What is the difference between Tram Cars that move on the ground vs Cable Cars that fly above the ground?
Tram cars are one of the oldest members of the modern transportation era. Not just in the 19th century when it began but also 8i8n the 20th and 21st centuries, Tram cars are an essential feature of any developed city. There is a famous saying that Modern Cable cars are also inspired by tramp cars. So, I am about to dig deep to discover the story of these two cars.
At first look, you will notice that both systems are operating with cables & tracks. And both offer few passenger compartments and there won’t be any attached engine to the car as most other powered vehicles. And also both are required careful maintenance and extremely comfortable compared to other urban transportation methods.
Who found the Tram Car?
The first horse-driven tram car or railway was invented in 1807 as trams and railways share the same history of origin. After that, the history of trams was shaped by many people to make it different from railways.
- John Stephenson: American carriage maker who built one of the first successful horse-drawn streetcars in the United States in the 1830s.
- George Francis Train: American entrepreneur who introduced the first horse-drawn streetcar service in Europe in 1860, operating between Buda and Pest in Hungary.
- Werner von Siemens: German inventor and engineer who developed the first successful electric tramway in 1881, using an overhead wire to transmit power to the tram car.
- Frank J. Sprague: American inventor and electrical engineer who developed the first successful electric streetcar system in the United States in 1888, using a system of underground conduits to transmit power to the tram cars.
- Edward M. Eastwick: British engineer who designed and built one of the first horse-drawn tramways in Europe, operating in Birkenhead, England in 1860.
- John Joseph Wright: American inventor who patented an improved version of the cable car system in 1883, which used a continuously moving cable to pull the tram cars.
- Elmer A. Sperry: American inventor and electrical engineer who developed the first successful gyroscopic stabilizer for tram cars in 1910, improving their safety and stability on uneven tracks.
*In addition to individuals, there were companies that backed this technology who were involved since the 19th century and 20th century. They also developed cable cars out of this tram car system.
- J.G. Brill Company: Founded in Philadelphia, USA in 1868, the J.G. Brill Company became one of the leading manufacturers of streetcars and interurban rail cars in North America. The company produced a wide range of tram car models, including open and closed cars, single and double-deckers, and electric and horse-drawn cars.
- Société Anonyme des Anciens Etablissements Cail: Founded in France in 1863, the Cail company initially specialized in manufacturing steam engines and locomotives, but later expanded into tram car manufacturing. The company produced several innovative tram car designs, including articulated cars and cars with four-wheel trucks.
- Ganz Works: Founded in Hungary in 1844, the Ganz Works company started out as a machine shop, but later diversified into manufacturing electric motors, generators, and transformers. The company became a major producer of electric tram cars in Europe, with a range of models that included single and double-decker cars, as well as articulated and bi-articulated cars.
- St. Louis Car Company: Founded in St. Louis, USA in 1887, the St. Louis Car Company became one of the largest tram car manufacturers in North America. The company produced a variety of tram car designs, including electric and horse-drawn cars, and supplied cars to many cities throughout the United States.
- Siemens & Halske: Founded in Germany in 1847, the Siemens & Halske company was a leading producer of electrical equipment and machinery, including electric tram cars. The company’s tram car designs included single and double-decker cars, as well as cars with two- and three-axle trucks.
Who found the Cable Car?
These aerial vehicles are not particularly invented by a single man or woman. It was a by-product of the tram car and it was developed by the same tram car companies that run those days in the 19th century. First, this system was used for goods transportation and then for passenger transportation. My Grandma’s father was a tea planter and my grandma was saying her father was using Tea leaves transportation system that look alike an aerial cable car to go up into the mountain where the tea factory was located.
How is cable car different from Tram Car?
- Run on tracks attached to the city streets that normal vehicles use
- Designed to carry urban passenger transportation within a city or metropolitan area
- Electric-powered railway-type vehicles and yet small by scale.
- Powered by overhead cables or third rail systems to move.
- Capable of making frequent stops to ease urban transport.
- Usually have multiple doors for passengers to board and exit
- Operate in mixed traffic with cars and other vehicles on open roads.
- Purpose to transport passengers on flat surfaces with few exceptions of sloppy cities like San Francisco and Lisbon
- Purpose to transport passengers up steep inclines or mountains
- Typically found in areas where conventional transportation is difficult or impossible
- Use cables to pull the cars along their tracks
- Often consist of a small cabin or gondola that is suspended from a cable and moves along the track
- Some are powered by a motor located at the top of the hill or mountain, while others rely on gravity to move the cars up and down the hill
- Generally do not make frequent stops
- Often provide scenic views of the surrounding area
- Not typically used for transportation within a city or metropolitan area
Tram cars are widely operating in Europe
Tram cars are an essential urban feature of classic European and other Western cities. And I listed down 10 European Cities that use tram cars the most.
- Budapest, Hungary: The city has the largest tram network in the world, with over 30 lines and more than 600 trams in operation.
- Prague, Czech Republic: The city has a large tram network with over 20 lines and approximately 900 tram cars.
- Amsterdam, Netherlands: The city has an extensive tram network with 16 lines and around 200 tram cars.
- Krakow, Poland: The city has a relatively small tram network with 25 lines and around 200 tram cars.
- Vienna, Austria: The city has an extensive tram network with over 30 lines and around 500 tram cars.
- Helsinki, Finland: The city has a small tram network with 11 lines and around 150 tram cars.
- Zurich, Switzerland: The city has a relatively small tram network with 15 lines and around 170 tram cars.
- Lisbon, Portugal: The city has an extensive tram network with 6 lines and around 60 tram cars.
- Strasbourg, France: The city has a relatively small tram network with 6 lines and around 70 tram cars.
- Manchester, United Kingdom: The city has a small tram network with 7 lines and around 120 tram cars.
Cable cars are widely operated in Europe as well
Usually, these aerial cable cars are not frequently used for urban transportation. That’s why Switzerland hasn’t included in the following list where Cable cars are used for ski resorts in the Alps. Otherwise, Switzerland is considered the country where most cable cars are being operated.
- Bolzano, Italy: The city has an aerial cable car system called Rittnerbahn that connects the city to the nearby Ritten plateau.
- London, England: The city has an aerial cable car system called the Emirates Air Line that crosses the River Thames, providing a view of the city.
- Medellin, Colombia: The city has a network of aerial cable cars called Metrocable that are used for public transportation, connecting the city’s neighbourhoods to the metro system.
- Tbilisi, Georgia: The city has an aerial cable car system called Tbilisi Cable Car that connects the city to the ancient Narikala Fortress.
- Chiatura, Georgia: The city has a network of aerial cable cars that are used for public transportation, connecting the city’s neighbourhoods to the nearby mines.
- Barcelona, Spain: The city has an aerial cable car system called Telefèric de Montjuïc that connects the city to the Montjuïc Castle.
- Lisbon, Portugal: The city has an aerial cable car system called Telecabine Lisboa that connects the city’s waterfront to the Parque das Nações.
- Brest, France: The city has an aerial cable car system called Cablib that connects the city’s university campus to the city centre.
- Sarajevo, Bosnia and Herzegovina: The city has an aerial cable car system called Trebevic Cable Car that connects the city to Trebevic Mountain.
- Val-d’Isère, France: The ski resort has an aerial cable car system called Funival that connects the town to the ski slopes.