Tram

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Modelling

A tram (British English), tramcar, streetcar or trolley car (American English) is a railborne vehicle which—at least in parts of its route—runs on tracks in streets. It may also run between cities and/or towns (interurbans, Tram-train), and/or partially grade separated even in the cities (light rail or light rapid transit). Trams are usually lighter and shorter than conventional trains and rapid transit trains. However, the differences between these modes of public transportation are imprecise. Some trams (for instance Tram-Trains) may also run on ordinary railway tracks, a tramway may be upgraded to a light rail or a rapid transit line, two urban tramways may be united to an interurban, etc. Trams are designed for the transport of passengers and (very occasionally) freight.

Most trams today use electrical power, usually fed by a pantograph; in some cases by a third rail or trolley pole. If necessary, they may have several power systems. Certain types of cable car are also known as trams. Another power source is diesel; a few trams use electricity in the streets and diesel in more rural environments. Also steam and petrol (gasoline) have been used. Horse and mule driven trams do still occur.

The Silesian Interurbans in Poland and the Trams in Melbourne, Australia, are claimed to be the largest tram networks in the world. Before its decline the BVG in Berlin operated a very large network with 634 km of route. During a period in the 1980s the world's largest tram system was in Leningrad, USSR, being included in Guinness World Records. The largest single tram line in the world is the Belgian Coast tram, whichs runs the entire length of the Belgian coast. Other large systems include Prague, 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.[1] While the largest streetcar network in the world used to be located in Chicago, with over 850 kilometres (530 mi) of track,[2] all of it was converted to bus service by the late 1950s.

Tramways with tramcars (British English) or street railways with streetcars (American English) 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.[3]

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.[4]

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.

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