Long-Term Upgrade Strategy for Light Rail and Regional Rail Robust Methodological Approach

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

infrastructure - maintainance, infrastructure - station, infrastructure - track, mode - rail, mode - tram/light rail, operations - scheduling, place - europe, planning - service level, ridership - demand, ridership - modelling


Suburban light rail transit (LRT), regional rail systems, multimodal travel demand model, demographic change, infrastructure


Suburban light rail transit (LRT) and regional rail systems face similar challenges when it comes to upgrade perspectives. A particular planning process is required for upgrade measures apart from conventional alignment modifications. This study investigated the similarities between LRT and regional rail characteristics and developed a robust decision framework that linked demand modeling, timetable construction, and infrastructure design in an integrated approach. The study applied a three-stage planning process for a regional railway system in a midsized Austrian city. A multimodal travel demand model that included demographic changes over the next 2 decades was used. Travel demand was calculated with the current timetable and forecasted changes in regional planning. Within a sensitivity analysis, the impact of alternative timetables on modal shift was checked. A detailed analysis of these results was undertaken to optimize the best-ranked timetable model. Different infrastructure measures such as electrification, double-track sections, road grade crossings, station layout, and alignment changes were identified to match the optimal target timetable with fixed hub-to-hub travel times. Various stakeholders were involved in deciding the political objectives of modal shares, transit headways, and regional rail infrastructure. A well-defined planning process with fixed milestones led to a common agreement on a stepwise upgrade plan for the next 25 years. The proposed method can be applied to regional rail as well as LRT.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Transportation Research Board, Washington, copyright remains with them.