Freight Tram Trials in St. Etienne France

The concept of freight trams has been around for a while, in fact the concept is quite old.

The success of Dresden’s freight tram was based on moving car components, via container, from one factory to another across the city. In St. Etienne, it’s the concept of moving smaller loads from one central distribution point outside the city centre to smaller ones inside the city, taking delivery trucks off congested roads.

Certainly in metro Vancouver, the concept of freight trams could find many good uses, from deliveries along Broadway to a fast “parcels” service from Chilliwack to Vancouver.

The ability for LRT to adapt to new situations, sadly, goes completely unrecognized by TransLink, regional politicians and the provincial government.

Thinking out of the box is just not comprehended by TransLink.


Freight tram trial delivers for retailer

Written by 

Freight tram trial delivers for retailer TramFret

A French project to develop a concept for freight operations on light rail networks reached a milestone on the morning of June 13, when a tram was used to deliver merchandise to a retailer in St Etienne.

The trial delivery to the Casino store in Place Carnot was organized as part of the TramFret project, an initiative led by research and development institute Efficacity, which is being supported by St Etienne public transport operator Stas.

Special authorization was granted for the trial by STRMTG, the national agency responsible for tramway safety.

TramFret says the trial will enable it to optimize the system, begin industrial development of the concept, and study its sustainability.

If the first phase of the trial is successful further testing will be carried out in St Etienne in the coming weeks.

St Etienne TramFret LARGE

Mainstream Media Scammed Again On Transit

Zwei knew this was a scam from the start.

Well,  China’s miracle “straddling bus “; the bus that was going to solve urban transit woes with its revolutionary concept, has been deemed a scam!

Absolutely no surprise here.

What was sad to see and hear, was the number of politicians who got suckered by this. Anyone with a basic knowledge of transit operations would had called this bit of nonsense out, but no, they lauded it as revolutionary.

Since when scams become revolutionary?

I probably will not get an apology by the straddling bus crowd, even though they were very rude to me, including those in the mainstream media.

My only wish is the the MSM deal with real transit issues regionally and not ‘Tom Swift’ style transit fantasies.

China’s ‘straddling bus’ hits its final roadblock

A car drives past the Transit Elevated Bus (TEB) on Fumin road in Qinhuangdao city, north China"s Hebei province, 21 June 2017.


Image copyright Photo by Imaginechina/REX/Shutterstock


It seemed like a glimpse into the city of tomorrow – but China’s “straddling bus” was riddled by doubts early on and now is headed for the scrap yard.

The futuristic idea was a bus that would drive above traffic, allowing other commuter cars to pass underneath.

The project was announced last summer to much acclaim but soon ran into feasibility and investment problems.

Many of China’s cities suffer from chronic traffic congestion so there’s a strong hunger for ingenious solutions.

The project faced strong headwinds from the very beginning and according to Chinese media, the test site is now being demolished entirely.

Reports are saying that workers have already begun dismantling and removing the test track in Qinhuangdao.

TEB test tracks


Image copyright Getty Images

Image caption The TEB was to zoom above traffic, elevated 2 meters above the daily gridlock


The idea of a traffic-straddling bus first appeared in China in 2010, but it didn’t make much impact until the model was presented at the 2016 Beijing International High-Tech Expo.

The so-called Transit Elevated Bus was touted as a revolution in public ground transportation, able to glide over traffic, literally lifting commuters from the daily grind of being stuck in their cars for hours.

Yet only a few days after its much-lauded test-run in Qinhuangdao city, Hebei province, all test-runs had been halted and doubts began to emerge.

Many doubted the vehicle would be able to manage curves or fit under footbridges in Beijing, and critics have asked how it will turn corners, whether it is strong enough to bear its own and passengers’ weight and how long its battery would last.

There was also confusion about whether the project had ever been approved by the local authorities and there was even suspicion it could be an investment scam.

But the widespread interest in the idea did show that there’s an appetite for ideas that could help big cities out of the grip of the daily traffic gridlock – even if this one appears to have hit a final roadblock.

Transportation Gridlock is Endemic in Metro Vancouver

Endemic gridlock, despite a now over $10 billion investment in SkyTrain. Do the same thing again and again, hoping for different results is insane.

After driving into Vancouver yesterday, it has hit home that despite a now over $10 billion spent on SkyTrain light-metro and the Canada line, congestion is getting worse.

After being an advocate for better transportation in the region for now over thirty years, I am still amazed by the “SkyTrain ennui” that prevails in most Metro Vancouver city halls. It is like regional planners and engineers just looked at picture books, instead of reading and learning from recent transit studies published across the pond. The exception is that TransLink is very good at implementing new tax schemes to pay for their questionable transit planning.

In Delta, where I reside, there is much support for a $12 billion, ten lane mega bridge, in the vain hope that it will cure gridlock. It won’t of course because as in all cases, more traffic lanes lead to gridlock at the next choke point, which in this case is the Oak and Knight Street bridges.

Today, trying to get to the airport (YVR) took an extra 20 minutes because of massive congestion at the Oak St. Bridge, backing traffic to number 5 Road! Add three more lanes going to Richmond on a new bridge and the #5 Road interchange will be the next major choke point.

The BC Liberals have left us with a legacy of extremely bad transit planning, with the “White Elephant” Canada Line being the hallmark of Liberal transit incompetence.

The Canada Line, with only 40 metre long station platforms and the ability to operate only 2-car trains, has effectively about one half the capacity of the Expo and Millennium/Evergreen lines.

It is time for some serious talk about regional transit, which means a lot of toes are going to be stepped on.

The major problem to overcome is to stop planning for SkyTrain light-metro and LRT designed as SkyTrain light metro.

We have to think about economy and user friendliness and not capacity and speed. We have to think regionally and not the current multi billion dollar nonsense that passes for transit planning in the region today. We have to think of light rail; converting the Canada line to light-rail; operating light rail on the Arbutus Corridor; we have to think LRT on Broadway and not a SkyTrain subway, from BCIT in Burnaby to UBC and Stanley Park in Vancouver and from White Rock to Vancouver, along the King George in Surrey; we have to think TramTrain from Vancouver to Chilliwack; we have to think 21st century transit planning and not 1970′s transit planning where transit is put in the the air or underground so not to interfere with vehicular traffic.

It can be done, the question is; “do our civic and provincial politicians have the moral fortitude to do it?”

From my perspective, I severely doubt it.

A former 4 lane arterial road with lawned R-o-W.

The French Approach to LRT Versus The American (Canadian) Approach

The following is well worth  read as it compares the French Approach to Modern LRT and the American and Canadian rather dated approach to the transit mode.

French v US approach to light rail

What we should plan for, instead of playing games with land development.

MACRO (regional strategies)
(1) Ressau: (network) Design at the network level, not one line at a time.
(2) High performance; high capacity  vehicles blend with the urbanism,
(3) Fully accessible stops (spacing: ¼ mile or more), accessible, link lines & modes
(4) Tram stops located/form neighborhood cores; services and convenience cluster at the cores; cores are walking distance to 3,000 to 10,000
(5) Tram  networks reconfigured (and creates efficiencies) in the bus lines.
MICRO (local site implementations)
(1) 100% use of the ROW; automobiles are restricted
(2) ROW rebuilt building-face-to-building-face
(3) Political process with stakeholder consultation—skin in the game, not dog-n-pony shows.

Fire on SkyTrain – The $3 Billion Question

As SkyTrain ages, its equipment deteriorates and today, a fire has happened and apparently not caused by a pyrotechnic birds nest.

As mentioned many times by Rail for the Valley, about $3 billion needs to be invested in the ART/ALRT SkyTrain lines to both renew the mini-metro system and to increase capacity.

As TransLink’s CEO and executives desperately try to hide the expensive truth from the public and regional mayors remain ignorant of the pricey needs of the SkyTrain light-metro system, system failures will become more and more common.And politicians want more expensive SkyTrain!

The great fear is a major catastrophe will happen on SkyTrain, just like the recent deadly Grenfell Tower inferno in London, where years of neglect had created a fiery death trap.

Ennui, combined with hubris, by politicians and bureaucrats is the cause of many a deadly fiasco.

Sunday morning SkyTrain service disrupted by New West ‘equipment fire’


Patrick Johnston (Vancouver Sun)

Published: June 17, 2017

Updated: June 18, 2017 1:49 PM

Filed Under:

The Province > News > Local News


Area around the New Westminster SkyTrain station in a file photo.

Area around the New Westminster SkyTrain station in a file photo.Photo by Gerry Kahrmann


Travellers using the Expo Line Sunday morning are facing delays because of an “equipment fire” at New Westminster Station.

Shuttle buses are operating between Edmonds and Columbia station.

The fire is now out; a Translink spokesperson said just before 11 a.m. that service would return to normal “any time now.”

There was no risk to customers and no impact on the Millennium and Canada Lines.


Ontario looks at hydrogen-powered trains

As hydrogen fuel cell technology improves, the application for ‘rail’ transit is close to become a reality.

The main problem for hydrogen fuel cell transit is that the cell tends to produce power at a steady rate, but poor in providing power at times of high demand, like accelerating out of stations. This has made fuel cell technology quite good for submarines but poor for transit – until now.

There is still a long way to go for a light H (Hydrogen) MU vehicle in the testing stage  and heavy rail commuter train locomotives, but I think the future will be with the hydrogen powered train.

This will be good news for our efforts for the return on the interurban and the return of passenger service on the E&N.

Alstom’s hydrogen train Coradia iLint first successful run at 80 km/h


© Alstom / Michael Wittwer

Alstom today successfully performed the first test run at 80 km/h of the world’s only fuel cell passenger train Coradia iLint on its own test track in Salzgitter, Lower Saxony (Germany). An extensive test campaign will be conducted in Germany and Czech Republic in the coming months before the Coradia iLint performs its first passenger test runs on the Buxtehude–Bremervörde–Bremerhaven–Cuxhaven (Germany) route beginning of 2018.

The four-week test runs currently undergoing in Salzgitter aim at confirming the stability of the energy supply system based on coordinated interaction between the drive, the fuel cell and the battery of the vehicle. The braking power is also being tested to check the interface between the pneumatic and the electric brake.

The Coradia iLint is the first low floor passenger train worldwide powered by a hydrogen fuel cell, which produces electrical power for the traction. This zero-emission train is silent and only emits steam and condensed water. Coradia iLint is special for its combination of different innovative elements: a clean energy conversion, flexible energy storage in batteries, and a smart management of the traction power and available energy. Based on Alstom’s flagship Coradia Lint diesel train, Coradia iLint is particularly suited for operation on non-electrified networks. It enables sustainable train operation while maintaining high train performance.

“This test run is a significant milestone in environmental protection and technical innovation. With the Coradia iLint and its fuel cell technology, Alstom is the first railway manufacturer to offer a zero-emission alternative for mass transit trains. Today our new traction system, so far successfully proved on the test ring, is used on a train for the first time – a major step towards cleaner mobility in Europe“, said Didier Pfleger, Vice President of Alstom Germany and Austria.

The dynamic tests are performed at Salzgitter plant at 80 km/h and in Velim (Czech Republic) at up to 140 km/h, the maximum speed of the Coradia iLint. For the purpose of the tests, a mobile filling station has been erected in Salzgitter to pump gaseous hydrogen into the pressure tank of the Coradia iLint. The hydrogen used for the test runs is the by-product of an industrial process, which is reasonably reused as a waste product. In the long term, Alstom aims to support the hydrogen production from wind energy.

The vehicle has already successfully completed the static commissioning process. All electrical and pneumatic functions of the trains have been tested and verified at standstill. TÜV Süd has certified the safety of the battery, the pressure tank system and the fuel cell for the coming test phases.

The Coradia iLint was designed by Alstom teams in Germany at Salzgitter’s site, centre of excellence for regional trains and in France notably in Tarbes, centre of excellence for traction systems and Ornans for the motors. This project benefits from the support of the German ministry of Transport and Digital infrastructure. Alstom has already signed letters of intent for 60 trains with the German states of Lower Saxony, North Rhine-Westphalia, Baden-Württemberg and the Hessian transport association ‘Rhein-Main-Verkehrsverbund’.



Ontario looks at hydrogen-powered trains for GO Transit

Ministry of Transportation to conduct feasibility study of hydrogen trains, which are silent and emit only steam and water, as part of GO electrification assessment.


The provincial government has decided to pursue potentially groundbreaking clean train technology as part of its plans to electrify the GO Transit network.
By Ben SpurrTransportation Reporter
Thu., June 15, 2017

The provincial government has decided to pursue potentially groundbreaking clean train technology as part of its plans to electrify the GO Transit network, the Star has learned.

At an announcement Thursday morning, the province is set to officially launch the long-awaited study and public consultation process on electrifying GO lines under its regional express rail (RER) program.

The Ontario Liberals say the $13.5-billion RER expansion will introduce all-day, two-way GO service on the busiest parts of the GTHA’s regional rail network by 2025. The assessment of the program’s environmental impacts is part of the government-mandated transit project assessment process (TPAP) that must be complete before the expansion can go ahead.

In an exclusive interview with the Star on Wednesday, Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca confirmed that in conjunction with the electrification assessment, the province will also launch a feasibility study of hydrogen-powered passenger trains.

Passenger trains powered by hydrogen fuel cellshave yet to enter regular service anywhere in the world, but early models have reached advanced testing phases in Europe. Manufacturers say the trains are nearly silent, and produce no emissions besides steam and condensed water.

The feasibility study will help determine whether hydrogen trains might be a better option for the RER program than traditional electric vehicles.

“This is a decision that we’re making that will have to last for a generation and beyond, so we want to make sure that we’re at the leading edge of the technology,” said Del Duca.

“It could be traditional electrification, it could be electrification by hydrogen fuel cell. It could be a combination of both.”


Boondoggle In The Making In Montreal

It seems Montreal taxpayers are being taken for a $9 billion Bombardier ride, with the proposed 67 km Montreal light metro project.

The proposed Montreal LRT is not LRT at all, rather it is a light-metro, using the Bombardier Innovia body shell, using conventional ‘squirrel cage’ electric motors.

Based on the cost of now over $130 million/km for a Vancouver style, automatic  ART light-metro, the cost for a 67 km network would be almost $9 billion.

Even if real LRT were to be built, the cost, based on Surrey’s LRT, of over $100 million/km would mean the 67 km network would cost almost $7 billion.

Thus, the project, based on 2017 construction costs in BC will be easily $1 billion to $3 billion over budget.

What is really happening is another Bombardier/Federal Liberal project that will turn into a multi billion dollar boondoggle, which the Montreal, Quebec and Canadian taxpayer will pay dearly for, just like Olympic Stadium and the infamous Mirabel airport.

When it comes to Quebec, money is no object and the bigger the “White Elephant” it seems, the better for the Federal Government.


Federal government expected to make announcement in Montreal Thursday

CBC News Posted: Jun 14, 2017 6:54 PM ET Last Updated: Jun 15, 2017 6:22 AM ET

The price tag for the line, which would link downtown Montreal with the South Shore and the West Island, has risen to $6 billion.The price tag for the line, which would link downtown Montreal with the South Shore and the West Island, has risen to $6 billion. (Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec)

Montreal’s light-rail train project to get $1.3B from Ottawa

Federal government expected to make announcement in Montreal tomorrow

CBC News Posted: Jun 14, 2017 6:54 PM ET Last Updated: Jun 14, 2017 6:54 PM ET

Following months of negotiations, the federal government will unveil $1.3 billion in funding for Montreal’s light-rail project on Thursday, Radio-Canada has learned.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Quebec Premier Philippe Couillard, Montreal Mayor Denis Coderre and the head of the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, Michael Sabia, are expected to make the announcement in Montreal.

The decision comes a few months after the Trudeau government made no mention of funding the project in their spring budget, prompting concern from Couillard.

The price tag for the 67-kilometre rail line (LRT), which would link downtown with the South Shore and the West Island, has risen to $6 billion in order to add more stations in the city’s downtown area.

Quebec has already committed around $1.3 billion to the project. The province’s pension fund manager, the Caisse, has pledged close to $3 billion.

The LRT project now includes 27 stations. The first trains are expected to run in 2020.

Is TransLink Hiding Subway Costs?

TransLink has never estimated the costs associated with maintaining a subway.

I wanted to post this item, not to show problems with London’s proposed BRT, rather that cost of tunneling had been vastly under estimated on the subway portion of this project.

An excerpt from the London Free Press.

City hall’s consultant, IBI Group, had dropped a bombshell on city officials that day: The tunnel’s construction would now cost as much as $220 million — 60 per cent above the initial upper limit, $135 million.

That $220 million figure, which stunned city officials, was soon made public. But sources say city officials believe the tunnel price tag could eventually have exceeded $300 million.

Again, the total BRT price tag, including the early tunnel estimate, was $560 million, with city hall’s stake capped at $130 million and the rest needed from Ottawa and Queen’s Park. If tunnel costs ballooned, it’s unlikely Ottawa or the province would cover much of it — meaning the local share would jump considerably.

There were a number of factors for the skyrocketing construction cost, sources say:

— Conditions exist to turn beneath-downtown soil into a quicksand-like goo, potentially destabilizing old buildings.

— Soil could be stabilized with chemicals, but that’s extremely costly.

— Cost estimate for the underground station at Richmond/Oxford streets jumped.

— Heating and ventilation prices went up, too

So, in short, city officials always knew the tunnel would be a challenging project. But now — given the increased costs, and fears it could get even higher — it looked irresponsible to some of them.

A 60% increase in the estimated cost of building a tunnel is stunning and I believe taxpayers in Metro Vancouver will have the same sort of “tunnel shock” with the proposed Broadway SkyTrain Subway, where early estimates of the project costing no more than $2 billion, will sky rocket past $3 billion!

But then, it doesn’t matter because the proposed Broadway subways has nothing to do about building better transit, rather it is a massive vanity project built to satisfy both the collective egos at Vancouver city hall and their political friends, the land speculators and land developers, with a transit project that will do nothing, except to give the impression that Vancouver is a world class city because it has a subway.

BC, Building Our Way To Gridlock.

Someone please memo this to the Minister of Transportation; the Premier; the Mayor of Delta and the BC Liberal party.

Guest column: Wider roads won’t solve congestion problem

(AP Photo / Jae C. Hong) 6356725
 - See more at:

Build it, and they will come.

In the context of the Legislature’s transportation plan, this common saying could be reworded to “Build more lanes and the congestion will remain.” Oregon lawmakers are rightfully taking action to address our ailing infrastructure. But their solutions could not be more wrong. In fact, there is even a paradox — Braess’ paradox — that outlines the fact that adding lanes will not reduce congestion. Discovered by Dietrich Braess, the paradox is the result of simple logic: When we make something easier, more people do it.

Our transportation system chokes commerce and the environment. Due to congestion and poor planning, Oregon attracts and retains fewer businesses than it could with a better transportation system. When a company includes the added costs of the hours spent delivering products, the Willamette Valley becomes a far-less attractive location. An inability to attract talented workers may dissuade companies from settling down here. At above-full employment, workers are in higher demand. It’s hard to attract the best workers to a job that requires a mind-numbing commute. Every hour spent on the road is an hour away from family, friends and Oregon’s outdoors. The opportunity costs are tremendous.

The costs to our environment and our life spans may be larger. Air pollution from congestion, according to a Harvard School of Public Health study conducted in 2010, contributed to at least 4,000 premature deaths and was responsible for at least $31 billion in health care costs in 2000. The study estimates that even with lower emission vehicles on the road, the cost of emissions to our health and wallets will be immense. Researchers estimate that congestion will play a part in 1,600 premature deaths in 2020 and that health costs will surpass $17 billion in 2030. These are lives we can save and costs we can cut.

It is encouraging to see legislators from across the state working to reduce these costs and improve our system. They have spent countless hours receiving input from stakeholders large and small, urban and rural, young and old. We should commend their perseverance and pursuit of a transportation package that would substantially make Oregon a better place to call home. We should condemn the proposal they put forward or at least the proposed $1.1 billion for congestion relief.

The evidence is clear. In the blunt words of Charles Marohn, a civil engineer, “Trying to solve congestion by making roadways wider is like trying to solve obesity by buying bigger pants.” Economists cite adding lanes as a prime example of induced demand. In layman terms, induced demand means that an increase in supply is quickly met by an increase in demand. A University of Toronto study found a perfect correlation between adding lanes and adding drivers. According to the co-author of the study, Matthew Turner, “If you had 1 percent more roads, you had 1 percent more driving in those cities.” California’s Department of Transportation has published a study showing that increasing capacity has a slim chance of improving congestion.

What is the answer? To reduce driving, we have to reduce the incentive to drive. In Turner’s opinion, the only solution is congestion pricing. It’s a tactic used in London, Singapore and Stockholm that places a toll on people entering the city center that varies based on demand. Trying to head into the city at rush hour — expect to pay more. When driving hits the pocketbook, people will hit the brakes on taking out the car.

Oregon has a congestion problem. Our solution should not make matters worse. Build lanes, and they will drive.

— Kevin Frazier is legislative deputy director at Children First for Oregon and director of Passport Oregon. He lives in Portland.

Road Pricing -To Hide Transit Blunders In The past And Blunders Yet To Come

The major rule about “Road Pricing” or congestion charges and that is, one must have an affordable and user friendly transit system in place before road pricing will be accepted by the populace, if not, it is not going to happen.

The Metro Vancouver region does not have, nor will have any time soon a transit system that would be acceptable for road pricing.

In 2015, 62% of the population voted against any further taxes going to TransLink, yet regional mayors remain blind to this.

The problem with TransLink is and always has been the SkyTrain light-metro system.

The region has paid up to four times more to build with SkyTrain and it costs about 40% more to operate than other transit alternatives such as light rail. Thus SkyTrain cost more to build, operate and maintain than LRT and this added cost, over time has nearly bankrupted the transit authority, as predicted almost forty years ago!

For this reason, Metro Vancouver’s light-metro system has hemorrhaged transit money away from other transit projects to shore up light-metro.

It is no coincidence that light rail (LRT) made light-metro, such as our SkyTrain, obsolete by the mid 1980′s.

But Metro Vancouver mayors, wearing rose coloured glasses are squandering more money on a next to useless $3 billion SkyTrain subway under Broadway and a massively expensive LRT, designed as a poor man’s SkyTrain in Surrey.

The myopic transit vision by regional mayors is extremely dangerous, as they have been conned big time, by the SkyTrain/light-metro lobby, which includes SNC Lavalin and Bombardier, who hold the patents for the ALRT/ART proprietary SkyTrain.

All this tax is designed to do is to hide transit planning blunders in the past and transit blunders yet to come.

As there is little or no alternative transit service for the vast majority of people in Metro Vancouver, all attempts for road pricing are doomed.

Independent commission to decide pricing models for transit and transportation in Metro Vancouver

by Hana Mae Nassar

Posted Jun 5, 2017 10:54 pm PDT

Pattullo Bridge (Courtesy
Panel to be made up of people with transit-related expertise and community stakeholders
Independent commission will be named on Tuesday
Expert believes removing the political component from making pricing-related decisions could be beneficial

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – More bridges with tolls and fees based on how far you drive are just a couple of options under a possible mobility pricing scenario for the region.

The Mayors’ Council has formed an independent panel to look into different options to help pay for transit and transportation improvements around Metro Vancouver.

The panel will be made up of people with transit-related expertise, community stakeholders, and basically non-partisan individuals according to Transit Blogger and Langley City Councillor Nathan Pachal.

“Considering the results of the referendum you really want to have an independent party that’s impartial to look at all the options on the table,” says Pachal, who adds balance is important. “When you’re talking about taxation – because it is at the end of the day – you really want to have something where there’s consensus and you’re looking at it from all perspectives.”

Though road pricing and mobility pricing aren’t controversial topics themselves, Pachal says previous proposals from the Mayors’ Council have been denied by the province.

With a new provincial government coming in, he believes removing the political component from making these kinds of decisions could be beneficial.

He says the Mayors’ Council has been shifting toward road pricing for a while. In theory, road pricing and mobility pricing are similar, but the transit blogger says the latter takes things one step further.
“It looks at how we’re doing in all transportation, so the transit network as well.”

TransLink is also working on its own pricing component that will complement what the panel decides.

The Mayors’ Council is expected to announce commission members tomorrow, as well as further details on the panel’s functions.