Light Rail Systems

A while back I covered the DART, Dallas Area Rapit Transit System, and today I decided to dig up some information on light rail outside of the US.  Of course, there is some development of light rail in other areas of the world, specifically there is a lot.

Since 1980 England has spent at least £2.3 billion ($3.8) on light rail.  The Government has contributed about £1 billion ($1.65).  There are multiple systems; Tyne and Wear Metro (80-84), Docklands Light Railway (87), Manchester Metrolink (92), Sheffield Supertram (94-95), Midland Metro (99), Croydon Tramlink (00), and more I’m sure.  There are also numerous systems that have failed to start construction, and in general, failed to even really get their planning straight.  It brings up memories of numerous systems in the US that have sputtered along.

Manchester Metrolink

One of the multiple light rail systems England has is the Metrolink in Manchester.  The first thing I noticed when I visited the site ( was in the news section the fare evasion fine is £100!  I did a quick calculation for US currency and that equates to $165.37!  Imagine if TriMet did that, wow there would be open revolt!  hahaa.  I’d however support it 100%.  🙂

Currently there are several extensions underway and some that have been proposed.  One of those extensions is currently bound for the Manchester Airport.  This extension will set the overall line mileage at 70 miles with 115 stops.  The current system is 23 miles with 37 stops.

Quick Facts

Daily ridership on the line is 52,000.  Operations began in 1992, the 6th of April.  Stagecoach Group provides operations, GMPTE provided planning, and AnsaldoBreda provided construction of the line.  Top speed of 50mph, track is standard gauge, and line currently is 23 miles long.

Some of the other extensions look toward private sector, as much if not more than we do here in the US.  I’m going to follow up this entry with more about the ridership & other information related to various systems with a bit of focus on TriMet & Sound Transit’s Systems that are about to open or already open.



  1. Just an interesting note about the fare evasion fine in England–that’s not the highest I’ve seen. Here in Los Angeles, it’s $250! I was surprised when I learned how low the fines were in Portland–perhaps that’s why they have more problems with it…?


  2. That’s a really good point. I’m sure that is part of it, but at the same time I’m sure it has a lot of do with meager enforcement and a very laid back attitude in Portland among riders.

    However when it comes to fines for driving above the speed limit, etc here in Portland & Oregon in general the fines are 2x as high as most states I’ve seen.

    As always, Portland has a lot of anti-car mentality but doesn’t mind too much if you break a rule to ride on transit. 🙂


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