Light Rail Fits In

Lawn Track.


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Lawn track is an attractive feature which brings more 'greenery' into town.

With the trackage virtually invisible the effect can be almost as if one is flying over the grass!

Lawn track also helps to further reduce the already low level of noise made by the tramway.

Lawn tram track flanked by privet hedges. Tramline with grass growing around the tracks alongside a road.
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.
Lawn tram track flanked by a privet hedge and railings. Lawn tram track flanked by railings.
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.


Lawn tram track flanked by privet hedges, railings, a road and a narrow section of parkland.
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.

A section of urban street light rail / tram / streetcar private right of way with grass growing between the tracks. A lawn with the swept path of light rail / tram / streetcar track delineated by flowering plants.
Another view from Basle. Note how the lawn trackage only occupies part of the roadway. The building in the background is the German 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.
A tree-lined light rail / tram / streetcar private right of way with grass growing between the tracks. A section of urban street light rail / tram / streetcar private right of way with grass growing between the tracks.
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.
Light rail / tram / streetcar private right of way with grass growing between the tracks. A tree lined light rail / tram / streetcar private right of way alongside a linear park with grass growing between the tracks.
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).
Light rail / tram / streetcar private right of way with grass growing between the tracks. Light rail / tram / streetcar private right of way flanked by privet hedges with grass growing between the tracks.
EuskoTran in Bilbao, Spain.
Image & license: Leland / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:EuskoTran.jpg
Freiburg, Germany.
Image & license: CrazyD / Wikipedia encyclopædia. CC BY-SA 3.0
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Combino_VAG_auf_Rasengleis.jpg
This link leads to an image showing the same location without the tram - -
http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/Image:Freiburger_VAG_Rasengleis.JPG
Light rail / tram / streetcar private right of way with grass growing between the tracks. Light rail / tram / streetcar private right of way with grass growing between the tracks.
In France it is policy that wherever possible they should use lawn trackage,
here are examples from Strasbourg (left) and Lyon (right).
Light rail / tram / streetcar private right of way with grass growing between the tracks. Light rail / tram / streetcar private right of way with grass growing between the tracks.
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.

Light rail / tram / streetcar overhead wire supports. Light rail / tram / streetcar overhead wire supports.
Street lamps and overhead wire supports arranged on the same poles.
These images come from Melbourne, Australia, (left) and Grenoble, France, (right)
Light rail / tram / streetcar overhead wire supported from building walls. Close up of street based light rail / tram / streetcar overhead wires.
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.
Light rail / tram / streetcar overhead wire supported from RSJ girders. Light rail / tram / streetcar overhead wire supported from RSJ girders.
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.
Light rail / tram / streetcar overhead wire supported from circular poles. Light rail / tram / streetcar overhead wire supported from circular poles combined with street lighting too.
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.
Heavy rail style fully tensioned catenary in the street domain. Heavy rail style fully tensioned catenary tensioning unit.
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.
Showing how climbing plants can help reduce visual impact of overhead wire support columns. Light rail / tram / streetcar lawn track combined with overhead wire and street lighting supports covered in evergreen climbing plants.
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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