Istanbul nostalgic tram
Istanbul, the former capital of Turkey, once had a large tramway network on both the Asian and European sides. These started as horse trams but gradually changed to electric. Many routes were built step by step, and the network reached its greatest extent in 1956 with 108 million passengers in 270 shuttles in 56 lines. But like most cities around the world the tram service began to close in 1956, and completely stopped in 1966.
After closing the tram network in the mid 1960s, the people of Istanbul thought this old fashioned method of smooth city traveling had been removed, and the city would move faster than before, but this proved false some years later. The uncontrolled increase of petrol vehicles such as buses, taxis, and private cars started choking the streets of Istanbul. Turkey suffered many of the problems of developing countries, including pollution, traffic jams, illegal migration, low literacy and rapid increase of population etc. A growing population increased the urbanization of Istanbul, and with it more motor vehicles which increased air & sound pollution, traffic jams & smog. The city became slower than in the tram era. From the early 1970s, these problems increased and by the mid 1980s Istanbulians realized that lack of control of motor vehicles & the closure of the tram network were a great mistake. Due to constantly increasing traffic jams & air pollution, Istanbul became one of the most polluted Eurasian cities during mid 1980s, which caused not only increasing diseases of citizens, but also lost tourists. Many cities around the world like Tunis, Sydney, Buenos Aires etc. also understood that error, and like them, Istanbul also planned for the return of trams.
Understanding the great mistake of the tram closure, the government started to decrease pollution as soon as possible, and to recover the image of Istanbul among tourists. Looking at many cities around the world i.e. Lima, Buenos Aires etc., the authorities planned to bring back trams to Istanbul. By then the number of cars & buses had increased so much that starting a completely new tramway was not possible at that time. Instead they planned an experimental heritage tramway, mindful of the lower installation cost, tourist attraction and testing the minds of the new generation in Istanbul to see how they would accept trams.
The Authority thought to re-introduce (heritage) trams in Istanbul using the same type of rolling stock which was running in European part until 1962, and in the Asian part until 1966. The former tram network was almost completely destroyed, including depots, termini, electric power station etc., except some rolling stock, which were preserved in transport museums. Using old photographs, people's memory and other sources, some stocks were built for the European side resembling pre 1962 European side stock, including size, shape, interior, color scheme etc. The prototypes were originally made in 1915.
After gaining much popularity mainly among the tourists, another heritage tramway opened in 2003 in the Asian part. This time, the first generation trams were not installed. Instead, second hand trams from Gotha were used, running on a circular loop, following roughly the old route 20. Although, this is also a heritage tram system, it is officially called 'Moda Tramway' instead of 'Nostalgic Tramway'. The length of the line is 2.6 km and there are 10 stops.
Past in a nutshell
- 1961 - The last tram ran at the European side on 12 January. Topkapi-Eminönü line was replaced by trolleybuses in 27 May. Six trams were transferred to the Asian side network.
- 1966 - The last tram ran at the Asian side on 3 October from Kadiköy to Kızıltoprak. Remaining trams were transferred to the transport museum.
- 1984 - Trolleybus service stopped on 16 July. By this all electric city transport of Istanbul was completely stopped.
- 1990 - İstiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue) was closed to traffic. Tram returned as heritage system between Taksim and Tünel. Rolling stocks were same as pre 1966 tram, added name to this service as nostalgic tram.
- 1992 - By opening a completely separate tram system, tram returned as modern system. It started on the same alignment where tram last ran in 1956.
- 2003 - Tram returned as heritage system in Asian side, following closed route 20 as a circular tramway. Rolling stocks were imported from Gotha
There are mainly two routes - European side trams run from Taksim to Tünel, and Asian side trams run from Kadikoy to Moda. But as a heritage value, European side trams uses (fictitious) route numbers 1, 2 & 3, although all routes are completely same. The line was laid following the alignment of previous tram network, which was served by route 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17. Asian side trams uses route 20, remembering former systems route 20 (for using some part of that route).
European side tram
- Total length - 1.6 km.
- Opened - 12/4/1990.[when?]
- Operating hours - 7 A.M. to 8 P.M.
- Frequency - 10 to 20 minutes.
- Fare - TL 1.75
Asian side tram
- Total length - 2.6 km.
- Opened - 1/11/2003.[when?]
- Operating hours - 7 A.M. to 8 P.M.
- Frequency - 7 minutes.
- Fare - TL 1.75
The rolling stocks of the European side trams are the same as the first generation tramway, which closed in 1966. However, all cars are refurbished and maintained continuously for running smoothly. Due to peak season, often a trailer is added to the motor coach for extra capacity. Asian side trams use second had trams from Gotha.
Depots & termini
Tünel, Moda & Kadiköy are the three places where both past system's & today's nostalgic system's termini are present. The current termini were built after complete redesign of Tünel, Moda & Kadiköy area. Taksim is still the city centre of Istanbul, which is now served by European side heritage tram.
All nostalgic tram routes are on unreserved tracks.
The length of the European side line is 1.6 km and there are 4 stops. It runs between Taksim and Tunel via Istikal Caddesi. This road was formerly used by tram, bus & car. After closing the former trams in 1962, it was still used by bus & car but around 1990, this area (Beyoğlu) was considered as a heritage place. There are many old buildings and heritage shops, so the municipal authority decided to convert this area to a pedestrian zone. Buses & cars were not allowed in the area from that time. The road was resurfaced in concrete with a tactile finish. Many medium trees were planted in both the footpath and road. Many old fashioned street lamps and curved chairs were also installed. After all this, tram tracks were laid in the middle of the road as a single line, with a crossing at Galatasaray Square, where the trams from opposite directions meet and cross paths, also stopping to take on or set down passengers. There are two other stops along the route. This place is very popular mainly for tourists, so the driver must constantly ring his bell to clear the way of pedestrians, especially during the peak tourist season. Approximate passenger volume for this system is 6,000 people / day. Interchange with metro is possible at Taksim.
The length of the Asian side line is 2.6 km and there are 10 stations. 4 tramcars work in one direction, departing from Kadık頓quare and following on the isolated bus-line and from the Bahariye Street and finally, by the Moda Street they again reach Kadikoy Square. Approximate passenger volume for this system is 2,000 people / day. In this system, tram tracks are laid on the side of the road as a single line without any crossing facility. The roads were also resurfaced by concrete, but are also used by other road vehicles.
Although European side's tram is as much a curiosity as a means of transport, anybody can find it useful if their feet are tired when walking Beyoğlu's main shopping and dining avenue. The historic tram cars are small and cannot hold many passengers, and are often full. The ride is relatively slow, but pleasant giving a good quick tour of Istiklal Caddesi.
- Trams in Istanbul - the first generation tramway network
- Istanbul modern tram - Separate state-of-the-art tramway of Istanbul
- Istanbul Metro
- Istanbul suburban train
- Eskisehir tram
- Konya tram
- Antalya tram
- Kayseri tram
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