Lawned Rights-of-Ways Come To Canada

Will this be a game changer for light rail in Canada?

For over thirty years, lawned rights-of-way have been the norm on European tramways and light rail operations; even the Deutsche Bahn (German Federal Railway) investigated lawend rights-of-ways for the main line railways.

Today, the lawned R-o-W’s are a fixture of the modern tram.

The new tramway in Luxembourg has extensive lawned rights-of-ways


Not so in Canada, where local bureaucrats, ever so scared of change, would not allow lawned R-o-W’s with excuses such as they were a fire hazard or emergency vehicles can’t us them (well if properly designed, they can).

Years ago in the early 90’s, at a City of Vancouver open house for concepts for the Arbutus Corridor, Zwei had a display of modern LRT, with every picture showing the then revolutionary lawned R-o-W, which contrasted quite well BC Transit photos of start gravel and asphalt R-o-W’s.

A gentleman approached me and said” I live on the Arbutus and if they did that (install a lawned R-o-W), I could not mount much of an objection“.

The chap from BC transit, overhearing the comment, quickly added; “But here in BC, they would be a safety and fire hazard”

Zwei thinks the real issue was that modern light rail, operating on a “Green” lawned R-o-W would be a positive ‘sell’ to the public and with light rail having operating characteristics that surpass light metro, would forever relegate the much more expensive and politically acceptable light metro to that dead branch of transit evolution.

A Paris tram, operating on a lawned R-o-W.

Toronto thus becomes the first Canadian city to have lawned-R-o-W’s, after years of kicking and screaming entrenched anti Green cabal. Toronto is laying “Green” track and joining the modern world of Light Rail Transit.

The Eglinton Crosstown LRT is going green

The first of three green track areas along Eglinton Crosstown LRT’s at-grade section is being installed at Warden Avenue’s Golden Mile stop.

Construction of the Eglinton Crosstown light rail transit (LRT) project continues to progress, and one of its latest milestones may have you seeing green.

Portions of the at-grade section, east of Brentcliffe Road, will feature green tracks to help integrate the new transit line with Eglinton Avenue’s many parks and green spaces.

The ’green’ will be made up of grass and additional foliage planted down the middle of the LRV route.

A mock-up of the green tracks, totalling 16 metres in length and 92 square metres in area, has been installed at the Golden Mile stop east of Warden Avenue.

The installation of each section of green track takes three months after the final design is approved. Each section will include irrigation chambers, water supply, and an energy supply to power the irrigation system.

The partially installed green track mock-up at Warden Avenue’s Golden Mile stop looking east. (Metrolinx photo)

The partially installed green track mock-up at Warden Avenue’s Golden Mile stop looking west. (Metrolinx photos)

Not only do the green tracks look good, but they serve a purpose.

Swapping out concrete for grass can help keep temperatures down in the heat of summer. Grass and other vegetation can also act as a sound dampener, absorb rain to reduce run-off, and even minimize the spread of dust.

It’s all part of Metrolinx’s goal to provide environmentally sustainable light rail transit service across Toronto.

Story by Katherine Abraham, Metrolinx Community Relations Specialist


4 Responses to “Lawned Rights-of-Ways Come To Canada”
  1. Adam Fitch says:

    It is interesting that the mock-up is only 16 metres long. That is not even half as long as an LRV train. I am sure that the public pressure will mount to install grass along the entire surface level trackage.

  2. Haveacow says:

    I like how some cities use hedges and other plants to compliment, hide or be security fencing.

    Route 8 in Basel Switzerland

    Tram Route in Freiburg Germany

    Not to be outdone Tram-Trains in Karlsruhe

    This is just cool and ironically, its called “War Street”, and its going to be a quiet grass covered tram right of way instead of the major car route into central Karlsruhe.

    Kreigsstrase grass tram track with road tunnel underground, part of the Karlsruhe Tram-Train Tunnel Project (under construction until 2022),1200,1000,1000,0,0/vUxuSb27poQ/E0x55P0-aAn8rC93rcs-iW.jpg

    Old Kreigsstrase “War Street”

  3. Willis says:

    The arbutus coridor is now the most expensive bike route. Vancouver wasted money paving it with asphalt. At an open house they asked people if they wanted a hard service but did not say what the hard service would. Most people thought the hard service would be gravel. Vancouver lied and used asphalt. A gravel bike path would have been better for the environment as there would be no chemicals.

  4. Willis says:

    A LRT on a green way from arbutus and broadway to downtown and around false creek would be great.

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