Tramway track gauge - broad, standard, or narrow?

 
  scrat Assistant Commissioner

Location: Fitzroy North
Actually, you know what, I'm not sure that I have ever suggested a system using a particular gauge soley because a system that ran 50 years ago or more ago in the same city...
"Myrtone"


Yes you did.

For new-build systems where the previous system (closed half a century or more before) ran a gauge wider than standard, that still survies elsewhere, go broad unless there is a legitimate reason to go standard...
"Myrtone"


Gauge should be chosen for reasons other than historical methods of operation. If some Turkish city wants to use metre gauge, fine, as I said, it's hardly an odd ball gauge, it's a very common gauge, with lots of equipment available.

Regarding Chemnitz, though translating the German wiki page it seems that they had a gauge of 915mm and slowly converted it to standard gauge because the East Germans couldn't find motors small enough to fit in the truck frames (this seems a little odd to me, given the amount of metre gauge tram systems around, but maybe they felt if they were going to re-gauge they may as well move to standard).

Liam.

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  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Actually, you know what, I'm not sure that I have ever suggested a system using a particular gauge soley because a system that ran 50 years ago or more ago in the same city...


Yes you did.
scrat
Prove that I was using it as a sole basis. I did not, let's consider Glasgow, it was the last city in the British Isles to abandon trams, in 1962. Now they were built to a gauge slightly narrower than standard and because it differed by less than a width of the rail, dual gauge track would not have been feasible, so a Stuttgarter style gauge conversion programme would not have been possible. It is therefore almost certain that the Glasgow system would have remained at that gauge to this day. However it only differed slightly from standard gauge and no longer exists elswhere, so if I were the decision maker I would choose standard gauge for any new system in Glasgow.



Gauge should be chosen for reasons other than historical methods of operation. If some Turkish city wants to use metre gauge, fine, as I said, it's hardly an odd ball gauge, it's a very common gauge, with lots of equipment available.
Scrat
Would it be more correct not to base choice of gauge soley on historical methods of operation, why should they not be cosidered at all? The Pennsylvania trolley gauge would become a common gauge if Cicinnati, Columbus and Baltimore were to reintroduce it, then it would be a more common gauge, an idea with which I don't disagree. If you want to know of an example of a new build system, albeit heavy metro, that is built to an "oddball" gauge, check out the BART. For an example of a new build tram proposal where the prefered specifications are based on the previous system in the same city, check out Trams for Bath, see I'm not the only one with this kind of thinking.

Regarding Chemnitz, though translating the German wiki page it seems that they had a gauge of 915mm and slowly converted it to standard gauge because the East Germans couldn't find motors small enough to fit in the truck frames (this seems a little odd to me, given the amount of metre gauge tram systems around, but maybe they felt if they were going to re-gauge they may as well move to standard).
Scrat
Well, now consider Sophia, they were originally built entirely to an unusual gauge slightly wider than a metre. In 1987 (I think), they began converting to standard gauge, but after the second standard gauge line was complete, they stopped.

For some exmaples of oddball gauge tramways in Europe, consider Braunschweig (1100 metre), Lisbon and Linz (both 900mm), note their trams are quite narrow. It wolud be interresting to see how much extra they have to pay for their rolling stock becaue of that gauge. Neither of those gauges differ enough from metre gauge as to allow for dual gauge track (unless it's interlaced). They could convert to standard gauge and it would be interresting to see if they simply see no point in changing or they intrinsically prefer something narrower than standard.

For an analogy, that nearly all newcomers to LRT are reluctant to consider unidirectional running may lead one to suppose this is because turnaround facilities more to the cost of the infrastructure than extra cabs and door add to the cost of rolling stock and that operators of exsiting unidirecitonal systems simply see no point in changing because the turnaround facilities are already there, yet the European operators Tonyp has contacted say they do intrinsically prefer unidirecitonal running.
  GeoffreyHansen Minister for Railways

Location: In a FAM sleeper
About unidirectional running, do members here think it should be considered for the Gold Coast?
  scrat Assistant Commissioner

Location: Fitzroy North
When building a new tram/lightrail system, the gauge or methods of operation of a previous system shouldn't have anything to do with the design of a new system, gauge and uni/bi directional operation should be chosen based on what the situation is now.

If there are lots of other systems in the local area that use a gauge other than standard, then maybe that gauge should be looked at as an option, but simply because a previous system in the same city used a gauge other than standard means absolutely nothing.

Regarding gauge conversion, your the only one bringing it up, I wouldn't think it worth it to convert gauge unless there was a really compelling reason. (ie running on local lines or metro lines etc). I don't care what systems converted to what when, it's not important to the point, stop bring it up, it's nothing but a distraction from what your advocating. Which I repeat is:
For new-build systems where the previous system (closed half a century or more before) ran a gauge wider than standard, that still survies elsewhere, go broad unless there is a legitimate reason to go standard...
"Myrtone"


I don't see any logic in what your saying, a new system should be built standard gauge, unless there is a compelling reason to go for another gauge, and there are many reasons why one may want to, metre gauge offers tighter cornering and (what I assume would be) lower construction costs, it could also be the case that the local lines are a gauge other than standard, that there is a metro system in the same area that you want to run trams/lightrail down or that many towns/cities in the surrounding are a gauge other than standard.

Where all this started was with the former Cincinnati tram system using Pennsylvania trolley gauge, and you advocating that the new system use the historic gauge. However, what if Cincinnati never had a tram system? Or it used standard gauge? What gauge would you recommend Cincinnati use in those circumstances? If you would still recommend Pennsylvania trolley gauge, then you should agree with me that each use of gauge should be considered on a case by case basis, and that whatever historical gauge was used is irrelevant. And if you would under those circumstances recommend using standard gauge, you really need to re-look what your advocating, as it doesn't make sense.

Liam.
  Grantham Minister for Railways

Location: I'm with stupid!
When building a new tram/lightrail system, the gauge or methods of operation of a previous system shouldn't have anything to do with the design of a new system, gauge and uni/bi directional operation should be chosen based on what the situation is now.

If there are lots of other systems in the local area that use a gauge other than standard, then maybe that gauge should be looked at as an option, but simply because a previous system in the same city used a gauge other than standard means absolutely nothing.

Regarding gauge conversion, your the only one bringing it up, I wouldn't think it worth it to convert gauge unless there was a really compelling reason. (ie running on local lines or metro lines etc). I don't care what systems converted to what when, it's not important to the point, stop bring it up, it's nothing but a distraction from what your advocating. Which I repeat is:
For new-build systems where the previous system (closed half a century or more before) ran a gauge wider than standard, that still survies elsewhere, go broad unless there is a legitimate reason to go standard...
"Myrtone"


I don't see any logic in what your saying, a new system should be built standard gauge, unless there is a compelling reason to go for another gauge, and there are many reasons why one may want to, metre gauge offers tighter cornering and (what I assume would be) lower construction costs, it could also be the case that the local lines are a gauge other than standard, that there is a metro system in the same area that you want to run trams/lightrail down or that many towns/cities in the surrounding are a gauge other than standard.

Where all this started was with the former Cincinnati tram system using Pennsylvania trolley gauge, and you advocating that the new system use the historic gauge. However, what if Cincinnati never had a tram system? Or it used standard gauge? What gauge would you recommend Cincinnati use in those circumstances? If you would still recommend Pennsylvania trolley gauge, then you should agree with me that each use of gauge should be considered on a case by case basis, and that whatever historical gauge was used is irrelevant. And if you would under those circumstances recommend using standard gauge, you really need to re-look what your advocating, as it doesn't make sense.

Liam.
"scrat"


Well, obviously, they should be choosing 5'2.5" or 5'3" if they're prepared to think laterally!
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
About unidirectional running, do members here think it should be considered for the Gold Coast?
"GeoffreyHansen"


Why not? I know tonyp advocates it for Sydney, as do I.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
That you and Tonyp advocate it for Sydney surely has some relation to the existance of loops on their previous system.

When building a new tram/lightrail system, the gauge or methods of operation of a previous system shouldn't have anything to do with the design of a new system, gauge and uni/bi directional operation should be chosen based on what the situation is now.

If there are lots of other systems in the local area that use a gauge other than standard, then maybe that gauge should be looked at as an option, but simply because a previous system in the same city used a gauge other than standard means absolutely nothing.
scrat
Let's say that the gauge and methods of operation of a previous system were the same as one or more other systems that still survive in the same country or area, that's surely not a coincidence.

Regarding gauge conversion, your the only one bringing it up, I wouldn't think it worth it to convert gauge unless there was a really compelling reason. (ie running on local lines or metro lines etc). I don't care what systems converted to what when, it's not important to the point, stop bring it up, it's nothing but a distraction from what your advocating.
scrat
It's called an analogy. If you wouldn't think it worth converting unless there is a compelling reason to do so, so I could make, by analogy a confusing point that new systems should be based on the previous system unless there is a compelling reason to do otherwise.

Where all this started was with the former Cincinnati tram system using Pennsylvania trolley gauge, and you advocating that the new system use the historic gauge. However, what if Cincinnati never had a tram system? Or it used standard gauge? What gauge would you recommend Cincinnati use in those circumstances? If you would still recommend Pennsylvania trolley gauge, then you should agree with me that each use of gauge should be considered on a case by case basis, and that whatever historical gauge was used is irrelevant. And if you would under those circumstances recommend using standard gauge, you really need to re-look what your advocating, as it doesn't make sense.
Scrat
The previous Cincinnati system was built to the same gauge as New Orleans, Philladelphia and Pittsburgh, do you seriously believe that it's all a coincidence?
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
That you and Tonyp advocate it for Sydney surely has some relation to the existance of loops on their previous system.
"Myrtone"


I cannot speak for TonyP, but I can assure you it stems mainly from the acceptance efficiency of a balloon loop in the context of a high-capacity tram terminus. Unidirectional trams are less obvious, but retain their own benefits, mainly in the reduced number of doors and cabs and higher capacity for the same length, as the space saved is used for seats. In a Sydney-specific context, all seats can face forward. They fit together quite neatly.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Didn't Syndey's previously have many tram loops for the reason you mentioned?
  Watson374 Chief Commissioner

Location: Fully reclined at the pointy end.
Didn't Syndey's previously have many tram loops for the reason you mentioned?
"Myrtone"


I believe so, particularly in the CBD, it appears.
  JGS Well. We'll see about THAT!

Location: Junee NSW
Sydney's use of balloon loops was moderate at best. If one examines a map of the Sydney system, the number of termini with balloon loops was easily outnumbered by those where trams had to change ends. In the CBD, there were some services where trams ran 'round the block', and loops at Erskine St, Millers Point and Railway Square, while other services ran through to destinations elsewhere.

A list bears this out. On the main system, the termini which ended in balloon loops were La Perouse, Maroubra Beach, Coogee Beach, on the eastern lines, with six termini where trams reversed. On the western lines, Dulwich Hill (which wasn't at the end of a line) was the sole example, with nine standard termini. There were no balloon loops out of the ten termini, while one in three lines in the Enfield system had a loop and Mnly had two of four.

So, hardly an example of comprehensive use of balloon loops.

Cheers,
Matt
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
A loop around a block is still a loop. North Bondi also had a balloon loop but when the line was diverted, a new four stub terminus was substituted. Also, weren't there more balloon loops in the days of steam? But it seems that the existance of balloon loops on the previous sydeny system for the same reason TonyP is promoting them today.
  JGS Well. We'll see about THAT!

Location: Junee NSW
A loop around a block is still a loop.
"Myrtone"


Hence my mentioning them.

North Bondi also had a balloon loop but when the line was diverted, a new four stub terminus was substituted.
"Myrtone"


Which shows that the advantages of balloon loops weren't considered important enough to build a new one.

Also, weren't there more balloon loops in the days of steam?
"Myrtone"


Well, the procedure for reversing a steam tram motor and cars is a little more complicated than changing ends on an electric tram.

But it seems that the existance of balloon loops on the previous sydeny (sic) system for the same reason TonyP is promoting them today.
"Myrtone"


That may 'seem' to be the case, but the numbers show that use of balloon loops was in the the exception rather than the rule in Sydney. You've given multiple examples of termini which began with balloon loops but later had them replaced with stubs where trams had to reverse. This shows that the advantages weren't enough to retain them all.

For the record, I think balloon loops and unidirectional running can be a good idea. It was just far from the norm in Sydney.

Cheers,
Matt
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria


Which shows that the advantages of balloon loops weren't considered important enough to build a new one.
MattAustin
Was it just that or was it space?

Well, the procedure for reversing a steam tram motor and cars is a little more complicated than changing ends on an electric tram.
MattAustin
The precedure was the same with our cable trams, yet we never used balloon loops.

But it seems that the existance of balloon loops on the previous sydeny (sic) system for the same reason TonyP is promoting them today.
MattAustin
That may 'seem' to be the case, but the numbers show that use of balloon loops was in the the exception rather than the rule in Sydney. You've given multiple examples of termini which began with balloon loops but later had them replaced with stubs where trams had to reverse. This shows that the advantages weren't enough to retain them all.

For the record, I think balloon loops and unidirectional running can be a good idea. It was just far from the norm in Sydney.
MattAustin
All city centre terminin were balloon loops, and except for the North Bondi line, all the busiest lines (Maroubra, La Perouse and Coogee) had loops at both ends, Maroubra was never steam.
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
I recall reading (in David Keenan's books on the Sydney tramways) that Clovelly originally had a balloon loop terminus, as did Mosman Wharf.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Liam seems treat new build systems in cities that had trams before the same as those in cities that didn't. It doesn't feel the same to me, especically if one or more first generation tramways still survive in the same country or area. If you are returining trams to a city that had them before, and there are one or more surviving classic tramways in the same country or area, that feels different to me for a case where neither had tram run before in the same city nor are there any survining systems anywhere in the same country or area.
In Cincinnati's case, the previous system was built a gauge wider than standard, and the same gauge still survives in Pittsburgh, Philladelphia and New Orleans, and as this gauge is wider than standard, it means that bulding the new Cincinnati systems to that same gauge would enable low floor trams to have a wider aisles, particularly if the bogies are going to rotate. One of these factors alone would probably not be a sole basis for choosing an "oddball" gauge, or any particular gauge, but in my book those three combined are a big case for choosing a gauge wider than standard.

EDIT: The former USSR has more surviving first genertation tramways that anywhere else, and most are built to the Soviet gauge, which is only 2.5 inches narrower than the Pennsylvania trolley gauge, which is less than the width of the rail, so there would be very little differece between a Soviet gauge bogie and a Penna Trolley Gauge bogie.
  JGS Well. We'll see about THAT!

Location: Junee NSW
Well, if an unrelated and irrelevant closed system should influence the gauge choice of a new system in the same city, then why leave it at that? I demand that if a new system is going to be built in a city where an earlier system was closed, then the new system should paint it's trams in the same colour scheme as that of the closed system. Not just as a nice link with the past because it's vital and important!

Why not? After all, it'd cost far less to let previous paint schemes have an influence on unrelated modern choices than choosing an oddball gauge. Hey, we have Croydon as an example of this!

If you listen really well, you might just hear the crackle of my sarcasm. Are we still seriously having this discussion?!

Cheers,
Matt
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Let me test that analog; Yes well the busses that replaced the old London trams were painted in the same livery as both the trams and the trains, the livery remains the same today, so it's handly suprising, so in this case I would probably agree with you.
 But for another case in point, consider Sydney, their trams were painted light green, similar to the livery we had in Melbourne on both our trams and busses, I do believe that the busses that relpaced Sydney trams were also light green. But street transit in both cities has since changed liveries, the colour scheme of Sydney's classic trams doesn't have the relevance that applies in London's case.
 Similarly, if the previous tramways of a given city were metre gauge and all other survining tramways in the same country or area that were metre gague have since converted to standard gauge, you may as well make the new build system standard gauge. But if the previous system was built to the Soviet gauge and any other survining tramways in the same country or area have shown no sign of converting to standard gauge, than it makes sense to at least consider bulding the new system to the same gauge as before, especially if it is beneficial to low floor trams.
  Fred Scuttle Junior Train Controller

Location: Point Clare, NSW
I do believe that the buses that replaced Sydney trams were also light green. But street transit in both cities has since changed liveries, the colour scheme of Sydney's classic trams doesn't have the relevance that applies in London's case.
"Myrtone"


That's right - at the time of Sydney's tramway abandonment in 1961, all DGT buses carried the same green and cream colour scheme as the trams. This colour scheme had been introduced with the R Class cars in 1933, and became standard for the tramway fleet (with the exception of the Newcastle system, as well as a handful of cars in Sydney). It did not become standard for the buses until 1946 (prior to this, single deck buses carried green and cream (as did trolleybuses), while double-deckers were painted red and cream). The green and cream colour scheme continued on Sydney and Newcastle buses through the 1960's, being superseded by blue and white from 1969 onwards. The last examples of vehicles still in green and cream were withdrawn in the mid-1980's. 

As an observation on gauge, when in Dublin in 2010, I saw that the Luas light rail system was standard gauge. I believe that Dublin's original tramway system (which closed in the early 1950's)was broad gauge.
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
Yes, the previous Dublin system was built to the same gauge as the local railways, but neither are there any surviving classic tramways anywhere in Ireland, nor are they any surviving first generation tramways anywhere else in the world that are built to the Irish gauge. And most importantly of all, there are no tramways anywhere in Western Europe (new build or legacy) built to a track gauge wider than standard. All tramways currently operation in Great Britain are standard gauge, most previous tram systems in the UK were standard gauge. Also, Dublin has ordered a very standardised industry standard Alstom Citadis, a very standardised design. I know of no metre gauge variant of the Citadis.
  JGS Well. We'll see about THAT!

Location: Junee NSW
No it doesn't. It makes no sense whatsoever to allow the gauge of an unconnected previous system have any bearing on what gauge is chosen. None.

Your putative benefit of wider gauge being of benefit to low floor trams is not worth considering. The cost of re-engineering a tram to use wheelsets which are a a handful of inches broader in gauge, added to the cost of manufacturing these oddball wheelsets would result in no appreciable benefit for a massive expenditure. Two inches per side won't make a difference which is noticed by anyone.

But if the previous system was built to the Soviet gauge and any other survining tramways in the same country or area have shown no sign of converting to standard gauge, than it makes sense to at least consider bulding the new system to the same gauge as before, especially if it is beneficial to low floor trams.
"Myrtone"


My point about paint was to emphasise a point (but was missed)

Difference in paint - no cost difference and a possible way to give a nod to the past.
Difference in gauge - a massive cost increase with negligable benefits, and far too much money to spend just because a previous system did it.

Myrtone, I work in the rail industry and deal with industry costings every day. I know that what you suggest about gauge is completely without merit. A simple cost benefits analysis shows this to be the case.

Cheers,
Matt
  Myrtone Chief Commissioner

Location: North Carlton, Melbourne, Victoria
No it doesn't. It makes no sense whatsoever to allow the gauge of an unconnected previous system have any bearing on what gauge is chosen. None.
MattAustin
If there are no surviving systems in the world (let alone in the same country or area) that are still built to same gauge as the previous system, than fair enough. But are you saying that it should have no bearing even if there are several survining systems in the same country or area built to that same "oddball" gauge?


Difference in gauge - a massive cost increase with negligable benefits, and far too much money to spend just because a previous system did it.

Myrtone, I work in the rail industry and deal with industry costings every day. I know that what you suggest about gauge is completely without merit. A simple cost benefits analysis shows this to be the case.
MattAustin
Doesn't the the the added cost of an "oddball" gauge add more to the cost the more it differs from standard? Also, does an "oddball" gauge add any more to the cost (of the rolling stock) with a newbuild system that a legacy one, bear it mind that customisation does seem to add less to the base price of a larger order. Obiously you are not the only one who works in the rail industry but don't accept my thinking as lateral just because I don't.
  raymond Deputy Commissioner

Location: Gladstone, Queensland

http://www.drehscheibe-foren.de/foren/read.php?5,5958039

 

How does this fit ioto the guage debate.

 

 5 and 6 picture down.

RAYMOND

  matthewg Train Controller


http://www.drehscheibe-foren.de/foren/read.php?5,5958039

 

How does this fit ioto the guage debate.

 

 5 and 6 picture down.

RAYMOND

"raymond"


Paris T5 is a Translohr electric guided bus. While Lohr Industries call it a tram and are trying to sell into the tram marketplace, I'd called it a guided bus - it runs on rubber like a bus. It's just guided by a rail.


Paris probably bought it simply to stop the French supplier from going bankrupt.


Caen is replacing their system (Bombardier GTL) with proper trams.


 Some one where on the 'net is a picture of Translhor guide rail that's popped out of it's slot - the vehicle 'grabs' the rail and puts a degree of upward force on it. On a hot day (or a side impact collision) the forces might get too much for the 'glue' that holds the rail down.


 As for 'gauge' of a tramway - you would need a pretty compelling reason not to use 'standard gauge'. And it's not just the ability to use 'standard' vehicles - but all the maintenance support equipment as well - like rail grinders, tamping machines, hi-rail adapters for trucks, etc.

 The only reason for not using 1435mm would be

a/ An existing legacy of some other gauge - e.g. all those cities that have metre guage

b/ Compatibility/inter-operation with local railways that might be something other than standard. (In which case you also have access to appropriate maintenance equipment for that gauge).


There would also be issues with corridor width on a 100% low floor narrow gauge tram. Certainly however,  metre gauge cities have made some pretty good efforts at the wheel clearance problem.









  JGS Well. We'll see about THAT!

Location: Junee NSW
If there are no surviving systems in the world (let alone in the same country or area) that are still built to same gauge as the previous system, than fair enough. But are you saying that it should have no bearing even if there are several survining systems in the same country or area built to that same "oddball" gauge?
"Myrtone"


Unless the new system's trams are going to run on existing oddball track, then there's no point in going with an oddball gauge.

Doesn't the the the added cost of an "oddball" gauge add more to the cost the more it differs from standard?
"Myrtone"


Not really. Manufacturers are tooled up for the 'regular' gauges, so standard or narrow. By 'oddball', I'm talking about something like Toronto, Cincy or the Penna gauges, not the European narrow gauges, so anything not 'off the shelf'. If a new-build operator goes to a manufacturer and says "I want to use a gauge that is three inches broader than standard" the it means retooling and setting up equipment to suit. The fact that the gauge isn't a commonly manufactured one is the cost-increasing factor, not 'how different' it is. It's different, and the scale doesn't slide. Existing 'oddbal' systems have to wear the expense of new equipment to the oddball gauge, but a new system shouldn't have to.

Cheers,
Matt



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