Trams as a transportation

In Santa Cruz on Tenerife, the tram never shares its track with the bus or the cars. It also has priority crossings. This is also a very good solution for a city of that size for sure



I want to begin this article by saying that trams are something unique. They came before the cars and they are still among us in many cities worldwide. They have been included in many political debates and they have been challenged by other transit options worldwide. These options are metros, trains, and even busses. So, in this article, I want to focus on how trams in the cities are a gift for all kinds of people and Why it should be a standard for any cities in the world with over 13000 people.

Why should Trams run in the cities?

Lot’s of newspapers in the Norwegian and Worldwide media have quite strange thinking about the tram as a transportation option for everyone. There are now lots of articles regarding how great electric cars are. There are also media just pushing out news about busses being cheaper and better than trams. But this is not correct and in this article, I want to make the world think a little bit different about how great a tram is.

First I won’t address that the trams are needed in cities, because they are the cheapest transport system ever made. So here I go thru some of the facts:

1) How often do you really need to replace tram wagons? Almost never! Compared to buses and cars, trams from 1900 still run the streets of cities like Lisbon, Porto, San Francisco, and Melbourne. They are fully functional and just works. They might be a bit noisier than the modern ones, but they do their job. The only thing that a tramcar needs to replace is the wheels sometimes and that is easy to find.

2) Trams can run underground, on the street and also on its own avenue route. You don’t really need to have several systems in a city. Well, metros are fine but I have been to cities like Porto in Portugal, Santa Cruz on Tenerife island in Spain, Essen in Germany, Den Haag in Netherlands and Bergen in Norway where trams are like metros or light-rail. Here they hit the car traffic almost never. And that seems to work very well. You can build quite long tram stations underground also, which Porto is a good example of. Trams can become as long as metros for sure.

3) Trams can run as fast as any metro or train. There are fantastic train-tram-metro systems still existing in Lyon (France), Kassel (Germany), Den Haag (Netherlands), Göteborg (Sweden) and the most known one in Karlsruhe (Germany). Inside the city, they run like a tram, but on the outskirts, they run as fast as local trains. Just think of how the world cities would look like if the main central train stations were shrunk by over 80% and then the local trains become a part of the tram systems in the cities. In many German cities like Bremen etc, you have bigger tram hubs in the city center. What if trams went from these to the nearest cities. What if I could take a train-tram route from Oslo to Drammen? Now that would be really great!?

Trams as a transportation

Dusseldorf in Germany is a great example of how it can be done to give space for the trams and at the same time have very little car traffic in the centre of the town

Now I want to address the reasons why electric cars and busses isn’t a great solution.

1) There are more risks with electric cars or even busses if they start to burn. People drive their vehicles without problems as usual. However! There are times when accidents happen and these start to burn. The Norwegian fire department says it is impossible to take out the fire on electric cars, because of its battery.

– When a battery cell reaches a temperature of between 130 and 250 degrees, about a chemical process (“thermal runaway”) inside the battery. It produces large amounts of heat and are not possible to stop.

The heat produced in a cell can initiate “thermal runaway” in neighbouring cells, explains Boe.

What is a Thermal runaway?

* Thermal runaway is a chemical reaction that produces a lot of heat.

* The reaction occurs when the temperature of a battery cell reaches 130 to 250 ° C (depending on battery chemistry) and consists of degradation of the battery cell constituents.

* The reaction leads in many cases to the battery cell begins to burn. The reaction is very difficult to stop.

* The most common way to stop a fire where thermal runaway has occurred involves cooling the neighboring cells so that thermal runaway not be initiated where

There have been enough accidents with people using electric cars where the firemen just give up on trying to shut down the fire because of the thermal runaway process which makes it impossible to extinguish the fire. So, they just simply let the car burn up. And now let’s imagine a bus that burns? It’s bigger and the battery would eventually be even bigger. A fire here would be even more fatal than before.

Trams can for sure be a part of an accident also. But its always possible to extinguish a fire from a burning tram. Also since trams use power from above instead of a 3rd rail. It is way safer to walk out from a burning tram. There are simply fewer problems with a team regarding this.

2) Electric cars or even busses can never become as long in size as a tram, metro or even a train. Already the “long busses” just mess up the daily traffic even more. So many people get angry by them because they use space and especially when it’s lots of traffic in the mornings’ end evenings. In Augsburg, I saw these humongous long trams also. A bus would never ever manage to beat that.

3) You can build your own bus lanes in towns, but trams just use way less space. Tram avenues etc, the only thing that needs to stick out of the grass is the rails. The wheels of both electric cars and busses are rubber wheels. This means that in cities that get chilly weather in the winter, they will get lots of dust into the air that is simply unhealthy to breathe in. The wheels of trams on the newer trams and also some of the very old ones have wheels buried behind a metal sort of, which means that the dust that the trams spit out into the air is minimal. Also, when the trams do not run on the same streets as the cars or the busses, they run on their own rails which is free for this risk at all. Also if you build the trams underground, this issue is none. So all rail types of transportations nails every rubber type of transportation in the winter with temps below 0C (32F)!

Trams as a transportation

Tracks like this one from Augsburg in Germany is perfect for the environment. Just a minimal amount of dust would be pushed here. The cars on the right, now that’s a different thing!

Why would a city with just 13000 need a tram!?

The big question here is rather. Do we as humans need to build our towns around roads? What if the towns we built, only had trams in them? I visited the calm villages outside of Berlin, which is known for having trams using older wagons from Berlin. Woltersdorf is one of them and this village got only about 8000 living there, which is way lower than the 13000 I’ve set for this article. In Woltersdorf, each time I’ve visited the village. It is so calm there and the trams (even when very old) barely do any sound. There are lots of roads here and there, but the trams just run and they do their job. The air in this village is so healthy because most of the people living here do use their tram.

A small city would benefit from a tram going through it. Same with a village. Either the tram can run on the street level or it could run on an avenue road or just run inroads with the low volume of cars. The trams can also be built underground. In the Ruhr area of Germany, you have many tram lines linking the different cities. Some nice examples are if the tram line 102, which is linking Essen with Gelsenkirchen and another line 302 which links Gelsenkirchen with Bochum. In the city center, the tram runs underground, but on the outskirts, they run on their own tracks or at the street level with low-volume of cars. You can, of course, take the local train between these cities also, which is way faster. But the trams in these towns have managed to replace the busses on these stretches and it works really great.

Any city or village with whatever amount of people would benefit to have a tram linking them instead of a buss with rubber wheels. The length and the speed of trams outperform any buss. In Hong Kong, you also have double-decker trams as double-decker busses run around in the streets of London. What if these busses got replaced by environmentally friendly trams in London? Now, that would help lots of people and the nature that lives here.

Trams are the Most environmental friendly transport system ever built! Trams as transportation are what the world needs to be able to breath better. Just visit Woltersdorf and any other villages out there with only buses and taxis instead. The air you breathe in is quite different all year round.

Imagine this size as a bus? Now, that would be almost impossible to control. But on rails, this tram type has no issues with it.

Trams as transportation are the Solution

Now it’s up to you and you know much better than me about what types of tram solution would be the best one for your village or city. It’s just so much better to do something now than never. Thinking of our children and teenagers, that once will work and have their lives to have a much better future is good thinking. The world needs humans that care for the world and not humans that destroy it. Trams are only one of many things that can heal the world’s pollution problems. They can’t be the only thing that can heal the world, but trams can help lots of people with asthma and allergies. They will also reduce stress in the towns a lot. Many dangerous traffic situations would also be at minimal if towns reduced their car usage and went for trams moving them around.

There is simply no other solution that is better than building tram systems. Why do we need to build our cities around the car and its roads, when trams could have a much bigger impact than cars and busses. Metros are needed in larger cities also if they are very dense. Long metro wagon sets are great and our million cities like Tokyo, London, New York, Paris or Berlin need them. In these towns, trams can have a bigger role also, but if the trams that would be built like train-trams stopped at bigger metro hub stations, then people wouldn’t need to go to a central station to take a local train to a nearby city. I don’t know about you, but when you come to a huge central train station in a foreign city many tend to use lots of time to get used to it and understand it. Wouldn’t it be better to just find a tram station with a nice route map showing you where your line is going? There are so many options, but why certain local train lines stop on the same station as trains taking you to a city over 50km away making the central station bigger than it should is beyond any logic.

It should be easy to travel and trams are fully capable of doing that. They are also cheaper and if a town chooses it instead of a metro. Especially if the town is less than 550 000 in size it shouldn’t be necessary to build a metro. Just skip that, reduce the bus lines to a minimum and concentrate on building good tram lines that reach all parts of the city. Some hilly cities should build the trams underground, while more flat ones can build nice avenues. If you build the trams underground in hilly cities that get freezing temps during the winter. Then, if possible. To build the tracks underground is a really good solution because it will protect the rails for leaves falling from trees and ice.

Here we have many great solutions, but it’s you and your words that have the power in the end. I only try to give the spirit further. To try convincing people to choose public transportation going on rails and especially trams instead of busses, taxis, and their own car. Now that is a task that needs to be beaten. There are several countries doing pretty good in the Eastern part of Europe, because of communists found trams to be a fast way of transporting people in a cheap way.  But, do people need a communistic regime to become more environmentally friendly? No! Because we know now in 2017 what’s good or not. Now, it’s up to you! Spread our article if you want also.

Trams as a transportation

Example on how a tram hub station can look like in Augsburg, Germany. What if train-trams just started from a hub like this instead of from a huge central train station? With clever plans, this can revolutionize the way we travel. Now that’s what I call a future!…