Low Impact Light Rail Competition

Posted: 29 November 2016 | | 1 comment

Low Impact Light Rail was launched by UKTram to encourage new ideas within the industry that reduce costs in track and energy usage on the country’s tram networks.

Low Impact Light Rail Competition

Modular track form designs and a radically redesigned overhead line system are amongst the projects that have progressed to the demonstration phase of the Low Impact Light Rail programme, to bring about innovation in the Light Rail sector.

Low Impact Light Rail was launched by UKTram to encourage new ideas within the industry that reduce costs in track and energy usage on the country’s tram networks.

Encourage new ideas within the light rail industry

The programme is being funded by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, with £3m from its SBRI programme and additional funding from the Department for Transport. The project was launched at the end of 2013 with a call for competition. Fifteen projects were awarded funding for feasibility work on their innovations and this work has been undertaken over the last 3 years. Now, following an assessment of the outcomes of this work, funding has been provided to further develop the innovations and trial them in real life situations.

The innovations that progressed to the Demonstration Phase are:

Precast Advanced Track (Light Rail and Metro) – PCAT: Modular pre-cast track slab design:

  • Preformed track-slab that uses unique cured tensioning ducts and connectors to provide tension
  • Allows track units to be removed for access to utilities
  • Has potential crossover potential into heavy rail – tunnels etc. requiring low profile slab
  • Suitable for street running applications, tunnels and subject to cost instead of ballasted track

Composite Overheard Line Equipment – Brecknell Willis: Overhead Line equipment utilising composite materials:

  • Utilises lightweight composite structures to replace steel supporting masts for overheard line
  • Uses novel lightweight clip mechanism to reduce the number of parts and to reduce the weight of equipment
  • Clip together system reduces costs and time to construct

The Integrated Modular Light Rail Rapid Construction System – Costain: Lightweight modular track form design:

  • Trough based modular construction system
  • Can be installed through excavating double slots in the highway
  • Utilises existing precast technologies in new ways
  • Provides maximum access for utility works/minimises diversions

More Energy Efficient Trams – Alta Innovations Ltd: A set of tools to maximise the efficiency of how Light Rail vehicles utilise their power requirements:

  • Software system to improve tram energy usage
  • Utilises journey specific information to provide specific driving information to optimise usage
  • Can be applied to any system and has potential global market

Ultralite Track – Em Track Alliance led by BWB Consulting – modular track slab designed to be compatible with bus rapid transit:

  • Modular Trackform
  • Allows guided bus operation without need for separate track
  • Suitable for use off-street and in central reservation

Optimum Rail Wear Limits – University of Huddersfield, Institute of Rail Research: Development of a rail asset management tool:

  • Development of a methodology toolkit that will allow operators and maintainers to make decisions on the condition of rails and thus allow longer use of rails maximising the time between rail replacement
  • To develop guidance for selection of optimum rail wear limits with the aim of reducing ‘whole-life’ costs and ensuring safe operation of the system

Weld Restore – ARR Rail Solutions: Development of a cost effective weld deposition method:

  • Allows repair of the rail insitu in order to extend life and prevent the need to breakout and replace road surfacing and rail.
  • The developed process also has the capability to restore side wear on a newly developed rail steel grade (ML330) which has been difficult to restore using existing processes.
  • The delivery of the developed weld restoration process is closely controlled by on board process control computer, continuous visible display of key parameters, and the availability of a certificate of conformance at the end of every completed shift.
  • A more robust weld restoration process has been developed through the use of temperature control units at the start and end locations.


One response to “Low Impact Light Rail Competition”

  1. John Daglish says:

    Mention should be made of an originator of the lightweight tram concept; Prof Lewis of :

    – LR55 Lightweight modular track
    – Lightweight gantry design
    – City Class tram lightweight tram

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