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About UrbanRail.Net

What is it? | Who maintains it? | Links policy | Who sponsors it? | How can you help? | What is a metro? | Other FAQ | Impressum

 What is UrbanRail.Net?

UrbanRail.Net is your gateway to any information related to metros, subways, trams and light rail or similar urban rail transit systems around the world. UrbanRail.Net gives you a general overview of each city's metro system and links you to other relevant sites. UrbanRail.Net wants to be as updated as possible to make the most out of this fascinating media which is the internet. UrbanRail.Net does not want to duplicate information given in English elsewhere on the Internet. UrbanRail.Net also wants to be respectful with copyright laws and publish only "self-made" contents (maps, photos, texts etc.).

UrbanRail.net is not meant to be a travel website although it may be useful to prepare trips. For timetables and fares use the links included on each city's page.

See how it all began in 1995

 Who maintains UrbanRail.Net?

UrbanRail.Net is maintained by Robert Schwandl, a mere enthusiast not related in any way to any metro operating company or the rail industry.

Although I have done the biggest part to set it up over the last 20 years, this site would not be possible without the help of hundreds of often anonymous helpers all around the world who contribute to the site in many different ways, by sending the latest info from their city, providing photographs, correcting inevitable mistakes, suggesting new details, etc.

Thanks to everybody out there!

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 Can I link my website to UrbanRail.Net?

Yes, certainly, if your website is also about urban railways. You can link directly to a city page or to the start page. You can use this button:

If you wish, we can place a link to your website, but only if it is about urban railways [Mail] We do not collaborate with travel portals or websites dedicated to other subjects.


 Who sponsors UrbanRail.Net?

Nobody, unfortunately. It's a very idealistic project and I've been paying for the server to host the pages and spent many many hours (in fact more than 20 years now!) putting it together and keeping it updated. And it has been great fun with so many positive mails received from around the world. Apparently, the Google ads you have to bear with when viewing the website create some revenue to cover costs.

But there are some ways you can help to finance the project if you want:
1) Donation to UrbanRail.Net (ask for PayPal or other options [Mail])
2) Buy books about metros published by the author and sold at schwandl.com

 What can I do to improve UrbanRail.Net?

You can keep sending your contributions by email:
1) Updated info
2) Corrections
3) Report dead links
4) Photos - ONLY if you have the copyright (click here for parameters required). Do NOT send images from other websites! Send me a link to these pictures instead.
5) Prepare a full page to copy and paste into the existing structure (requires minimum knowledge of webpage editing)
6) If you are familiar with basic drawing programmes, you can also design a map for a system that is not yet covered, or update a map directly and send it to me (always keep the size and file format of the original map so I can just copy&paste it).

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 What is your criteria to include a city on UrbanRail.Net?

The city in question must either have a metro, a light rail or a tram/streetcar system operating regularly and with some kind of electric traction (this excludes, for now, diesel-powered "VLT" systems in Brazil, for example). A light rail train that runs a few times a day and primarily for tourists (e.g. Puebla) is not an urban rail system, although it may operate in an urban environment. An urban rail system typically operates every few minutes during daytime hours, making timetables redundant.

Cities with planned urban rail systems are normally included when they are at a very advanced stage of planning or have started construction. Vague proposals are ignored as too many have not materialised in the past. Before having a dedicated page on UrbanRail.Net, many cities are included on the respective continent pages with an external link to a project website, Wikipedia, etc.

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 What is a metro? A subway? An underground?

My personal definition is:

1) An urban electric mass rail transport system, i.e. it is primarily used to move within the city
2) Totally independent from other traffic, rail or street traffic
3) High frequency service (maximum interval approx. 10 minutes during normal daytime service)

Obviously a metro does not have to be underground (this is why I prefer the term 'metro' to 'subway' or 'underground' or 'U-Bahn' as all these terms imply a tunnel), it can also be elevated or at grade. A metro does not necessarily use heavy rail technology, therefore the Docklands Light Railway or the Lille VAL are full metro services, with the only difference that their capacity is smaller according to the needs of the city/area they serve. It's also irrelevant whether the metro runs on steel wheels or rubber tyres, is monorail or conventional double rail, uses third-rail power supply or overhead wire, is fully automated or has a driver, has standard, narrow or broad gauge. Even most automatic people mover systems can be classified as 'metro' (I do not deal with people mover systems that operate within airports or shopping malls, just with those that are part of the overall public transport system of a city).

Increasingly, the distinction between 'metro' and 'light rail', but also between 'metro' and 'suburban rail' gets blurred. In China, for example, long suburban metro lines are being built as part of the metro system, but serving areas that would not always be considered part of the "urban area" of a city.

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 What is the difference between 'tram' and 'light rail'?

For many years now, UrbanRail.Net has also covered all sorts of tramways, streetcars or light rail systems, but the distinction between them is not always clear. In Europe, there are numerous first-generation tramways, which often share the roadway with private vehicles; the same is true for some 'streetcars' in North America. New systems, like those emerged in France, Spain or Britain in recent decades, usually have their own dedicated right-of-way, but within a normal urban environment, so we still classify them as 'tram'. We reserve the term 'light rail' for systems which have a significant part of their routes on segregated rights-of-way, either in tunnel, on viaducts or otherwise separate alignments. This is mostly the case for German 'Stadtbahn' systems or North American 'light rail' systems, although all of these may have some street-running, too.

On the other hand, certain light rail systems, like that in Sevilla or Ottawa, use light rail vehicles, but operate completely grade-separated so we classify them as 'metro'. But they could lose that status if extensions are added that include, e.g. level crossings.

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 Why don't you include all suburban railways?

Primarily, because there are too many and it would be a never-ending job to keep it all updated. I usually show suburban railways (S-Bahn, RER) when a city is included on UrbanRail.net anyway with its tram, light rail or metro system. I have been more generous in the case of Oceania and Africa as there are not so many urban rail systems in those parts of the world. But in Europe and parts of Asia, the distinction between suburban and regional rail is often hard to make, e.g. in the Netherlands where dense headways are operated with a mix of local and IC trains but without a special branding for suburban rail.

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 Other FAQs

Why is the website no longer called 'metroPlanet'?

- Because in 2004, the world's fifth largest retailer based in Germany claimed that the former name would infringe their registered trademark and we didn't have the financial resources to sort this out in court.

Why is UrbanRail.Net only in English?

- Because English is the language most people can understand, and keeping a website updated in various languages turns out to be too time consuming. If you don't understand English sufficiently I suggest to use Google automatic translation. Go to Google, type in urbanrail and then click 'Translate this page'. It will be displayed in the language Google has detected on your computer.

Which programme do you use to draw your maps?

- Paint Shop Pro 5, which is an easy to use Shareware programme you can download everywhere, though a bit old-fashioned nowadays, but it does the job.

Which format is the best to draw maps?

- Newer maps are in .png, some older still in .gif (for the initial sketch I use .psp, Paintshop's native format)


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 How to send photographs to UrbanRail.Net?

There are two options:

1) Photos are ready to publish
2) Photos have to be edited to be published

In any case, NEVER send us pictures taken from other websites! The copyright has to be known and shown! Do not send pictures for pages which already include a large amount of photos unless your pictures show something new or are of better quality.

1) If you are used to editing photos for the Internet, these are the parameters I use in UrbanRail.Net:
- jpg - compression factor should be 10% - 15% for best quality and minimum file size (which should not exceed 250K)
- approx. 450-600 pixels in width
- the copyright (and if known also the location) should be printed on the image
- the name of the file should explain briefly the content of the image (e.g. lon-jub-waterloo1.jpg)
- we no longer use small preview images (thumbnails)

2) If you are not familiar with photo editing but have a digital camera then send them as follows:
- any compatible format, preferably jpg, tif or bmp
- best possible quality - only send smartphone pictures if you are sure the quality of the images is good, we won't publish mediocre pictures or snapshots
- pixel size approximately double the final size (1500 x 800 or so in jpg or tif, not more than 1000 x 650 in bmp) to allow editing and maintaining the best quality
- check in Windows Explorer to make sure the file size is not too large (maximum 5 MB per file)
- do not print your copyright onto it (has to be done in definitive size)


Send your pictures by [Mail], but don't put too many in one message, send them in separate mails. Thanks

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Robert Schwandl
Hektorstr. 3
D-10711 Berlin

Tel. +49 (0)30 - 3759 1284
Fax +49 (0)30 - 3759 1285


Umsatzsteuer-Identifikationsnummer gemäß § 27 a Umsatzsteuergesetz: DE221699358
Inhaltlich Verantwortlicher gemäß § 10 Absatz 3 MDStV: Robert Schwandl (Anschrift wie oben)


Trotz sorgfältiger inhaltlicher Kontrolle übernehmen wir keine Haftung für die Inhalte externer Links. Für den Inhalt der verlinkten Seiten sind ausschließlich deren Betreiber verantwortlich.



2007 © UrbanRail.Net by Robert Schwandl