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

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