A brief typology of our maps

When Light Rail Atlas entered the internet in 1998 basically the idea was to develop a showcase of examples and best practices of existing, new or proposed light rail systems. We presumed (and still do) that maps represent essential information and knowledge regarding these systems and to some extend the showcase was conceived as a real atlas, which explains the name of this website.
Within the showcase of Light Rail Atlas (and within the professional domain of too) a series of different maps has been stored. On this page we try to show a representative collection. The maps below are briefly explained and grouped into a kind of typology.
Key: click here...

Map: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
Bilbao, 2005

Photo-based map of Bilbao's new tramway (Spain). The green line represents the tramway. Double green means double track; single means single track; open dots are stops. The tramway serves the central city which is vaguely mapped by means of streets and blocks. The legibility of the tramway's urban context is poor due to reflection in the glass in front of the map that is framed in the 'abri'-structure of one the tram stops.

Map: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
Enoden, 2002

Schematic map of the Enoden light rail in Japan. The green line shows the alignment of the interurban style railway which officially is conceived as a tramway due to the section of street running in the town centre of Enoshima. The map schematically represents all types of public transport in this area south of the Tokyo-Yokohama urban region. This is a typical Japanese styled map as the many graphic signs and colourful lines clearly proof. The orange lines depict bus services, while all other lines are dedicated to heavy railways.

Map: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
Washington D.C., 2005

Map based on aerial view of a new tramway in Washington D.C., known as the Anacostia Light Rail Demonstration project on the east side of the Anacostia River. The alignment is marked as a thin dark line (on the map from down left to upper right). The six stops of this 4,34 km (2.7-mile) tramway are shown as darker stripes. We like this map as it clearly shows the tramway's context: elements of its urban environment and related road and rail infrastructure, such as one of Washington's subway lines (in green).

Map: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
LA-PE, 2000

Line-based map of the historic 'Pacific Electric' of Greater Los Angeles. Once upon a time the PE operated a 1.164 miles network. However, the last survivor line closed in 1961. All lines are marked as white lines. We made this map as part of our ongoing study of the Los Angeles' urban system. The map is based on the famous research of Reyner Banham, published in his book 'Los Angeles. The Architecture of Four Ecologies' (1971). The map put here is a section only, showing the central portion of the system: downtown LA, Hollywood, Culver City and the beach. The original map is composed of five sections.

Map: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
Friesland (NL), 2004

Line-based map of a network study assigned by province of Friesland, Netherlands (RVDB/, 2004). The blue lines represent proposed light rail services on existing railways in Friesland (Fryslân). The dotted blue lines depict additional bus services.
The map mirrors the graphics of the regional flag: blue lines, white background and red little lily leaves. Each of those leaves on our map represents the major towns that could be connected by means of light rail.

Map: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
Netherlands, 1998-2010

Our map of light rail in The Netherlands, which is used on the Dutch section of Light Rail Atlas to present all systems and schemes. This is clearly a line-based map, but the key's colour code is specially designed to address light rail characteristics. The first version of the map was published in 1998.

Map: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
West Netherlands, 1998-2003

Detailed section of our map of light rail in The Netherlands, showing a dense network in the western part of Holland, using the same key as the overview (see previous). The publication of this map early 1998 marked the installation on internet of Light Rail Atlas.

Map: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
West Netherlands, 1997

Draft version of the previous map, made 1997, based however on a large series of analogue maps created in the Stone-Age epoch of LRA, long before internet or even computers became common practice.

Maps: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
Leiden-Gouda & downtown Leiden, 2003

Again a Dutch map, now zooming in on the catchment area of the planned 'RijnGouweLijn' (RGL), located in the central part of Holland, south of Amsterdam, north of The Hague and Rotterdam. The map's background is created by schematizing an existing topographic map. The first section of the light rail line (in red) between Gouda and Alphen is in operation since 2003, using the existing heavy rail. The proposed connection to Leiden will make use of heavy rail too (in green), as well as a new tramway alignment (in orange) through the city of Leiden. Phase 2 of the project (in yellow) will involve a connection to the coast. RGL was Holland's 'Tram-Train' example scheme.

Maps: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
Luxembourg, 2002

Using the LRA-key of the previous maps this map shows the 'Tram-Train' scheme of Luxembourg, a new urban-regional light rail-project, which includes services on existing railway (inset, blue) and on new tramway (inset, red) through the 'European' district of Kirchberg, northeast of the city. The applied background (inset) is scanned from a tourist road map.

Map: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
Liberec, 2001

Again a map using the LRA-key: the project of Liberec, located in the north-western boarder region of the Czech Republic. Liberec's classic, narrow gauge tramway will be upgraded and converted to standard gauge (in red). Existing heavy railway (in green) will be upgraded too and used to extend the tram into the region.
We produced this map in October 2001 to illustrate a LRA special on the rebuilding of the Jablonec line between Liberec and Vratislavice. The map covers alignments from Jablonic to Harrachov and to Jelenia Góra in Poland, as well as from Liberec to Zittau in Germany. The background is copy-pasted from on old 'communist' atlas.

Map: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
Zwolle-Kampen, 2003

Map of an existing railway in The Netherlands (in blue) between the city of Zwolle and a town called Kampen. An advanced background is used, showing existing urban areas (in darker brown) and new housing areas (in red). We like this map, as it reveals the potential of this old railway due to its intelligent overlay of the railway's alignment and the spatial developments within the railway's context.
The map was published at LRA for the first time in 2003. Four years later the proposal to convert this railway to tramway became the award winning scheme of van der Bijl et al.

Map: (C) Light Rail Atlas, Rob van der Bijl
Lyon, 2003

Map of an extension (in orange) of the existing tramway (in red) of Lyon (France). According to the project's map (2003) line T1 was planned to connect the Perrache terminus via Cours Charlemagne (locally 'Cours' means 'Avenue') to an urban renewal district, located on a peninsula south of the central city. We made this map by making a negative version of the official project-map (including its background) and by colouring the tramway alignment according to our own codes.

Back to the maps here...

A key to successful mapping
(brief typology of our maps, part 2)

Essentially the key of a map determines its purpose and objective. The maps within the showcase of Light Rail Atlas (and within the professional domain of too) have been equipped with a series of different keys. On the second part of this page we try to explain them all.

Key: opportunistic 1
Many of our maps are simply reproductions of existing maps. The key of these maps is used opportunistically. Keys nor maps are adapted to specific needs. We used the originals just as we could get them, by means of taking a photograph on location or by copying and pasting of available material from websites and other sources. For instance, we took a photograph of a map at the stop of the tramway of Bilbao in Spain (left), not bothering whether the tramway is represented as double green line or not. We also used the existing map of Enoden in Japan (middle) simply liking the set of colourful lines of this typical Japanese key. On a similar way we made use of an annotated aerial view of a tramway scheme in Washington D.C. (right).

Key: opportunistic 2
Many of our maps are made for a specific professional purpose that determine a simple and graphic representation of light rail lines and corridors. These lines are for instance white on black, blue on white or opportunistically coloured as the key-examples clearly show. The map-keys shown here were made for investigations in Los Angeles (U.S.) and Friesland (Netherlands) respectively. Later on this kind of maps and their keys were good enough for LRA too.


Key: 'LRA 1998'
The start on internet of Light Rail Atlas (LRA) early 1998 implied the introduction of a new key specifically designed to represent light rail infrastructure. This key basically addresses the infrastructure itself without adding an elaborated background.
The key-units according to the first row represent light rail or tramway lines:
red: existing
orange: under construction or in planning
purple: historic, no more existing
The second row shows key-units addressing heavy railways:
blue: existing, but highly relevant for light rail operation
green: adaptation for light rail operation, under construction or in planning
The bottom row hosts two additional units:
yellow: light rail - draft scheme, or yet immature plan or idea
grey: other infrastructure (e.g. busways or roads)


Key: 'LRA improved'
The 1998-key is still used at LRA. But we try to improve it as much as possible by adding a systematic background. It is felt that infrastructural lines need a context. As result of that the meaning of these lines becomes more clear.


Key: Use-based representation
Currently we investigate and plan the use of a new advanced type of key that addresses all relevant elements of the compiled map. The key implies the depiction of both infrastructure and its context. But particularly the key represents current and future use. Many type of maps, even the improved version of 'LRA 1998', solely depict the physical or functional state of proposed infrastructural and its contextual elements. However, the use of the elements and notably the future use are left implicitly. Our future 'use-based representation' aims to depict light rail and other forms of high quality public transport as elaborations of future/proposed or existing/conserved use, by means of this twofold key - firstly contextual units (row 1 and 2), note the hatched parts that explicitly represent future or proposed use:
red: residential use
light purple: shopping and use of other amenities
dark purple: work-related uses
yellow: recreational use
green: miscellaneous uses in green environments
Secondly infrastructural units (third row)
dark grey, thick: existing use of rail-infrastructure by light rail or tram
black, thick: proposed or planned use of rail-infrastructure by light rail or tram
dark grey, thick & dotted: existing other use of rail-infrastructure
black, thick & dotted: other proposed or planned use of rail-infrastructure
light grey, thick: car- or bus-use of (new) road-based infrastructure
light grey, thin: all other use of (new) road-based infrastructure
Maps will be composed of two or more key-units. Such multiple layered maps will reveal a 'rich' and 'deep' picture of infrastructural use within its context. Row 4 shows some examples.

Back to key here...
Or back to the maps here...









Click here... for our manual of the map key.