Guided Light Transit – GLT (Transport sur Voie Réservée - TVR) in Castelló, Spain
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Domain of application: Local

Status: Existing

Year: 2008

Stakeholders

  • Siemens AG
  • Bombardier

Links to relevant references

 


Concept

Guided buses are buses steered by external means, usually on a dedicated track or roll way that excludes other traffic, permitting the maintenance of schedules even during rush hours.

Guided Light Transit (GLT, French: Transport sur Voie Réservée or TVR) is a public transport system manufactured by Bombardier Transportation and used in the French cities of Nancy and Caen, and in the Spanish city of Castelló de la Plana. The Caen system is being abandoned and will revert to conventional light rail by 2018.

Both of the systems in these cities are referred to as "tramways on tyres", and in common with tram systems they use a surface guidance system and in normal operation are powered by electricity drawn from an overhead wire. However, while the vehicles are guided by a central guidance rail, they ride on rubber tyres, not on rails.

There has been disagreement about whether they should be called "trams", for that reason and also because they are capable of being steered and operating independently of the guidance rail, using auxiliary diesel engines. GLT is effectively a model of guided dual-mode bus, but when GLT vehicles use a pantograph to collect current, as do those in Caen, they are not commonly considered to be trolleybuses.

English transport publications generally refer to the GLT and the competing Translohr system as "rubber-tyred tramways", but rarely simply as "tramways", as they are not tramways in the conventional sense, but neither are they buses when pantograph-equipped and operating in service as designed (i.e. in electric mode).

GLT is one of the few models (together with the Innovia APM) of rubber-tyred vehicles produced by Bombardier’s transport division, which is otherwise focused on rail transport.

In 2008 a small experimental Trolleybus Rapid Transit system using (initially) three 12m rigid optically guided Cristalis vehicles opened in Castelló de la Plana which is the capital city of the province of Castelló, in the Valencian Community, Spain. This is located to the east of the Iberian Peninsula, on the Costa del Azahar by the Mediterranean Sea. The system has been extended since then into a commercial public transportation system for the city of Castelló.

Although mostly operating as trolleybuses there will be some unwired sections where the buses will operate away from the busway and in diesel-electric mode. The TVR is a trolleybus, which combines electric alimentation with a diesel motor. This guarantees a higher flexibility than a ordinary tramway. This flexibility and the lower construction and implementation cost were considered to be a solution to the public transport need in Castelló. This medium-sized city (150.000 inhabitants) is located in a region which is in process of becoming a metropolis of more than 300.000 inhabitants.

Project of Castelló Guided Light Transit. Source: Citymobil Project webpage

 


Implementation

Castelló is the first Spanish city where the TVR (Transport on reserved platform) has been introduced. The first part of two kilometers includes a stop at the intermodal station of Castelló, where it connects to buses and railway. The so-called TRAM - line 1 has a reserved platform, optic guiding and guarantees a high level of security. The model is accessible for wheelchairs because the motors are inside the wheels. The EV bus is guided by a cam placed on the top of the windshield which "reads" the painted lines on its assigned platform. There's a driver that can override the system in case of failure.

Moreover, it has traffic-light priority at all road crossings. The second and the third part of the line 1 of the TRAM will cross the city center and connect it with the harbour and the city of Benicàssim. It is planned that these two parts will enter into service by the middle of 2010. A future network will be created with the construction of line 2 to the city of Vila-real and with branches to two more cities located in the region.

Castelló Guided Light Transit. Source: Better Transport Webpage

The TRAM runs at a frequency of one service every 8 minutes and 6 minutes during rush hour. This frequency represents a very important change in the public transport offer of Castelló. Before the introduction of the TRAM, the bus lines run only every 30 minutes. Given that the University Jaume I is the main mobility source, the demand reaches 3.200 passengers during the week, while it drops to 1000 at week-ends. The ticket can be bought on board through a magnetic card, Mobilis, which helps to reduce cancellation time.

The initiation of the TRAM has not only helped to improve public transport, but has also changed the conception of transport planning in the region of Valencia. The system has contributed to promoting more sustainable transport modes.

The creation of a big boulevard for pedestrians between the university and the city center and the intermodal station, make walking a viable possibility. It is intended to use the optical guidance system throughout the busway section of the route - and not just for docking at bus stops. Depending on the outcome of these trials, similar BRT systems will be installed in several other communities in the Valencia Region.

 


Costs

The idea behind this new BRT system is to create what is being called a 'new culture for transport'. Original plans (previous to crisis) were to provide for 90km of lines and €600 million network. The initial line entered in service in 2008, is 2.1km in length, and is being treated as an experimental system, after which further decisions will be made.

 

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