July 2000 / Looking Back to 1975
Light Rail Notes
Copyright 1975 Third Rail Press. Reprinted by
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Editor's Notes: The Standard Light Vehicle Rail (SLRV) was the U.S. government's showy attempt to signal its commitment to street railways and light rail transit. The price of this commitment was that U.S. systems were expected to buy this equipment as a condition of Federal Aid, rather than buy off-the-shelf foreign-built equipment. Eventually, the SLRV proved wanting and the U.S. light rail market was opened up to world suppliers. Did the SLRV help or hinder the survival and expansion of U.S. light railways? That's a question worthy of discussion. It did provide a stopgap between aging PCC fleets and the future.
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When the 1966 "pilot" edition of The Third Rail published an article of advocacy for modern light railways a decade before the below article was written, the term "Light Rail Transit" had yet to be coined. The Third Rail called the mode "trolley-rapid" or "light rapid transit." The Electric Railroader's Association magazine Headlights termed the mode "limited tramlines," borrowing European practice. By 1975, the mode has matured enough to acquire its modern nomenclaure and it held its first national conference, described below.
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enthusiasm can be interpreted into action, the first national conference
on Light Rail Transit held in Philadelphia on June 22-25[, 1975] was a
major step forward for this medium-capacity transit
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