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Technical Standards and Information

German VDV Recommendation 191 Collision Avoidance (Obstacles in Front)

Follow this link for an English version of the German recommendation for avoiding collisions with obstacles directly in front of a tram:

Off Wire/Alternative Power Supply

One of the fastest moving technical areas in streetcar system design relates to the desire to eliminate overhead wires in part or in whole on newly built streetcar lines. Motivation for removal of overhead wires can be for aesthetic reasons or to avoid conflict with wires or structures above streetcar tracks. The Subcommittee has been following these developments closely and members John Smatlak and John Swanson summarized developments in this document:

At the April 2019 Subcommittee meeting in Jersey City, Centum-Adetel presented their approaches to off wire or hybrid power supply:

Level Boarding Background Memo

An area of increasing interest and importance to those planning streetcar systems is that of easing access to modern streetcars for those with disabilities or special mobility needs. The subcommittee is working with the Community Streetcar Coalition and other industry groups to foster a conversation of the issues surrounding different approaches for level or near level boarding to meet the needs of these passengers. Follow this link to the latest draft of a memo summarizing the key issues:

Heritage Vehicle Standard

The APTA Heritage Trolley Subcommittee's first major project in the area of technical standards was to create standards for vehicles to be used on heritage trolley and streetcar lines.

The standard applies both to newly constructed cars and restored older cars which are to be operated on a heritage trolley line. The Task Force's document was formally released by APTA on June 20, 2005 then was reviewed and updated then re-released in April 2017. Follow this link below to the document:

This standard and the process the subcommittee's used to create the standard were reviewed in formal sessions at the APTA Rail Conference in Pittsburgh in June 2005. The following links lead to the Powerpoint presentation and a related paper used at the conference:

Modern Streetcar Guidelines for North America

The subcommittee after several years of work issued via APTA's Standards Development Program, a document to serve as a reference point and a guidline for those considering introducing modern streetcars in the United States or Canada. The goal is to promote understanding of the key technical and operational issues relating to this mode, including comparing environment and practices between North America and Europe. The document received CEO approval in February 2013. Follow this link to the document:

Track and Overhead Wire

The following presentation, given by Larry Lovejoy at the Subcommittee meeting in New Orleans in December 2008 is an excellent overview of track design guidelines for streetcar systems.

Follow this link for a presentation given by John Aurelius at the committee meeting in Seattle in January 2010 outlining the different types of overhead contact systems (OCS = overhead wire) used by heritage and modern streetcars.

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On May 6, 2010 members of the APTA Streetcar and Heritage Trolley Subcommittee participated in a forum organized by advocacy group D. C. Surface Transit addressing options for streetcar operation in Washington without overhead wire. Click below to see a copy of that presentation:

Technical Reference

During the heyday of first generation electric trolley systems in America, a comprehensive handbook covering virtually every technical aspect of street railways was compiled by Albert S. Richey, a professor at the Worcester (MA) Polytechnic Institute. This work has long been considered the touchstone reference document of the field and is highly relevant to present day heritage streetcar and modern streetcar lines. In 1989 the Association of Railway Museums republished the book as a reference for museums preserving street railway equipment. They subsequently converted the book to PDF format. Click on the below link to see this work but be prepared for a significant download time as the file is approximately 27 megabytes in size:

Presentations from Toronto Meeting - June 2019

The following presentations were presented to the subcommittee during its meeting in Toronto:

Presentations from Tucson Meeting - February 2019

The following presentations were presented to the subcommittee during its meeting in Tucson:

Presentations from Tampa Meeting - December 2007

The following presentations were presented to the subcommittee during its meeting in Tampa:


Bike Interactions with Streetcars

In the past few years, Portland's cycling use has soared at the same time as streetcars are gaining favor as urban transit solutions. In theory, everyone agrees that bicycles and streetcars should be complementary, not contradictory modes. In practice, however, many cyclists feel that the installation of Portland Streetcar has deteriorated cycling conditions on what were previously good routes, and has created new crash dangers for cyclists in Portland. As the LDTMA considers the integration of streetcar into the Lloyd District, several key questions are under consideration: · Do streetcar tracks pose a serious danger for bicycles? · Are bicycle facilities compatible with streetcar tracks? · What is the optimal facility design for a street with both streetcar and bicycles? · What design solutions have been applied successfully in other countries? This report aims to provide an international context for answering these questions by providing a literature review, an analysis of problem statements and best practices from places with mature experience integrating bicycles and streetcars, and recommendations for Portland solutions. Click the following link for the full report: