Trams are small tracked vehicles usually comprising not more that two coaches which are used for commuting within cities. They share the space with other road vehicles and follow the same rules. They are usually slow allowing them to stop in same distances as buses. They usually run on narrow gauge tracks in cities and have low floors for easy ingress and egress. On the other hand, trains have several coaches, usually more than three, they run on dedicated tracks of standard or broad gauge where they have the right of way. Their speeds are much higher than trams and they do not share space with other road vehicles. Trains usually connect cities and towns or run in large cities to cover several hundred kilometers.
If you want to travel between cities or towns, you take a tram to the nearest railway station. Buy a separate train ticket and board a train to your destination. Well! this was the norm till now. But no more. Spanish train manufacturer CAF has come up with the concept of a tram-train. Well, what is it? A tram-train is a low floor tram that can run on both tramways in cities and inter-city tracks. With growing size of cities and people commuting from smaller towns and villages to cities for work, the idea is to allow the commuters to travel seamlessly from the small peripheral town to the city center.
CAF has developed the first set of tram-trains which would be deployed in Chiclana de la Frontera and Cádiz in Spain. For the tram-trains, the tramways in the city are being broadened to 1,668 mm gauge. This will allow the tram-trains to travel withing the cities and then move on to the regional ADIF tracks to enable them to share the main line to Cádiz. The total length of the system is 24 Km. The system requires a handover in the signalling system from CAS-E train protection system used on the street running section and the ASFA train control used on the national network. It also requires a changeover between the tramway’s 750 V DC power supply and ADIF’s 3 kV DC system.
Seven tram-trains made by CAF would be used on this new transport system which is expected to be operational by 2021. The tram-trains are the Urbos LRVs from CAF which are in 3 sections and 38 m long and 2,600 mm wide. They have been strengthened with better crash worthiness to allow them to share the track with the mainline trains. Each train can seat 287 passengers and achieve a maximum speed of 100 Km/h.