Decision-making for light rail

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

policy - congestion, place - europe, place - urban, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail


Urban areas, United States, Public sector, Netherlands, Mobility, Light rail transit, Implementation, Governments, Europe, Decision making, Congestion mitigation, Accessibility


In transport literature there is an ongoing discussion on the potential of light rail in mitigating congestion and supporting mobility around urban centres. Throughout Europe and the United States, many policy makers see light rail as an interesting option to improve the accessibility of urban centres. The Dutch national government wanted to support swift light rail realization in a number of promising situations. Several projects gained support from the national government for implementation. However, the decision-making on a local level was not nearly as swift as expected and not in line with the promise. This paper presents an analysis of that perceived slowdown and shows that the approach of the national government with a strict focus on light rail and a detachment from the local processes has played an important role in the slowdown. It shows that light rail can very well be a solid option. However, its successful implementation is not solely dependent on light rail suitability for the mobility patterns in the region, but very much on the approach of the implementation of those supporting the option.


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