View Full Version : Trams

3rd May 2004, 13:35
Aren't the trams in Amsterdam the tops? You can keep your wacky-baccy, women of negotiable affection and all the other things that Amsterdam has a reputation for, just stick me on one of their trams and I'm a happy camper (well, not a camper, I was staying at the Schiphol Sheraton...).

Anyway, it got me wondering. When trains move from one track to another, they use points - bits of track that move. Tramlines, though, just have non-moving junctions. Does this mean that the tram itself is steerable? :confused: :confused:

Interestingly, saw a tram and a car have a bit of an argument that resulted in a dented wing for the car and a minor scratch to the paintwork of the tram. Trams might be manoeuverable but not that much... :ouch:

3rd May 2004, 13:57
I guess they run the same as the trams here in The Hague....I've seen drivers jump out and manually switch points if they want to go off on a track that is not their normal route. other wise I'm guessing the points set automatically in synch with the little Tram Traffic lights they have which show the driver which way they are clear to go.

On and I think you can kiss goodbye to your insurance if you hit a tram here.
We have a busy junction jus t out side of the office and up until a year ago, would regulary hear the tram horn blast, a screech of brakes and CRUNCH :ugh: They have put extra flashy lights there and reduced the trams to rush hour so haven't heard anything for a while.

Oh and you can have the wacky-backy and the tram....just sit in the end carriage late at night - frequentlyfinds youfs puffing away on it....

3rd May 2004, 14:04
We had a tram thread (http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=82585) in JB last year

3rd May 2004, 16:45
My favourite are the ones in Brussels. It's so nice to be able to travel at a reasonable pace through town and actually see the surrounding cityscape.

Also, you can take a jaunty little tram out to the Afrika Museum in Teverun which is a splendid morning out if you like sub-Saharan curios.

(And how subsidised! Service at 15 minute intervals throughout the day and every time I've had the tram to myself!)

Shaggy Sheep Driver
3rd May 2004, 19:15
OK, so how are they steered? There's obviously no signal boxes, as on railways, so how's it done? On older systems like Blackpool, does the tram driver select the point direction he wants as he approaches the points, and they switch to his wishes? Or, on new systems like the Manchester trams, is it done by electronics - the entire route is selected by the driver when the the trams leaves the terminus, and the on-board system sets the points automatically as the tram approaches?

Any tram drivers on 'ere who'd know?


square leg
3rd May 2004, 19:52
In modern trams, the tram number will determine which points "point" in which direction as the tram approaches a "fork" in its path. The tram has some kind of transponder which talks to the switch mechanism at the point. It is all done from a centralised tram HQ. Sometimes the driver hops out if he or she needs to take a different route, i.e. to park the tram in the depot for the night and the route is not the standard route according to its line number.

Some trams have "steering" wheels. Clockwise means faster and anti-clockwise slower. Like, as if you were manipulating the tachometer on your car, which would send a signal to the engine.

Others have Airbus style joysticks in the forward/aft plane for fast or slow.

I don't think that they have rudder pedals;)

3rd May 2004, 20:17
The Blackpool trams don't like foreign objects on the rails.

No:644 was derailed on March 13 by a piece of scafolding on the track. It came off the tracks and put a hole in the sea wall, leaving it with it's nose hanging over the edge.:ouch: :ooh:

3rd May 2004, 21:04
I think on traditional systems they had points that were triggered by approaching them with power either on or off. At busy junctions though there would be a dedicated pointsman.

tony draper
3rd May 2004, 21:09
Used to be some good sheds made out of old trams here, been a while since we had a shed thread.

Mac the Knife
3rd May 2004, 22:01
"There use ta be trams - not very quick
got yer from place to place
but now they've got jams
'arf a mile thick.."

Anyone else remember "Fings ain't wot they used t'be"?

3rd May 2004, 22:49
Hmmm, thanks for the responses but I'm not convinced - at great risk to my personal safety I had a good look at a couple of 'forks' in the track in Amsterdam and I'm sure there were no moving parts at all yet when the tram came along it seemed to know precisely where it was going. Just as well really as your destination would be in the hands of the gods.

Still, whatever magical means they use to shift from one track to another it is a shame we don't have more of them over here. Far more interesting than those ghastly bus things...

tony draper
3rd May 2004, 23:04
Possibly one way points, come from one direction they take you one way from tother direction they takes yer tother, I do remember the trams when they were the main town transport here,lines crossed each other or converged without points as I recal.

Onan the Clumsy
3rd May 2004, 23:46
Amsterdam Pah!

Not a patch on a proper Blackpool Balloon tram. The original ones of course not any of the modern rebuilds that have the grace and elegance of a zoo creature let loose at a Royal Garden Party. They are an abomination and the scoundrel who created them should be dragged to Starr Gate behind one and then cast into the sea.

Moveable points? Ever seen a Grand Union Junction? My uncle has a vinyl recording of the last tram to pas over the one in Sheffield. It goes rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr clatter clatter clatter rrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr. It's like poetry.

4th May 2004, 00:57
I knew a girl once that was known as "Tram"

Everybody had ridden on her.

4th May 2004, 01:06
I've just recently got back from Prague.Their tram system is a joy to ride on. A mixture of old style trams and a lot of new ones.
They are very cheap to use.They are always on time in fact you could set your watch with them.I wish we still had them in Leeds.

4th May 2004, 01:14
Not a tram expert, but don't they have some kind of a steering device that allows them to bias the front wheels to right or to left? Then the rest follows on behind...

Buster Hyman
4th May 2004, 03:30
Now this is how all trams should be! (http://www.tramrestaurant.com.au/default.asp) :ok:

Onan the Clumsy
4th May 2004, 03:39
Buster I'm sorry but that's not a tram.

THIS is a tram (http://world.nycsubway.org/perl/show?10360)

Woof! (http://world.nycsubway.org/perl/show?10362)

The single decker Boat (http://world.nycsubway.org/perl/show?10358) (sorry about the paint scheme :yuk:)

Proper holiday weather (http://world.nycsubway.org/perl/show?12355)

This bit of track (North of Gynn Square) has been downgraded to single decker only for the weight restriction. An old photo. (http://world.nycsubway.org/perl/show?12356)

Buster Hyman
4th May 2004, 03:45
No Onan...that's a bus on rails. No dignity in it at all!;)

Our new trams... (http://www.doi.vic.gov.au/DOI/Internet/transport.nsf/90408b96562745314a25668e002707e8/ffa3d0ced06297f14a256b7200065e5a/Body/0.3528?OpenElement&FieldElemFormat=jpg)

Onan the Clumsy
4th May 2004, 03:49
Not so. We'll have to disagree on this one. They do have these though (http://world.nycsubway.org/perl/show?12367) Which basically are busses on the rails. :yuk:

Windy Militant
4th May 2004, 09:18
I was watching Salvage Squad last week and got to wondering why they called certain classes of Blackpool trams "Balloons" I was doing other things at the time so missed the begining of the programe.
I was greatly intrigued by the Magnetic power switching gadget that looked as if it had escaped from "Flash Gordon's" rocket ship.

4th May 2004, 09:21

The Czech were under communist rule for 40 years, one of the (very few) good points of that is the very good public transport system.
And they had no thatcherite free-traders to promote its decay.

Some more links : General page on tramways (http://www.xs4all.nl/~rajvdb/lra/index.html), froggy tramways : Paris (http://perso.chanteraines.mageos.com/lvdc0018/Image381.jpg), Lyon (http://images.nycsubway.org//i22000/img_22350.jpg), Bordeaux (http://www.photoamateur.net/bordeaux/images/3tram03.jpg)

Ric Capucho
4th May 2004, 09:31
Dutch tram drivers would get jeered and pelted at with rotten vegetables if they were foolish enough to visit Zürich.

But they wouldn't dare.


4th May 2004, 09:36
Having lived most of my life in Blackpool(except when in forces) until last Sept,I grew up with trams.Blackpool's trams were first operational in 1885 and have continued until present day.I think this is the oldest electrical tram system in the world.
There is an excellent site dedicated to these trams and their history at:-
Sorry don't know how to paste links to this site.wow it's automatic!!!Well fancy that!

4th May 2004, 09:58
Some modern tran systems have electromagnets in the points, which pull the tram wheels one way or the other, therfore allowing the points to be switched, without moving any parts, so pedestrians cant get their feet trapped in the point blade


4th May 2004, 11:00
Ninja Bill

Thanks, sounds like the most plausible soultion yet. It was beginning to worry me...

And Bre901, all our tramway systems were gone long before Thatcherite policies (except Blackpool's tourist driven system) and in fact they statred to make a limited comeback in the late 80s/early 90s in Manchester and Sheffield whilst Thatcherism was in full force. In fact the Docklands Light Railway (not exactly a tramway but similar) came about directly from the Thatcherite development of the Docklands.

4th May 2004, 11:42

Thanks for the precision, I was thinking of public transportation in general (BR & London tube esp.)

4th May 2004, 11:49
Didn't have trams in my home town but had a mix of ordinary buses and trolleybuses. To change routes the driver and clippy (conductress) had to unship a 20ft-odd pole from a stowage along the nearside of the bus and then unhook the pantograph (?) things from one set of overhead wires to another. They used to lurch along in quite a sickening manner.:yuk:

square leg
4th May 2004, 11:51
Balix, possibly the points without moving parts are constructed in such a way that if the tram goes in one direction it will go left (or right) and if it travels in the opposite direction, it just goes straight, depending on the direction of the "Y". Maybe there is no choice for the tram driver at certain points and he simply has to follow "orders" from the tram lines.

Imagine a tram driver being hijacked and him being told to take the left fork although he cannot alter the tram's direction. I am sure that this must be a tram driver's worst nightmare.:D

4th May 2004, 12:16
Reminiscences on trams....

Growing up in Brisbane, tram to and from school. Protected sections at each end, sealed by sliding glass door, with a further locked door to the driver's compartment. Centre part with wooden seats open to elements, a wooden bar on the non-enter/exit side. Easy to slip under it and cross the opposite direction tracks when exiting at the tram stop; the conductor (!)would yell, but we escaped with the secret thrill of getting away with it.

Tickets Please! Shit, the dreaded Inspector! Pull the rope bell, let's get off at the next stop and wait for the next tram. Better losing ten minutes than having to pay the fare.

Wait at the school stop every afternoon with 100 others hoping to see Meghan Nicholson inside in her State High uniform before I get on. Desperately searching, not seeing... will I wait? Yes, stuff it, I'll wait. Tram takes off, I see Meghan in the back seat, arrrggghhhh!!!! 24 hours till I can possibly see her again, merde! Night passes interminably. :(

Next day see MN on tram, heart leaps, get on and take seat opposite. Realise that she STILL has no idea who I am and shows no interest in finding out. Night passes interminably. :(

Headlines that trams are to be phased out. I look out my bedroom window and listen as the last tram makes its journey, and at the tender age of 16 I find myself crying at the passing of a stage of my life.

Buses take over, and I still wallow in unrequited love with Meghan Nicholson. Trams disappear completely from my memory until somebody starts up a thread 35 years later.


Onan the Clumsy
4th May 2004, 13:19
Binos You should have made your move. It looks as if Meghan (http://www.utcchristianstudentcenter.com/getaway/getaway.htm) finally gave up waiting for you.

4th May 2004, 13:25
Oh no! When I muttered, "Get thee to a nunnery, I didn't think...." :{ :{ :{

4th May 2004, 15:24

Its the track from Cleveleys to Fleetwood that got down graded to single deck only. It was supposed to be repaired by this summer with this section of the line closed for the winter, with a bus service substituting.

Will they ever get the EEC funding to extend the tracks from Starr gate to St Annes? Answers on a postcard please!

4th May 2004, 15:40
IB4138 That's a no boner question.Now there are 10 new countries in the EU where do you think that project is on the list.
On the Cleveleys - Fleetwood repairs that would have meant a large rise in council tax for Wyre borough,you won't do that in an election year.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
4th May 2004, 17:18
Will they ever get the EEC funding to extend the tracks from Starr gate to St Annes? Answers on a postcard please!

It's a pity the tracks of the old Lytham tramway were ever lifted. However, unlike the Blackpool system, the Lytham tramway ran in the roadway, and so was 'in the way' of motor vehicles.:(

It ran from Starr Gate to St Annes behind the dunes, and on to Lytham, but not along the coast as the Blackpool system does, so would not have the same toursist appeal. It originally used gas powered trams, but was later electrified. The very attractive tram shelters are still in existance along the route. The one in St Annes is the Tourist Information Office.

Is there really a movement to get it re-instated?


4th May 2004, 20:14
The UK tram system, Sheffield/Liverpool/Manchester/London in particular, would serve the purpose today. Idiot planners got rid of them.

SFO trams (trolleys ) are still doing sterling service and will go on for ever. Same tracks, same system as devised in 1903 by a Scot.

Lisbon still has an operating 45-degree tramay up to the high part of the city. Made in Sheffield in 1904.

Progress? B0ll0cks.

And another thing... As for Lord Beeching and the railway cull, may he rot.
Rant over.

4th May 2004, 21:13
AerBabe, you haven’t been hanging around many pilot bars lately then have you?

On a serious note however, here in the United States we do have a homeless problem, less than the media would have you believe, but never the less there are homeless/tramps/bums in every decent size city. However by law the police cannot remove these people from the street. If these people do not want to go to a shelter they cannot be forced to. This a major problem during severe cold weather, the cops make a sweep of a city and take as many of these people they can to shelters, but as soon as the cops leave these folks leave again and go back out on the streets. Sadly every winter some freeze to death.

There is a scam being run here in the US by the so-called homeless. It started a few years ago when I started noticing some rather unkempt people hanging around major street intersection with homemade signs, made for cardboard boxes, claiming, “Homeless (pick a number) kids WILL WORK FOR FOOD!” Well of course they wouldn’t actually really work for food, there was always something wrong with their backs or their legs, etc. But you could still give them money! Now the newest scam is the sign says, “HELP stranded need work or money” a variation of this is carried by a younger (looks around 30) person has a sign that says, “HELP college student stranded need money”.

The reason I am sure this is a scam is because a few weeks ago I was Houston Texas and when we drove to have lunch we passed a major intersection and there was this woman with “Help stranded” sign. A few blocks later here was a younger woman with the same sign. Returning to the airport via a different route we came across a guy with the good old “Help stranded” sign and a few blocks later was the bloke with “Help college student” sign. Two days later in Oklahoma City guess what? You got it, people standing on major intersection with signs that said, “HELP stranded need money”, different folks than in Houston.

4th May 2004, 21:18
*Gives con-p meaningful look*
*Subtly points upwards*

4th May 2004, 21:23
It's strange, all the tram systems and many railways were closed and now they're being re-opened again. Do yer think they may only now be realising they were wrong to close them down in the first place :rolleyes:

P.S. Agree with Bumpff, may Beeching rot in hell

P.P.S. con-pilot I think yer want the tramps thread :p

Sharjah Night Shift
4th May 2004, 22:15
Having trams in Croydon has given us another anorak life form.

The Tram Spotter!

4th May 2004, 22:36
Yes Gainesy, I remember the trolley buses well. My granny called them the silent death for obvious reasons. You could never accuse trams of that...

4th May 2004, 23:37
Ah, trolley buses. Better than trams, they were. Remember the last Huddersfield trolley bus in 1968 from Waterloo to Outlane. (It might have been the other way round - I wasn't very old at the time). The crowds lined the streets all the way. Bradford was the last place to have trolley buses in Britain, I think they were phased out in 1972 or thereabouts.

Always seemed a bit pointless which was part of their charm.

5th May 2004, 08:14

What d'ya mean "pointless"?

How do you think the trolleybus crews chose which direction to go at splits in routes. There were points in the overhead wires.

This required the conductor to leap from the rear platform and pull a lever on the side of the junction pole ( akin to flushing a loo), in order for the trolleys to go on the correct set of wires.
If he got it wrong...woops...trolley poles in the air! Much swearing whilst getting the long hook from under the vehicle to fish for the errant poles and put them back on the wires.

5th May 2004, 09:19
Always struck me as a dodgy job, standing in the rain and weilding a long pole around power lines.

5th May 2004, 09:54
This city has had large fleets of trolley buses for more than 50 years and they're buying some new ones to renew the fleet.

Trolley poles are connected to reels on the back of the bus by ropes. If the poles come off the wires, the rope enables the driver to re-connect by pulling on the ropes and re-positioning the pole pick-ups.

To change from one set of wires to another, the bus is steered and positioned so that the pick-ups follow through the points towards the new set of wires.

Much better than a whole system of diesel buses. Quieter, less pollution. They are also faster than diesels, especially up hills.

No trams but we have what is called the Skybus. It's a light rail system that is driverless. Does not mix with street traffic.

5th May 2004, 11:21
Last trolley bus I was on was in Vancouver a couple of years ago. Annoyed the driver by giving him $10 for a 30 cent fare. Said I was delaying the traffic. Well, I guess I was as no other trolley buses could get past.

It was the price of the copper wire that killed 'em off over here, so I'm told. Shame.