My interest in urban
transport led me to tramways. Growing up in Sheffield in the '70's meant
being in a city where the traditional tramway had not been long gone
and was still regarded with great affection by many. My father was one
of them, and so visits to the National Tramway Museum were a regular occurrence.
Blackpool was visited less frequently, but enough to keep me satisfied.
I don't suppose many people ever expected to see trams (or at least the
rather more modern descendents of trams) on the streets in the UK again,
but Manchester, Sheffield, West Midlands, Croydon and Nottingham are up
and running, and others are maybe in the pipeline, despite to the government's
changeability with regards to funding projects. I don't have to go across
the Channel to see modern tramways in operation anymore, although trips
to Germany and Holland are worthwhile because of the number of systems.
There is also a reason to go to France these days, as well. Someday I may
even go across the English Channel to see some of these systems.
There are a few photos here, and more will follow when I get myself back
on the road. I am currently working on scanning the best of my "traditional"
photos, which will eventually lead to pictures on this page depicting the
early years of Manchester Metrolink, Sheffield trams in battleship grey,
lots of those traditional (and less traditional) trams from Blackpool, and
new shots from September 2005 of the Manx Electric and Snaefell Mountain
The first, highly successful new system. Not enough street running for
my liking, although the Eccles line has a good length, albeit with a
rather long distance between stops. The whole thing would be improved
by having a brighter livery and by smartening up the shockingly run
down stations left over from the heavy rail days. At least the ticket
machines accept notes now. The only digital photos I have so far are of
the terribly slow Eccles extension.
Manchester Metrolink 2002, one of the new cars bought for the
Eccles line, approaching Broadway station from the Eccles direction on
9th July 2000. At this time the public service terminated at Broadway
but the cars continued empty to Eccles, operating a shadow service, returning
empty to Broadway to take up public service. I am baffled at to why only
six new trams were bought for the Eccles service, which is supposed to
require six trams in service, with the subsequent adaptation of some of
the original trams to operate on the new line. This, presumably, means that
there are fewer available for the grossly overcrowded peak hour service on
the Altrincham and Bury lines.
The same car a few seconds later, waiting for departure time
Metrolink 2002 yet again, this time approaching the Regent Street
terminus in Eccles on 12th September 2000.
Sheffield: a spot
of bias, perhaps, as I was born and raised in Sheffield, but I like
the South Yorkshire Supertram a lot. It has lots and lots of street
running, conductors to collect fares so there is no need for complicated
off car ticketing (after the initial system was wisely abandoned), warning
bells that sound like tramcars and a nice bright livery (after the initial
battleship grey almost anything would be an improvement). I am amazed
that I am praising the Stagecoach corporate livery, so reviled by myself,
like all the corporate liveries, but I think it works well on the Sheffield
trams, without the bouncy stripes.
Stagecoach Supertram 102 at Malin Bridge terminus one day in
late December 1999, about to depart to Halfway with me on board as far
as Gleadless Townend.
Supertram 105 trundling up High Street Sheffield on 25th July
2000, about to use the crossover, reverse at Cathedral and continue its
journey to Herdings Park.
Supertram 106 departing from Cathedral on a Halfway - Malin
Bridge service at the end of 1999. Until I relocate my notebook I can't
be more specific.
Supertram 108 at the City Hall stop on 25th July 2000.
Supertram 110 waiting at traffic lights at Holme Lane Junction,
Hillsborough, 24th July 2000, on a Middlewood - Meadowhall journey.
Supertram 112 at Cathedral, 25th July 2000.
Supertram 113 at the Infirmary Road stop on 24th July 2000,
on its way to Malin Bridge. The full size image is 640x480 pixels.
I have only spent about two hours on this system, but I found it something
of a let down, being very much based around old railway alignments. The
ticketing arrangements seemed to be complex, with several of the machines
I encountered being out of use. The Birmingham terminus, in the depths
of Snow Hill Station did not help. Surely an extension into Birmingham
City Centre is a necessity. This visit was prior to the acquisition of
my digital camera, so I have no pictures yet.
Croydon: I was very
impressed with the Tramlink system, apart from the erratic service being
provided on the day I visited. I understand that this was due to a carnival
or festival taking place in Croydon that day. The off car ticketing seemed
somewhat elaborate, and there was some confusion about which Travelcards
were valid on the system. In several hours of riding the system I never
saw a ticket inspector, which worries me somewhat. I recall the early days
of the Manchester and Sheffield systems when the trams were seemingly
awash with inspectors. I find it odd that the experience of Sheffield,
where the introduciton of conductors lead to increased revenue and passenger
numbers has not been noted and copied anywhere else. From a photographic
point of view, the Croydon trams were so bright and shiny that some reflective
glare was experienced occasionally. They look very impressive, however,
so long may they continue to be clean and shiny.
Croydon Tramlink 2534 leaving East Croydon Station heading towards
West Croydon on 1st July 2000.
Croydon Tramlink 2536 at East Croydon Station on a journey to
West Croydon and WImbledon, 1st July 2000.
Croydon Tramlink 2538 in George Street, 1st July 2000, blinds
already set for the journey round the loop and back to Beckenham Junction.
Croydon Tramlink 2539 speeding along George Street across the
end of Wellesley Road on 1st July on route 1 to Wimbledon.
No 2540 in George Street on 1st July on its way round the one
way system to West Croydon and then New Addington.
Croydon Tramlink 2550 at Elmers End Station on 1st July, displaying
corporate First Group livery instead of the rather more sedate standard
red and white.
Nottingham 208 waiting at the Station terminus for
departure to the park and ride site at Phoenix Park. The interchange with
the Railway Station is very good, being a short walk across a bridge
At the other end of the line, at Hucknall, is 212. I didn't have
time to check out the distance from the tram terminus to Hucknall town
centre, so I can make no comment. Despite the railing, this view was better
than from the other side of the tram due to light conditions (highlighted
by the brightness of the electronic indicator reflected on shiny new tram).
At the Beastmarket stop in central NOttingham (with a very handily
located travel shop behind) is 215, en route to Hucknall. It is my intention
to return very soon, and photograph the trams at various other locations,
particularly the street-runing sections.
As with the buses section, I have rather neglected browsing other sites recently as much of my time has been spent updating my own.
National Tramway Museum Largely concerned
with the museum's photographic collection. Be warned, you could spend
hours looking through all these images.
Light Rail Transit Association. news, a world wide system list, factsheets for campaigning purposes, photos and a lot more.
Blickpunkt Strassenbahn A German magazine, with lots of information and many links.
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Last update 13th November 2004