LRT vs MRT: Difference and Comparison

Both systems are used widely in Singapore, the Philippines, and Indonesia. The Mass Rapid Transit system boasts an enhanced speed level that permits the trains to cover greater ground.


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While the Light Rail Transit system also travels at high speed, its operational limits are restricted to the confines of the city.

Key Takeaways

  1. LRT (light rail transit) and MRT (rapid mass transit) are urban rail systems but differ in scale and capacity.
  2. LRT systems are smaller and serve suburban areas, while MRT systems are larger and designed for high-capacity travel in urban areas.
  3. LRT systems often have lower construction and operating costs than MRT systems but may have limited coverage and capacity.


LRT, or Light Rail Transit, is a rail transit system that uses smaller, lighter trains and operates on exclusive rights-of-way. LRT systems are used in urban and suburban areas and can run on elevated tracks, ground level, or tunnels. MRT, or Mass Rapid Transit, is a rail transit system used in dense urban areas. MRT systems are characterized by high-frequency, high-capacity trains that run on exclusive rights-of-way in tunnels or elevated tracks.


Both LRT and MRT are rapid transportation systems created to ease the commuting process in Malaysia.

LRT covers the area within the city’s domains, while MRT facilitates travel for those outside the city limits.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonLRTMRT
Operational ZonesLRT operates within the confined limits of the city.MRT trains enable travel from the city areas to the zones outside the city limits.
Full-FormThe full form of LRT is Light Rail Transit.The full form of MRT is Mass Rapid Transit.
SpeedLRT trains are slower than MRT carriages.The MRT system is faster than the LRT system.
LengthLRT system trains comprise 2-4 cars each.MRT system trains comprise of 6 cars each.
Routes of OperationLRT has more operational routes.MRT has fewer operational routes.
Number of CommutersCommutes about 600 passengers in a single trip.   It commutes about 1,950 passengers in a single trip.
TracksElevated tracks to ease level crossing conflicts.Underground tracks to avoid level crossings.

What is LRT?

LRT, or Light Rail Transit, was designed to simplify intra-city commutes. It is a system of trains that makes travelling within the city limits smooth and efficient by connecting commuters in the towns to the important city centres.

LRT was introduced in Singapore in 1999 as a rapid transportation system.

The project was a part of the Singapore Rail Networks. The LRT system is characterized by multiple stops to cater to the bustling city crowd.

The LRT trains are comparatively slower and smaller than the MRT ones. However, they have been a preferred mode of feeder transportation in several Malaysian cities.

LRT has three main operational lines in Singapore: the Bukit Panjang LRT, the Sengkang LRT, and the Punggol LRT. This transit system is designed to save space in the city.

Most of its tracks are elevated to achieve this goal. Different cities have added several new routes to widen their daily usage.


What is MRT?

The MRT, or Mass Rapid Transit System, is famed for its rapid transportation facilities that cater to intercity travellers. MRT connects city centres with housing zones outside the city’s limits.

The MRT network is expensive in most Asian countries like the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, etc.

Hailed as the backbone of Singapore, the MRT system was first inaugurated in 1987. Today the service has 141 stations across 6 operational lines in Singapore.

Some important MRT lines include the North-South Line, the Circle Line, the Downtown Line, the East-West Line, and the Northeast Line.

MRT has underground tracks that save space and reduce emissions. The enhanced speed of these trains reduces a normal commute of 30 minutes to merely a 5 minutes ride.

With an average of 6 carriages, its length is befitting the heavy footfall the system handles daily.


Main Differences Between LRT and MRT

  1. The main difference between LRT and MRT is that the former is poised to cover shorter distances within the confines of the city. At the same time, the latter is designed to help commuters travel daily from outside the confines of the city into the city centres.
  2. The full forms of each abbreviation are also distinctly different. LRT stands for Light Rail Transit, while MRT stands for Mass Rapid Transit.
  3. The next difference between them can be noted in their respective operation speeds. While LRT operates at a considerably high speed, MRT boasts a higher speed of operation. This enables the latter to cover greater ground during the day.
  4. The length of each train system also varies. The LRT system is comparatively shorter in length than the MRT. The MRT system trains comprise 6 carriages, making them longer than the 2-4 carriages of the LRT system.
  5. The MRT system can transport nearly 1,950 passengers in a single trip, while the LRT system can ferry 600 passengers simultaneously.
  6. Routes of operation for the two transportation systems also vary. LRT has more routes of commute allotted to it than the MRT system trains. This enables the former to transport a higher total volume of travellers daily than MRT, although it is smaller and slower than MRT.
  7. Elevated tracks are used for LRT trains to avoid level crossing conflicts, while MRT uses underground tracks without level crossings.
Difference Between LRT and MRT


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