Lawn track does not have to actually use grass! Seedum plants are sometimes advocated as representing a better choice, as these are available in a range of colours, need less depth of growing medium, need less mowing and are more tolerant of variable moisture levels. Seedum also helps trap airbourne particulate matter which when it rains (or they have been watered) will be washed into the growing medium.
Clover is another alternative choice; its benefits include a deeper richer green colour and enhanced absorption of air pollutants such as COx and nitrogen.
|The green way to travel...
lawn trackage flanked by privet hedges on route 8 in Basle, Switzerland (left)
and alongside a roadway on route 39 in Brussels, Belgium (right).
Those people who know that such a visually attractive track formation is possible very much regret that a similar feature is not found on tramways here in Britain.
These pictures come from some parkland near the Europahalle stop in Karlsruhe, (south west Germany) and show a contrast between railings and privet hedges. The hedges have been here for many years, whilst the railings are a more recent innovation, protecting a section of line which previously had been totally unprotected.
Both types of barrier have their advantages - the hedges may be more attractive visually, whilst the fencing is maintenance free. Perhaps though green coloured fencing would have blended in better with the surroundings.
This picture shows how it is possible to extend an attractive linear 'Parkland Walkway' by
extending the lawned area over the trackage.
Almost hidden in the shade someone can be seen sitting on a park bench.
The building just visible in the distance is the main Railway station for Swiss
and (beyond passport control) French trains. Basle is on the border of three nations.
The above view comes from right in the heart of the Swiss city of Basle. Note the park-type benches which on a sunny day provides a pleasant place to sit (almost in shadow, right). The low privet hedge is designed to encourage pedestrians to keep away from the tracks whilst also blending unobtrusively into the local scene.
|Another view from Basle. Note how the lawn trackage only occupies part of the roadway. The building in the background is the German (DB) railway station, passengers using it must pass through passport control to get to / from the platforms.||Zwickau, (south eastern) Germany, an alternative variant to lawn track sees the growing of low-level flowering plants around the tracks - in this instance the visual difference compared to the green of the turf helps delineate the swept path of the tramway.|
|Turin, Italy, a dual-carriageway median with the trees on the inside of the tracks.||Ostend, Belgium. Lawn trackage on the coastal inter-urban tramway.|
|These views come from Amsterdam, Holland.
Left: Here the trackage is located down the median strip of a dual carriageway.
There is only one track because it is part of a large terminal loop around a housing area on the city's outskirts.
Right: A wide 'green space' flanked by local roads with tracks on the intermediate borders (between the roadway and a tree-lined footpath).
|EuskoTran in Bilbao, Spain.
Image & license: Leland / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
|Freiburg Im Breisgau, Germany.
Image & license: CrazyD / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
This link leads to an image showing the same location without the tram - -
|In France it is policy that wherever possible they should use lawn trackage,
here are examples from Strasbourg (left) and Lyon (right).
These two examples come from the French city of Bordeaux. The upright plants seen in these images are vines.
"Greening" Overhead Wire Supports
Sometimes people comment that overhead wiring and its support poles can be visually intrusive.
A solution which is much favoured in many areas is to hang these wires from rosettes attached to buildings or street lighting poles, but for locations where this is not possible so another option would be to mask the poles by growing climbing evergreen plants over and trees around them.
|Street lamps and overhead wire supports arranged on the same poles.
These images come from Melbourne, Australia, (left) and Grenoble, France, (right)
|Sheffield, England, some street sections of the Supertram feature overhead wiring supported invisibly from rosettes attached to building walls.||In an attempt to reduce the visual aspect of the overhead power supply wires (a different issue to that of support poles) and meet the requirements for the contact wires to carry enough power for the trams to operate reliably some systems will use two very closely spaced overhead wires - perhaps with extra feeder wiring located out of sight (ie: underground). This example comes from Croydon.|
|When the Croydon, England Tramlink system was built there was much negative comment because the people who built the system mostly used these H-section RSJ support poles which might be functional and the cheapest option
but are visually unattractive and makes a poor contrast with some of the other systems seen on this page. Wall rosettes and circular support poles are used in just a small part of Croydon town centre. In some cases the RSJ's are also used
to support lighting - albeit also not of the most visually attractive design. The inset in the image on the left shows a close-up of the RSJ pole.
RSJ stands for 'rolled steel joist'. In some countries they are also known as I-beams, H-beams, W-beams (for "wide flange") or double-T.
|As these images taken in Wolverhampton on the Midland Metro show, even here in Britain it is possible to use the less visually intrusive multi-segmentated circular poles as standard, paint them in a visually distinctive way which is still pleasing to the eye and locate street lighting on the same pole too. However to prevent the contractors installing the tramway from copying Croydon's RSJ's it may be advisible to specify these features in the design brief. Note the red finials on poles which do not also support lighting.|
|However, as these images from Stuttgart, Germany, demonstrate there is more to the visual aspect than simply the shape of the poles. So, whilst Stuttgart uses the more visually attractive circular support poles of the type
that people would have prefered in Croydon, it also uses fully tensionsed 'mainline railway' style overhead wiring! These images date to spring 2008 and show a location where light rail services had only recently been re-opened after major
modernisation works. Although they were taken in Stuttgart similar could be shown from other locations elsewhere around Germany, Holland, Belgium, etc...
The two red crosses in the image on the left identify the support poles (one of which is partially hidden behind the trees) with the equipment which keeps the overhead wire at the correct tension. Note how the weights hang low enough to be reached by the man with the red shirt. Of course everything is both electrically and mechanically 'safe' - its just that for a section of street tramway - where the transports travel relatively slowly - this type of overhead wiring could be said to be somewhat 'over the top'.
The image on the right shows a side elevation of one of the tensioning units. Mainline railways use these too, typically every few miles / km. At this location there are four (4) of these tensioning units - two have been identified in the other photograph on the left and there are two more out of sight behind the photographer.
|Kassel, (central) Germany, for locations where there is no alternative to visible poles another solution would be to mask the poles by growing climbing
evergreen plants over and trees around them.
In this location the street lighting is also hung from the support poles, with the actual lamps being centrally located above the roadways.
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