated timetabling of services.

  5. Tram systems have a proven record in encouraging major new developments and property enhancement in the area served. The total value of the consequential investment is often several times the capital expenditure on the tramway.

  6. Electric tramways provide for a more healthy urban environment through zero emissions at point of use.

  7. LRTA advocates the provision of good facilities or those with impaired mobility, and strongly believes that Light Rail/tramways have a particular advantage for ease of boarding and alighting.

  8. LRTA supports the provision of good facilities for pedestrians and cyclists.

  9. LRTA believes that good public transport must be designed to maximise its use through self-evident quality of journey, coupled with road traffic management measures to ensure that the advantages of light rail are not compromised.

  10. There are many ‘heavy’ rail lines where conversion to operation as ‘Light Rail’ could very substantially reduce operating costs, and offer more attractive services. This applies to both urban and rural railways.

  11. LRTA will seek implementation of its views by bringing pressure to bear at national and local level on HM Government, Parliament, Local Authorities, PTA/Es, operators, equipment manufacturers, etc. in order to promote light rail and tramways where suitable. It will also seek to ensure that the capabilities of tramways and light rail are fully considered in planning and designing transport systems. It will provide support to members throughout the UK with a network of Area Groups, and overseas as far as it is reasonably able.

  12. LRTA will carry out its campaigning by any legal and effective means including, but not limited to, the magazine ‘Tramways and Urban Transit’, other publications, conferences, electronic media, and contacts with appropriate bodies, officers, and elected members. Area Groups will have a role to play in campaigning.

  13. LRTA will undertake educational activities by research and study of both contemporary and historic tram and light rail systems, suppliers (both in UK and overseas) and, where appropriate, other transport systems. LRTA recognises the need to learn and apply lessons from the history of transport to today’s needs in respect of urban transport. This is another type of activity for Area Groups.

  14. LRTA will co-operate with (including joint operation where mutually beneficial) organisations, both national and local, holding similar views.

LRTA Policy (full): top