History of Train
       Railroad Evolution
       Types of Railroad
       How Railroad Works
       Train Glossary
       Railroad Glossary
       Riding the Rails
       Super Speed Train
       Links
       Contact Us
       Home


       Interesting Sites:
       Amtrak
       Trains.com





Types of Railroad

Commuter Rail

Commuter rail may be defined as a type of passenger train transit service that utilizes diesel-electric or electrically propelled trains, operating over existing railway trackage on the same rights-of-way used by intercity railway freight and passenger trains. Common practice in the United States and Canada is to use trains of coaches drawn by diesel-electric locomotives, as opposed to electrified multiple-unit equipment. Some commuter rail service is provided by self-propelled diesel-powered coaches. Fare collection is typically on board the train by cash or ticket, and boarding is normally from low platforms.

Commuter rail normally accommodates mainly the longest-distance trips made within metropolitan regions during weekday peak travel periods at high overall average operating speeds of typically between 30 and 50 miles per hour, with relatively few station stops. Typical commuter rail routes range from 20 to 50 miles in length. Because the railway track usually is shared with intercity freight and passenger trains, commuter rail normally requires neither the acquisition of new right-of-way nor the construction of new main-line trackage. However, for safety and operational reasons, locomotives and cars must be manufactured to main-line railway standards with respect to size and strength. These characteristics, together with the relatively long station spacings of two to five mites, characterize commuter rail as having the ability to provide a very high level of riding comfort for passengers.

Light Rail

Light rail may be defined as a type of urban passenger transportation service that utilizes electrically propelled cars, or trains of cars, operating primarily at surface level either over exclusive rights-ofway or over public streets. Light rail is essentially an improved and modernized version of the old streetcars and electric interurban railways that were common in the United States from the 1890s through World War II. Light rail can best be envisioned as trains of one to three articulated rail vehicles powered by electricity from overhead trolley wires. Fare collection is typically selfservice, using tickets purchased from vending machines. Boarding may be from either high- or lowlevel platforms.

The trackage used for light rail operations is not normally shared with freight and other railway passenger trains. Light rail systems are intended to accommodate all types and lengths of passenger trips within the most densely developed portions of metropolitan areas during weekday peak travel periods, as well as during midday and evening off-peak travel periods and on weekends.

Heavy Rail

Heavyrail may be defined as a type of urban passengertransportation servicethat utilizes electrically propelled trains of cars operating over fully grade-separated rights-of-way. Heavy rail may best be envisioned as high-capacity, semiautomated trains of four to 10 cars powered by electricity from a third rail. Because heavy rail systems require an exclusive, completely grade-separated alignment, extensive subways and elevated structures are needed, both of which are costly and disruptive to construct. Fare collection is typically done at stations, and boarding is from highlevel platforms.

The trackage used for heavy rail operations is not shared with freight and other railway passenger trains. Like light rail, heavy rail systems are intended to accommodate all types and iengths of passenger trips within the most densely developed portions of metropolitan areas during weekday peak travel periods, as well as during midday and evening off-peak travel periods and on weekends.

High-Speed Rail

"High-speed rail " is a technical term which defines a type of long-distance intercity railway passenger train service. While this type of service has also been a subject of increasing interest within the United States, it is intended to serve the same passenger market as does Amtrak, that is, passengers traveling between metropolitan areas, rather than passengers traveling within metropolitan areas, the passenger market of commuter rail, light rail, and heavy rail.

High-speed rail would require the use of either an improved existing railway alignment or a new alignment that includes very gentle horizontal and vertical curvatures as well as few, if any, grade crossings. While commuter rail, light rail, and heavy rail trains may be expected to have maximum operating speeds of between 50 and 79 miles per hour, high-speed intercitytrains may be envisioned as operating at maximum speeds of anywhere from 125 to 250 miles per hour.







Copyright © 2003 Speed Train. All Rights Reserved.