The National Academies

TCRP D-14 [Completed]

Track Design Handbook For Light Rail Transit, Second Edition

  Project Data
Funds: $300,000
Research Agency: PB Americas, Inc.
Principal Investigator: Lawrence Lovejoy
Effective Date: 9/24/2009
Completion Date: 11/30/2011

TCRP Report 57: Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit provides guidelines and descriptions for the design of various types of light rail transit track. The track structure types covered include ballasted, direct fixation (“ballastless”), and embedded track. In addition, the components of the various track types are discussed in detail. The guidelines address the characteristics and interfaces of vehicle wheels and rail, track and wheel gauges, rail sections, alignments, speeds, track supporting structure, and track moduli. The handbook includes chapters on vehicles, alignment, track structures, track components, special trackwork, aerial structure/bridges, corrosion control, noise and vibration, signals, and traction power. These chapters provide insight into considerations that affect track design and require interface coordination. Since its original publication in 2000, this handbook has been used extensively in the design of light rail transit track systems and is now being used as a reference for light rail track design standards being jointly developed by AREMA and APTA. However, there is a need for portions of the handbook to be updated before the material can be used in the further development of guidelines or standards. Information on several additional subjects not fully covered in the original handbook (e.g., stray current, noise and vibration, restraining rail issues, ride quality standards, and construction tolerances) also need to be addressed in more detail in an updated version. Research is needed to provide an update of TCRP Report 57. A Second Edition of the Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit, together with jointly developed AREMA/APTA track design standards and recommended practices, will assist in minimizing capital and maintenance costs associated with building new light rail systems; procuring light rail vehicles; and undertaking track improvements to existing systems to increase operating speeds, enhance service, and expand ridership.
The objective of this research is to update TCRP Report 57: Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit for use by practitioners and for potential use as an input in the development of AREMA/APTA light rail track design guidelines or standards. The handbook recommendations should be specific, applicable, and practical. This research will review each section of TCRP Report 57, identify those sections that are in need of revision, identify additional sections needed (such as safety and environmental considerations), and prepare and execute research plans necessary to update each section. Sections, as used herein, mean specific topics and not necessarily entire chapters of the existing handbook. The research will also identify sections that need to be added and provide the necessary material for those sections. Finally, information will be provided for use by track designers to weigh the cost-effectiveness, maintenance requirements, and constructability tradeoffs of the various types of track.
 Phase I
(1). Critically review TCRP Report 57 to identify all topics that are in need of updating and new topics that should be added. (2). Collect and review information pertaining to the design and construction of light rail transit track in response to Task 1 findings. This information will be collected not only from published literature, but also from unpublished reports available from transit properties, research agencies, and other sources. It should include completed research as well as research currently underway.   Visits to transit agencies in the United States, Canada, and other countries should be considered to validate and supplement collected information. (3). Summarize the information gathered in Tasks 1 and 2 and evaluate each topic in terms of its potential impact on operating safety, track/vehicle interaction, constructability, maintainability, the environment, human factors, and lifecycle cost. Prepare a prioritized list of the topic areas to be addressed in the update of TCRP Report 57. For each topic area, describe the level of effort required for the update.  Identify those topics that cannot be covered based on the currently available project budget, if any. (4). Based on the results of Tasks 1 through 3, develop a detailed outline for an updated handbook. (5). Prepare an interim report that (a) documents the research performed in Tasks 1 through 4 and (b) proposes an updated work plan for Phase II of the project, describing rationale, methods, schedule, budget, and other details. (6).  Submit a revised Phase II work plan based on the panel feedback at the interim meeting.
Phase II
 (7). Execute the approved Phase II work plan to conduct necessary support analyses and develop an updated handbook for the design of light rail transit track. The handbook shall provide necessary details, including illustrations, formulas, and typical layouts. The handbook shall be prepared as a stand-alone document, in a format that allows for easy use by transit agencies, consultants, contractors, and manufacturers. (8).Prepare a final report that documents the entire research effort and includes the Track Design Handbook for Light Rail Transit, Second Edition as a stand-alone document suitable for publication.

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