Light Rail Goals and Methodology



The municipality of Wageningen is confronted at the moment with a tremendous congestion of road traffic. It is essential that improvement of the transport infrastructure be made to deal with the demand of fast and easy access to the many activities of Wageningen UR.
The municipality of Wageningen is presently studying the possibility to increase the accessibility and effectiveness of public transport between the routes Wageningen - Ede and Wageningen - Rhenen. A special interest is shown for the connection between the bus station in Wageningen and the train station in Rhenen. The use of a light rail connection is a serious additional transport possibility in this study. In the present future municipal rural and urban plans, a light rail connection between Wageningen and Ede is shown as presented in the city plans in Figure 1.


Light Rail refers to public transport "intended for light loads and fast movement", not to the weight of the vehicles. Visit Wikipedia for more information.


Fig. 1: Municipal urban and rural plans (models 2 and 4) showing a light rail connection with Ede/Wageningen train station. (Black stripped line from black downtown area to centre-top).


The main goal of this course project is to propose possible light rail corridors and routes using GIS analysis and presentation methods. The light rail route must be easy to access by municipal residents and non-residents. A specific requirement demanded by the municipal board is, residents must reach the light rail within a 5- to 10-minute walk. It is expected that within this time span 70% of the population can access a proposed light rail.

Another project goal is that as the GIS methods applied be repeatable and reproducible. This means all calculations will be saved in processing models and the data in available by means of geo-databases.

Also, all relevant information must be available in the attribute tables of either the light rail or corridor geodatasets. This is required for the distribution of these data by means of webservice.


For this course, an example general methodology is used to fulfil the presented main goal. It consists of the following phases:

Fig. 2: Topographical data (Top10-vector)

  1. Calculate a suitability light rail corridor and route according to given spatial suitability factors based primarily on landuse factors. These suitability factors are also referred to as weight or cost factors. The higher the suitability values the less suitable the area is for the proposed light rail. In this example, data from TOP10NL will be used as your main data source.

In this study, it is expected that the planned light rail should more or less follow the main and secondary roads between Wageningen and Rhenen. The given landuse suitability factors are altered to fulfil this expectation.
Also, other terrain aspects are taken into consideration. Slope areas that are steeper than 6% and potential flood areas around the river Grift must be avoided as much as possible. These areas are given another suitability value.
To compute the slope and potential flood areas a digital elevation model is used. This digital elevation model will be computed from basic surface height data, like height points, contour/isolines, flat water surfaces, stream locations.

Narrow roads in build up areas are considered to be less suitable for building a lightrail. However, narrows in scarcely populated areas are well suited for building the lightrail.

Note: There are several other spatial and non-spatial factors (geomorphological, ecological, social, economical, political, etc.) that should also be taken into account in such a project. These aspects are left out of this preliminary study. Please remember, this course is meant as an introduction to GIS concepts, methods, and implementation. This example also introduces you on how to build a GIS-application and not a case-study in public transport.

Project deliverables coming from this project phase are:

  1. In the second project phase, it is expected that the calculated light rail must undergo some revision to follow a more "logical" than "calculated" route. Visual assessment according to some simple rules is applied to guarantee an appropriate route through populated areas, along field borders, etc.. This phase diverts from the project proposed goal concerning reproducibility by means of a model calculation. In practice, this "manual" work is unavoidable.
    Using the calculated light rail corridor, -route and landuse data as a background view, this manual work is done using an interactive digitizing "on-screen" approach.

Fig. 3: Example result of a calculated corridor and route for the route Wageningen - Ede.

Project deliverable coming from this project phase is:

  1. The third project phase addresses the municipality criterion that 70% of the population of Wageningen must be able to reach the light rail within 5 to 10 minutes walking distance. For this calculation, the neighbourhood areas of Wageningen and census data from the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) are used.

Project deliverables coming from this phase are:

  1. The fourth project phase is to compute an approximate construction cost of the proposed light rail route. Costs are dependent upon specific light rail construction requirements. These requirements depend on the type of landuse the light rail crosses, for example, roads, meadow-cropland, type of soil, etc. have different costs. Also, light rail structures, like bridges or extra rail bed fortification, will give additional construction costs.

Project deliverables coming from this phase are:

It is proposed to calculate the costs according to different construction cost scenarios. This means different cost values are given for the construction of the light rail depending upon possible noise barriers, extra fortification of water embankments and bridges. These construction costs scenarios are also expected to be included in the lightrail geodataset.


  1. The fifth project phase is to present the proposed light rail route and corridor. Both a conventional map presentation and an internet presentation are required. Also, a graph showing the different construction cost is required.

Project deliverables coming from this phase are:

Introduction ppt