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Light Rail Thematic Network

European Union
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Passenger transport


Background & Policy context

The Libertin Thematic Network focuses on light rail and light metro systems. The technical standards concerning light rail/light metro are numerous and differ considerably from one city or a country to another, for various reasons including history. Simplification and harmonisation of these standards across Europe would boost the Light Rail market and decrease the ownership costs of rolling stock and equipment for the benefit of all stakeholders and of the European Union.


The principal objectives of the Libertin Thematic Network are to accelerate the establishment of an Internal Market for light rail/light metro in the European Union and associated countries by fostering harmonisation, interchangeability and modularity of light rail/light metro components, harmonisation of related legislation/regulations and tendering procedures to promote the attractiveness, affordability, flexibility and sustainability of light rail/light metro systems by reducing the costs of modular components, harmonising operating rules and procedures, and enhancing system performance to enhance the competitiveness of the light rail mode compared with other transport modes.


LibeRTiN is a thematic network relying heavily on contributions from and discussions between the experts that are part of the network. The network has distinguished 10 priority topics which are dealt with by topic groups of experts. Each topic group is lead by a topic leader. Integration of interactions between the topics is achieved by discussion of all topics in the sessions of the network steering committee (NSC), where all partners are present.


Parent Programmes
Institution Type
Public institution
Institution Name
European Commission, Directorate-General for Research (DG Research)
Type of funding
Public (EU)


The project had 10 working groups which all generated particular results, summarized as follows:

1. Access – a key result was a recommendation on the Boarding and Alighting 'Vertical Step and Horizontal Gap' issue;

2. Derailment Prevention and Ride Quality - The major part of this effort has been focused on producing a specification of the vehicle-track interface, which will facilitate derailment prevention and ride quality with standard vehicle designs.

3. HVAC (Heating and Ventilation, Air Conditioning) – consensus-building between operators, vehicle manufacturers and HVAC system suppliers regarding cost reduction, modularity and harmonisation of system requirements.

4. Loading Parameters - agreement that the existing standard (EN 12663), relating to vehicle structural design, should include a fixed value for loading parameters in relation to LRV's.

5. Fire Safety - Consensus was reached to ask CEN to add or amend a specific category to the prEN45545, which currently does not clearly take into account the specifics of Light Rail vehicles.

6. Structure Gauging - The structure of the CEN standard was discussed and consensus was reached that several gauging classes should be defined, ideally 2, or max 3 classes related to the insertion capacity in the urban area.

7. Maintenance Management – a review of current status and developments, best theory and practice was undertaken to serve as practical Guidelines to help new or existing light rail systems reduce their Life Cycle Costs (LCC) and so to improve their viability.

8. Tendering Procedures – development of a procurement process model to simplify the tender documentation, enabling system interfaces and dependencies to be managed throughout the procurement process.

Policy implications

LibeRTiN was a Thematic Network, providing a tool and a climate to foster dialogue. It has given rise to a number of initiatives to help introduce recommendations at specific national levels and help overcome regulatory obstacles. One example is the recent set-up of UK Tram and the LRT Forum. In addition, the project confirmed that in some areas voluntary agreements were not sufficient to overcome some obstacles and that community legislation was the only way to achieve an appropriate level of technical harmonisation in a number of areas (e.g. Crashworthiness, Power Supply, System Performance). Therefore UITP and UNIFE joined forces to support the commission in drafting a proposal for a directive on urban rail that was the basis for the public consultation phase in late 2004 and early 2005. The proposed directive makes up an overall regulatory framework for technical harmonisation that will be detailed partially by using the output of LibeRTiN working groups. More specifically, some of the LibeRTiN topic groups (Fire Safety, Gauging) provided direct input to the existing CEN/CENELEC working groups to ensure that light rail will be adequately taken into account, which somewhat sped up the CEN-process.


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EU Contribution
Partner Organisations
EU Contribution


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