Archive for the ‘Other Cities’ Category

Early Low Floors and Other Musings

Saturday, August 16th, 2008

As I’m writing this, it is already almost 10 pm here in Oslo and I’m getting ready for an early trip to the airport tomorrow. Unfortunately, I am west of the city in Asker and there is no train service between here and Skøyen (just west of the city) until 8 am. Replacement buses will be in service. Strangely, after spending this past week using the commuter rail service, I was beginning to think we could learn a lot. Imagine GO running all its services at least every 20-30 minutes all day, and your GO fare got you on local public transit in the zones it applied to for no additional fare!

Then this line closure made me rethink about who should learn from whom. While they are better at running rail service, they could learn a lot about providing information on alerts. After checking NSB’s website, there was no alert. To make matters worse, if I use the site to see when the next train will be, it tells me as if it were actually running. I thought that if I check the website of the Airport Express service (a private company), there might be more information. Again, no alerts but if I entered the time I want to leave in the morning (5 am!), I find out about the shuttle buses. At least our transit agencies have alerts on their websites, even if there are not always as accurate and up to date as we believe they should be.

1917 Low Floor TramI added the first update to the Oslo page with photos from earlier in the week. I just began to assemble Friday’s new photos and spent today taking a whole lot more, so with nearly 100 new photos to work with (only the first 21 are there now!), I’ve got something to do on the flights home. I managed to check out the transportation (mostly trams) museum that is located in a building that was once part of a five-building car house complex. I found out that low floor trams are not such a new idea. Low Floor InteriorOn the Ekeberganen line (now the south-east line to Ljabru), they had a small fleet of trams built in 1917 that had an entry area that was only 35 cm above the rails. I don’t suspect they built many platforms back then to match them! These trams earned the nickname “Viking Ships” as their design had curved ends for clearance reasons, and this game them a look that suggested that name.

It was rather interesting seeing some old photos and newspaper articles. One of the trams in the museum had an interesting background that struck me as odd since what happened to it would be the last thing that one would think would happen to perhaps a TTC streetcar or subway car. The tram had been taken by the Germans during the second world was because they needed them back home. It was used in more than one German city before it eventually was returned to Oslo.

Ski RackWhile we are only beginning to see the appearance of bike racks on our buses, take a look at this photo. They actually had a ski rack on the back of trams for awhile!

Toronto TramOne last note. Some of Oslo’s single-ended tram fleet have a name of a city that also has trams. Three guesses as to who’s name is tram 139? First two don’t count.

Oslo Updates Coming Soon

Friday, August 8th, 2008

On Sunday, I am heading to Oslo on business for next week.

SL79 Single-ended TramOslo is a good example of how a system can work well with both single-ended and double-ended vehicles. Some of Oslo’s routes have terminals with only cross-overs and are operated only with the double-ended cars. One route operates with some scheduled short turn operations to a stop where there is a loop, allowing the use of single-ended cars for those runs. Interestingly, the different vehicle types on this route makes it possible to tell how far it is going before one can read the destination sign.

SL95 Double-ended TramTheir single-ended trams are 22 metres long and not low floor, while their double-ended trams are 33 metres long and low floor near door areas (not 100% low floor). There is some tight track geometry in Oslo (at Majorstuen) that poses some problems for the longer vehicles, and routes operating there (11, 12, and 19) only use the shorter single-ended vehicles.

We may see similar operations in Toronto. We may shortly see that it might be unreasonable to specify a new, low floor vehicle to be able to handle all of the constraints of our legacy network. A full review may reveal that some of the most restrictive parts of the system could continue to be operated with CLRVs and ALRVs for their remaining days until upgrades can fix the restrictions, while other less-restrictive parts of the network will see newer LRVs operating as they become available.

With more daylight hours, and an entire Saturday, I will be adding a significant number of photos to the Oslo page. I will likely be updating it incrementally over the next week.

Buffalo and Cleveland Pages

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

The latest additions to the examples of other cities on this site are the Buffalo and Cleveland pages.

London (Croydon) Page

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

Another sudden trip gave me the chance today to spend about four hours travelling and photographing London’s tram system in Croydon. Part of Transport for London’s system that includes buses, the tube, and city trains, this LRT system exists where it was not deemed financially feasable to build tube lines.

Much of this system is on its own right-of-way and can be described as “true LRT.” Interestingly there are some single-track sections.

Look for the page for this shortly along with the Oslo page.

Oslo Page Coming Soon

Friday, February 29th, 2008

A new page featuring Oslo, Norway will be added to this site shortly. Unfortunately, due to a short stay and limited time in the evening before the sun sets at this time of year, the photographs are limited in number. Any contributions would be greatly appreciated (email here). Fortunately, I did get to travel over most of the system, even after it was too dark to take photos, in order to make notes. It also looks like I may be returning in May, so more additions will occur at that time.

One interesting thing in Oslo is that there is one station that saw shared service on the same tracks by both the trams and the T-bane (metro/subway) system (Cleveland is another example of this, as there are three stations used by the metro Red Line as well as the LRT Blue and Green Lines) . The ROW of the west end of tram route 13 merged with the ROW of T-bane line 6 just east of Jar station. Originally, the T-bane system on the west side of Oslo used overhead power instead of third rail.  Jar and the next four stations to Bekkestua had both high level platforms for T-bane operation and low level platforms for tram operations. In this photo taken at Jar, the ramp up to the high level platform can be seen in the lower right corner:

Photo at Jar

Just beyone Jar, there is a turning loop that straddles the main tracks. Instead of the whole loop on one side of the tracks, the loop branches off the north track to the north side about half the width of a turning loop, the curves back and crosses both tracks at a near 90-degree angle to finish its loop on the south side of the main tracks before merging with the south track.

During the mixed operation at Jar, the T-bane service on the line beyond that point did not operate late evenings and service was provided by trams as far as Bekkestua. Hence the need for low level platforms at these stations. Only the double-ended fleet of SL95 vehicles could provide this service as only a crossover beyond Bekkestua exists to turn anything back.

In 2006, this part of the T-bane line was closed down beyond several stops east of Jar. The T-bane system has adopted a “metro standard” that will see third-rail electrification and six-car stations on totally isolated ROWs. This line was not to this standard as the platforms were only three cars long and the line used overhead electrification. There is a possibility that this line will be upgraded to the standards over the next few years, but for now the connection of the T-bane tracks have been removed from where they merge with the tram line.

In the meantime, Trikken started operations as far as Bekkestua on its route 13 beginning on December 2, 2007. This service is only every 20 minutes, with more frequent service being provided to Jar with the use of SL79 vehicles that need the loop to turn around.