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Tramways & light rail


Constructions for tramways can be divided into three main categories:

  • Open lane constructions:
    These tramlane constructions are only used in longitudinal direction by rail traffic and not by any other kind of traffic.
  • Closed lane constructions:
    are not only used in longitudinal direction by rail traffic but also by all kind of road traffic.
  • Special lane constructions:
    are used by rail traffic and only in transverse direction by road traffic to cross over.

Advantages & limits

  • Open lane constructions: These are usually constructed with rail on sleepers on a ballast bed or rail fixed in concrete slabs. The open lane construction on sleepers can be used in areas with fewer slumps. The open lane construction on concrete slabs can only be used in areas without any slump. The initial costs for concrete slabs are higher then for the construction on sleepers, but the maintenance costs are lower.
  • The closed lane construction consists of a concrete slab with a paving construction. This paving can be executed with paving elements or a monolith construction. This choice determines to a large extent the aesthetics. When the tram lane is used by other (light) traffic, like taxis, a concrete monolith paving is preferred; for use by heavy traffic a concrete monolith paving is a must. This construction is very suitable in areas with no slump or less slump and have very limited maintenance costs.
  • Special lane construction can be divided into constructions for crossings and stops and in constructions for tunnels, bridges etc. For crossings and stops concrete slabs or elements can be used in open lane constructions. For bridges and tunnels embedded rail is one of the best options.


Defining the best solution for tramways construction is of course depending from various elements: local situation, preferences of public transport companies and of local/regional government and other factors.
Solutions in similar technical conditions can be different because the responsibilities of the involved parties regarding initial investments, maintenance and exploitation will be different.

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