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A tram, tramcar, trolley, trolleycar, or streetcar is a railborne vehicle, of lighter weight and construction than a conventional train, designed for the transport of passengers (and, very occasionally, freight) within, close to, or between villages, towns and/or cities, on tracks running primarily on streets. Certain types of cable car are also known as trams.
The Silesian Interurbans and the Melbourne network are claimed to be the largest tram networks in the world. During a while in the 1980s the world's largest tram system was in Leningrad, USSR, being included in Guinness World Records. Other large systems include Amsterdam, Basel, Zurich and Toronto. Until the system started to be converted to trolleybus (and later bus) in the 1930s, the first-generation London network was also one of the world's largest, with 526 km (327 mi) of route in 1934.
Tramways with tramcars (or street railways with streetcars: US) were common throughout the industrialised world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries but they had disappeared from most British, Canadian, French and U.S. cities by the mid-20th century.
By contrast, trams in parts of continental Europe continued to be used by many cities, although there were contractions in some countries, including the Netherlands.
Since 1980 trams have returned to favour in many places, partly because their tendency to dominate the highway, formerly seen as a disadvantage, is now considered to be a merit. New systems have been built in the United States, Great Britain, Ireland, France and many other countries.
Tramways are now included in the wider term "light rail", which also includes segregated systems. Some systems have both segregated and street-running sections, but are usually then referred to as trams, because it is the equipment for street-running which tends to be the decisive factor. Vehicles on wholly segregated light rail systems are generally called trains, although cases have been known of "trains" built for a segregated system being sold on to new owners and becoming "trams". Electric streetcars, often called trams outside North America, once served transit needs in scores of North American cities. Most municipal systems were dismantled in the mid-20th century.
Today, only New Orleans and Toronto still operate streetcar networks that are essentially unchanged in their layout and mode of operation.
Boston, Cleveland, Mexico City, Newark, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, and San Francisco have rebuilt their streetcar systems as light rail systems. Buffalo, Calgary, Dallas, Edmonton, Houston, Los Angeles, Minneapolis, San Diego, Charlotte, and St. Louis have installed new light rail systems, parts of which run along historic streetcar corridors and in a few cases feature mixed-traffic operation like a streetcar. Portland, Oregon and Seattle have built both modern light rail and modern streetcar systems.
Edmonton, Seattle, Vancouver, Whitehorse, and other cities have restored a small number of streetcars to run as heritage lines for tourists. Not all streetcars systems were removed; the San Francisco cable car system and New Orleans' streetcars are the most famous examples in the United States. San Francisco's conventional electric streetcar system also avoided abandonment, as did portions of the streetcar systems in Boston, Newark, Philadelphia and Pittsburgh, together with those of Toronto in Canada and Mexico City in Mexico. The Newark, Philadelphia, and Boston systems ran into subways downtown, while the Pittsburgh and San Francisco systems had tunnels under large hills that had no acceptable road alternatives for bus replacements. The St. Charles Avenue line in New Orleans runs down the park-like "neutral ground" in the centre of St. Charles Avenue. The only system without these alternatives to street-running to survive was Toronto's. All of these systems have received new equipment. Some of these cities have also rehabilitated lines, and Newark, New Orleans, and San Francisco have added trackage in recent years. In Philadelphia, a former trolley line that was "bustituted" recently resumed trolley service using rebuilt historic cars.
In Canada, most cities once had a streetcar system, but today Toronto's TTC is the only traditional operator of streetcars, and maintains the Western Hemisphere's most extensive system in terms of track length, number of cars, and ridership. The city added two lines in recent years, and is upgrading its other lines. Expansion is planned in combination with the city's plans for the rejuvenation of its waterfront. Europe, particularly Finland, Germany, Croatia, Russia, Ukraine, Poland, Romania, Czech Republic, Hungary, France, Serbia, Italy, Austria, Switzerland, Sweden and Spain, has an extensive number of tramway networks. Some of these networks have been upgraded to light rail standards, called Stadtbahn in Germany and Premetros in Belgium. Trams in Australia are now used extensively as public transport only in Melbourne, and to a lesser extent, Adelaide, though Sydney operates a modern light rail system. Several other major cities had tram networks however these networks were largely dismantled during the 1950s and some as late as the 1970s. However some of these cities have retained tram museums or replica tourist routes. This is a list of African cities and towns that have, or once had, town tramway (urban tramway, or streetcar) systems as part of their public transport system. Other geographic regions:
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See also: List of light-rail transit systems, List of rapid transit systems, List of trolleybus systems. Tramway Systems in the Asian region were well established at the start of the 20th century, but started to decline in use in the 1930s. By the 1960s the majority of systems had been closed down. Extensive tramways still exist in Japan and Hong Kong. Recently, more modern systems have been built in Korea and the Philippines. Trams in New Zealand were a major form of transport from the 19th century into the mid 20th century. New Zealand's first (horse) tramway was established in 1862 (Nelson), followed by a steam tramway in 1871 (Thames), and the first electric tramway in 1900 (Maori Hill, Dunedin). The tram systems in the main centres, and in some smaller towns, were soon electrified. By the 1950s all systems were in the process of being replaced by trolleybuses or buses. The last tram service closed in 1964, in Wellington. A tram running parallel with a public road opened in Western Springs, Auckland, in 1980 Auckland and a central city loop line in Christchurch in 1995. Both are heritage lines.
Some moves are proceeding to extend tram use in New Zealand again. In Auckland, the MOTAT line was extended in the late 2000s to reach a second site of the museum, and the the Auckland Regional Council is investigating the option of creating an Auckland waterfront tram line, using MOTAT vehicles, while in Christchurch, the city loop is being extended in several small stages starting late 2000s. While these proposals are all officially heritage / tourist lines, there is some investigation into later extension / conversion for normal transport use. A trolleybus (also known as trolley bus, trolley coach, trackless trolley, trackless tram or trolley) is an electric bus that draws its electricity from overhead wires (generally suspended from roadside posts) using spring-loaded trolley poles. Two wires and poles are required to complete the electrical circuit, unlike a tram or streetcar, which normally uses the track as part of the electrical path and thus needs only one wire and pole. The history of the trolleybus dates back to 29 April 1882, when Dr. Ernst Werner von Siemens ran his "Elektromote" in a Berlin suburb. This experimental demonstration continued until 13 June 1882, after which there was little progress in Europe, although separate experiments were conducted in the USA. The next development was when Lombard Gérin operated an experimental line at the Paris Exhibition of 1900 after four years of trials. Max Schiemann made the biggest step when on 10 July 1901 the world's first passenger-carrying trolleybus operated at Bielathal (near Dresden), in Germany. Schiemann built and operated the Bielathal system, and is credited with developing the under-running trolley current collection system, with two horizontally parallel overhead wires and rigid trolleypoles spring-loaded to hold them up to the wires. Although the Bielathal system operated only until 1904, Schiemann had developed what is now the standard trolleybus current collection system. In the early days there were a few different methods of current collection. The Cedes-Stoll system, designed by Carl Stoll, operated near Dresden between 1902 and 1904, and in Vienna. The Lloyd-Köhler or Bremen system was tried out in Bremen, and the Filovia was demonstrated near Milan.
Leeds and Bradford became the first cities to operate trolleybuses in the United Kingdom on 20 June 1911. Bradford was the last to operate trolleybuses in the UK, the system closing on 26 March 1972. The last rear-entrance trolleybus in Britain was also in Bradford and is now owned by the Bradford Trolleybus Association. Birmingham was the first to replace a tram route with trolleybuses, while Wolverhampton under the direction of Charles Owen Silvers turned the "trackless tram" into the trolleybus. There were 50 trolleybus systems in the UK, London's being the largest. By the time trolleybuses arrived in Britain in 1911, the Schiemann system was well-established and was the most common, although the short-lived Stockport operation used the Lloyd-Kölher system and Keighley used the Cedes-Stoll system.
In the United States, some cities, led by the Brooklyn-Manhattan Transit Corporation (BMT—New York), subscribed to the all-four concept of using buses, trolleybuses, trams (in US called streetcars or trolleys) and rapid transit subway and/or elevated lines (metros), as appropriate, for routes ranging from lightly-used to the heaviest trunk line. Buses and trolleybuses in particular were seen as entry systems that could later be upgraded to rail as appropriate. Although the BMT in Brooklyn built only one trolleybus line, other cities, notably San Francisco, California and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, built larger systems and still maintain "all-four". A number of trolleybus lines in the United States came into existence when a tracked trolley/tram route did not have sufficient ridership to warrant track maintenance or reconstruction. In a similar manner, a proposed tram scheme in Leeds, United Kingdom, was changed to a trolleybus scheme to cut costs.
Trolleybuses are uncommon today in North America, but they remain common in many European countries, and in Russia and China, generally occupying the niche between street railways (trams) and diesel buses. Worldwide, around 340 cities or metropolitan areas are served by trolleybuses today. (Further detail under Use and preservation, below.) 1. Electrified line
Destination or route sign
Rear view mirror
Boarding (entry) doors
Direction (turning) wheels
Pole storage hooks
Trolley pole base and fairing/shroud
Bus Number. Trolleybuses are advantageous on hilly routes, as electric motors are more effective than diesel engines for climbing steep hills. Unlike combustion engines, electric motors draw power from a central plant and can be overloaded for several minutes without damage. San Francisco and Seattle, both hilly United States cities, use trolleybuses partly for this reason, another being improved air quality. Given this acceleration and braking performance, trolleybuses easily outperform diesel buses on flat stretches as well.
Trolleybuses' rubber tires have better adhesion than trams' steel wheels on steel rails, giving them better hill-climbing capability and braking. Unlike rail vehicles (where side tracks are not available), an out-of-service vehicle can be moved to the side of the road and its trolley poles disconnected, allowing other vehicles to pass. Additionally, because they are not tracked, trolleybuses can pull over to the curb as a diesel bus does, eliminating boarding islands in the street. Like other electric vehicles, trolleybuses are more environmentally friendly than fossil-fuel or hydrocarbon-based vehicles (petrol/gasoline, diesel, alcohol, etc.). However the power is not free, having to be produced at centralised power plants, with attendant transmission losses. On the other hand, centrally-produced power is produced more efficiently, not bound to a specific fuel source and more amenable to pollution control as a single-source supply than are individual vehicles with their own engines that exhaust noxious gases and particulates at street level. Moreover, some cities, like Calgary, Alberta, run their light rail networks using wind energy, which is effectively emission-free once the turbines are built and installed. Other cities like Vancouver, B.C. use hydroelectricity to provide power for trolley buses. A further advantage of trolleybuses is that they can generate electricity from kinetic energy while braking, a process known as regenerative braking.
Unlike buses or trams, trolleybuses are almost silent, lacking the noise of a diesel engine or wheels on rails. Such noise as there is tends to emanate from auxiliary systems such as power steering pumps and air conditioning. Early trolleybuses without these systems were even quieter, and in the UK at least were often referred to as the "Silent Service". The quietness did have its disadvantages though, with quite a number of pedestrians falling victim to what was also known as "the Silent Death".
Trolleybuses are specially favoured where electricity is abundant and cheap. Examples are the extensive systems in Vancouver, Canada and Seattle, USA, both of which draw hydroelectric power from the Columbia River and other Pacific river systems. Seattle benefits doubly, with steep gradients near the Downtown waterfront and on Queen Anne, First, and Capitol Hills. San Francisco operates its system using hydro power from the city-owned Hetch Hetchy generating plant.
Trolleybuses are used extensively in large European cities such as Athens, Belgrade, Bratislava, Bucharest, Budapest, Kiev, Lyon, Milan, Minsk, Moscow, Naples, Riga, Saint Petersburg and Sofia, as well as smaller ones such as Arnhem, Bergen, Brasov, Brest (Belarus), Coimbra, Gdynia, Lausanne, Limoges, Luzern, Parma, Piatra Neamţ, Plzeň, Prešov, Salzburg, Solingen, Szeged, Tallinn and Yalta.
Realising the advantages of these zero-emission vehicles, some other European cities have started to expand their systems again. Other cities such as Lecce will introduce new trolleybus systems.
In Cambridge, Massachusetts, the trolleybus system has survived because Harvard Station has a tunnel that was once used for trams that requires left-side doors and has fume concerns. Buses also use the tunnel, but the trolleybuses remain due to popular support. Re-routings, temporary or permanent, are not usually readily available outside of "downtown" areas where the buses may be re-routed via adjacent business area streets where other trolleybus routes operate. This problem was highlighted in Vancouver in early 2008 when an explosion closed Broadway, a heavily-used trolley route. Because of the closure, trolleys were forced to detour several kilometres off their route in order to stay on the wires, leaving major portions of their routes unserved and trolleys well off schedule.
Some trolleybus systems have been criticised for aesthetic reasons, with city residents complaining that the jumble of overhead wires was unsightly. Intersections often have a "webbed ceiling" appearance, due to multiple crossing and converging sets of line wires.
Dewirements sometimes occur, leaving the bus stranded without power, although this is relatively rare on systems with well-maintained overhead wire, hangers, fittings and "contact shoes".
Trolleybuses cannot overtake one another in regular service unless two separate sets of wires with a switch are provided or the vehicles are equipped with off-wire capability, but the latter is an increasingly common feature of new trolleybuses. With the introduction of hybrid designs, trolleybuses are no longer tied to overhead wires. Since the 1980s, trolleybus systems such as Muni in San Francisco, TransLink in Vancouver and Beijing, among others, have purchased trolleybuses equipped with batteries to allow the vehicles to operate short to considerably long distances away from the wires. Supercapacitors may be also used to move short distances. With increasing diesel fuel costs and particulate matter and NOx emissions problems in many cities, trolleybuses may be seen as the best option, either as the primary transit mode or as a supplement to rapid transit and commuter rail networks.
Some have suggested that the trolleybus will become obsolete in a future hydrogen economy, but direct electric transmission is far more efficient (by a factor of two or more) than conversion of energy into hydrogen, transportation and storage of the hydrogen and its conversion back into electricity by fuel cells.
As trolleybuses are electric, they produce very little noise compared with a diesel- or petrol-engined vehicle. While this is mainly seen as a benefit, it does also make it is easier for unobservant pedestrians and other motorists to miss hearing a trolleybus when crossing a street, and risk being struck. For this reason, in Australia trolleybuses were sometimes known as "whispering death".
Trolleybuses can share overhead wires and other electrical infrastructure (such as substations) with tramways. This can result in cost savings when trolleybuses are added to a transport system that already has trams, though this refers only to potential savings over the cost of installing and operating trolleybuses alone. Trolleybus wire switches (referred to as "frogs" in some countries) are used where a trolleybus line branches into two. A switch may be either in a "straight through" or "turnout" position; it normally remains in the "straight through" position unless it has been triggered, and reverts to it after a few seconds. Triggering is often caused by a pair of contacts or electromagnets, with one attached to each trolleybus wire, close to but before the switch itself.
Multiple branches may be handled by installing more than one switch. For example, to provide straight-through, left-turn or right-turn branches at an intersection, one switch is installed some distance from the intersection to choose a line over the left-turn lane, and another switch is mounted close to the intersection to choose between straight through and a right turn. (This would be the arrangement in countries such as the US, where traffic directionality is right-handed; in left-handed traffic countries such as Britain and New Zealand, the switch some distance from the intersection would be used to access the right-turn lanes, and the switch close to the intersection would be for the left-turn fork instead.) Description Source Wikipedia