€300 (CAD $455) Million For 25 km of New Tram Line

€300 converts to CAD $455 million for 24km of tram line or about CAD $18.2km per km to build.

This of course does not include vehicles or a maintenance depot, but does give a good indication of the cost for an economy light rail line to be built in Metro Vancouver.

Even if the total cost, including stops, trams and maintenance/storage yards is double this cost, it still offers far more transit to the region, serving many more destinations, that what is being planned for today.

This poses many questions, including why is new LRT being planned in Surrey so expensive?


Is TransLink vastly gold plating new light rail planning to drive up the price so as not to show how expensive SkyTrain is?

It is interesting to note that a BCIT to UBC/Stanley Park LRT is also about 25 km and the $455 price tag for 25km of line looks very good when compared to a $3.5 billion, 5.5 km subway under Broadway.

I guess the politicians want $3.5 billion of ribbon cutting.

July 31, 2018

Contract awarded for Germany’s longest new tram line

Written by  Keith Fender

The proposed line will be an extension to the current Nuremberg tram network. The proposed line will be an extension to the current Nuremberg tram network.

A detailed planning contract for the proposed 25km Stadt-Umland-Bahn Nuremberg tram line, the longest light rail route currently planned anywhere in Germany, was agreed in late June.

The special purpose planning organisation Zweckverband Stadt-Umland-Bahn, formed in March 2016 to bring together the local authorities in Erlangen, Herzogenaurach and Nuremberg, awarded the contract to a consortium of specialist consultancies: Gauff Rail Engineering, Rambøll and Obermeyer Planen & Beraten.The contract covers the planning of the Erlangen and Herzogenaurach sections to the level required to enable final planning permission to be awarded in 2021.The proposed light rail line will form a western extension of the existing Nuremberg tram network starting at the current ‘Am Wegfeld’ terminus of Line 4 serving the towns of Erlangen and Herzogenaurach northwest of Nuremberg.

If the project, currently estimated to cost €300m, gains planning permission in 2021, construction could begin in 2023 with services starting by 2027. It is envisaged services will be operated by Nuremberg tram operator VAG.

Tram-train or heavy rail operations were considered by using part of the Nuremberg S-Bahn system on part of the Fürth to Bamberg line south of Erlangen and re-opening of the former branch line from Erlangen-Bruck to Herzogenaurach. However, the idea was discounted earlier this year due to the number of conflicting movements this would impose on other trains south of Erlangen.

The planned light rail route will instead serve the area around the old station in Herzogenaurach but will use an entirely new alignment to the north of the old railway route from Erlangen city centre via Erlangen-Büchenbach.

A planned eastern branch of the new network was dropped earlier in the planning phase after local residents in one area to be served by it voted against funding its construction in a local referendum in 2015.


6 Responses to “€300 (CAD $455) Million For 25 km of New Tram Line”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Well that’s a first for me. That article is the first I have read where Tram-Train was planned as one of the standard operating technology choices for an actual proposed line in which, it was turned down as not the best option and for the most part, the locals seem ok with it. This suggests to me that, the locals consider Tram-Train as one of the standard options available to them and because it is just one of the many normal operating technology choices, it’s refusal as a operating technology, is not overly bemoaned as a lost opportunity forcing endless debates and rehashes in the public realm.

    Zwei replies: Yes, in Germany TramTrain is mainstream, while in Canada, this concept is all but ignored. I think finacial realities will force a change in this in the very near future.

  2. Causa causans says:

    A good decision, yes.

    It now makes new tram construction quite acceptable in Germany.

    Too many planner have put the tram in the dustbin of history, but it is very good for what it does.

    A small secret, there are now at least 20 new tram lines being planned for here in Germany, all over 20 km in length. All costing much less than other options including O-Bahn.

    Something you across the pond should consider, when planning for $3 billion short subways.

  3. EU says:

    This new tram line in Germnay is an extension of an older tram line. It makes more sense to extend existing transit.

    Broadway subway is an extension of the existing Skytrain.

    The surrey LRT is a ripoff. It will only have 30 metre platforms with option to extend to 60 metres.

    Vancouver should have kept it’s trams like Toronto. There used to be tram on Broadway many years ago then replaced with a bus.

    Zwei replies: Two issues that need clarification.

    1) The $3.5 billion costs for 5.5 km of line that will carry well uncer 5,000 pphpd in peak hours.
    2) Trams today are about 45 metres long, the 30 metre tram platforms will not accomodate the trams they will use.

  4. UBC says:

    The 99 bus is over crowded and can’t add more frequency. Buses already operating every 2 minutes during busiest times. Two bus routes were created #84 and #33 to take presure off #99. All three bus routes are not crowded.

    A skytrain extention to UBC will increase ridership to more that 10,000 in peak hours. Higher capacity will attract more people who avoid transit because it is too crowded.

    Just look at the Canada Line that replace the #98 bus. #98 had fewer people than the the Canada line does today.

    Zwei replies: If you look at Translink’s schedule for the Broadway 99B, there is a bus every 3 minutes in peak hours, which translates to 20 buses an hour.

    Capacity does not attract ridership, user friendliness does and subways are very user unfriendly.

    Your analogy with the 98 B-line is full of prunes because all bus services South of the Fraser are forced onto the Canada Line as no competing bus servcie is allowed by an agreement with TransLink and the faux P-3 operator.

    Even at 10,000 pphpd, you are still 5,000 pphpd under the minimum industry standard for building a subway in North

  5. Haveacow says:

    Sorry Zwei, can you take out the first message I did, a little hand was trying to get my attention and knocked my hand and I accidentally hit the submit button.

    Before construction started on the central portion of the Rideau/Wellington Street corridor for Ottawa’s Confederation Line, this street had 130-140 buses per hour per direction traveling on it during peak periods. Right in front of Parliament Hill on Wellington and straight through to Rideau Street the oldest shopping street in Ottawa. It is still roughly the same width it was when it was laid down in the 1830′s-40′s. Both Ottawa’s O.C. Transpo and Gatineau’s STO transit buses fill this right of way during the peak. The level of buses actually dropped compared to the period before 2013 (when Gatineau’s Rapi-Bus Busway system opened) from 155-160 buses per hour per direction. The reason for the drop in buses is due to the STO buying articulated buses for their Busway.

    This is street corridor isn’t part of the downtown section of Ottawa’s Transitway Busway, the Albert/Slater/Mackenzie-King Bridge corridor. That particular corridor had 185-200 buses per hour per direction. Zwei has pictures of the Slater street (eastbound) corridor during the afternoon peak that he used for an article back around 2014.

    @UBC my point is that, there is quite a bit that Translink could do, they simply have chosen not to do anything. Though one day a decade or two from now, a tunnel may be needed and would be a good investment but not when you presently move only 30-50 buses per hour per direction and surface options are a far, far cheaper answer. There are multiple rights of way throughout North America that move as many buses and never involve calls for below grade rail right of way. Whomever said that, the Broadway Corridor was the busiest surface bus right of way North America has certainly never been outside of the lower mainland of BC studying transit!

    The TransLink study that led to the tunnel proposal on Broadway stated that, the 200,000 passengers a day expected for 2041 were based on passengers from multiple parallel corridors not just passengers on the Broadway corridor itself. They have over estimated the total passengers that line will get. Currently Broadway by itself moves about 75000: passengers a day at it’s busiest! That’s a lot! However, considering the cost of construction of this line and the expected passenger level upon opening, it’s my professional opinion that in the short term, a surface option including, better bus fleet and network management, better stop design for higher volume bus traffic, better stop design at major stations and bus prepositioning at the beginning of operator bus runs. In the medium term, surface LRT or a real BRT right of way. Not express buses with nice bus stops, what you guys call your B-Line routes. Then in the long term, a tunneled rail system. This is far more manageable. You only build a tunnel when a surface option starts taking away sidewalk space. Broadway has very wide (11-13 feet) traffic lanes for most of it’s right of way, multiple vehicle lanes as well as the existing bus lanes.

    The Eglinton Crosstown LRT Line in Toronto was forced to go underground because the central portion of Eglinton Ave. East and West was laid out during the time when it was starting to attract suburban development during the 1870′s and 80′s before automobiles and although a main Street, it was primarily residential not commercial. The majority of the area’s commercial development occurred after WW1 when it was almost completely filled in with development. Even today most of the existing lanes on the central section of Eglinton Ave. are only 8-10 feet wide, barely wide enough for buses. No room for surface stations on the right of way for most of the central section unless you take out sidewalk space. The line goes immediately to the surface when Eglinton Ave becomes wide enough. Both stage 2&3 of the line will be almost totally on the surface.

  6. Haveacow says:

    One thing Zwei, the line in the article only needs to add 2 transformers, the existing power system has enough capacity to add 20 km of service. That and it doesn’t need a new maintenance, storage and operations facility. If that was Ottawa’s Confederation Line those, simple facts ( as well as no downtown tunnel), would have reduced the total cost of the project by 55%-62%.

    Immediately drop the costs for LRV’s by 10-15 %, due to the fact that, their vehicles have a lower crash worthiness standard than ours. So lighter vehicles, less motor power needed and less frame support so more room in their vehicles for other equipment in their 100% low floor designs. Thus construction is slightly easier. In fact, when compared to the Ottawa project, reduce the size of the stations by 40% and reduce their scope to the scale the above project is using and another 8%-10% in costs, drop off. Keep in mind utility work (relocation) and electrical grid connection costs aren’t in European projects ( German specifically). Their legal, insurance and other risk mitigation costs are at most, 1/3 of ours ( usually much lower) and construction materials are subsidized by the government for these types of public infrastructure projects. Not to mention that, they already have a training system in place for new operators and don’t have to create one from scratch, which adds costs. The same can also be said for their maintenance system as well. Workers wages can also be subsidized if students and trainees are used in conjunction with official worker training programs.

    Given the above conditions Ottawa’s Confederation Line would come in at roughly $29-$35 million per km. Extremely comparable to the above project considering Germany’s central government (via the European Union) can suspend interest payments on private loans to European Banks by contractors until the work is completed. Thus lowering the capital costs even more!

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