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Hybrid Subway System Transitions Seamlessly Between Suburbs and Downtown

Hybrid Subway System Transitions Seamlessly Between Suburbs and Downtown

The city of Sheffield in the UK is installing the first tram-train in the country.

Leah Gonzalez

The city of Sheffield is installing the first ever tram-train in the UK. A tram-train is a hybrid public transit vehicle that can run both as a street tram servicing commuters in the city center and a commuter train that can use all existing rail network.

Trams and trains run on different kinds of tracks. Tram wheels run inside grooves on tracks — allowing trams to make tight corners. Train wheels, on the other hand, run on top of raised rails. A tram-train has wheels that are designed to work on both types of tracks. This means a tram-train can transition easily from one rail network to the other, eliminating the need for passengers to switch trains during their commute.

Sheffield-tram-train-1

Aside from giving people better or more convenient commuting connections, tram-trains can mean lower maintenance costs and more flexibility for the transit authorities. Tram-trains can allow the authorities to add more services or routes and help reduce transportation congestion.

Set to be completed in 2016, the project will have tram-trains running eight miles from Rotherham Parkgate to Sheffield. The design for the tram-train was developed at the Institute of Railway Research at University of Huddersfield.

Tram-trains are new in the UK, but Karlsruhe, Germany has used tram-trains in their public transport system since 1992. In fact, the concept of tram and trains running on the same tracks is referred to as the “Karlsruhe model.”

The Sheffield-Rotherham Tram-Train project is a $98 million trial run to determine whether it would work in the rest of the country.

Source: Wired

Image: Institute of Railway Research, The Rail Engineer

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