Translohr is a guided bus system manufactured by Lohr Industrie of France. It is used in Clermont-Ferrand, Tianjin, Padua and in the mainland Mestre district of Venice in Italy. Translohr runs on rubber tires and is guided by a single central rail.
The Translohr system is intended to provide a much more light rail-like experience than that provided by buses. Unlike other guided bus systems (including the similar but incompatible Guided Light Transit system developed by Bombardier Transportation), Translohr can run only where there is a guide rail in place as there are no steering controls. Like a conventional tram, power is provided by overhead wires and collected with a pantograph, although the vehicle can also run on internal batteries (arranged in packs) on sections of the route where overhead wires are deemed to be undesirable. Because Translohr LRVs cannot run without a guide rail they are not classified as a street-running bus. Hence the vehicles that are used on the Clermont-Ferrand network are not equipped with licence plates.
An advantage over trams is that rubber tires give significantly more traction than steel wheels, and so can be used to climb steeper hills, up to a grade of 13%, at a cost of greater rolling resistance.
Compared to buses, the use of a guidance rail allows Translohr LRVs running in parallel lanes to pass closer together than drivers could safely steer. Much like trams, Translohr vehicles can dock with low station platforms for level boarding, and give access to passengers dependent on wheelchairs without requiring the time-consuming deployment of ramps or ‘kneeling’ systems.
||This section may contain original research. (June 2009)|
In addition due to the tires running over the same spot in the road there is a significant rutting of the roadway; this has already happened on Bombardiers's GLT, resulting in extensive repairs at significant cost to the operator. This could be considered to add to the already high running costs. Ride quality is also said to be poor, not much of an improvement on a bus, due to the four-wheeled design, whereas trams have trucks with shock absorbers.
Translohr has suffered some derailments. The Tianjin system suffered one derailment on 20 August 2007, three months after its inauguration. There were five derailments on Padua's new installation in 2007 before its inauguration and one in 2010.
Critics of the system can also point out that unlike a conventional tramway, Translohr is a proprietary system, meaning that once having installed it, a city would face difficulties in buying vehicles from any manufacturer other than Lohr Industrie. A standard tramway, on the other hand, can easily accommodate vehicles from multiple suppliers; Strasbourg, for example, recently[when?] chose the Citadis tram from Alstom to supplement its existing Bombardier Eurotram fleet.
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