Rail – urban, suburban and regional

Authored by: Simon Blainey , John Preston

The Routledge Handbook of Public Transport

Print publication date:  May  2021
Online publication date:  May  2021

Print ISBN: 9780367418724
eBook ISBN: 9780367816698
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter provides an overview of the characteristics, history, implementation and operation of ‘conventional’ rail systems, focusing particularly on urban, suburban and regional heavy and light rail systems and variants thereof. It begins by discussing how different types of rail system are defined and differentiated and provides a historical overview of the development of urban rail systems. It then goes on to consider the issues involved in planning, implementing and operating such systems, reviewing the range of decisions that need to be taken. Several exemplars of best practice in urban rail provision are briefly described, and current and future challenges facing urban rail systems are discussed, along with the potential for future innovation in the area.

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