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Introduction

The Tatra T3 vehicle is the most widely produced tram in history.

A tram (in North America streetcar or trolley) is a rail vehicle that runs on tramway tracks along public urban streets; some include segments of segregated right-of-way. The lines or networks operated by tramcars are called tramways. Historically the term electric street railways was also used in the United States. In the United States, the term tram has sometimes been used for rubber-tired trackless trains, which are unrelated to other kinds of trams.

Tram vehicles are usually lighter and shorter than main line and rapid transit trains. Today, most trams use electrical power, usually fed by a pantograph sliding on an overhead line; older systems may use a trolley pole or a bow collector. In some cases by a contact shoe on a third rail is used. If necessary, they may have dual power systems—electricity in city streets, and diesel in more rural environments. Occasionally, trams also carry freight.

Trams are now commonly included in the wider term "light rail", which also includes grade-separated systems. Some trams, known as tram-trains, may have segments that run on mainline railway tracks, similar to interurban systems. The differences between these modes of rail transport are often indistinct, and a given system may combine multiple features.

One of the advantages over earlier forms of transit was the low rolling resistance of metal wheels on steel rails, allowing the trams to haul a greater load for a given effort. Problems included the fact that any given animal could only work so many hours on a given day, had to be housed, groomed, fed and cared for day in and day out, and produced prodigious amounts of manure, which the streetcar company was charged with disposing of. Electric trams largely replaced animal power in the late 19th and early 20th century. Improvements in other forms of road transport such as buses led to decline of trams in the mid 20th century. Trams have seen resurgence in recent years.

Selected article

The tram from the film Malcolm, at the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria's site (Melbourne Tramway Museum) in Bylands, Victoria.

Malcolm is a 1986 Australian cult film comedy, written by the husband-and-wife team of David Parker and Nadia Tass, and directed by Nadia Tass (who made her debut as a feature director on this film). The film stars Colin Friels as the titular tram enthusiast who becomes involved with a pair of would-be bank robbers. It won the 1986 Australian Film Institute Award for Best Film.

The tram depot featured at the start of the film is the former South Melbourne depot, which was located on Kingsway at the corner of Dorcas Street (and is now a BMW dealer). Kew depot features briefly in a dawn scene of a tram depot, prior to Malcolm taking his own tram for a test run. The Foreman's office in which Malcolm is sacked is located in the body shop at Preston Workshops. The scene in which Malcolm, Frank and Judith switch from a getaway van to Malcolm's tram was filmed near the Workshops in Miller Street, Thornbury.

The model tram that Malcolm "built" ran on a motorbike engine, the rest having been put together with spare parts by workers at Preston Workshops. After the film was completed, the tram was donated to the Tramway Museum Society of Victoria.

Selected biography

Frank j. sprague.jpg
Frank Julian Sprague (July 25, 1857 in Milford, Connecticut – October 25, 1934) was an American naval officer and inventor who contributed to the development of the electric motor, electric railways, and electric elevators. Sprague's inventions included several improvements to designs for systems of electric streetcars collecting electricity from overhead wires. He improved designs for a spring-loaded trolley pole that had been developed in 1885 by Charles Van Depoele, devised a greatly improved mounting for streetcar motors and better gear designs, and proved that regenerative braking was practical. In late 1887 and early 1888, using his trolley system, Sprague installed the first successful large electric street railway system, the Richmond Union Passenger Railway in Richmond, Virginia.

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