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Initial Purpose

Question:

Discuss about the Evaluating LRT and BRT Options.

Canberra is the capital and one of the biggest cities in Australia. Due to the extreme rush of the passengers during the peak office hours, the traffic gets extremely congested and the movement becomes slow considerably. In order to solve this situation, the government has proposed to develop a light rail system that will be able to reduce the load of passengers using other transportation modes (Birdsall 2016). However, for the implementation purpose, the project must go through a large number of phases spanning over 20 years of design, development and hard work of all involved personnel. According to the proposed plan, the light rail system will be able to reduce vehicular traffic by 30% in the first five years of operation.

In this report, the detailed plan and the design aspects of the project have been critically analysed and discussed.

In this project, a new light rail system will be developed for Canberra where it is expected to lighten the excessive load of passengers in other transports mainly during the rush office hours. The preliminary design features of the light rail system will be as follows.

Initial Purpose – The initial purpose to be fulfilled through this project is to reduce the heavy traffic from other transport vehicles like cars and buses during the rush hours. Hence, the route must be placed such that it passes through the main arterial zones within the commercial sector as well as some of the important residential zones so that the commuters can easily reach their destinations from their living places during the office hours (Ney and Gray 2014). Hence, the initial purpose of the project is to design the route through the most populated and the important commercial areas between which, the daily numbers of commuters reach the peak during office hours.

Route Type and Rail Cars – The proposed route type is normal electrified route i.e. the tracks will be normal broad gauge rail with overhead wires that will supply power to the railcars through a pantograph. The route will be placed throughout the middle of the roadway with specific station chambers after every 500 metres where the passengers will be allowed to board or leave the rail cars (Hensher 2016). As per the proposed plan, each light rail vehicle will have 3 rail cars having maximum capacity of 40 people and hence, one vehicle will be able to transport 120 people at a time. The last car of the vehicle will have a pantograph that will be directly attached with the overhead supply wire.

Route Type and Rail Cars

Service and Tickets – As per the new proposed plan, during rush hours, the frequency of the rail cars will be between 2 to 3 minutes and during lean hours and holidays, it will be 10 to 15 minutes. The high frequency of services will ensure clearance of 120 per 2 minutes i.e. 3600 passengers per hour. This will significantly reduce the load of passengers on other vehicles. In order to bear the costs of the services, a ticketing system will be applied where the passengers will have to pay a certain amount of money for the distance they will travel in the train. The passengers will be able to buy tickets on spot from the station chambers or they can buy the OPEL cards that they can recharge every month (Ho, Hensher and Mulley 2015). When the card holders will board and leave the train, they will just need to swipe the card through an electronic box inside the train and the travel value will be automatically deducted from his account. The proposed fares start from AU$ 1 for every 1 Km of travel although this will be subject to change based on market inflation and other factors.

Power Supply – In order to prevent environment pollution as well as save costs of fossil fuels, the proposed power supply is electricity that will be transferred from the overhead wires to the rail cars through the pantograph. Although the initial installation costs will be extremely high, the operational and maintenance costs will be extremely low compared to other power supplies. However, plans have also been made to utilize solar energy in the future in order save further electric power costs.

The detailed design and development features of the new proposed light rail system are as follows.

Route Design – As per the proposed plan, the entire route of the light rail will be designed such that it passes through all the busiest sectors of the city. The two terminal points of the route will be Central Canberra and Gungahlin and the entire route will be 12 km long. The main focus for the route design is that the route will pass through all the important commercial and educational sectors as well as the main points of other transport terminals like bus depot, railway stations, ferry ghats and airport (Downs, Cassels and Ericksen 2014). The main reason behind this is that the objective of the project is to transport passengers such that when they get off the light rail, they can easily reach their work places or other modes of transport. Hence, the light rail will be connected with every possible transit points as well as commercial houses.

Service and Tickets

Infrastructure Design – On the light rail route, each of the light rail vehicle will contain 3 coaches or rail cars connected together. There are many large companies like Mitsubishi Corp, Aberdeen Infrastructure Investments, John Holland and DB International among others that are trying the get contract for building the rail cars. According to the proposed features of the rail cars, each rail car coach will have capacity for maximum 40 people (25 sitting and 15 standing) and hence, 120 in total for one vehicle. Air conditioning system will be available inside each car and the seats will be such that they provide maximum comfort to the passengers. For the standing passengers, support rods will also be included (Burke, Currie and Delbosc 2014). Each railcar will be driven by electricity and from third coach of each rail car, a pantograph will connect to the overhead wire from which, it will provide electric power to the entire vehicle. It has also been proposed that in the near future, solar panels will be added on the roof tops of each light rail vehicle.


Depots and Power Supply – Currently, two depots have been proposed at the two terminals of the route where the rail cars can be repaired or serviced. Moreover, the depots will also allow the rail cars to turn around for a reverse trip. For the power supply, two substations have been proposed to be built at the two terminals from where; the power will be supplied to the overhead wires. However, further expansion of route and addition of more depots have also been proposed.

Development Plan – The development is based on the construction of the light rail route and running of the railcars on the route. For that purpose, the route will first be designed using maps and estimations. After that, repeated survey of the entire route area will be needed to be done in order to check for the soil quality and the terrain. Since Canberra is mainly a rugged terrain, laying of the rail tracks will be a difficult task. Finally, excavation process will be carried out for the entire 12 Km route. During this time, the convenience of the traffic through this roads will be compromised and severe traffic jams in the rush hours are expected during the excavation of the route (Mulley, Tsai and Ma 2015). After the excavation is done, the rails will be laid and the depots will be built along with the stations each 500 metres apart. After that, the overhead line posts will be placed and the overhead wires will be connected. The entire project will be completed in three phases, each of the phases being 6 years long as per estimations.

Power Supply

System test follows the construction process and in this phase, a number of tests need to be conducted in order to ensure the route is ready to be operational. The system tests will include the following aspects.

Rail Test – First, the rails will be tested for weight and longevity i.e. it will be tested to see whether it will be able to support the weight of the light rail cars at a continuous basis for a long amount of time. Moreover, it will also be tested to see whether the land below the rails is not eroded off while the rail is under operation.

Power Supply Test – In this test, it will be seen whether the power supply is sufficient through the overhead wires or not. Moreover, it will also be tested to ensure sufficient insulations are provided at each support pole throughout the entire route.


Vehicles Test – The final test will be conducted on the vehicles that will be used as the rail cars. The tests will be conducted to ensure there are no internal faults, the bodies of the cars are strong and the entire car has very high longevity.

The evaluation process follows directly from the system testing process. The entire evaluation process should be based on a set of certain standards that should be pre-set before the initiation of the project. These standards help to maintain a certain quality of the project.

The system testing and evaluation plans are shown in the following Gantt Chart as well as the work breakdown structure.

The validation can only be done only if the evaluation results are positive. The tests will be conducted in order to ensure the project has successfully met the quality standards and all the deliverables are reached. The evaluation process will be done in order to ensure all the tests are done and all the test results are positive. Finally, the validation process will done to sign off the entire project and green signal will be given to progress further in the operational field.

Optimization processes are generally done in order to further enhance the quality of the project. In this particular project, there are two optimization plans. These are as follows.

Utilization of Solar Energy – It has been proposed that in the near future, solar energy will be utilized in order to reduce the power supply costs of the light rail system. For this purpose, solar panels will be installed on the roof tops of the rail cars and will be connected to the main circuit.

Detailed Design and Development Features

New Substations and Terminal Depots – In order to improve the power supply to the overhead wires, new substations will be further added at two different points of the route. Moreover, in order to accommodate more numbers of cars, two new depots will be further built.

Conclusion

In this report, the detailed plan and the design aspects of the project have been critically analysed and discussed. As per the project details, a new light rail system will be developed for Canberra where it is expected to lighten the excessive load of passengers in other transports mainly during the rush office hours. As per the proposed plan, the entire route of the light rail will be designed such that it passes through all the busiest sectors of the city. The two terminal points of the route will be Central Canberra and Gungahlin and the entire route will be 12 km long. The initial purpose to be fulfilled through this project is to reduce the heavy traffic from other transport vehicles like cars and buses during the rush hours. Hence, the route must be placed such that it passes through the main arterial zones within the commercial sector as well as some of the important residential zones so that the commuters can easily reach their destinations from their living places during the office hours. The main focus for the route design is that the route will pass through all the important commercial and educational sectors as well as the main points of other transport terminals like bus depot, railway stations, ferry ghats and airport.

References

Birdsall, M., 2015. From Metro and Light Rail to Trains and Trams: Exploring Sydney, Australia's Expansive Public Transit Initiatives. Institute of Transportation Engineers. ITE Journal, 85(11), p.31.

Birdsall, M., 2015. From Rapid Transit and Light Rail to Trains and Trams: Exploring Sydney, Australia's Expansive Public Transit Initiatives: PART TWO: SYDNEY'S LIGHT RAIL EXPANSION. Institute of Transportation Engineers. ITE Journal, 85(12), p.28.

Burke, M., Currie, G. and Delbosc, A., 2014. Performance of Australian Light Rail and Comparison with US Trends. Transportation Research Record: Journal of the Transportation Research Board, (2419), pp.11-22.

Capital Metro Agency. (2014). 1st ed. [pdf] Canberra: Capital Metro Full Business Case, pp.12-35. Available at: https://www.tccs.act.gov.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/887680/Light-rail-Capital-Metro-Business-Case-In-Full.pdf [Accessed 21 Aug. 2016].

Catthoor, F., Wuytack, S., de Greef, G.E., Banica, F., Nachtergaele, L. and Vandecappelle, A., 2013. Custom memory management methodology: Exploration of memory organisation for embedded multimedia system design. Springer Science & Business Media.

Chandler, B., 2015. Australia award for urban design presentations in Melbourne. Planning News, 41(9), p.6.

Currie, G. and Burke, M., 2013, October. Light rail in Australia–performance and prospects. In Australasian Transport Research Forum, Brisbane, Australia.

Downs, C., Cassels, B. and Ericksen, J., 2014. Case study of rail design on Gold Coast Light Rail. CORE 2014: Rail Transport For A Vital Economy, p.76.

Hensher, D., Mulley, C. and Rose, J., 2016. Preferences for BRT and light rail. Restructuring Public Transport Through Bus Rapid Transit: An International and Interdisciplinary Perspective, p.209.

Hensher, D.A., 2016. Why is Light Rail Starting to Dominate Bus Rapid Transit Yet Again?. Transport Reviews, 36(3), pp.289-292.

Ho, C., Hensher, D.A. and Mulley, C., 2015. Identifying resident preferences for bus-based and rail-based investments as a complementary buy in perspective to inform project planning prioritisation. Journal of Transport Geography, 46, pp.1-9.

Martin, S., 2014. Moving beyond cost: Evaluating LRT and BRT options for Australian and New Zealand cities. CORE 2014: Rail Transport For A Vital Economy, p.178.

Miller, N., 2014. The impact of a new light rail network upon walkability in a central business district.

Mulley, C., Tsai, C.H.P. and Ma, L., 2015, September. Does residential property price benefit from light rail in Sydney?. In Australasian Transport Research Forum (ATRF), 37th, 2015, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.

Mysydney.nsw.gov.au. (2012). Sydney’s Light Rail Future: Expanding public transport, revitalising our city. [online] Available at: https://mysydney.nsw.gov.au/sites/default/files/user-files/uploads/light-rail-future-web.pdf [Accessed 20 Aug. 2016].

Ney, S.M. and Gray, D., 2014. Western Sydney Light Rail-connecting the people of Western Sydney to the future. CORE 2014: Rail Transport For A Vital Economy, p.111.

Olesen, M. and Lassen, C., 2016. Rationalities and materialities of light rail scapes. Journal of Transport Geography.

Peter, N., Jeffrey, K. and Garry, G., 2013. Peak car use and the rise of global rail: why this is happening and what it means for large and small cities. Journal of Transportation Technologies, 2013.

Rumbaugh, D.M. ed., 2014. Language learning by a chimpanzee: The Lana project. Academic Press.

Vareilles, E., Coudert, T., Aldanondo, M., Geneste, L. and Abeille, J., 2015. System design and project planning: Model and rules to manage their interactions. Integrated Computer-Aided Engineering, 22(4), pp.327-342.

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