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Modern Streetcar Vehicle Guideline

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Modern light rail and streetcar vehicles are fundamentally very similar, the differences having largely to do with how they are applied. The primary difference between the two modes is the degree of integration into the urban environment and the scale of the associated infrastructure. This difference in application makes some common light rail vehicle design features unnecessary for streetcar application but may also require the use of other features that may or may not be incorporated into a typical light rail vehicle.

The Guideline includes an introduction and four chapters: Vehicle Configuration, Vehicle/Platform Interface, Vehicle/Track Interface and Power Supply. Recognizing that streetcar systems vary considerably in form and function, the document identifies and explains the underlying principles and interdependencies associated with each topic, and examines the trade-offs involved in various different design approaches. Throughout, emphasis is placed on the need to treat vehicles, infrastructure and operations as an integrated system.

Scope and purpose: The purpose of this Guideline is to facilitate the successful introduction of modern streetcar vehicles into North American systems by promoting understanding of the core technical and operational issues. From this understanding, agencies will be able to better navigate the process of specifying a vehicle and designing compatible infrastructure.

The document is intended to provide guidance to planners, transit agencies, local governments and others interested in developing new streetcar systems or enhancing existing streetcar systems using low-floor modern streetcar vehicles. High-floor vehicles and heritage streetcars fall outside the scope of this document, although many of the same technical and operating fundamentals also apply.