Ayacucho Tram

article - Ayacucho Tram

The Ayacucho Tram (or Medellín Tram) is a Translohrtram system that serves the Metropolitan Area of the Aburrá Valley in Medellín, Antioquia, Colombia. It started trial operations on 20 October 2015.[2] The tramline consists of 9 stations with three of those allowing interchanges with the Medellín Metro and the Metrocable systems.[3] The Ayacucho Tram is operated by Medellín Metro and is the only (rubber-tyred or otherwise) tram in Colombia.

This article is about the modern rubber-tyred tram system in Medellín. For the city’s historic tram system, see Trams in Medellin.
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Ayacucho Tram

Medellín rubber-tyred tram
Status Operational
Owner Medellín
Locale Medellín, Colombia
Termini San Antonio
Stations 9
Website www.tranviadeayacuchoysusdoscables.com
Type Translohr
System SITVA
Services 1 ()
Operator(s) Medellín Metro
Ridership 10 million (2019)[1]
Opened 15 October 2015
Line length 4.3 km (2.7 mi)
Number of tracks 2
Track gauge None (there are no rails).
There is a central guide rail instead
Electrification 750 VDCOverhead line
Operating speed 25 km/h (16 mph)

Medellín once had a standard steel-wheeled tramway network. It first was opened as a horse tramway and was later converted to electric trams. Routes were built in stages, and the network reached its maximum size in 1945, served by a fleet of 61 tramcars. However, like most cities around the world during the 1950s and 1960s, the tram service was completely abandoned in 1951.

In the late 2000, plans to return trams to Medellín began to come together. The first contracts for the project, to be known as the Tranvía de Ayacucho (Ayacucho Tram), were signed in 2011. It was decided that the new Medellín tramway would uses Translohr vehicles, imported from France, as rubber-tyred trams would be able to handle the line’s steep hills better than a conventional steel-wheeled tramway. Construction of the line began in 2012, and delivery of the Translohr vehicles began in 2014.[4]

On 13 July 2015, the first test runs took place.[4][5] Free, limited passenger service began on 15 October 2015,[4][6] and on 31 March 2016 regular passenger operations officially started.[7]

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After the closure of the tram network in the 1950s, the people of Medellín thought the only unfashionable obstacle of smooth city traveling had been removed, and the city could move faster than before, but it proved false some years later. The uncontrolled increase in motor vehicles like buses, taxicabs, and private cars started choking the streets of Medellín. Like most South American countries, Colombia was suffering under many problems typically seen in developing countries, including pollution, traffic jam, illegal migration, low literacy and a booming population. The population growth of Medellín led to increasing number of private cars finding their way to the streets, jamming traffic in the city. The city even became slower than before the ending of tram operations. Beginning in the 1980s, these problems grew severe, and by the mid-1990s, the inhabitants of Medellín realized that the unbridled use of private cars and the closure of the old tram had been a mistake.

A metro system was opened in 1995, using a small part of former tram network, and gradually two metro routes were constructed. But for many low density areas, this was not an ideal solution, so the metro was not extended throughout all neighborhoods of Medellín.

Many cities around the world like Tunis, Algiers, Sydney, Buenos Aires, Shanghai, Dublin, Edinburgh, Athens, etc. all faced similar problems at the time, and had opted to reintroduce a tram network. Inspired by these examples, the city of Medellín also decided to return the tram.

Trying to fix the error of closing the former tram network, the government started to initiate measures to decrease pollution as soon as possible. Downtown Medellín was already served by the metro, but the public transportation in eastern Medellín was not sufficient. To resolve this challenge, the transport authority decided in 2015 to construct the first tramway in the Miraflores area, which lies on the eastern side of the main city.

A tram turning from Carrera 29 onto Calle 49 (Av. Ayacucho), a steep section, in May 2016

On 13 May 2011 the city signed a contract with Lohr Industrie of France (acquired by Alstom in 2012) to build a Translohr line between the San Antonio metro junction and the east side of the town – a sort of eastward continuation of metro route B. A Translohr vehicle resembles a tram and draws power from overhead wires, but runs on rubber tyres and is guided by a center rail. It was decided to use a rubber-tyred system due to the elevations in this area. A Translohr vehicle should be ideal for climbing the 12% grade on Calle 49 – also known as Avenida Ayacucho – which was the path of the Buenos Aires tram line until 1951 (see Trams in Medellin). From two points on the line aerial cableways (teleféricos, Seilbahnen), each with two sections, the line carries passengers even higher into the hills. Construction of the new “tramway” began in 2012.

The first of the 12 Translohr vehicles arrived from France in July 2014.[8]Metro de Medellín carried out the first test runs on Monday, 13 July 2015. The line is operated by Metro de Medellín, although it is not a metro.

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