Rationalities and materialities of light rail scapes

Document Type

Journal Article

Publication Date


Subject Area

mode - tram/light rail, place - europe, place - urban, land use - impacts, land use - planning, planning - service rationalisation


Light rail scapes, Urban development, Material mobilities, Mobility design, The new mobilities turn


Light rail is a modernisation of old tram systems and a popular tool in urban development strategies throughout many European cities. Light rails continue to be built despite often having poor socio-economic returns — other similar modes could provide the same transport function at a lower cost. Through a case study, this article explores the main vision and rationalities behind light rail projects in two mid-sized European cities — Bergen and Angers — and considers how this vision has materialised in various ‘light rail scapes’. The article argues that the city shapes the light rail project, but also that the light rail re-configures and shapes the urban structures, design and planning practices within the city based on its materiality and spatial interaction with it. This means that light rail projects need to be rethought as complex urban development projects instead of just simple ‘pieces of infrastructure’. Ultimately, this work seeks to shed light on a number of ideas for future light rail research and practice.


Permission to publish the abstract has been given by Elsevier, copyright remains with them.


Journal of Transport Geography home Page: