Whether heavy or light rail systems, the rolling stock, steel wheels, rail gauge and operating characteristics of elevated rail systems require similar maintenance regimes. Light rail is most often distinguished from heavy rail by the passenger capacities of the trains’ carriages, which operate on similar, if not identical steel wheels. In addition to routine lubrication and adjustments of track and wheel assemblies, the grinding and shedding of metal from operation of steel wheels on steel tracks can cause the loss of 100-150 pounds of metal from each set of wheels per year, and require replacement of rails as well. The historic record of steel rail passenger system maintenance confirms the generally held industry condition that rail equipment manufacturers realize greater profits from long-term maintenance, repair and replacement of rolling stock and equipment than from initial sales of rail vehicles, facilities and equipment.
Maintenance of safety equipment and facilities associated with boarding, access and on-board passenger amenities follow regimes similar to those of typical at-grade passenger trains, while the absence of motor vehicles at rail elevation eliminates the necessity for crossing gates, bells and warning lights along elevated rail routes and track systems.