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A Charleroi Metro tram at Parc station

A premetro is a tramway or light railway which includes segments built to rapid transit standards, generally as part of a process of conversion to a metro-standards railway usually by the construction of tunnels in the central city area.[1]


The first city to carry a portion of a streetcar line through the city center was Marseille, France, in 1893, with its Noailles subterranean station (see Marseille tramway). It was initially operated by horse-drawn wagons. The next prominent example is Tremont Street Subway (1897) in Boston, today part of the MBTA Green Line. The concept of more systematic use of tunnels to carry tram lines under city centers was devised in Germany during the 1960s[2] when, instead of building expensive entire metro systems immediately, the idea of building only the city centre tunnels at first was implemented. They could be used by trams in the short term, but the intention in the long run would still be the conversion to full underground-based rapid transit systems. The idea spread to other European countries in the 1970s, especially Belgium, where such systems were named premetros.[2] Also portion of Vienna's U2 subway line (Rathaus-Museumsquartier) is a converted underground tramway line built in 1966.


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  1. ^ John Hoyle (16 May 1975). "Letters to the editor -- The tram is the answer". Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 2014-01-13. Cities such as Frankfurt and Cologne in West Germany have further developed their tramway system by introducing a concept known as "premetro." In this system trams or light rail vehicles make extensive use of tunnels, reserve track and by utilizing folding steps these vehicles can operate through high or low stopping places. 
  2. ^ a b Ian Yearsley (21 December 1972). "Trams are coming back". New Scientist. Reed Business Information Ltd. Retrieved 2014-01-14. But instead of building the entire expensive systems immediately, the Germans hit on the idea of building only the city centre tunnels at first. Intended in the long run to be extended to full undergrounds, in the short term they could be used by trams which would continue to run on the surface outside city centres. The idea spread to other European countries, especially Belgium, where it became known as pre-metro. Today Brussels, Frankfurt, Stuttgart and many other cities are filling their central business districts with construction sites to move the trains underground. 
  3. ^ "Antwerpen Tram & Premetro". 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-22. Antwerpen rail network is a typical premetro network. 
  4. ^ Geoffroy Fabre (2014-03-19). "Une station fantôme au secours du futur Métro Nord de la STIB". RTBF. Retrieved 2014-05-09. 
  5. ^ "Charleroi Premetro". 2013. Retrieved 2014-01-22. The Charleroi Metro is a typical prémétro network, i.e. trams that run underground in the city centre and on viaducts or separate right-of-way through outer parts (similar to German Stadtbahn systems).