The Lisbon Trams webpage has two parts.
Part One: Lisbon Trams of Today
Part Two: Lisbon Trams of the Past
Above: "A good reason to take the tram" is the slogan for Tagus beer displayed on this Siemens tram, pictured at Praça da Figueira in 2003.
Lisbon Trams of Today
Siemens articulated tram, no.505 at Belém, June, 2005.
The diversity of Lisbon's tram fleet has declined markedly in recent years, with the withdrawal in the 1990s of various types, including the 1906 Brill bogie cars, and the abandonment of the use of trailers. (See Part Two of this page for details of the historic tram fleet). Nevertheless, there is still plenty to see, with the fleet now effectively limited to the ten new (1995+) Siemens articulated trams and a fleet of 45 four-wheelers, known as the 'remodelados'. However, in late 1999 some retired 700 class trams had to return to service on route 28, as the 'remodelados' were suffering from a spate of compressor failures. There is also a significant fleet of tourist trams and museum cars. In 2009 Carris listed the available 700 series trams as nine in total, numbered (720-713-717-732-733-735-741-742-744) and built between 1936 and 1947.
Tram 720 is reserved for the museum and so is not used currently whilst in 2009, tram 742 was out of service (broken axle?). Other 700 trams that appear are the Christmas trams 722 & 745 which come out in December. (I am grateful to David Gourlay for some of the above information).
Also, in 2009, the museum trams are making regular outings this year, with three of them (tourist tram 1 or 2 alternately plus 2 others) on the third Saturday of each month.
All service trams are operated by Carris, (Companhia Carris de Ferro de Lisboa), founded in 1872. Some sense of variety is instilled by the wide use of advertising liveries which adorn the majority of vehicles. The articulated trams mostly bear all-over advertising which, in most cases, also covers the windows. Whilst passengers can see out through the advertising, awaiting passengers find it difficult to see whether the tram is crowded or not, or indeed where the doors are. But, by 2005, increasing numbers of the remodelados trams had been restored to the traditional yellow and white livery, without advertising on the exterior.
Fleet numbers 501-510 These comprise ten three-section trams built by Siemens and used exclusively on the coastal route #15 to Algés from Praça da Figueira. They entered public service in April, 1995. These trams are air-conditioned and hold 210 passengers, including those standing. Their overall length is 24.02 metres and they have 65 seats. They have two 105kw motors and can reach 70km/hr. All are single-ended, with four sets of 'plug-type' sliding doors and interior digital indicators indicating each tram-stop. The ten cars mostly bear all-over advertising liveries which change from time to time.
Above: Remodelados queue up in Praça do Comércio in summer 2005, awaiting an influx of tourists on an organised tour from a visiting cruise ship. Note the fitting of trolley poles as well as pantographs to each vehicle.
Fleet numbers 541-585 These are the new numbers for 45 remodelled trams drawn from 221-282 series and from 701-724, but also including 415 and 483. (See Part Two of the Lisbon Trams page for details). The remodelados were introduced in July 1995 but are actually all older Standard cars from the 1930s, rather than the more modern lightweight vehicles of the 736 series as the Standards were of stronger original construction and had not generally been worn-out by use on the more hilly routes. They have two Skoda motors and have been generally upgraded to give a smoother journey, whilst retaining traditional tourist appeal. They have only 20 seats but space for 38 standing. All are unidirectional and have both trolley poles (for the narrower streets) and pantographs fitted. Their size is 8.382m by 2.378m..
March 2010: David Gourlay writes "Due to a shortage of remodelados recently, the 700s have seen extensive use
on routes 18 and 25. They are generally used in the rush hour, but occasionally have been found running all day".
Lisbon tourist tram (2002). .
These are red, white and gold-liveried trams, fitted with Providence lifeguards which operate the tourist routes, the 'Circuito das Colinas' ('Hilly-route Circular') which passes through the steep and tortuous streets of the Alfama district from the Praça do Comércio, via Martim Moniz, to Estrela and back. Their interiors have been retro-converted to an approximation of early 20th-century fittings. One of these vehicles is seen in the accompanying photograph, in the Estrela turning loop. This journey can be duplicated by service vehicles on routes 28 and 25 for much less outlay but with the tourist trams you are guaranteed a seat and get a commentary. Service tram 28 is often very crowded. In 2002 the operating tourist trams were nos. 3 to 9, (ex 726, 723, 583, 585, 584. 546 and 570 respectively) but further trams have since been added and there is even a bogie tram (#10) in the "tourist" livery parked now in the Praça do Comércio as a booking office. Tourist trams no. 1 and 2 were formerly #435 and 437 respectively.
For details of the Carris museum fleet, housed at Santo Amaro, visit the Museum Page.
Above: David Gourlay's picture taken on 7 April 2010 clearly shows the new layout at P. Comércio..
In late March 2010, David Gourlay reports: "355 (Tourist tram 10) has been moved to its new siding on the opposite (western)
side of the square. This track is complete, though the overhead hasn't been done yet".
Left: Courtesy of David Gourlay are these pictures from March/April 2010 of the track works affecting the P. do Comércio. David writes: "A new loop is currently under construction at the western end of Praça do Comércio. The whole square has been a building site for the last year but the race is on to finish it before the Pope's visit in May. The west sidings have been completely removed and the east ones shortened, though they're still in use. The track with Tourist Tram 10 is now completely isolated and the neighbouring connected siding is long enough for one tram only (and isused by all tourist trams, though there are not so many tours at this time of year). The new loop will hold probably 3 trams and there is a spur off
the loop which will be 10's new home. The idea of the loop is to remove the need for the tourist trams to reverse. In high season this caused a lot of problems if a tram coming back from the tour arrived before the next one was due out, as it would then be blocking the line". Tram 10 is shown (far left) being moved to its new location.
Pictured below right, by David Gourlay, is museum tram 283 which in March made a photo stop at Corpo Santo on the curve normally used by route 25 - which may make it the first bogie tram to go there since the 19 closed in c.1991. Pictured left is Tourist Tram 10 being moved to its new location.
David also reports that tram 720 is currently being refurbished in the Carris workshops as is 742, which has been out of service for quite some time.
Lisbon's tram network map has seen large cuts over the last 25 years. Today it has five remaining services, which are all operated by the Carris company. There has been a longstanding hope that a sixth route, the number 24, would be reopened, albeit in a shortened form from Cais do Sodré to Campolide. However, there is little immediate prospect of this development. The five surviving routes are, therefore:
12: This is the shortest route on the system and is a circular route from Praça da Figueira via Martim Moniz to the hilly Alfama district. This includes one of the steepest sections in the city, at S.Tomé. Formerly route 12 operated an even shorter route, wholly within the Alfama. Services operate approximately four times an hour though at times only one car is used and timings can be erratic.
15: P. Figueira to Algés (Jardim), which is a distance of about 10km. The terminus moved temporarily from P. Figueira to Alfândega in 2009 due to works in P do Comércio. At Algés, there is a major bus station and a train station on the line to Estoril and Cascais, the latter accessible via a subway from the bus station. Shortly beyond the bus station, the tram terminates at a turning loop in Algés Jardim (Algés Garden), which is a short walk from the interesting aquarium at Dafundo. Formerly the route extended to the west via Dafundo to Cruz Quebrada, with a branch beyond to the national football stadium (Jamor). The 15 route runs from the city largely parallel to the river Tagus estuary in a westerly direction and is the only service operated by the new Siemens articulated trams which have capacity for 210 passengers. It has a useful interchange with the rail services on the Cascais Line, with city buses and with river ferries at Cais do Sodré.
As well as the Siemens articulated trams, route 15 is supplemented by services operated by smaller "remodelados" trams. In 2002, this route was being half-heartedly marketed as the Linha dos Museus (Museums' Line) as it runs reasonably close to 18 museums between the Aquarium at Dafundo (Algés) and the Museu das Comunicações, near Cais do Sodré. Some short-workings to Belém operate (using the Remodelados trams) and turn in a loop just short of the Jerónimos monastery and these were formerly designated as route 15A.
All other routes are operated by the smaller "remodelados" trams.
18: In 2009 the starting point for this route was moved to P. Figueira from Rua da Alfândega. The service runs westward to the Ajuda cemetery, near to the royal palace of Ajuda. Route 18 was suspended for the month of August 2009 but was set to return on 1st September. On Saturday afternoons and all day Sunday and public holidays it runs only between Ajuda and Santo Amaro depot. Approval exists to construct a new turning loop at Calvário - just beyond Santo Amaro depot - but whether it is built or not may depend on whether route 24 (see below) is ever reinstated.
Services run approximately every 15 minutes. In December 1999 Carris appeared to be on the verge of closing this tram route altogether but it still survives and services were once again running the full length of the route to Ajuda by summer, 2000.
24: It was hoped that part of line 24 from Carmo to Campolide would reopen in early 2006 but in 2009 this now seems to have been wildly optimistic and reinstatement now depends on the result of local elections in 2009.
Right: A 25 service at Corpo Santo, July 2003.
25: This route runs Rua da Alfândega, via Estrela basilica, to the Prazeres cemetery in western Lisbon. A 10-15 minute frequency of service is operated. In the evenings the service is replaced by bus service 74. This is an interesting route via the hilly Buenos Aires district, past numerous embassies, an area which is otherwise off the tourist track. On Saturday afternoons and on Sundays the tram route only operates between Estrela and Alfândega and is replaced by a minibus service.
28: Martim Moniz to Prazeres. This is the classic tram route of Lisbon with extensive hilly and narrow streets in the Alfama district. There is also a steep, twisting section as the route leaves Lisbon centre towards Prazeres, up the Calçada de S. Francisco. Services operate about every seven minutes, though short-workings to Estrela are included in these timings. Eastbound trams for the Alfama are invariably crowded by the time they reach the Rua da Conceição in central Lisbon, so it can be wise to board in the opposite direction (towards Estrela and Prazeres) and return to the Alfama from that end of the route. Prazeres cemetery itself is itself an interesting spot and has good views across the Alcântara valley which include the Tagus bridge, the docks and Alcântara-Terra station of Portuguese Railways. Heading out of central Lisbon towards Prazeres, there is an impressively steep curve at the west end of the Rua da Conceição as the line leaves the city centre, heading west. The Estrela Park, which is 3/4 of the way to Prazeres is a pleasant spot, opposite the basilica, to break the journey.
Use of Trams
Tram stops are rectangular, the older ones being white and carrying the word 'Paragem' ('Stop'), whilst the newer ones are yellow and bear the route number. Sometimes this is prefixed by the letter E, (e.g. E15 = 'Eléctrico', i.e. tram, 15).
Getting On and Off
All trams are one-person operated. In the remodelados, the driver checks passes and issues tickets, whilst the Siemens articulated vehicles have coin operated ticket machines and also validating machines for pre-bought tickets.
The remodelados should be entered at the front and exited by the rear doors. The articulated trams may be entered or left by any of the four sets of automatic doors. On the articulated trams, the name of each stop is displayed and announced as the tram approaches it and route maps are posted above the doors.
L to R: A 3$00 ticket (1971); a 1991 ticket; a 1$50 ticket (1971).
Although there is an array of tickets and passes available to users of public transport in Lisbon, for the visitor, things were simplified by the Sete Colinas (7 Hills) proximity pass. (The title is an allusion to the belief that Lisbon is built on 7 hills, like Rome). This replaced the Tourist Pass (bilhete turístico) which could be acquired for either a four or seven-day period. The Sete Colinas pass itself is now supplanted by the Viva card, which costs half a Euro and is then charged up for a selected number of days to allow unfettered transport on all of the Carris and Metro network.
But whereas in summer 2005, five days travel cost 12.10 Euros on top of the half-Euro for the card itself, in 2009 you can only top up the Viva card by a daily 3.70 euros unit, making it very expensive for a week's travel i.e. 7 x 3.70 = 25.90 euros. Another downside of the system is that you cannot freely inter-use the seemingly identical Viva cards used for the Transtejo ferries, the Almada metro system and the Fertagus railway so you can easily end up with a pocket full of Viva passes, identical in appearance but valid only on one system or the other.
All vehicles and Metro turnstiles have card readers. The card need only be held over the sensor to register and, indeed, can even be left in a plastic wallet when doing this. The card can be purchased at any Metro station (from machines) and at Carris kiosks. (NB Much more widely publicised to tourists is the Lisboa/Lisbon card, which is much more expensive as its main benefit is to give discount admission to tourist attractions - see below).
Carris tickets bought from bus or tram drivers are charged at the 'Tarifa de bordo' ('On-board tariff') and are relatively expensive per journey. All tickets should be cancelled on boarding trams and buses, using the on-board machines. On the articulated trams, tickets can be bought with coins from on-board machines, as the driver does not sell tickets or check passes. As well as the Viva card the Sete Colinas pass still exists in some circumstances but whether you have a Viva or Sete Colinas card, it should be "shown" to the automatic readers on all services.
For more about tickets and fares, see the Carris page
An alternative for tourists who wish to visit Lisbon's museums is the Lisbon Card, which gives unlimited use of Carris services (except the Aerobus, tourist bus and tram-tour route, as well as free use of the Metro and of the Cascais railway line from C. Sodré to Belém. In addition it provides free entry to 26 Lisbon museums and monuments. Amongst the museums covered are the Maritime Museum, Coach Museum and Air Museum. The Card may be purchased in City Tourist Offices and other outlets.
Buying a ticket on the tourist trams is very, very expensive - 18 euros in 2009. As route 28 largely mirrors the tourist tram routes, a Viva card is a much better bet.
Above: Santo Amaro depot in July, 2000
The sole tram depot is at Santo Amaro, between central Lisbon and Belém. Visitors to the Carris museum get a free tram ride within the depot complex as part of the admission price. The Bolaria café across the road affords a good vantage point for watching tram movements at Santo Amaro. This depot has been in existence since before the electric trams arrived in 1901.
Formerly other tram depots existed in Lisbon. One of these was the Arco de Cego depot, built in 1902 on a 29,176sq.m. site acquired in 1882, but this closed in the 1990s. By then it had lost 9,000sq. metres of land to the national mint. Arco do Cego then acquired a new lease of life as Lisbon's main long-distance coach station but this is now decommissioned and the site is being converted into a leisure facility (2005). For details, see the Lisbon Suburban Bus and Coach page.
A third depot closed in 1981 at Amoreiras and is now the site of a modernistic shopping centre. Carris bus depots have opened at Pontinha (1975), Musgueira (1981) and Miraflores (1983).
Part 2 of the Lisbon Trams Page covers:
Lisbon Trams of the Past
Historic Fleet Details
Tram Trailers and Works Cars
Carris Museum of Transport
Reading Matter: references to books and images relating to Lisbon trams
Links to other related sites
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