Low-floor tram

Low-floor tram

A low-floor tram is a tram that has no steps between one or more entrances and part or all of the passenger cabin. Being low floor improves the accessibility of the tram for the public.

A low floor in a tram can be achieved by using a high floor vehicle with a level interior, calling at high level tram stops, or as a truly low floor vehicle interfacing with kerb level stops.

There do exist both types in the modern era, depending on the infrastructure aspects in proposed systems. Some systems may make use of former railway alignments meaning using platforms is desirable, while others, particularly new systems, may not have the space to site high level stops in urban centres.

Low floor tram configurations

Trams traditionally had high floors. From that model the tram with a low floor centre section has arisen. Examples of this are from Amsterdam 11g/12g-trams and the Kusttrams in Belgium. The most common construction on 100% low floor vehicles is one where is shorter carbody sections for the wheels and longer suspended sections. Examples of this are the Citadis and Combino. A similar, but somewhat older technique is one that has been developed by MAN and was in 1990, the first 100% low floor tram. These trams are found in ten German cities (such as Bremen and Munich) and in the Swedish city Norrköping. In many other German cities there are trams with low floor between the outer bogies and single axle bogies under the centre section. "Light rail" type frequently vehicles have a similar configuration but with the centre bogie which is designed to accommodate a low floor situated under a short centre section. A more radical approach has been adopted for the City Class LRV (Citytram), where the main low floor section is only 300mm above the rail. In Austria the Porsche designed ULF trams, Ultra Low Floor Trams, can kneel at the curbside, reducing the height from the road to only 180 mm. They only run in Vienna. The low floor runs right through the articulation of both the 29m long and 38m Super Citytram version. In both the corridor across the articulation is wide enough for seated passengers and a wheelchair to pass through.The City Class has been design to turn on 15m radius curves and climb 10% gradients.

Typical floor heights

To put things into perspective, here are some typical floor height for public transport vehicles, old and new:

* Ultra Low Floor tram - 180 mm (7 inches)
* Low-floor tram - 300mm to 350 mm (11.8 to 13.78 inches)
* High-floor tram - more than 600 mm (23.62 inches)
* Train - 800 mm (31.5") to 1200 mm (47.25") (even 51 in or 1351 mm in the case of standard North American passenger cars.)

List of low-floor trams

*Cegielski 118N "Puma" (>60% low floor)
*City Class LRV
*Combino Supra
*Crotram TMK 2200
*Flexity Classic
*Flexity Outlook "Cityrunner" and "Eurotram"
*Flexity Swift
*PESA 120N and derivatives
*Ultra Low Floor
*MBTA Type 8

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