• today's lightrail

  • General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.
General discussion about fallen trolley and interurban lines in North America, past and present.

Moderator: Aa3rt

  by rail10
Does today's lightrail corresponds to the earlier interurbans?
  by Warren Thompson
rail10 wrote:Does today's lightrail corresponds to the earlier interurbans?
Contemporary light rail "corresponds" more properly to yesterday's streetcars.

Interurbans ran between cities -- sometimes on routes over a hundred miles in length -- carried freight and express, and often had heavyweight equipment. A good many also had freight interchanges with railroads.
  by wigwagfan
rail10 wrote:Does today's lightrail corresponds to the earlier interurbans?
In Portland, I would say that MAX has some characteristics of a trolley and some of an interurban (as it does connect multiple cities - Gresham, Portland, Beaverton, Hillsboro) and station distances can be up to three miles apart (Washington Park to Sunset TC); while in Hillsboro and in downtown Portland it functions more of a trolley - street running, closely spaced stops (as close as two blocks apart). However the entire MAX Blue Line is 33 miles long.

The Portland Streetcar, which is a form of light rail but is distinct from the MAX system, is definitely a trolley. The Streetcar has no ability to couple multiple cars together, while MAX is simply limited in its ability by the station platform lengths (dictated by downtown Portland blockface lengths).

  by walt
Today's Light Rail "Systems" are probably more like the old Interurbans than they are like the typical city streetcar lines. Most Light Rail Lines have some PRW, operate somewhat faster than the old streetcar lines did, and, has been mentioned, often use train operation, as opposed to the single units operated by most of the old city streetcar systems. Of course there are exceptions to everything, the suburban SEPTA Routes 101 & 102, ( the former Red Arrow rail lines) are considered Light Rail Lines, especially in light of their present Kawasaki equipment, but generally operate single unit "trains" ( with some two car rush hour trains) and the city versions of the Kawasaki's, used on the Subway Surface Lines are considered LRV's, though the lines over which they operate are nothing more than the last remaining city streetcar lines ( along with the all surface Route 15)in the city.

Where these lines differ from the old Interurbans is in their terminal points, with most connecting points in the same Metropolitan Area, rather than two towns or cities at least ten miles apart. Thus, Baltimore's Central Light Rail Line could be characterized as an interurban, except for the fact that most of its run is in Baltimore City, even though its southern end ( between Camden Yards and its Cromwell Station- Glen Burnie terminus) uses the ROW of an old interurban, the Baltimore & Annapolis Electric Railroad.
Many of the old interurbans, particularly in the mid-west connected places as much as 200 miles apart ( Ohio's old Cincinnati & Lake Erie RR connected Cincinnati with Dayton, Springfield, Columbus and Toledo--- and for a brief period circa 1932, ran service all the way to Detroit), and some of the "better" properties rivaled the Steam Railroads in providing such services as dining cars, porters, and in some cases, even sleepers. Light Rail Lines are, as has been indicated, generally confined to a single Metropolitan Area and do not provide any form of luxury services.

  by jtbell
There's one light-rail line that qualifies as a "modern interurban" from the operational point of view: the RiverLINE that connects Camden and Trenton NJ. It connects two cities, and the smaller towns in between, on a half-hourly schedule which is similar to many old interurban lines. The only problem is that it's diesel, or rather diesel-electric, rather than pure electric. However, I understand that the trains' manufacturer (Stadler) makes pure electric versions of the trains which are used in Europe.