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Old Posted Mar 16, 2021, 8:55 PM
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Ultra Light Rail Claims Lower Risk and Lower Cost than Traditional Light Rail

Ultra Light Rail Claims Lower Risk and Lower Cost than Traditional Light Rail


Mar 9th, 2021

By Steve Ostrowski

Read More: https://www.masstransitmag.com/rail/...nal-light-rail

Quote:
.....

It's called Ultra Light Rail Transit (ULRT) and it's being presented as a lower risk, lower cost alternative to light-rail transit (LRTs). Simply put, ULRT uses electric buses on rails, with a few tweaks, that give it the potential to disrupt the way transit is built. But how can this be? New technology can be wrought with risk,, expensive, packed with more computers, more autonomy, more software and more cost. So, it seems unreasonable that new technology can be lower risk. But ULRT claims are extraordinary: fast construction, low cost, BRT reliability, LRT performance and the smallest carbon footprint.

- At a typical construction cost of $15 million/mile, inclusive of design, engineering, construction, vehicles and equipment, it’s estimated that $1 billion can construct 66 miles of system. That's the game changer. Why construct a line when you can construct a system. Regarding cost, established experts in transit and major infrastructure construction may consider $15 million/mile an unrealistic claim. However, ULRT's approach is so simple it doesn't qualify as major infrastructure. The less-is-more philosophy of the design is an understatement that fails to convey the impact of the new approach. ULRT uses much less, yet delivers much more, challenging the complexity of LRT systems that require a decade or more to construct, rarely meeting multi-billion-dollar budget goals by the time they are in operation.

- The less-is-more design philosophy crushes cost, starting with the many benefits of lighter quick charging electric buses that use hybrid capacitor/batteries for energy storage. These vehicles fit existing bus routes without the need to add catenary wires or concrete rail foundations, eliminating most of the engineering and construction time needed for LRTs. By avoiding this complexity and speeding construction, ULRT doesn't reduce risk as much as avoid it altogether. The benefits of lighter weight vehicles are many and key to simplified construction. They allow for rails on helical piles, which are installed on existing roadbeds or bare ground, minimizing the need for excavation while avoiding underground utilities and obstructions. Rail installation involves drilling these piles at engineered locations, then leveling and binding them with cross links that act like the web of a truss.

- Adding the rails, the assembly becomes a laying down truss with absolute location and a service life far exceeding concrete in cold climates. The road is finished with a top layer of asphalt, aligned with the tops of the rails, so the ULRT can share its lane with vehicular traffic, or not. This process makes the claim of laying 1/4 mile of rail per site-crew per day realistic. It follows that minimizing the disturbance of existing infrastructure and underground excavations reduces potential for delay, exposure to uncertainties, unknown costs and risk. Installed rails present a minor disturbance as a 12-inch by 1-1/2-inch deep steel trough. This is easily traversed by all vehicle types. The rails are a unique profile that supports on-off-rail technology, eliminating the need for switches.

- Eliminating switches drastically improves system reliability in cold climates and makes ULRT capable of using existing bus stations and maintenance sheds as the vehicles operate on existing asphalt surfaces. The patent-pending design reduces cost, complexity and risk. ULRT's on-off-rail technology makes it immune to total system shutdown. All vehicles are independently operational on the system. If another vehicle breaks down, there is an on-track obstruction or the trough fills with ice or sand, the ULRV tire assumes the rolling load and the ULRV goes around or over the obstruction, without delay. Therefore, there is no risk of failure of the on-off-rail technology because the backup is tires. The 'new' on-off-rail capability can be said to reduce risk when compared to an LRT.

.....


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Old Posted Mar 17, 2021, 10:53 AM
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A bus that runs in troughs, eh. I guess it's better than those so-called trackless trams.
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Old Posted Mar 18, 2021, 6:55 AM
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Coventry, England is working on its own "Very Light Rail" that aims to reduce build costs and times... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Coventry_Very_Light_Rail

Anything that can make mass transit at grade level more affordable is A-OK in my books... Just as long as it's not a bus... For those who say buses are "just as good" as rail are the same false equivalency folks that say the same thing about generic cola too and we ALL know the truth... ;-)
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Old Posted Mar 18, 2021, 8:00 PM
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Interesting stuff. Thanks for putting me onto that.
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Old Posted Mar 18, 2021, 9:13 PM
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From what I've seen, at every intersection, the trough disappears before getting to the cross street and re-appears after clearing the intersection. So, it rides like a kinda-LRT in the trough and a bus out of the trough.

And it seems like the driver would have to "thread the needle" after every intersection, making sure to hit the trough, which might mean slower overall speeds along the route.

I'd like to see it in action, though. If it's so cheap to build, laying down a half mile or so as a test bed shouldn't prove impossible to manage.
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Old Posted Mar 19, 2021, 4:12 AM
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Th8s sounds cool. I would think that it would require dedicated separate lanes as opposed to shared lanes. Otherwise I’d see problems with bicycles, motorcycles and maybe even cars. Ever get a tire in a rut that hard to get out of? Can be very dangerous.
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