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What’s The Difference Between Light Rail And Heavy Rail?

When we look at the locomotive industry, many of us can get confused about the difference between light rail and heavy rail. Light rail is commonly synonymous with a term for modern streetcars. Whether you’re looking at an old-fashioned trolley car or an above-ground rail car, light rail often operates in a city street. Light rail usually has designated stops and light rail systems usually have to do with the idea of a streetcar or small train.

Heavy rail also operates in cities but they are usually designed for rapid transit. Heavy rail is associated with the subway as well as with commuter trains. Cars in heavy rail will often have multiple doors, use high-level platforms as well as have a third rail powering system. These trains are often operated and coupled together in larger pairs and they do not operate on the city streets or in the open air. The stations are often accessible through a series of air control points and the systems for electrical power are much heavier in these solutions.

Commuter rails are somewhat of a hybrid between the two rail types. These types of rail systems use light and heavy rail systems to introduce a series of inter-urban train lines. These types of lines are common when they extend out beyond the city limits. These train types usually result in a series of quarter-points or larger stations that will link together both light rail systems and heavy rail systems. The overlap in these systems appeals to many commuters and there are differences in the power ranges for many of the rail types here.

When we take a look at professional equipment for heavy rail and light rail systems, we need to be able to tell the difference between the power and equipment it needs to regularly keep power and safety a priority with these systems.

This post was written by Justin Tidd, Director at Swartz Engineering. For nearly half a century, Swartz Engineering has been at the forefront of industry safety. They are a family-owned company specializing in power distribution for the electrical industry. Our design ensures maximum flexibility for excellent reliability and a high return on investment. Click here for more information.

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