Posts in category Project

EMTA Report: Light rail explained

The need for viable, cost effective and attractive public transport in high-density areas is immanent. Transport Authorities have a responsibility to foster innovations in urban transport and look at smart replies to match the growth of demand for quality mass transit. A good living climate, economic efficiency, social inclusion, sustainability and competitiveness depend on the capacities of a city to invest in high quality transport services. The authors of this paper explain what especially in urbanised areas should be main reasons to persuade cities to improve accessibility and liveability by engage and develop a light rail solution. It comes down to a very basic question: “why light rail?” or more in general “why chose for high quality public transport?”.

In a thorough evidence-based description Rob van der Bijl and Niels van Oort demonstrate how it has been overlooked that light right rail does not only provide benefits that are obvious to all, like speed and comfort,
but that in cost-benefit terms also reliability of service should be valued in money. Efficiency benefits
thereby are incomplete and therefore impeded chances on smart light rail realisation. If taken into
account the social context of projects and awareness of the influence of the difference in types of
legal context, governance and institutional legacy a transformation of urban networks by light rail
can be an asset to spatial urban revival. The Light Rail can be an impetus to the urban quality of
life and more importantly provide a sustainable way of accommodating mobility needs of city
denizens and visitors.

Read the full report: EMTA Report

Success and failure aspects of light rail planning

The report ‘Light Rail in Nederland, een studie naar de succes- en faalfactoren over de ontwikkeling van light rail-projecten in Nederland’, was performed by twelve students from the Technichal University of Delft, supervised by Rob vd Bijl and Niels van Oort. They investigated which factors could make or break a light rail project. During the last decades, the term light rail became a very known concept. As a hybrid mode with the best characteristics of train, tram and metro combined, light rail became an important and desired mode of transportation.

Nonetheless, several important light rail-projects failed. Some of these project were in a preliminary stage, whilst others were already quite advanced. One project so advanced, operation trials were already performed. Five cases on light rail projects in the Netherlands
and France (reference project) were extensively investigated. Not only the internal parts of the project were investigated (plan and development stages), but in particular the external context is set out. Political context and sustainability and urban development are
important external factors.

The investigation of five cases- Uithoflijn (Utrecht), RandstadRail (Rotterdam and The Hague), Regiotram (Groningen), RijnGouweLijn (Gouda and Leiden) and Straatsburg (France) – led to an overview of factors that will make or break a light rail-project. Important success factors can be found in the project organization, the political context and (external communication). Dangerous fail factors are found in the political domain, the project organizations and the decision-making process. Often, the success and risk factors which are involved in a light rail-project are a truism. It seems quite obvious that these factors are taken into account. Nevertheless, the failure of several important light rail-projects proves that –unfortunately- these factors are underestimated.

Read the summary here: Light rail research

Robust public transport from a passenger perspective

MSc.Thesis by Menno Yap (full report: HERE )


Disturbances in public transport are an important issue for passengers, public transport operators and infrastructure managers. After the occurrence of large disturbances, there is often a strong call from passengers and society to make the public transport network less vulnerable – and therefore more robust – against these types of events. Despite the mentioned importance of considering robustness, the next limitations can be formulated regarding the way robustness of public transport networks is currently considered:
When evaluating and improving robustness of public transport networks against large non-recurrent disturbances, a passenger perspective is not included to its full extent. There is a strong focus on independent network levels operated by a single public transport operator, instead of considering the integral, multi-level public transport network available for passengers.

In general, limited quantitative data is available about disturbances which occur on multi-level public transport networks and about the effects of these disturbances on passengers. Also there is limited knowledge about the robustness performances of different network levels relative to each other. Given these limitations, the following main research question is formulated:
What methodology can be developed to evaluate the robustness of multi-level public transport networks and to evaluate robustness effects of measures for the case study network between Rotterdam and The Hague?

In this study, robustness is related only to major discrete events: large, non-recurrent events which affect infrastructure availability. In line with this, the next definition of robustness is used in this study:
‘Robustness is the extent to which the network is able to maintain the function it was originally designed for under circumstances which strongly deviate from plan’.
In this study, a methodology is developed which enables the evaluation of the current robustness of multi-level public transport networks, as well as the evaluation of proposed robustness measures. The case study shows that it is worth to consider another network level as back-up in case a certain network level is blocked. The result of the case study indicates that from a societal point of view, there is still room to improve the robustness of multi-level public transport networks.
The developed methodology can especially be developed further by incorporating en-route route choice possibilities in the transit assignment model. Further research is recommended especially to gain more knowledge about the behaviour of passengers in case they are confronted with major discrete events and in case they are confronted with crowded vehicles.

© 2011 TU Delft