SkyTrain Really Isn’t A Regional Distance Based, Rapid Transit System.


Something to think about.

What Zwie has tried to convey for decades, that the driverless light-metro is a money hog and building more, will only see more tax money sucked into this heavily subsidized black hole.

Part of the problem is that the mainstream media and TransLink’s lil darlin, the Hive do not report on costs, just the hype and hoopla of building more SkyTrain.

The financial debate is purposely not reported as not to dampen local SkyTrain hue and cry by the local SkyTrain lobby.

The following comment by Haveacow, a Canadian transportation Engineer is a must read for all those armchair SkyTrain enthusiast and then wonder about this:

At the same time that billions of dollars are being lavished on two very expensive, yet completely unnecessary light metro extension, Emergency Care is collapsing in the province.

One can almost draw a straight line from SkyTrain expansion to eroding healthcare in the province.


The Skytrain really isn’t a regional distance based, rapid transit system. It is a inner suburb to downtown or a inner suburb to inner suburb rail rapid transit system.

The line extension fron Surrey to Langley (SLS) is and will be showing just how expensive the technology is to build and how expensive it will be to operate. Even 22 years after opening it will still be only moving around 5000 passengers per km per day or about 75% of the current passengers per km/per day average of the existing system. This means that this portion of the Expo line from Surrey to Langley will require more subsidy to operate than the already existing Skytrain system does simply due to geographic distance and attract fewer passengers at the same time.

Nothing illustrates the geographic limitation of the technology more than current SLS extension does. Each new significant segment of Skytrain, anything more than 8 to 10 km that is built further and further out from existing Skytrain yards seems to require, an entirely new yard or a major expansion of an existing one, just so servicing and train-set redeployment can be done efficiently and in a timely manner. Train storage and actual maintenance capacity is a whole separate issue. That means each extension becomes even more expensive due to the fact that, a new yard and servicing site must be constructed each time the system grows outward horizontally. Ottawa’s LRT system desperate to keep costs down, make the new yards, light maintenance centres instead of full ones, saving hundreds of millions of dollars without seriously impacting maintenance. Each new Skytrain Yard or OMC (operations and maintenance centres) is and must be because of the automation, a full service yard.

Yes, as a rail network grows in length and number of train-sets, more storage and servicing capacity is needed. However this driverless railway system requires very large, heavily protected and computerized yards, instead of just a simple set of ladder track (multiple sets of track sidings used for storage) connected to and parallel to the main line running track itself, no large storage buildings required, just a protected operations caban and maybe extra fencing.

This is how GO Transit builds new Train Storage facilities. Actually maintenance is done at 2 very large maintenance centres on a specific schedule. Keep in mind, this is a system with over 500 km of main line track and over 850 engines and passenger coaches with very little automation. The new GO Transit Region Rail Network (formerly GO RER) won’t change this situation too dramatically until, a lot of the planned Bi-Level EMU’s are purchased because the EMU’s will require an entirely new separated or a severely altered existing maintenance centre.

The following should be Emailed to every politicians, federal, provincial and civic in BC.

Here is something else to think about. This line extension, according to TransLink and the provincial government of BC, is going to move 56000 passengers a day upon opening in 2028. That’s roughly 53% of the daily passengers per line-km average for the rest of the SkyTrain system (3500 passengers per km per day vs 6613 passengers per km per day).

They both admits that this is the equivalent to what the 99 B express bus line moved per day in 2019. They are spending billions to move the same number of passengers you already move on Broadway with buses. They are currently spending $2.83 Billion to move passengers in a 5.7 km SkyTrain tunnel under Broadway, the busiest corridor in the city. Yet it’s good to spend somewhere between $1.67 billion and $2.17 billion more, to move the same number of passengers per day between Surrey and Langley.

Our South-East Bus Transitway moved more people than that per day in 2019 and it sure wouldn’t cost that much to build.

Toronto spent only $2.3 million on King Street in downtown Toronto to improve passenger service on a streetcar corridor which moved more people per day in 2019 than the SLS line extension will move on opening day (84000 vs 56000) at a cost of billions.


14 Responses to “SkyTrain Really Isn’t A Regional Distance Based, Rapid Transit System.”
  1. Haveacow says:

    I have been taking heat lately in person and online and I want to clarify something. I’m not anti rail transit at all, very pro rail transit actually. I just don’t understand spending billions more than you have to with one type of rail based rapid transit, when another does the same thing but a lot cheaper. I have been part of and watching the rail transit industry since I left University in the early to mid 1990’s. The Skytrain does move a lot of people but it’s extremely expensive, in both building and operating costs (regardless what so called experts say) compared to many other rail rapid transit technologies. Put more simply, its a very expensive way to move a train from point A to point B, compared with other operating rail systems.

    The Skytrain network’s passenger carrying capacity is light because of the lightweight and light capacity infrastructure used (by design) and it makes up for it through higher frequency of service. This seems great until you realize that, high frequency or high tempo operations goes through infrastructure faster. When your infrastructure is on the lighter side to begin with putting greater operating stress on it from the start of train operations, you get a very large infrastructure replacement bill sooner than other more traditionally designed networks. What is the use in building an extension on a Skytrain line that already (only 37 years in) needs significant updates and upgrades, most of which have not been planned or budgeted for yet. There is an old railway saying that is still true now and was true when the first major passenger and freight line started in 1832 (The Manchester and Liverpool Railway), “It’s always cheaper (especially in the long run) to make a train longer and heavier, than it is to add a second train to the schedule “.
    This is the main issue I have with the entire Light Metro category of trains, not just the Skytrain. what point is a Light Metro network (sometimes called Medium Rail) that is only 20%-25% cheaper to build than full scale Metro network (Heavy Rail systems like in Toronto and Montreal) but moves less than 50% of the passenger capacity of a Metro network and requires the Light Metro operator to rehab the system’s infrastructure sooner than the Metro operators.

  2. zweisystem says:

    Zwei replies: In BC, if you say unkind words about SkyTrain, you are labelled an anti-rail luddite! Cost of SkyTrain was always a major factor in any transit planning, but throwing money at transit is not a very good idea.

    TransLink admitted some time ago that over 80% of SkyTrain’s ridership first takes the bus which raised alarm bells. This tells me that SkyTrain is poor in attracting local ridership; has not attracted the motorist from the car; is the obvious outcome when the the Expo Line is the only direct transit route from the East that goes into downtown Vancouver and every bus passenger TransLink can, is forced to use it.

    The same thing happened in South Delta, when the Canada Line opened, transit customers lost their direct bus service and were forced to transfer to the light metro. Ridership from south Delta and South Surrey collapsed. Within a year all the extra bus service from south Delta to Bridgeport were withdrawn and a service schedule returned to its pre EXPO 86 days and in South Surrey, a very expensive Park and Ride lot, built for expected ridership, remains today, virtually unused.

    What is written above has been told to Zwei since the Expo Line opened in 1986, that “SkyTrain is very expensive for what it will do.”

  3. Haveacow says:

    Zwei, transferring bus passengers to your new rapid transit line is normal and something you want to do for numerous reasons. Where Translink has obviously had difficulty is growing the passenger use. Local bus lines close by, should be routed towards your new rapid transit lines. However, where a lot of transit operations really fail is when bus lines that are too far away from the new rapid transit line or have a majority of its existing ridership outside the area effect of said new rapid transit line, get their routes redirected towards the new line creating a major diversion away from the majority of its existing customer base (this type of route design can be difficult to determine and is an art in itself). The hope is that, new ridership along the diverted portion of the route, makes up for the customer base lost because of their increased travel time away from the old route.

    I hate to bring up this unpleasant point but it may have also been case that the bus routes that used to go directly downtown were unsustainable for the operator and the public just wasn’t aware of it, this unfortunately happens a lot. People blame the loss of a bus route on a new service but the reality may have been that, many of those bus routes pre-Skytrain, were just financially and or operationally unsustainable and were going to be changed anyway and the route alterations associated with the introduction of the Skytrain just provided the available environment to cut them.

    We went through that here with the Suburban Express Bus Routes that travelled along our BRT highway lanes and Transitway Network from outside the National Capital Greenbelt from places like Orleans in the east and Kanata in the west and Barrhaven in the south. These routes ran into town in the morning and back out in the afternoon. From the perspective of the individual rider, they were popular single seat rides to work or home and in most cases, full with passengers.

    The reality was that, they were so popular that there were too many of them requiring huge numbers of buses each day. With routes that were too long therefore, each individual bus could rarely run more than 2 trips into downtown in the morning or back out in the afternoon, over the roughly 3 hour length of the peak period. That meant, long trips back out to the routes start point, where the buses were completely empty. At one point 19.8% of all daily bus km’s traveled by O.C. Transpo were buses dead-heading and running empty. Mainly because of these express routes having to travel great distances empty back to their starting points. O.C. Transpo had no choice but to consolidate and or cancel 85% of these routes. Although well used and full or nearly full from the passengers’s perspective. More than 50% of the time, they were empty and not in revenue service and rarely made a profit. In fact, many of the most heavily traveled express routes barely had 30% of their daily operating costs, covered by passenger fares. The 30% cost recovery was and most likely still is O.C. Transpo’s final “line of death”, where financially speaking, routes have to be cut or severely altered.

    Zwei replies: I do not think this was the case. Traditionally, pre Canada Line, the express or commuter buses from south Delta/Surrey were filled to capacity, after the opening of the Canada Line, expected ridership never materialized ans actual ridership dwindled. What saved TransLink was the population grew in Richmond, and South Delta/Surrey, thus actual ridership was maintained, but new ridership was far from happening.

    In 1992, the GVRD found that the Expo Line was subsidized more than the diesel and trolley buses lines combined. As the Canada Line is a P-3, from other groups, pursuing F.O.I.’s and what little information that is released the Canada line is subsidized by over $100 million annually.

    Just from visual observations of local buses in south Delta, very few transit customers are returning to the bus and by a strange coincidence the Tesla and other all electric cars are growing more common. From what I have been told, there is growing panic at TransLink with diminishing ridership on transit, with the lack of gas taxes from electric cars, will soon have very dire consequences. I thin after this October’s civic elections, there could be some drastic cutback being made to regional transit.

  4. Mr. Buzzer says:

    Hey Zwei, the buses are full, very full with kids under 12, they ride free!

  5. Nathan Davidowicz says:

    Comments by International Expert Alon Levy
    The problem with this is, there’s nothing wrong with a metro system designed for urban and inner-suburban service, using high-density TOD to create demand along the corridor. Stockholm has a largely metro-based urban rail network with a modal split in the 40s; its regional rail network was underdeveloped until recently when Citybanan opened. What Zwei was saying in blog comments (on The Transport Politic and Human Transit) about Vancouver 15 years ago made sense when it had the comparison of the C-Train right there, with its absurdly low construction costs and pretty low operating costs, but since then C-Train construction costs have exploded and Calgary’s modal split has stagnated. Even the original home of the Zweisystem, Karlsruhe, is burying the central segment in a subway tunnel.

    At least in Europe, the pattern for streetcar-based systems is that the high-ridership ones are either Paris or traditional ones that never bustituted after WW2. And Paris is a pretty weird case – the tramway network mostly consists of orbitals and suburban feeders to the Métro and RER. The others don’t look anything like North American light rail – they’re urban streetcar networks like Prague, Budapest, Warsaw, Vienna, and Zurich. Because they’re traditional networks, they maintained convenient access to city center by public transport, so there was less job sprawl. They also were nearly always in socialist countries, where due to central planning there was just less sprawl; the big exceptions are Switzerland, which has an atypically strong commuter rail network (and Zurich is the only city in Europe except Paris and Madrid to have built two separate S-Bahn tunnels), and Vienna, which stagnated in most of the 20th century as it became the capital of a much smaller state. Once communism fell, car ownership and sprawl levels rose, but in the bigger cities the streetcar and streetcar+metro networks are convenient enough a lot of people haven’t felt the need to motorize and suburbanize; at much bigger scale, New York did something similar, building the subway before mass motorization so that most city residents have stayed car-free.
    So for Vancouver, better comparisons should be places that have built mass transit during mass motorization, and not before. This includes all Canadian cities. But other than the retention of a legacy streetcar network, Toronto’s basic picture of mass transit is extremely similar to Vancouver’s: there’s a frequent bus grid with a subway system running on the strongest corridors such that the buses feed the subway, and TOD takes the form of high-rises immediately next to stations grading down to single-family housing within just a few blocks. Toronto is innovating with the RER, but it’s going about it in such a bad way (the construction costs of the infill stations, for example, are something like 4x Boston costs) that it’s taking too long, and the Ford administration is making things worse with its politicization of route planning.

    In Europe, the best comparison cases I can think of are Munich and Stockholm. Zurich only opened the S-Bahn in 1990, but I’m wary of this comparison, first because of the huge traditional network of streetcars and trolleybuses, and second because while the Zurich S-Bahn underscores the importance of commuter rail as suburban transit, Vancouver’s geography is unusually bad for this, since the CP line is on an active industrial waterfront. The T-bana is a suburban(-ish) metro like SkyTrain, with 2-2.5 times the ridership mostly thanks to better coverage (SkyTrain is missing UBC) and massively more complete TOD as part of the Million Program; going forward, it helps that even with recent cost overruns, Stockholm builds subway tunnels at less than half the cost of Vancouver even though its stations are much bigger. Nordic planning is heavy on subway-for-TOD deals – if Metro Vancouver did that, it would offer the North Shore a deal in which it gets a subway tunnel to replace SeaBus but in exchange North and West Van have to upzone for a certain extra number of apartments measured in the tens of thousands.

    Munich is really a combined U- and S-Bahn, built together in the late 1960s and 1970s. I’m a lot less familiar with why it works so well. Some of it is the S-Bahn and its good coverage of the suburbs. Some is that, like Stockholm, Munich is very monocentric. Also like Stockholm (and unlike, say, Berlin), Munich has had a lot of postwar growth – population within city limits is nearly double what it was in the 1930s, and in the 1950s and 60s there was so much congestion that the massive one-time relief offered by opening three U- and one S-Bahn tunnel stuck. Unlike Stockholm, it’s built around excellent intermodal integration, with streetcars feeding the U- and S-Bahn (and it invented the modern S-Bahn Takt and was one of the early adopters of intermodal fare integration, both inspiring Zurich in turn).

    Zwei replies: Eight points:

    1) Calgary’s exploding construction costs include a bout $2 billion 4 km subway.
    2) Mr. Cow is talking about a fully automatic, driverless light metro. One item that many do not realize is that London’s Underground and Tube can operate on regular railway trackage and does so at the outer extremities of the system. thus operating costs far away of the city centre are mitigated by using existing trackage, something that the SkyTrain light metro system cannot do.
    3) The higher ridership tram systems in Europe are Karlsruhe, and Czech and Slovacian cities, where impressive numbers of customers are carried during peak hours.
    4) S-Bahn is short for Stadtbahn of City Railway not to be confused with Strassebahn or street railway. The famous Duewag U-2 (Calgary, Edmonton, and Sand Diego) was first designed as a standard design for S-Bahn systems in Germany. Sweden uses T-Banna or tunnel railway for its metro system.
    5) Sweden and the Nordic countries are investing heavily with trams because of the huge costs associated with metros both light and heavy rail.
    6) When one talks of TOD or transit oriented development, I get the answer from European contacts as “huh?” In Europe new transit lines are designed to fit customer needs combine with a modicum of fiscal reality. In Vancouver TOD means densification on a grand scale which creates a land rush and huge profits for land speculators and land developers.
    7) A quick read here and there is absolutely no comparison with Stockholm and Vancouver.
    8) Munich’s transit planning is very politcal with subways favoured by conservative politcal parties and trams by left leaning political parties. Munich’s transit planning history can be gauged by who is in power and funded their favourite transit mode.

  6. Haveacow says:

    Nathan is right there is nothing wrong with a Light Metro system (like Skytrain) that designed to transverse distance from inner suburb to inner suburb or inner suburb to downtown. The problem is when you decide to run it over regional distances it wasn’t designed to do. Like trying to extend a line 16 km through outer suburbs like Surrey and Langley, not to mention a bog and so called protected forest.

    Yes, Toronto is extending the almost 40 km long Yonge Street Metro line 8 km to downtown Richmond Hill, outside of the City of Toronto boundary. However Subway Line #1, (the Yonge-University-Spadina-York subway line) has its major traffic generator, central Toronto (not just downtown) at roughly its halfway point. Therefore it functions as essentially 2 separate lines that range only 23 km to 25 km from the centre of the city, with 2 yards (1 on each branch) at roughly the mid point of the line. Thus servicing the trains on the line isn’t too cumbersome. Both branches draw large numbers of passengers independently of each other. Whereas the Expo Line has its main traffic generator at one end of the line. Forcing multiple yards now to deploy trains that don’t hit peak passenger levels until each train is less than 10 to 12 km from downtown Vancouver on the extreme western edge of the line, forcing multiple yards to pump trains out onto hugely long sections of track with low passenger use age and short stretches of extreme use. This is extremely expensive and the multiple large full service yards becomes a have to have instead of a nice to have. Now it’s build a new yard at the extreme east end of the Expo Line or no expansion is possible. Even the TTC are going no further north on line #1 than Richmond Hilll and Vaughn Centre, that’s it.

  7. Haveacow says:

    Nathan, Toronto ‘s Go RER expansion is more costly than Boston’s MBTA station expansion program on a per station basis simply because not only are GO Train stations they much larger, nearly all have 2 tracks, many especially at interchange stations with other rapid transit or other GO lines will have 4 tracks or more wide and will have real full scale station buildings. GO stations have to have considerably longer station platforms designed to handle a bigger concentration of passengers and much, much longer trains as well.

    Boston’s MBTA commuter rail trains max out at 6 to 8 cars long. GO Transit’s trains start at 8 cars long and depending on the Line, either stretch to 10 or 12 car trains. Even when GO switches to the more frequent service hours envisioned in the RER operating plan and acquire the slightly longer EMU’s eliminating the need for most but not all of the 4600 hp – 6000 hp push-pull diesel locomotives, each of the new EMU trains will still be 8 cars long. This means GO Transit stations need at a minimum for future service, 250 m long station platforms for each platform at each new station. The longest platforms on the MBTA are about 240 m long, (Boston North and South Stations) whereas GO currently needs 300m + long station platforms on the Lakeshore East and West Lines.

    The MBTA has 12 (+1 building) lines compared to GO Transit’s 7 and 641 km of rail network compared to GO Transit’s 526 km however the Boston’s MBTA carries only 45% of GO Transit’s passengers and has little extra capacity for more even though they have 2 main downtown railway stations. Even Boston’s subway and LRT platforms are considerably shorter than Toronto’s 75 m to 90 m long vs. Toronto’s 100m long Eglinton Crosstown LRT station platforms and 150 m long subway station platforms.

  8. Avery Johnson says:

    The London’s Underground does not operate in freight tracks or overground. That’s the London Overground (which includes crossrail).
    Here’s a link to the another post referencing your blog

    Zwei replies:Er no. The Underground refers to the subsurface lines, which cars are much larger than tube stock. The tube are deep underground trains with smaller dimensions. Tube trains can operate on underground track as well as regular railway track and does in operation.

    London Underground, with a total route length of 402km is the world’s fourth longest subway system.It is also the oldest metro system in the world and has been operational since 1863. It comprises of 11 lines and 270 stations, and is operated by Transport for London (TfL).

    The subway system provides inner-city metro services in Greater London and suburban railway services to some parts of Buckinghamshire, Hertfordshire and Essex counties. Surface lines comprise 54% of the system, while the rest 46% runs on sub-surface and deep-level tube lines.

  9. Haveacow says:

    Nathan, yes, both Ottawa and Karlsruhe built LRT tunnels but there was a desperate need for them, whereas Vancouver is building a tunnel for Skytrains under Broadway, a corridor that moves less than half the number of people that the central portion of our Bus Transitway did at peak periods with painted bus lanes, roughly 4200 p/h /d (passengers /hour/direction) vs. Ottawa’s 10700 p/h/d. According to Translink the Broadway tunnel will move between 64,000 and 85,000 passengers a day compared to the 120,000+ passengers per day just on Albert and Slater Steet bus lanes.

    Karlsruhe, Germany, depending on how, whom and where its measured, moved somewhere between 24,000 to 35,000 p/h/d. at peak periods. The 2 main Karlsruhe area transit operators that both travelled through central Karlsruhe use different methods of calculating maximum passenger levels. One handles the city lines and two of the lesser regional lines and the other handles nearly all the regional lines. A third agency in the town Heilbron, handles 2 more of the regional lines that pass through its city, which both function as a local city rapid transit lines in Heilbron and regional lines that go all the way to Karlsruhe’s main train station during the day, but on DB tracks instead of the local Karlsruhe tram lines. Still, all use the same ticketing and schedule system but measured the max passenger levels in different places and different ways.

    Both Ottawa (with buses) and Karlsruhe (with Trams and LRV’s) had enormous, kilometres long bus and LRV back ups each day, twice a day. Zwei has pictures of them both. This happens when far too many vehicles per hour per direction are forced through the centre of cities on the surface. Transit vehicle levels that dwarf what is on Broadway. In Karlsruhe, the locals refered to the daily phenomenon as the “Yellow Wall” (the primary colour of trams and LRV’s) in Ottawa, The “Albert and Slater Bus Jam”

    Broadway moves 40 to 50 buses p/h/d at peak service. Ottawa was moving between 185 to 200 buses p/h/d, officially 180 p/h/d, The numbers increased when you actually counted the buses vs. the city’s method of calculating using the weakest link method of travel across the most vulnerable intersection. Karlsruhe was moving 65 to 70 LRV’s and trams p/h/d. The much greater physical size of the trains made the daily back up even longer.

    Ottawa’s single cut, 2 track, LRT tunnel cost $725 Million for 2.5 km and 3 below grade stations.

    Karlsruhe’s, 3.6 km single cut, “T” shaped, 2 track, 5 tunnel stations, 4 LRT quality surface stations, LRV tunnel plus the 1.2 km long Kreigsstrase Car Tunnel with a new 2 track green right of way on the surface of Kreigsstrase, all of which costed €1.5 Billion. Zwei can tell you roughly how large and how many passengers Karlsruhe’s Tram Train network moves.

    Your building a $4.01 Billion 16 km long above grade Skytrain line extension between Surrey and Langley, plus at a minimum of $500 Million, for a full service Skytrain rail storage yard and operations facility, all to move the same number of people the 99B Express Bus route moved in 2019. The yard project must be operational by 2028, if the line is to open.

    Zwei replies: The volume of traffic on Kaisserstrasse was such that a tunnel was necessary. The latest report from T&UT now says the tram track will remain after the tunnel is completed, maybe for a local service.

  10. zweisystem says:

    Try explaining it to the local’s that SkyTrain was not designed to be a regional carrier.

    As I write this, I have become aware that a group is collecting funds as part of a campaign for a high speed train service from Chilliwack to Vancouver, via the #1 highway!

    Also there is a new third group advocating for SkyTrain to be extended to Abbotsford!

    If you really want to cheese people off, like I have done on Vancouver Island, is to remind them that SkyTrain is consuming all the transit dollars, which a portion of could be allocated to the E&N, for the the Broadway subway and the Expo Line extension to Langley. They just cannot or will not connect the dots.

  11. zweisystem says:

    I have read his article and found it badly researched and in fact he hasn’t a clue about the RftV project. Rail for the Valley engaged Leewood Projects (UK) to see if a passenger rail link could be reestablished on the former BC Electric Line from Vancouver to Chilliwack and if so, what would be the cost? True to form in Canada, the plan was well received overseas but rejected locally, with TransLink’s excuse that they would not invest in a rail line which offered headway’s greater than 10 minutes.

    I have been told that TransLink was afraid that the RftV/Leewood plan would be more successful than the then Surrey LRT project.

    We even had a private operator interested but was rebuffed by the provincial government!

  12. Haveacow says:

    Nathan, most but not all, of the great tram or streetcar lines that mostly run on their own rights of way in Europe today, didn’t exist in that form until after WW2. Before the war, most trams shared traffic with other street traffic. It was the massive destruction of the war plus the Marshal Plan credits in western Europe or Commecon aid in eastern Europe that allowed a great amount of efficient street and road reconstruction, which saw many of the existing tram lines rebuilt in the1950’s and 1960’s.

    Starting in the late 1960’s and continuing into the early 1980’s Germany and many other central European nations also got caught the Pre-Metro craze. This is where key sections of surface Trams lines are buried, building little sections of underground tram lines everywhere. This bankrupted a few transit operators and actually drove away customers. The time saved by traveling underground is lost because of the increased travel time of having to get back to the surface and walk further to get to your destination. You can’t afford as many underground stations as surface stops, so the walk from your station takes longer than when it was on the surface.

    The realization in the late 1970’s France after it lost nearly all of its tram lines from before the war because of Michelin and several car makers (all french companies), that convinced the government into building Autoroutes (expressways) everywhere as well as expensive rubber tire Metro lines and Light Metro lines in every large french city. It turns out that this was far more expensive than building heavier surface trams on physically segregated right of ways (LRT) and intercity highspeed rail. Since the late 1980’s there have been over 30 LRT systems built in French cities.

  13. Haveacow says:

    Actually Avery when the Victoria Line (the first automated Metro line) was built in the 1960’s along with sections of the Jubilee Line in the 1980’s, many miles of freight as well as commuter lines were easily and cheaply converted to Metro line.

  14. Haveacow says:

    After a bit of research, In London the outer and some key inner parts of the Central, District, Metropolitan, Jubilee, Northern, the DLR and London Trams Lines (formerly Croydon Tramlink) had major section of existing freight and passenger rail lines incorporated into the design of these Metro, Light Metro and LRT lines. It’s simple because only the power distribution needs to be changed or upgraded, new stations built, existing ones rebuilt and existing yards upgraded.

    This is extremely difficult for the Skytrain to do because of its propulsion system requires a redesign to many existing above grade rail structures. The need for a 4th rail which can and usually does, necessitate the removal or complete relocation of much, of the existing “on track” infrastructure. The existing automation hardware also does this as well.

    Both the DLR and London Tram Lines have a few short sections where freight still runs on them. Part of Ottawa’s Trillium Line still runs freight at night or early in the morning from CN’s portion (southern portion) of Walkley Yard to both Transport Canada’s Airport facilities and the NRC’s (Nation Research Council) National Ground Transportation Static Testing Centre on Leitrim Road in Ottawa’s Greenbelt.

    It’s a misleading fact that many major world Metro systems run completely underground all the time. Most of TFL (Transport For London’s) outer Metro lines are on the surface. Just to name a few, considerable portions of New York’s, Boston’s, Toronto’s, Paris, Mexico City’s, Washington DC’s, Atlanta’s, Baltimore’s, Philadelphia’s, Madrid’s, Prague’s and Berlin’s Metro Network run on the surface or above grade.

    Most of Chicago’s Metro System and all of Miami’s run at or above grade. Chicago’s system is called the “El” for elevated, for that reason.

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