Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Regional rail systems, or commuter rail systems, usually provide a rail service through a central business district area into suburbs or other locations that draw large numbers of people on a daily basis. The trains providing such services may be termed commuter trains. The development of commuter rail services has become popular today, with the increased public awareness of congestion, dependence on fossil fuels, and other environmental issues, as well as rising automobile costs.
Commuter trains are usually optimized for maximum passenger volume, in most cases without sacrificing too much comfort and luggage space, though they seldom have all the amenities of long-distance trains. The general range of commuter trains varies between 15 to 180 km (9 and 111 miles), with operating speeds from 55 - 175 km/h (30 to 110 mph). Passenger coaches are either single- or double-level cars, with a capacity of between 80 and 110 passengers for single-level cars and 145 - 170 for double-level cars.
- being larger;
- having (in most cases) a lower frequency of service;
- having scheduled services (i.e. trains run at specific hours rather than at specific intervals); and
- serving lower-density areas, typically by connecting suburbs to the city centre.
- sharing track and/or right-of-way with intercity and/or freight trains
Their ability to coexist with freight or intercity services in the same right-of-way can drastically reduce system construction costs. However, frequently they are built with dedicated tracks within that right-of-way to prevent delays.
Generally such trains run on the local standard gauge track, e.g. 1435 mm (4 ft 8 ½ in). Some broader gauges include 1520/1524 mm (Russia and countries of the former Russian Empire), 1600 mm (Ireland, Brazil, and parts of Australia), 1668 mm (Spain and Portugal), 1676 mm (Pakistan, India, and Argentina). Light rail systems may run on a narrower gauge. Narrow gauge trains generally run on either 1067 mm (3 ft 6 in) track or on the metre gauge (39.37 inches). Examples of narrow gauge systems are found in Japan, Switzerland and India, and in the Brisbane (CityTrain) and Perth systems in Australia. Ireland uses what is usually standard gauge, 1435 mm (4 ft 8½ in), as a "narrow gauge" for its Luas tram system.
In some cases, hybrids between a train and a metro have been created. They run underground in the dense city centres and on ordinary outdoor tracks in lower-density areas. Examples include the Madrid Cercanías network, in Dublin the Dublin Area Rapid Transit, the Paris RER, lines 6-8 of the Barcelona Metro, the S-Bahn systems of Berlin, Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, Stuttgart, and Zürich, the rail systems of Sydney (CityRail) and Melbourne, and the suburban railway (HÉV) in Budapest. In Hong Kong, the East Rail provides a metro-like service in terms of capacity of its cars (over 300 each), more standees and few seats, and high frequencies, except sharing some of its track with inter-city service.
In some European countries the distinction between commuter trains and long-distance / intercity trains is very hard to make, because of the relatively short distances involved. For example, so called "intercity" trains in Belgium and the Netherlands carry many commuters and their equipment, range and speeds are similar to those of commuter trains in some larger countries.
In the United States and Canada, regional passenger rail service is performed by commuter railroads, which are usually governmental or quasi-governmental agencies.
Commonly they are based on diesel multiple units (DMUs), which are self-propelled, bidirectional, articulated passenger rail cars with diesel engines, electric generators and electric motors located below the passenger compartment (strictly speaking, these are diesel-electric multiple units, or DEMUs). In some areas with electrified rail, electric multiple units (EMUs) are used. Electric and diesel-powered multiple units are almost invariably equipped with control cabs at both ends, which is why such units are so frequently used to provide commuter services, due to the associated short turn-around time.
Locomotive hauled services are used in some countries or locations. This is often a case of asset sweating , by using a single large combined fleet for intercity and regional services. Loco hauled services are usually run in push-pull formation, that is, the train can run with the locomotive at the "front" or "rear" of the train (pushing or pulling). Trains are often equipped with a "driving van trailer" (DVT), a control cab at the other end of the train from the locomotive, allowing the train driver to operate the train from either end. The motive power for locomotive-hauled commuter trains may be either electric or diesel-electric, although some countries, such as Germany and some of the former Soviet-bloc countries, also use diesel-hydraulic locomotives.
- Commuter railroads (U.S. and Canada)
- List of suburban and commuter rail systems
- Rail terminology
- Public transport
- March 11, 2004 Madrid attacks
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