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Occasional Train Blogging: Trams

by DoDo Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:56:22 AM EST

This summer, Budapest put new trams in service on the world's busiest tram line, trams from the Siemens Combino family that are the world's longest trams for passengers:

The first (#2001) Combino at Margit-sziget (=Margaret Island) station in the middle of Margit Bridge, along line 4 on the Grand Boulevard. My own photo of 8 July 2006

For me as a railfan, trams and tramways were too ordinary and everyday sights, and never considered them 'proper' railway. So I was astonished to discover that trams have plenty of aficionados among Western railfans. What's more, it turned out my (former) home city Budapest was an eldorado for them: an extensive network even after four decades of closures, lots of different tram types, lots of older types in regular traffic.

So, I thought trams deserve Train Blogging coverage, and took the occasion of the arrival of the Combinos to remedy my long dismissal by reading up on tramways, and present their development via the trams of Budapest. But when the Combinos had big technical difficulties, I delayed posting. Now I do it with a wider picture selection.


The basic idea of a tram is: a railway for transporting people in crowded cities, with at least part of the tracks shared with road vehicles (from carts to cars). Consequences in construction: special rails sunk into the road, sharp curves, light carbodies (no need to withstand forces in a long train), entrances for fast loading/unloading and low platforms.

This idea was taken up rather early: the first trams (the very first: New York, 1832) were horse-drawn, then pulled by small steam locomotives. (For a preserved example, though not in a city, visit the Chiemseebahn in Bavaria.) But I will limit my coverage to what really accelerated the spread of tramways: electric trams.

Werner von Siemens presented the world's first electric locomotive, a small critter on miniature tracks, in 1879. Two years later, he could already build the first tram line, in district Lichterfelde in Berlin. But only a half dozen pilot lines were built (mostly by Siemens) over the next three years. Just then, the first line was built in the USA, where soon a great boom started. How much so is demonstrated by the fact that the builders led to the later electrics giants: beyond Siemens, innovator Frank J. Sprague's company was later bought by Edison, the Thomson-Houston Co. developed into General Electric, the German branch of the former became AEG.

In Europe, after the everyday success of the first few lines, an incredible construction boom started at the end of the decade. This boom was set off in 1887 in Budapest: the city leaders had an ambitious plan, and the two main traffic companies BKVT and BVVV became initial prime customers of the German firms Siemens and later AEG.

An old picture with the first (A) series trams in front of Nyugati Pályaudvar (=West Railway Terminal) on the Grand Boulevard line. Photo from villamosok és metrók

Looking back from today, the NIMBY issue of that age may sound strange: the wires of a catenary were considered an eyesore. So when Siemens built the first line, they developed a special system: on one side, the 'normal' rail and a guiding rail flanked a ditch, and hidden underground in it, two powered rails placed even closer supplied electricity, as the tram's downward trolley pole slid between them. The system was problematic, however: strong wear on the trolley poles, water-protected but no defence against snow and ice, and dirt filling up the ditches. Catenaries replaced the "Budapest system" everywhere by the nineteen-twenties.

Tram of then new BKVT type S on the line along the Small Boulevard at the Central Market Hall (right edge) not long before 1910. Notice the lack of overhead wire, and the side-by-side normal and guiding rail on the left side of the track: across the slit between the latter two, a trolley pole reached down to the safely hidden source of electricity. Coloured postcard from Villamosok.Hu (Hungarian Trams)

Above, you can already see some tramcar development: now the drivers' cabin is closed. When Budapest trams got pantographs, those first had a 'lyra' form, later the diamond shape. Meanwhile, motors grew stronger, and carbodies larger, also in cross-section: the original stagecoach-like sides with curved lower edge turned flat. Also, domestic production of trams ran up.

Trams developed not only in form but field of application. The first trams typically ran in suburbs, from which development branched in two directions: (1) strictly downtown street trams, and (2) so-called overland trams and/or interurbans, which went out into the agglomeration. (An example of the latter, the Chicago North Shore line, ran the particularly nice Electroliners.) In Budapest, a number of overland lines were built by various tram companies. Later, together with suburban 'proper' railways, they merged into the BHÉV company (which itself later integrated into the Budapest Traffic Company).

Three trams with overland tram history meet on Móritz Zsigmond körtér in snowfall – from left to right:

  • Original BKVT type F, later BHÉV type M VI, then series 1600: lyra pantographs, flat sides, motors domestic
  • Original BBVV type E, later BHÉV type M V, then series 2000: diamond pantographs, narrowed front for better fitting into curves, all-domestic production
  • Original BBVV type U, later BHÉV type M IV, then series 2000: almost the same as above

Photo from Villamosok.Hu (Hungarian Trams)

WWI and the early spread of motorisation braked development. Still, as traffic kept growing, there was demand for ever larger trams. The natural next step was bogie vehicles. There were experiments early in the 20th century, but not so successful (just the BKVT F type – they quickly were converted into standard two-wheel critters, as seen above). Worldwide, the first successful bogied tram type was the American PCC. So Hungarian industry tried again, too: 30% longer, all steel (no wooden walls), and much more powerful than anything before, pre-WWII development reached its pinnacle in the ground-breaking "Stukas" (delivery started 1940). They got the nickname because during acceleration, they gave off a loud noise sounding like German Ju-87 "Stuka" dive-bombers.

A type TM "Stuka"/series 3600 tram at Gellért tér. Photo from Villamosok.Hu (Hungarian Trams)

After WWII, like much of Europe, Budapest lay in ruins, materials were scarce, money was scarce. So trams of old types had to continue running – but at least they could be upgraded. The most important change was to replace the wooden chassis with a steel one. The new chassis had a standardised look for a great variety of original types.

Two rebuilt BVVV type F (series 2500) trams on beautiful line 51 (closed 1983) at the city's edge (close to where I lived as a small child), beside a railway line it will cross a kilometre away. This was the last pre-war type to operate (until summer 1984), and the only one I remember myself. A preserved unit got as far as the UK. Photo from Hampage.hu (Trams of Hungary)

Post-war scarcity also had its effect on travelling habits – travelling by clinging to the railing outside the entrance became quite normal, well into the sixties:

Overcrowded trams of BKVT type F (with new steel chassis) on line 67 along radial road Thököly út. Photo from villamosok és metrók

But when the wooden→steel chassis upgrades went full-swing, a new type was built too, albeit only an improved version of the "Stukas". A stupendous 375 trams of the new standard type UV (series 3200/3800) were built in a decade starting 1956, and would determine the image of Budapest trams for four decades. Though there are few visible differences with the "Stukas" (one is the cut-out for the bogies), they are more solid and stronger, and built for multi-car operation.

Two type UV trams with middle trailer on line 49 leave the Small Boulevard for Szabadság-híd (=Liberty Bridge; a cantilever construction originally named for Emperor Franz Joseph I), with the Gellért Mountain and the Gellért hotel/spa visible on the Buda side. My own photo of 8 July 2006

Tramcars couldn't be lengthened further, while multiple cars waste space. So the logical next step was articulation. In Budapest, after the wood→steel upgrades, the tramway company's own maintenance shop felt itself prepared to attempt construction on its own. In 1961, it presented the CSM type (series 1200II). These showcased the rounded 'streamlined' forms now fashionable for all kinds of vehicles. But the bogie-less vehicles nicknamed 'Bengáli' (wordplay from a word for 'unwieldy') weren't too sound a construction, weak and shaky and loud and heavy, so with time, they were passed off to countryside towns.

Type CSM (series 1200) articulated tram at Bosnyák tér, end station for the long since disused line 64. Photo Hampage.hu (Trams of Hungary)

The failure of the maintenance shop was taken with glee at Ganz, the company normally making trams. So they got to construct another articulated type, whose 181 exemplars would serve the busiest lines almost exclusively until now. This was type GCSM, whose rather bland but surprisingly widely known nickname preserves the memory of this builders' rivalry: 'Industrial Articulated'. Built from the middle of the sixties, their looks conformed to the new fashion of functional design: flat surfaces, sharp edges.

A type GCSM "industrial articulated" (series 1300II) in front of the south wing of the Parliament building. This is line 2/2A, along the east (Pest) bank of the Danube. My own photo of 8 July 2006

In the meantime, in the East Bloc, the Czech(oslovak) ČKD factory became market leader. They once bought the license of the American PCC type, and developed it further in the "Tatra" product line. When the construction of a third, outer Budapest boulevard created new demand at the end of the seventies, it was cheaper to buy non-articulated type T5C5 Tatras than get a GCSM successor from Ganz. These trams are the ultimate in Spartan functional design, the one big innovation was tainted-glass windows. The 322 trams supplied enabled the phasing-out of old types mentioned above.

Two type T5C5 "Tatra" (series 4000) cars under Gellért Chapel in the side of Gellért Mountain (both named for a bishop from the time of forced Christianisation who was rolled down in a barrel on this mountainside when pagans caught him in an uprising). My own photo of 8 July 2006

Meanwhile in Germany, the future was born. In the West, most tram lines were torn up to make way for roads. But in some bombed-out German cities, people thought reconstruction is an opportunity to reform transit systems. The idea was to mix the benefits of all types of urban rail: a line that enters the city as suburban railway or overland tramway could then continue as downtown tram, or even go underground below too busy streets ('light metro'). These systems were called Stadtbahn = city-rail. For the concept to really work out, new technologies had to arrive. In the seventies, they came.

Little noticed outside professional circles, there has been a revolution in electric motors: asynchronous AC motors have come of age, which were not only lighter and much stronger than what was before, but allowed continuous acceleration. Progress in automation made variable-level entrances a fail-safe technology: the plates below the door would either form a platform or descend to turn into steps. Suspension with rubber springs and dampers provided a smooth ride.

In 2001, after a long battle within the ruling Socialist-liberal coalition, Budapest bought a couple dozen used (thus cheap) type TW6000 trams from Hannover. Despite being a quarter century old, they became the technologically most advanced trams in the city... Though they were a bit high-level and heavy for Budapest, they convinced the sceptics (including me).

Two type TW6000 (series 1500II) trams in the loop in Mézeskalács park, end station of line 62. Photo from Hampage.hu (Trams of Hungary)

In the nineties, chiefly the French tram revival pushed another technology revolution. Now trams became low-floor (with most equipment on the roof), lightweight, and streamlined again. This wasn't without great mishaps: rushing new types into service meant that there were a lot of teething problems, chiefly with electronics, but also wear and tear. Siemens' flagship Combino trams had to be withdrawn across the world because of fissures in their aluminium carbodies. So when a big order came from Budapest, Siemens resurrected an earlier steel design under the same name.

The big order was for the world's busiest tram line, along the Grand Boulevard (lines 4/6). This is nothing to be proud of, the daily 200,000/hourly max. 10,500 passengers would be in the capacity range of a subway. But an orbital subway was never built, so pairs of "Industrial Articulateds" transport the masses in close succession. So when finally new vehicles were ordered, they were for the world's longest passenger trams (precisely 53.99 m; only the CarGoTram freight trams in Dresden/Germany are longer [59.4 m]). The new series 2000II got the nickname Óriáshernyó (=giant caterpillar).

The giant caterpillar of one of the first series 2000II trams curves out of Hungária depot (next to the MTK stadium, where the movie Victory was filmed with Pelé, Sylvester Stallone and Michael Caine). Photo from Hampage.hu (Trams of Hungary)

The first trams were put in service on 1 July. However, they had so many problems that they had to be taken out of service for repairs, repeatedly. There were corroded old catenary-holding poles falling over under the weight of new, thicker catenary, doors not working properly due to faulty software and tolerances, air conditioners with a concept ignoring the limited amount of electricity a DC system can give... This of course grew into a big pre-local-elections political scandal, ultimately 'solved' by the major firing the traffic company head... But by now, the teething problems seem to have been sorted out, the giant caterpillars are back in regular service, with no big problem for weeks.

The low-floor inside of the new Siemens Combinos (series 2000II). On the photo left, made by a colleague of mine, you see the entrance is level with the platform of the stopping place outside. On the right, my own photo of 8 July 2006, with a view along four of the six sections at passengers trying to look unimpressed while examining the New Thing

Finally, the tourist department speaking. If you are a tram fan and want to visit Budapest, I recommend a ride on these lines (also see present tram lines' map):

line 2/2A:
runs along the eastern bank of the Danube, with perfect view for the bridges and the scenic parts on the Buda side, plus the Parliament building.
line 56:
in Buda, has a mountain character, climbs up into Hűvösvölgy (=cold valley), where you can board a narrow-gauge railway operated by children (well, teens)
line 52:
an outer-district line in Pest, with a very varied right-of-way that includes sections still with some flair of 100 years ago
line 41:
along a main road in Buda, then after a dramatic curved bridge over a railway line, suddenly becomes an overland tram in woods
line 37:
runs from Blaha Lujza tér to Új Köztemető (=New Common Cemetery) in Pest (1956 connections: Stalin's statue was cut up at the former, you'll find the burial place of the executed revolutionaries in the second), along a route that has to cross several railway lines and does so on a variety of bridges, curves and underpasses

:: :: :: :: ::

Check the Train Blogging index page for a (hopefully) complete list of ET diaries and stories related to railways and trains.

Display:
You'll find an incredible number of old and new pictures in the two main sites I linked from the photos and tram types. I had a damn hard time doing the picture selection: tried to make each image unique in (1) type of tram shown, (2) era, (3) weather/season/time of day, (4) surroundings.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Mon Dec 11th, 2006 at 07:27:18 PM EST
Now updated with links to all prior train bloggings (not just by me) I could find.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 07:09:53 AM EST
[ Parent ]
You know what? This is reaching the point where the series could be published...

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 07:11:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought about that seriously for one second, then realised that I would have to ask permission from or pay royalties to dozens of embedded picture copyright owners...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 07:20:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Copyright is evil and only reduce the number of available works.
by Laurent GUERBY on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 03:28:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On the day I made the pictures, I went to a trade union protest against 'reforms'. Only a few hundred attended -- if no side in the Cold Civil War is involved, people don't bother to show up...

Fittingly, what received most resonance in the crowd was planned railway branchline closures. Almost half a year later, the government still wants to go ahead with this idiocy, while resistance is building up (I got to sign several independent petitions).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Mon Dec 11th, 2006 at 07:27:44 PM EST
I really like the appearance of the light rail cars now running in Minneapolis:

Other info available here.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Mon Dec 11th, 2006 at 07:55:07 PM EST
Those are of Bombardier's Flexity Swift family. Though the company is Canadian, the type was developed in Germany (first supplied to Cologne).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 07:19:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
When I was a city planning student in the 1970s, I worked on several projects that assumed we would have some sort of transit system on the Hiawatha corridor.

I took 30 years and the surprise election of a professional wrestler before it was built.  It has been wonderfully successful and cost less to build that a new freeway interchange.  And of course, the technology was not made in USA.

As much as everyone likes the new tram line, it is obvious that such an important transit link should have gotten a real subway line.  

"Remember the I35W bridge--who needs terrorists when there are Republicans"

by techno (reply@elegant-technology.com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 02:30:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Why should it have been a subway? Non-interference with surface traffic and benefits to the riders stemming from the extreme climate are all I can think of (neither of which are trivial I'll admit). The corridor isn't particularly high density.

The downtown to downtown line proposed for University Ave / I-94 would make more sense as a subway, I think.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 04:50:37 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Real subway? I read average is up to 25,000+ riders a day, good for a tram, but to my knowledge a subway needs upwards of 100,000 a day. I looked up some figures for Budapest -- there are several tram lines with 50,000+ daily ridership, while the presently in construction line 4 subway was projected for 475,000/day but is criticised for massaging numbers to appear cost-neutral, with 300,000/day (and losses) seen more likely. (And mentioned should-be-subway tram lines 4/6 transport 200,000.)

On the other hand, with Google I find Minneapolis/St. Paul metropolitan area has 3 million inhabitants (though less than a million downtown), big enough for a well-designed subway system. But certainly, it would be good to have more than one line.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 05:34:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
More Budapest subway line traffic numbers:
  • line 1 (from 1896, could as well be called light metro): 105,000/workday
  • line 2 (Russian-style heavy metro): 425,000/workday
  • line 3 (ditto, longer): 610,000/workday


*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 06:29:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The three million people are spread out over a very large area, see the area counted here (graphic in upper right). Much of it is rural. A full scale subway system could serve about 1 million people. I think a commuter rail system is needed as much as anything, and in fact they are going ahead with one, the Northstar Corridor.

There is an interesting tidbit in there that you wouldn't expect to hear very often in the US:

The Minnesota Department of Transportation (Mn/DOT) and the Northstar Corridor Development Authority (NCDA) studied options for development of the corridor to handle the increasing commuter load, and felt that a commuter rail line was the best option. It is expected to cost about US$265 million in 2008 dollars, estimated to be approximately 1/3 the cost of upgrading existing highways.

Granted it's that much cheaper because the rail is already in place, but that kind of thinking hasn't been common in the past, and would be referred to as "social engineering" by the usual suspects. I think American politicians have come around to the reality that our highways simply cannot scale further (without even taking into account the potential nightmares of declining future energy and resource availability and the implications for our road system).

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 07:30:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
With the amount of groundwater in Minneapolis (land of 10,000 lakes and all) I imagine it would be a nightmare to drill the tunnels.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 05:41:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a tunnel on the light rail line (under the airport runways. As I argued to someone in another diary a few months ago, groundwater is no problem per se, a pressure-balanced tunnel builder machine will go through it, or you could build from the surface with diaphragm walls and ballast weight for hydrostatic equilibrum -- indeed most city tunnels are in groundwater. Varied strata, especially if it varies between hard rock and water-carrying sediment, or water-carrying layers deep in the route of mountain tunnels is what's problematic.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 07:16:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
So that's what they're called! San Francisco has some rail things that are metro underground, but then aboveground look like these. I've been calling them rail-buses because I had no idea exactly what to call them. Wikipedia says that tram is the same as streetcar or trolley but for some reason I thought those two words only referred to older ones that are tourist traps here now. :)

Rachael

by R343L (reverse qw/ten.cinos@l343r/) on Mon Dec 11th, 2006 at 08:06:37 PM EST
Urban rail terminology is confusing, because there are not only multiple names for the same thing, but there is no clear boundary between the different categories... Nowadays, the blanket term for tram/streetcar/trolley [on rails]/Stadtbahn/interurban is "light rail".

SF has both a heavy rail (BART) and a light rail (Muni Metro) mass transit system, both of which happen to be a mix of suburban commuter railway, subway and downtown tramway in line character, like the German Stadtbahn. You must surely mean the light-rail one, Muni Metro, which BTW runs trams made by Italian company Ansaldo Breda.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 07:11:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There are also British/American English differences here.  My American Heritage dictionary (from 2000) says that "tram" is "chiefly British" for streetcar. I also remember growing up hearing my grandmother talking about how much she missed the "trolleys" (never "tram" or "streetcar") we had until the 1950s in my home town. (Today some of them have been converted into bike and hiking paths; since they don't follow streets, I can see why it would have been strange to call them "streetcars.") These days the only time most Americans see "lightrail" is at airports, and "tram" seems to have won out over the other terms, at least at these venues.
by Matt in NYC on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:05:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The use of "trolley" for rail vehicles is very strange to my ears, as it is used for electric road vehicles here.



*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:40:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
What some Americans would call "trolley buses" -- if they have any word at all for these strange contraptions. I notice that American writers (of guidebooks and the like) have a hard time describing these, even when they find them in familiar places like Boston. But "trolley bus" makes sense to me: in America these were mostly transition vehicles from old trolley/tram rail lines to regular gas-powered buses.
by Matt in NYC on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:04:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Here, a few years ago, someone in the Budapest major's office had the 'great' idea to replace trolley buses with gasoline buses, but it was called off amid protests from all quarters. A one or two years later, the major showed that he 'learnt from it' when new trolley buses were ordered.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:12:08 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I do indeed mean the muni metro. My confusion is just proof we need more transit! :)

Rachael

by R343L (reverse qw/ten.cinos@l343r/) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 11:54:27 AM EST
[ Parent ]
That BVVV line looks just like the one I used to take to school in Geneva. Loud and rattling. They then upgraded them and it turned out that their special quiet design was a safety hazard as they passed through the carless shopping street downtown.  In NYC you can still occasionally see the old tracks here and there on the remnants of the old cobblestone streets.
by MarekNYC on Mon Dec 11th, 2006 at 08:24:14 PM EST
That BVVV line looks just like the one I used to take to school in Geneva.

Do you mean the one on the colored postcard? Or the one on which the BVVV type F rattles next to a 'proper' railway line?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 07:27:46 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The type F
by MarekNYC on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:25:23 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Denver, Colorado, has just two weeks ago started up a significant extension to its light rail line.

by asdf on Mon Dec 11th, 2006 at 10:11:29 PM EST
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 03:29:40 AM EST
London South of the Thames has very limited Tube service, having to make do with commuter rail (which is quite dense, on the other hand). As an affordable (and presumably quick to build) alternative to the underground, South London has built a tram network, the Croydon Tramlink.

I have heard Ken Livingston wants to close Oxford Street (London's main upscale shopping area) to car traffic and build a tram line along it.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 06:55:08 AM EST
Kewl!

London has another growing light rail system, I guess closer to you: the Docklands Light Railway, which will get its second Thames crossing by 2009.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 07:48:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, but DLR is overground, usually on elevated tracks.

This is about trams so I glossed over it. Also, it also covers mostly the north bank, although it has, as you say one river crossing and will get more.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 08:12:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And that river crossing underground :-) Why don't you consider the DLR a tram?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:42:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose because it doesn't share its rights of way with regular traffic at any point, and it's all on dedicated track? After all, they chose to make it elevated instead of street-level.

The Tramlink does have some sections outside of streets, and shares track with the commuter rail, but it does have sections where it shares the right-of-way with regular traffic.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:50:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
it doesn't share its rights of way with regular traffic at any point, and it's all on dedicated track?

Is that true at the Western and South-of-Thames ends too? (I'm asking naively, I only assumed they cross streets from maps.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:54:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Those sections are elevated, except the last stretch of track into Bank, which gets into a tunnel.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:10:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now that I think of it, I really don't know how I could have thought they cross roads even from maps, given that they are third-rail-powered!... So just light-rail, light metro.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:18:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes, I was just now going to make a comment about the third rail ;-)

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:21:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
A friend of my father's used to work for Spain's national rail company RENFE as an engineer, but 10 to 15 yers ago decided to open a transportation consultancy with a couple of friends. I remember a conversation where he explained that trams were a very hard sell because politicians thought they were old-fashioned, so he said you needed to tell the mayor (or whomever) Lo que usted necesita es un Metro Ligero ("what you need is a Light Metro").

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:25:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Funny, that was something I wanted to bring up to stormy and R343L, that there is also a marketing level to the use of terminology here. "Light rail" also seems to sound sexier than "trolley/streetcar/tram".

Meanwhile, While the French boom and form design made surface light rail again fashionable with politicians, I note another bad trend: surface light rail and even more light metros are often brought up by politicians instead of heavy metros, as a cost-saving alternative -- which can lead to shiny new lines with insufficient capacity and slow traffic due to jammed streets...

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:36:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The DLR was initially built very cheaply to run alongside existing rail-lines between Tower Gateway and Limehouse. From there it used redundant railway lines and viaducts that served the former docks, with some new elevated sections to run through the Canary Wharf area, to Island Gardens where it terminated at a high level on an old viaduct. Using light rail meant that no extensive rebuilding was required and the tight of way was already established.

From that first route, the line was extended to Bank Station in a new tunnel to provide a more convenient link with the rest of the tube network. Other lines on elevated track took the system to the service/"garage" facilities near All Saints, using elevated new sections for most of the way. The line to Stratford from there used old docks lines again. The southern extension involves a new tunnel under the Thames from Island Gardens which is now underground until it joins the existing BR station at Greenwich. From there again redundant routes were used to Lewisham. The other extensions are again a mixture of old dock railway routes and new build.

There is a tram system in Croydon which although is technically a separate town, is part of Greater London. That runs through the streets and then joins a redundant rail line towards Wimbledon that if memory serves was mostly used to haul coal to a town gas/coke plant at what is now Ikea and power stations at Mitcham. (I used to live in the area but I am not sure about the more southerly part of the routes)

One point of trivia, if it is the route I think it is, it runs close to the line of a horse drawn wooden railed line that ran from the south coast to London to haul fresh fish - accounting for a huge number of oyster shells found locally and a history of children making "grottos" or mini-gardens using them in order to beg for change to spend at Mitcham fair.

by Londonbear on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 11:13:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
See this press release:
the Mayor and New West End Company's long term goal of further improving the West End to ensure it is the highest quality retail and leisure centre befitting a 21st century world city, [includes]:
  • The long-term goal of a tram-based public transport solution for Oxford Street, from Marble Arch to Tottenham Court Rd
  • Remodeling of Marble Arch to provide a new, world-class public space, with a high quality pedestrian environment and improved interchange between buses and the Underground. Making the most of the Arch itself, this will provide a fitting gateway into London's premier shopping area.
  • Renewal of the eastern end of Oxford Street, with the redevelopment of Tottenham Court Road station providing opportunities to create a proper eastern gateway to Oxford Street.



Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 08:22:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There's also the proposed north-south line (Camden to Brixton/Peckham, going via Euston-Kingsway-Waterloo en route). The public consultation documents have just been sent out on that one, 'cuz I saw them at the weekend when I was visiting a friend who lives in Clapham.

I believe there are several other 'outer London' routes in varying stages of completion - the one that springs to mind is a route along the Uxbridge Rd axis that's intended to open up the western approaches to Shepherds Bush.

The DLR is cool looking and pretty handy for short hops - but I live in Lewisham and it isn't very useful for getting into the centre from there as it's way too slow compared to overland rail or the tube from New Cross/New Cross Gate.

My folks live in Nottingham, which recently introduced a tram/light railway that appears to have been a raging success. The council are looking to bring in at least two more routes, including one out through West Bridgeford/Clifton to Nottingham Airport. The proposed hub and interchange for these routes will be at the railway station, where there's a viaduct from the old Grand Central railway line that used to run out of Victoria station and over the tracks of the Midland station before crossing the river.

Regards
Luke

-- #include witty_sig.h

by silburnl on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 01:30:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Docklands line is incredibly cool, so sleek and futuristic and with great views. And as Migeru notes, it's an "el" to boot. [DoDo, any chance you'll ever do a diary just about elevated train lines?]  
by Matt in NYC on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:10:43 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sleek and futuristic it may be, but the open-plan elevated platforms are inhospitable to life in the London winter.

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:14:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Oooh, I know about those even less than I knew about trams before writing this diary, so maybe you could do it? If not, I may do so at a later time. (I currently have two more ideas to convert into Occasional Train Bloggings, and that will probably not happen until next year...)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:45:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sure you still know a million times more than I do! I just remember as a little boy thinking the El in Chicago was second only to space missions for total coolness. And today, I still feel like a giddy tourist whenever I ride one of the New York subway lines that suddenly shoot out onto elevated track. Here's a picture of the closest spot where this happens for me:

125 Street No. 1 Station, Harlem

by Matt in NYC on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:30:16 AM EST
[ Parent ]
125th  Street Station

By the way, what's the code on ET for inserting pictures into posts?

by Matt in NYC on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:33:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The normal html img tag (<img src="http://www.your.site/yourpicture.jpg">). It's in the new user guide.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:38:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks! I'd actually tried to find this answer in the New User's Guide but from the FAQ. ET tech-gods, take note: the link (to the New User's Guide) in the FAQ doesn't work.
by Matt in NYC on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:42:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
There is a direct link in the top right menu. But I corrected the link in the FAQ (it was apparently unchanged since the creation of ET as a daughter of BT).

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:47:02 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The thing is, I admit to being Euro-centric, and there aren't many surviving elevateds here -- I can recall sections in Hamburg and Berlin, and the hanging railway of Wuppertal if that counts. I don't know more about the American ones than what I see in films (Redford/Newman The Sting, Patrick Swayze's Ghost, Lou Diamond Philips/Kiefer Sutherland Renegades etc.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:44:03 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Spider-Man II! Those supposed NYC scenes were actually filmed on Chicago's El.
by Matt in NYC on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 11:08:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hope you enjoy these pics, DoDo.

First up, Torino.

Old style (I don't remember seeing these.)

These are the ones I remember

Overhead cables ahoy!

This seems to be a new design (haven't seen them; but I haven't been to Torino for quite a few years.)

And finally, Brighton's very own Volk's Electric Railway.

In 1883 Magnus Volk opened an electric powered railway along the seafront at Brighton. Although not quite the first example of electric traction in the world it was certainly the first proper electric railway in Britain. Today it holds the deserved position of being the oldest remaining operating electric railway in the world.


And how about this!

The Brighton Daddy Long Legs is the nickname of an extraordinary railway that ran between the seaside towns of Brighton and Rottingdean in Sussex. It opened in November 1896, and was unusual for several reasons- it was electric and the tracks were under the sea for much of the day.

It was built by Magnus Volk as an extension to the existing electric seafront railway which had been running since 1883. He wanted to bring this service an additional 4.5km (approx 2.5 miles) along the coast to Rottingdean. But the geography of the region thwarted normal designs. Unstable chalk cliffs marred the route, and would have required steep climbs and viaducts. Chunks often crumbled off, so running tracks along the base of the cliff would also have been problematic.

Volk was not a conventional thinker, and soon hit on the idea of laying his tracks on the seabed. His train design incorporated a single 15m-long carriage with four 7m steel legs that kept the double passenger deck well above the waterline. Two tracks were laid 5.5m apart and the train ran along both. The tracks were between 60 and 100m out to sea for the whole route. At the foot of each leg, a small truck provided motive force to four wheels via two 25 horsepower GE electric motors. Scrapers were in place to deflect seaweed. But it was a little underpowered, and ran noticeably faster at low tide than at high tide.

The double track was supported by regular concrete blocks on the chalk seabed. They ran between a platform at Madeira Drive, Brighton to a steel pier at Rottingdean. Power was supplied to the train by an overhead cable, and was generated at a small plant under Rottingdean pier.

The train weighed about 45 tons and carried 150 passengers. In operation, it must have looked like a chunk of pier had broken off, and ambled along the beach to the next town.

Storm damage in December 1896 lead to a major repair programme, including the rebuilding of Rottingdean pier and improvements to the train. However, the system was a great success with novelty-seeking Victorians. Even at 6d. per journey, over 40,000 passengers used the service between July 1897 and the end of the year.

In September 1900, Brighton planned new sea defence works that would require Volk to move his line further out. He had already lost revenue from the peak season that year, due to emergency track repairs. In January 1901, the authorities removed some sections of track to begin their works, using emergency provisions in the Act of Parliament that had established the service in the first place. Volk was forced to abandon the line. The train was lashed to the pier and allowed to rust away until 1910, when it was sold for scrap. Although he was granted permission to build a cliff-spanning viaduct into Rottingdean, he couldn't raise the required capital.

Today, at low tide, visitors to Brighton can still see a few of Volk's track supports- a reminder of one of the quirkiest sea-front entertainments in Britain's quirkiest seaside town.



Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.
by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 08:39:04 AM EST
Wow, never heard of this... I mean Volk's Electric.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:48:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
In the subway sub-thread on a totally non-train-related diary, DoDo wrote:

An orbital line for outer suburbs, well not many subway systems have them (the Madrid line Migeru mentioned may be counted one). The traffic demand is usually too light for a subway, so it should be for trams or buses (whose lack is not the subway system's fault). But the Purple Line from your and Wiki's description seems just such a project.

Moving my response over here, where train-talk fits a bit better....

Actually, in DC the subways and the buses are part of the same system.  I know they're hoping that the new WMATA chief will work on the bus system, which really is a problem.  I think he comes from LA, which has a lot more bus riders than DC.

And for some reason, a lot of people in DC don't like to ride the bus.  It's kind of snobby; they think buses are for poor people.  Also, the route system really is hard to understand, compared to the subway.

On a different issue, the DC Metro system doesn't actually serve DC's modern outer suburbs at all.  The so-called "outer suburbs" were outer 20 or 30 years ago, but the whole area is so densely populated now, and housing prices in the inner suburbs and the city have risen so high, that they don't really qualify as "outer" anymore.  The true "outer suburbs" can be upwards of 60 miles away. (My sister commutes to DC's inner suburbs by car from near the West Virginia border, around 85 miles or 136 km each way.  I used to use a combination of bus and rail to get from a mid-to-outer suburb into the city; my commute was an hour and a half each way.)

And since the economic area is spread out as well (most of the jobs are in the suburbs, not necessarily the downtown area, which is largely federal agencies and related, e.g. lobbying, businesses) there are plenty of people who work in one suburb and live in a different one.  They aren't really well-served by the Metro system as it stands.  Actually, the entire transportation system (including the roads) is ridiculously overloaded, so nobody is really served as well as they should be.

For the far-flungs, light rail is obviously the answer, and it's being used to some extent, mostly on the Maryland side and in the far southern Virginia 'burbs.   But people still remain inexplicably wedded to their cars...

by the stormy present (stormypresent aaaaaaat gmail etc) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:34:03 AM EST
And for some reason, a lot of people in DC don't like to ride the bus.  It's kind of snobby; they think buses are for poor people.  Also, the route system really is hard to understand, compared to the subway.

As a radical lefty (and a student, which put me below poverty level except students are excluded from poverty statistics...) I insisted on riding the bus in Riverside, CA, and the bus there was definitely for poor people and (not necessarily poor) black/hispanic kids commuting to school. Barbara has a story of an old lady who got on a bus once and loudly apologised and said that she did not usually take the bus, that it was just this once because her son couldn't give her a ride.

I don't know whether it's snobbery, but how many Americans have never ridden on public transport?

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides

by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:41:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
the answer to your question: how many Americans have never ridden on public transport" is

not enough

The world will end not with a Bang, but with a "do'oh"

by love and death on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 11:07:55 AM EST
[ Parent ]
On a different issue, the DC Metro system doesn't actually serve DC's modern outer suburbs at all.  The so-called "outer suburbs" were outer 20 or 30 years ago, but the whole area is so densely populated now, and housing prices in the inner suburbs and the city have risen so high, that they don't really qualify as "outer" anymore.
In Madrid the M30 orbital highway used to be on the edge of the city, but now it just circles what one could call the "inner city" (just like London's Circle Line or Ring Road), and now there is an M40 and and M50...

Those whom the Gods wish to destroy They first make mad. -- Euripides
by Migeru (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 09:44:59 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Check out the Budapest tram network map I linked towards the end of the diary! People won't leave their cars until light rail lines around DC will be at least that dense. (Where it is to be noted: Budapest too has a subway and also buses; just DC proper is twice as many people as Budapest; and the tramway network used to be twice as long.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:00:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
pretty much everywhere in the U.S., except for a few big old cities. For at least 90% of Americans "You can't get there from here" is pretty much accurate for "public" transit.
by Matt in NYC on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:15:50 AM EST
[ Parent ]
And for some reason, a lot of people in DC don't like to ride the bus.  It's kind of snobby; they think buses are for poor people.  Also, the route system really is hard to understand, compared to the subway

You get a bit of that in NYC, but the subway network really is a lot better for getting around, and you do get a remarkable class cross section on public transport. A few years ago I'd gone to see a pre-auction viewing at Sotheby's. Those are rather strange - you've got normal schmucks like me treating it as a very nice free art exhibit, but there are also the actual buyers being sheperded around by obsequious employees (Six year old tugging at a woman's hand - grandma, grandma 'I've seen that one' - yes dear, it's similar to the one in the dining room', employee 'I can see he is quite precocious, one day he'll be a brilliant collector like his grandmother'). In any case I remember finding myself starring at a beautiful Cezanne with a distinguished looking elderly couple as an employee explained to them just how perfect that eight figure estimate painting would look in their bedroom and eavesdropping on the nice art-history discussion that accompanied the sales pitch. A couple hours later I was standing next to them waiting for the crosstown bus - they got off at Park, I didn't.

On a different issue, the DC Metro system doesn't actually serve DC's modern outer suburbs at all.  The so-called "outer suburbs" were outer 20 or 30 years ago, but the whole area is so densely populated now, and housing prices in the inner suburbs and the city have risen so high, that they don't really qualify as "outer" anymore.

Well it's grown so fast that a lot of those not really outer anymore suburbs were just farmland back then - think Loudon county. Population: 1970 37k, 1980 58k, 1990 86k, 2000 170k, 2005 256k.

by MarekNYC on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:49:06 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Same problem in the SF bay area. If you live close into SF and Oakland, then public transit is okay (assuming you're near BART stops). If you live out in the suburbs and your job isn't near a BART stop, you might as well drive -- and a lot of jobs aren't near a BART stop because, for instance, most of the tech jobs are not in SF or Oakland. So the "suburb-to-suburb" commuting is pretty common.

Rachael

by R343L (reverse qw/ten.cinos@l343r/) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 12:05:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Man, DoDo!! When you decide to write a piece, you don't hold back!! Another excellent article...wow!! Thanks!

"Once in awhile we get shown the light, in the strangest of places, if we look at it right" - Hunter/Garcia
by whataboutbob on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 10:55:17 AM EST
This is what the combino in Basel looks like:

And more pics here:
http://www.picswiss.ch/06-BS/BS-64-01.html

We had problems with the combino, don't know what it was all about, here just two headlines:
Sanierung Combino and Basler Combino-Flotte Basel-Stadt und Siemens haben sich über Schadenersatzzahlungen geeinigt.
All of a sudden the city was short of trams, so other Swiss cities lend us their old trams, looked fun as they had all different colors, but some looked more like your nr. 9.

Looks like we are getting some new ones too - this one called Tango:

This time from a Swiss company - more here

by Fran (fran at eurotrib dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 11:12:38 AM EST
It was the main problem of the original Combinos I mentioned in the diary: their carbody was made of lightweight aluminium, and fissures appeared in them, which is rather difficult to repair.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 11:36:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
We got those in Amsterdam too. Some start-up problems but they seem to be fixed now.

by Indrah on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 04:29:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
thought this might be an interesting link to add to the discussion.  This map seems to conflate light rail, trams, and subways, (and seems to leave out most commuter rail) but it Shows North America does have some non buss mass transit.

http://www.radicalcartography.net/?subways

...now off to see if i can find something similar for Europe.

btw I love www.radicalcartography.net

The world will end not with a Bang, but with a "do'oh"

by love and death on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 11:16:52 AM EST
Thanks for the link!  Interesting to imagine all those lines joining up...

Thought you might like this site (you may have seen it before):

http://worldprocessor.com/catalog/world/

Don't fight forces, use them R. Buckminster Fuller.

by rg (leopold dot lepster at google mail dot com) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 11:36:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Very cool. Would be even cooler if they included the associated commuter rail lines (they do show the Caltrain commuter rail in the bay area, but that's it).

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 12:57:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Back in August poemless gave us a link to to-scale maps of major subway systems in the world.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 06:01:17 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I took this in Srtasbourg, France, in May,2006.

From strasbourg Ma...


Hey, Grandma Moses started late!
by LEP on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 01:55:48 PM EST
In OZ in the post-WWII period there were strong minded Transport Ministers in both NSW and Vic. The one in NSW said, "the trams go". The one in Vic said, "the trams stay". That's why Sydney is only just now bring a scattered few light rail lines back.

The names used in the railpix site will be familiar from the above ... Combino, Citadis.

This is the Sydney Light Rail leaving Central Station, Sydney. I never once rode a tram in Oz, so to me passengers trains are more prosaic and trams more exotic ... naturally enough, when Sydney pulled up their trams, Newcastle had to follow suit, and if Sydney only has a couple of light rail lines, certainly Newcastle won't be seeing any for another decade or more.

And of course, this is the Portage County Ohio light rail solution.


............................................................................

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Which I wouldn't mind seeing replaced by:



I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 02:04:46 PM EST
Just to show my appreciation, here's a link to a site with endless pics of the more recent-version Roman trams -
http://www.railfaneurope.net/pix/it/trams/Roma/pix.html

and one with info and pics on Rome's historical trams and tramlines.

http://xoomer.alice.it/vform/tramroma/index.htm

Here's a pic of one of the newer ones:

A rare photo of a Roman tram in the snow (the tram's common enough, it's the snow+Rome combination that's the real rarity!)-

and one of a real old-timer... dating back to 1911:

...

Sadly, through the years and especially in those from the 1960s through the 1980s, many of Rome's tramlines got discontinued.  The worst-hit seem to have been the longer-distance ones serving the outer suburbs and hinterland - including the Castelli hilltowns zone where I live. :-(

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 03:21:54 PM EST
Nice photos -- you can be counted on for artistic selection :-) I must admit that I'm not too hot about trams, but while searching for the right photos for the diary on those two sites, I found a lot of pictures I liked vewry much as landscape photographs. Here are two autumn pictures from Hampage.Hu I had to leave out from the diary, exclusive for the ET photographers:

The photographer made both on the scenic mountain line 56 I recommended at the end of the diary.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 05:57:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 04:51:29 PM EST
Grenoble:

Rouen:

Nantes:

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 04:53:21 PM EST
I wondered when the French trams I praised will appear in the comments :-)

As neither you nor LEP mentioned, I mention the big innovation in Bordeaux: they again attempted a system without catenary. This one has no continuous power line, like the two rails hidden in that ditch in the Budapest system, but power points in the road that 'open' automatically when the train is above them.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 05:42:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's all on wikipedia too (citadis), with pictures:

Montpellier

And Bordeaux with its own article and picture without catenaire :

by Laurent GUERBY on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 06:33:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If combined with a battery/electric system, that would make for an even more promising system, since the places where its too difficult to provide for the power, you just drive over on battery power. As long as there is a power section at each stop, so the battery is rarely used to accelerate from standing, that could be an effective system.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.
by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 01:57:07 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fact, the Bordeaux system does involve running on battery on shorter neutral sections or when there is a local power outage/faulty contact. But more is not viable: to charge up the tram for a longer journey on a shorter distance would require helluva' lot of power. (I also note: it is early to call the Bordeaux system itself viable, given that it had numerous technical problems since it started operation. It remains to be seen whether those were just eething problems.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 02:25:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Its not distance per se that's crucial as much as power demand, and if you have a connection to the grid at a stop, to feed power in for regenerative breaking if the batteries are topped up, and drawn power while stopped and for acceleration, the extra "time over grid" at the stop makes that strategic.

But saying all that, yeah, it does follow from the current effort proving its viability.

And of course an Aerobus does not need to worry about the cost of building through obstacles to providing power, as the power supply goes over the obstacles along with the track.

I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 03:40:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm afraid the stations feed-in points idea is still not viable even with your points. The operational and technical issues in the way are:

  • Trams practically accelerate/brake all the time: short distance between stations, even that interspersed with road crossings and curves, there can be a 'traffic jam' on the line too.
  • Stopping time at stations is short.
  • Unlike cars, rail vehicles (or at least the 'proper' railway vehicles I am more familiar with) often get near maximum continuous power at the maximum permitted speed, that is, braking/accelerating is not such a peak in power use as for cars.

On the other hand, I shall mention that various firms are tinkering with bringing back the fly-wheel, as an energy storage possibility between braking and acceleration at stops.

I'm not aure I understand the point about building power supply across obstacles. Do you mean catenary systems, or also the Bordeaux system?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 04:09:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That was in reference to the Aerobus, where the power supply is with the track, the power train is in the pod that surrounds the track, and the carriage dangles underneath. So rather than bringing the power down to a tram, it brings the vehicle up to the power.

On the other stuff, like I said, electric trains are prosaic for me, while trams are more exotic. If I had been living in Melbun, it probably would have been the other way around.


I've been accused of being a Marxist, yet while Harpo's my favourite, it's Groucho I'm always quoting. Odd, that.

by BruceMcF (agila61 at netscape dot net) on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 04:42:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I rode the tram to school in the 50s and later.  Apparently they were Fiat PCCs and GEs.

http://www.emtmadrid.es/about/history.html
Down a page, click on "Los tranvías de Madrid"
(pdf page 9)

Also the two-story buses, Guy and Leyland.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.

by metavision on Tue Dec 12th, 2006 at 07:52:00 PM EST
Yes, me too, I went to school riding the tram in the 60's in Barcelona.  Afterwards they were removed, but now, after a heated debate in the municipality, we have them again since 2003, two lines and growing.

http://www.trambcn.com/phtml/index.phtml?IdiomaWeb=ing&PHPSESSID=9f5c8fab1300b0abc6d887d888950a8 4

We have also an historical tram going up to Mount Tibidabo, mainly for tourists.

http://www.tici.ch/Bilder%20Barcelona/Tramvia%20Blau.jpg

The tram wishes everybody Happy Christmas
http://www.tramvia.org/imatges/postal_nadal.jpg

by amanda2006 on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 05:27:10 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Those are both really attractive, though the old is so much more evoking.  I am waiting for the new "light
metro" west of Madrid in 2007, which is another of the local PP´s pharaonic projects.  It has been two years of endless construction, so far.

Our knowledge has surpassed our wisdom. -Charu Saxena.
by metavision on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 08:34:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Incidentally, the tram became a sort of an icon for the popular revolt of the 50's.  In February 1951, the Government wanted to increase the price of the ticket and the people boicotted the tram for nearly one month. Everybody was going to work by foot and what had begun as a tram boicott became a general strike against the high cost of living and scarcity, supported by shop owners, workshops and students. It was the first popular revolt since the Civil War, brutally repressed by the Policía Nacional.

http://es.geocities.com/paisajes_guerrilla/catalonia.html

 Era impresionante ver, a primeras horas de la mañana, a los obreros andando varios kilómetros para llegar a los lugares de trabajo, despreciando a los tranvías que deambulaban sin otro pasaje que el conductor, cobrador y un "gris" como protección. Este espectáculo se repetía al término de la jornada, sin un desmayo por parte de aquellos extraños huelguistas que mostraban su protesta negándose a utilizar el tranvía para su desplazamiento. Durante diez días, nadie subió a ningún transporte público. Pocas veces se volverá a ver en una comunidad de millón y medio de habitantes una unidad de criterio y tan grande perseverancia, sin un desmayo.

Durante el día, los estudiantes y quienes no lo eran se dedicaron a sabotear a pedradas los tranvías y con toda clase de artimañas, conseguían el descarrilamiento del vehículo. Se arrancaron los adoquines de la calzada y se levantaron barricadas desde las cuales se luchaba contra la fuerza pública. El Gobierno acuarteló las tropas y de Madrid llegaron centenares de policías armados para reforzar el dispositivo represivo de la dictadura en la capital catalana. Las autoridades se vieron obligadas a rebajar el billete a su precio anterior, creyendo que con este gesto el problema estaba solucionado, pero este tenía raíces mucho más profundas. Se equivocaron: creían haber arreglado el asunto pero en realidad se había demostrado, a los ojos de todos, que con la unión era posible alcanzar metas hasta entonces inimaginables. Acabado lo de los tranvías comenzó una huelga general, también de impresionantes proporciones y de cariz revolucionario.

by amanda2006 on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 03:24:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Toronto's streetcars - with its 305.8 km of trackage.  Service began in 1861.  Toronto has a unique track gauge of 4 feet 10 7/8 inches (1,495 mm) - which requires modification of various models - there is not an "off-the-shelf" solution for Toronto.

Given the tight loops (and as always politics), there are a few prospective new models that may be considered as the fleet is replaced.  However, an early favourite may be the Skoda design currently in use in Portland, Oregon.

Pics from the venerable Transit Toronto site http://transit.toronto.on.ca/ (but are reduced in size for this site)



"now this is not the end, it is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." W. Churchill

by Thor Heyerdahl (thor.heyerdahl@NOSPAMgmail.com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 07:04:35 AM EST
have a link to a site featuring a variety of UK Tram routes with Photos. The Blackpool route is the only one I have actually ridden.

Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Dec 13th, 2006 at 04:01:16 PM EST
Par Issy, par ivry.

The new south line

La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.

by lacordaire on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 12:04:40 PM EST
the link again:
the south line


La répartie est dans l'escalier. Elle revient de suite.
by lacordaire on Thu Dec 14th, 2006 at 12:09:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]


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