Istanbul nostalgic tramways

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Istanbul nostalgic tramways
Istanbul public transport - Nostaljik Tramvay symbol.png
Istanbul Line Symbol T3.png Istanbul Line Symbol T5.png
Istanbul Istiklal cad. tram - Galatasaray Lisesi.JPG
Top: Two heritage trams on the European side, on the Taksim-Tünel (T5) Nostalgia Tramway.
Bottom: Heritage tram on the Asian side, on the T3 circular nostalgia tramway.
Locale Istanbul, Turkey
Transit type Heritage Tram
Number of lines 2 (1 European side, 1 Asian side)
Number of stations 10 (T3)[1]
5 (T5)
Website T3 Nostalgia Tramway
Began operation 29 December 1990 (T5)[2]
1 November 2003 (T3)[1]
Operator(s) İstanbul Ulaşım (T3)
System length 2.6 km (1.6 mi) (T3)[1]
1.6 km (0.99 mi) (T5)[2]

Istanbul nostalgic tramways are two heritage tramlines in the city of Istanbul, Turkey. The city has two completely separate heritage tram systems, one on the European side (the Taksim-Tünel Nostalgia Tramway, aka. T5 line), the other on the Asian side (T3 line, aka. the Kadıköy-Moda Nostalgia Tramway).

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 cars on 56 lines. But like most cities around the world, tram service in Istanbul began to close in 1956, and completely halted service in 1966.

Trams returned in Istanbul in 1990, with the opening of the Taksim-Tünel Nostalgia Tramway (T5 line). The city is divided between Asia & Europe, and while the Asian side has a heritage tram system (T3 line, which opened in 2003), the European side has both a heritage tram (T5 line) and a modern tram system (T1 & T4 lines, which opened in 1992 and 2007, respectively).


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 and sound pollution, traffic jams and 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 and the closure of the tram network were a great mistake. Due to constantly increasing traffic jams and 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 closure of the tram system, the government planned 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 trams back to Istanbul. By then, the number of cars and 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, mainly as tourist attraction, and as a test system with the younger generations in Istanbul to see how trams would accepted.

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 original Istanbul tram network was almost completely destroyed, including depots, termini, electric power stations, etc., except for some of the rolling stock which had been preserved in transport museums. Using old photographs, people's memories, and other sources, some rolling stock was built for the European side resembling pre-1962 European-side tram stock, including the size, shape, interior, color scheme etc. The prototypes had originally been built in 1915.

Around 1990, the Istiklal Caddesi became a pedestrian zone, and the tram was restored and revived in 1990, in the form of the Taksim-Tünel Nostalgia Tramway. After a 24 year absences, trams returned to Istanbul. The length of the line is 1.64 kilometers (1.02 mi)[2] and there are 5 stops.

After the Taksim-Tünel Nostalgia Tramway gained in popularity, mainly among tourists, another heritage tramway opened in 2003 on the Asian side of Istanbul, as what is now known as the T3 line (or the Kadıköy-Moda Nostalgia Tramway). In the case of the T3 line, first generation trams were not re-installed along the route. Instead, second-hand trams from Gotha, Thuringia, Germany were acquired for use. Trams on the T3 line run on a clockwise circular loop, following roughly the old tram Route 20. The length of the line is 2.6 kilometers (1.6 mi) and there are 10 stops.[1]

Past in a nutshell[edit]

  • 1961 - The last tram ran on the European side of Istanbul on 12 January 1961. The Topkapi-Eminönü line was replaced by trolleybuses on 27 May 1961. Six trams were transferred to the tram network on the Asian side.
  • 1966 - The last tram ran on the Asian side of Istanbul on 3 October 1966, between Kadiköy and Kızıltoprak. The remaining trams were transferred to the transport museum.
  • 1984 - Trolleybus service stopped on 16 July 1984. At this time, all electricity-driven city transport in Istanbul completely ended.
  • 1990 - İstiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue) was closed to traffic. Trams returned to the European side of Istanbul as a heritage tram line, the Taksim-Tünel Nostalgia Tramway, operating on İstiklal Caddesi between Taksim and Tünel. Rolling stocks were same as the pre-1966 trams.
  • 1992 - Opening of a completely separate tramline: the tram system on the European side of Istanbul was expanded to include a modern tramline, built by Yapı Merkezi. The line, now called the T1 line, operates on the same alignment where trams last ran in 1956.
  • 2003 - Trams returned to the Asian side of Istanbul as heritage tramway, operating a circular tramway on the part of the old closed Route 20 tramway. The rolling stock was imported from Gotha, Thuringia, Germany. This line is now known as the T3 tramline (or the Kadıköy-Moda Nostalgia Tramway).
  • 2007 - Another modern tramline on the European side, named T4, opened, using high-floor light rail vehicles (LRVs).

Tram Lines[edit]

There are two heritage tramways in Istanbul - the European side tramway, Taksim-Tünel Nostalgia Tramway (also sometimes called the T5 line), runs from Taksim to Tünel; the Asian side tramway, the T3 line, runs as a clockwise circular route from Kadikoy to Moda and back to Kadikoy. The European side T5 tramline follows an alignment of Istanbul's previous historic tram network, which was served by Routes 10, 11, 12, 15, 16, 17. The Asian side T3 tramline uses the previous Route 20 (operating on a portion of that route).

Istanbul Line Symbol T5.png European side tramline: Taksim-Tünel Nostalgia Tramway (T5 Line)[edit]

  • Total length - 1.6 kilometers (0.99 mi)[2]
  • Opened - 29 December 1990[2]
  • Operating hours - 7 A.M. to 8 P.M.
  • Frequency - 10 to 20 minutes.
  • Fare - TL 1.75

Istanbul Line Symbol T3.png Asian side tram: T3 Line[edit]

  • Total length - 2.6 kilometers (1.6 mi)[1]
  • Opened - 1 November 2003[1]
  • Operating hours - 7 A.M. to 9 P.M.[1]
  • Frequency - 10 minutes (peak-hour).[1]
  • Route time, end-to-end - 20 minutes.[1]
  • Fare - TL 1.75


Tram depot close to the Taksim

Both nostalgic tramlines run on unreserved tracks, in regular street running operation.

The length of the European side Taksim-Tünel (T5) tramline is 1.6 kilometers (0.99 mi) long, with 5 stops, including the Taksim and Tünel termini. It runs between Taksim and Tunel via İstiklal Caddesi (Independence Avenue). 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 per day. Interchange with the Istanbul Metro (M2 line) is possible at Taksim.

The length of the Asian side T3 tramline is 2.6 kilometers (1.6 mi) and there are 10 stations. Four tramcars work in the clockwise direction, departing from Kadıköy Square and following on the isolated bus-line and from the Bahariye Street and finally, by the Moda Street they again reach Kadıköy Square. Approximate passenger volume for this system is 2,000 people per 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 resurfaced with concrete, but are also used by other road vehicles.

Rolling Stock[edit]

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, Thuringia, Germany.

Depots & termini[edit]

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.

Heritage trams are often lowly respected in Istanbul, such as illegal riding like this


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.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "T3 Kadıköy Moda Nostaljik Tramvay" [T3 Kadikoy Moda Nostalgia Tramway] (in Turkish). İstanbul Ulaşim A.Ş. Retrieved 2014-04-17. 
  2. ^ a b c d e "Nostalgic Tramvay". IETT. Retrieved 2014-04-25. 

External links[edit]