Lisbon Trams of the Past
Right: Carris's electric trams competed with Eduardo Jorge's mule cars at the start of the 20th century
Until the 1990s trams more than 80 years old were still operating on daily services but since 1995 the fleet has been reduced to two types - modern Siemens articulated trams and remodelled Standard Trams, also introduced into service in 1995. For details of modern tramway operations in Lisbon please see Part One of this webpage, here.
Largely because unlicensed rivals, notably Ripert and Eduardo Jorge, were making use of their 1435mm-gauge tracks, from 1888 Carris installed an almost unique 900mm gauge. Conversion work continued into the 1890s. (Only Linz in Austria has the same gauge today). After 1892, the main rival to Carris was the firm of Eduardo Jorge, with its animal-hauled trams, known as 'carros de chora'.
After 1917 Jorge moved to suburban services and continued in business as a coach operator until being subsumed within the nationalized Rodoviária Nacional in 1976.
The Historic Tram Fleets of Lisbon
The Horse Trams
Carris started operations on 17 November 1873 using the standard 1435mm gauge on a service (route #1) running every 15 minutes between the Santa Apolónia railway station and Santos, to the west of the city centre. Carris routes reached Belém in 1874, Algés (1878), Rossio (1878), Rato (1879), Poço do Bispo (1888), Lumiar, (1890) and both Benfica and Areeiro (1891). The original route #2 ran from Rato to Corpo Santo,
with branches to Estrela and Príncipe Real. Rossio to Anjos, opened in 1881 was route #3. Most of the early horse-drawn trams were supplied by John Stephenson of New York and known as 'carros americanos'. A depot was built to house the fleet at Santo Amaro (1875) which today
remains as the Carris tram shed. In that year 3,375,992 passengers were carried, a total which rose to 11,225,487 by 1898. From 1889-92 there was a brief experiment with steam trams. By August 1902 all of the mule-hauled fleet had been withdrawn, following the arrival of electric trams (see below).
The Electric Tram Fleet
Historically the evolution of the Lisbon tram can be divided into four main periods:
1. The American Trams
The term 'carros americanos' was also applied to the electric trams
introduced up to 1914. Electrification was organised by the
Lisbon Electric Tramway Co, based in London, founded in 1899. Unlike what
happened in most of the rest of Europe, Portugal's
American trams came directly to the country by ship from the United States, starting
in January 1901, rather than being acquired from European agents. Brill of Philadelphia was the predominant supplier,
producing both 4-wheel and 8-car vehicles for Lisbon. The GEC 25hp
GE59 motor was the norm for these vehicles. Many of these tramcars
were still running into the 1990s, albeit obviously
considerably overhauled and/or rebodied since their construction.
#203-82: Ordered in 1899 from Brill in the USA and introduced on
31 August 1901 on the Cais do Sodré to Ribamar (Algés) route along the coast, west of the city centre (today's
route 15), these were eight-bench, 32 seater, open-sided vehicles,
7.95m long by 2.32m wide and weighing 7,790kg. As early as 8 September 1901 the
network had reached further west, to Dafundo, and a week later,
Rossio; by the end of that year it also reached Sta Apolónia (29.9.01),
Intendente, Poço do Bispo and Príncipe Real. Areeiro was
reached in April, 1902 and Benfica by 25 May that year. Gomes Freire (Dec. 1905) and
Graça (July 1906) were added to the network and today's #12 route
at S. Tomé was reached in January 1915. In the 1920s Carnide,
Ajuda and Alto de S. João were added to the destinations. However, it was not till 1945
that the Dafundo to Cruz Quebrada extension was opened.
The electric 'carros americanos' were withdrawn between 1932 and 1937 but their fleet numbers, 203-82,
were reused from 1935 (see below).
#283-322 were 12-bench open-sided Brill trams, weighing
11,380kg and introduced in January, 1902. In length they were 11.33m and were 2.29m wide.
They seated sixty passengers with six standing. The class was withdrawn between 1952
and 1955. They were chiefly used on the long routes, #1 to Benfica and #15
to Cruz Quebrada. From 1954 these fleet numbers were reused, as was their
electrical equipment on new trams, the 'caixotes', (see below). 283 survived as an instruction
car till 1961 and then spent twenty years as an attraction in Monsanto
park before being rescued for preservation in 1981. It was replaced at Monsanto
by tram 525.
#323-342 were eight-wheel Brill bogie cars of 1906, some of which
retained their clerestory roofs till their withdrawal in 1996. They were
powered by two 25hp motors and weighed 14,442kg. The cars measured
11.78m by 2.36m and seated forty, plus 21 standing passengers. A number
were withdrawn in 1931/32 and 1959/61 when the survivors were rebuilt,
minus there clerestory roofs. In 1987/88 the fourteen survivors
were adapted for one-man operation; of these #330 is now a museum car. In 1995, 342 was sold to Mar del Plata, Argentina.
Right: A tram-jam in 1986 in the Praça do Comércio, headed by bogie tram 328, followed by a ligeiro four-wheeler, its trailer and a standard car. Click on images above for larger versions.
#343-362 were also eight-wheeler Brills of 1906 which were reconstructed
in 1931/32. They differed from the 323 class in having four 25hp motors. They
were also slightly longer (12m) and weighed 18,405kg. They sat forty. A number
were withdrawn between 1931 and 1934, whilst all the survivors except 346/48
were rebuilt, without their clerestory roofs in 1959/61. The class survived in use in Lisbon into the 1990s. Car 348 survives in the Carris museum fleet whilst 360 is used as a shelter on the Manx Electric Railway. 355 in now Tourist Tram 10, parked in Pç. Comércio. In 1998, 343 was sold to Mar del Plata, Argentina. In 2005, 350 was in Córdoba, Argentina.
#363-367 were 1907 workmen's cars withdrawn c.1942. Their
trucks and equipment were re-used in #806-810. They were 36 seaters with further capacity
for 31 standing. Powered by two 25hp motors they were twelve metres long and 2.29m wide; they weighed 13,710kg. Unfortunately, none survives today.
#389-398 were works cars.
#400-474 were 4-wheelers, with 24 seats and clerestory roofs,
built for the hillier routes of Lisbon and ordered from the St Louis
tramcar company in the USA and introduced in 1900-01. #435 and 437 became Lisbon's
tourist trams #1 and 2, but the rest of the class was withdrawn; four going in 1935 and 23 more between
1951 and 1963. They had two General Electric motors (25hp each) and controllers
from Dick Kerr of Preston, Lancashire. They weighed 10000kg and measured
8.12m by 2.25m. Number 444 survives with Carris as a museum piece.
#475-499, 503-507 were Brill cars akin to the St Louis 400 class.
Apart from #475, introduced in 1909, they ran from 1912 until 1963, although withdrawals began in 1951. However,
number 505 survived till 1972. They had two 25hp motors. They were 8.56m
long but widths varied between 2.25m and 2.36m..
#500-502 were Brill 'Radiax' vehicles with 26 seats. They ran from
1914 and were all withdrawn by the end of 1968. They were 10.17m long, 2.28m wide and weighed
2. The Standard Cars
A four-wheeler (281) at Corpo Santo, 1991
During the 1920s Carris's routes expanded north to Carnide and Ajuda, and west to
Cruz Quebrada on the coast. Further expansion occurred in the 1930s.
#508-531 were single-ended semi-convertible trams built
in Lisbon by Carris in 1924. They survived in service till 1980. their
seating capacity was 24 and they were 8.78m long by 2.36m wide. Their
weight was 11,585kg.. During the 1960s they were converted to unidirectional
#532-551 were built in 1928, with two Metrovick 45hp motors on Maley trucks.
They were withdrawn in 1990. They were 8.382m by 2.378m and weighed 10,560kg..
#552-571, as 532 class, but built in 1931, with Metrovick motors
and slightly lighter at 10,048kg. The final fifteen were finally withdrawn
by 1985 and rebuilt (see below). Although they were bidrectional, they often
pulled trailers and were used on the hillier routes also.
#601-612 were longer vehicles (9.14m by 2.33m) built, in 1927.
They weighed 10,900kg and sat 28 passengers. Used on the hillier routes, they were
withdrawn finally in 1972.
#203-282 and 415, 455, 467, 468, 483 were
similar to 532. They were built in 1935 to replace the 1900
Brill cars with the same numbers.
#305,327-29,338,340,345,353,355,356 were lightweight bogie
cars built by Carris from 1931-35 and withdrawn finally in 1996. All
except the last four numbers above had two 25hp motors; the latter had four such
motors. Their weights varied up to 17,575kg. Their dimensions
were 11.57m by 2.37m.. Tram 305 has been acquired by the
Llandudno and Colwyn Bay Tramway Society, in North Wales. The Society's website's homepage is here. Its body was overhauled at Society premises and the Society's web-pages describe this process, whilst the bogies and running gear have been retained for possible future use under either Llandudno and Colwyn Bay Electric Railway tram No.6 or No.7. The body, in green Ll&CBERly livery, was loaded for transport from North Wales on Saturday 31st May 2008. It went via ferry to Ireland.
#613-617 were largely as 532, but built in 1935 for the Estrela route.
They had two 45hp Metrovick motors and measured 8.382m by 2.378m, with a
weight of 10,730kg. In 1985/87 they were converted to one-man
operation and ran frequently on the hilly route 28. 720 became
a Carris museum car.
Right: Tram 713 in June 2002.
#701-735 were largely as 532, but built in 1936-40 for the steeper routes. They were later converted to one-man operation. No.730 has been restored at Birkenhead, England, where it runs on standard gauge track. for the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society. For photos, see here. No.715 has been acquired by the Hampshire Industrial Archaeology Society in England.
As of January 2012, the remaining 700s were stored in Sto Amaro shed, where they are due a major service. A number of long-term withdrawn 700s are included in their number, namely 713, 733 & 742, plus tourist trams 3 & 4, as well as 732, which has a broken axle.
#801-810 were 8-wheeler bogie trams, seating 36 people. 801-5
were built in 1939 on Maley trucks, whilst WWII necessitated the use of
recycled Brill bogies when 806-810 were built in 1943. The latter group had two 25hp motors
whilst the pre-War batch had four motors. Their size was 11.579m by 2.378m; the
heavier four-motor version weighed 15,905kg against 14,400kg for
the two-motor type. They had folding doors from the onset and
streamlined bodies. In 1963 they received roof-mounted
route boards to replace those mounted below the windscreen when built.
802 was withdrawn in 1978 but the rest survived in service till 1993/94.
One survives in the Carris museum fleet.
3. The Lightweight Trams, (Ligeiros), 1947-1964.
Right: Ligeiro tram and trailer in Praça do Comércio
The tram network was at its maximum from 1958-60 following an extension to
Alto de S. João, and totalled 76 route kilometres, 145 track km., plus
a further 15km of depot track. The fleet comprised 405 electric trams and
100 trailers. Ordinary fares remained static from 1926 to 1962.
The Lightweight cars, built by Carris, were characterised by lightweight contruction; visibly their
most obvious features are their straight sides and ends, which give them angular appearance. The 4 and 8 wheeled trams of this period have fared less well than
their earlier relations, as all have now been withdrawn. They comprised
#736-745 were 4 wheelers, built in 1947 and based on post-War
German designs, on Maley & Taunton trucks with two 45hp motors.
Despite their flat ends and angular bodies, they
were internally similar to the 701 class and measured 8.467m
by 2.378m.. They seated 24 passengers. They survived in use till
#901-910 were longer vehicles built in 1947 on Maley trucks,
seating forty passengers. Some were built on bogies ordered for
801-06 before the War. They were powered by four 25hp motors and ran
in service till 1989, except for903 which succumbed in 1978. Their
narrow entrances precluded their conversion to one-man operation.
904 survives as a museum car and 910 was sold to Japan.
#100-200 were 4-wheel trailers, (for details see below).
Right: A Caixote.
Right, Caixote #506#283-322, known as 'caixotes', were as 736-745, using 25hp motors
off the retired cross-bench bogie cars. All were built 1954-57 except 283 which was constructed
in 1962. They measured 8.467m by 2.378m and weighed 9,585kg. and seated 26.
#609-610 were single-ended 25hp cars.
#403-507 These are 26 seat single-ended cars built between 1952 and 1964
with folding-doors. They were based on earlier vehicles in the 400-507
sequence which were rebuilt as above. Tram 466 is seen, right, at Praça do
4. The New and Remodelled Trams, 1985 to date.
From 1985 to 1987 a number of old cars were rebuilt as unidirectional vehicles
and these ran till 1996. They were given two 45hp motors. Their
dimensions were 8.382m by 2.378m and weighed 10,000kg. They accommodated
24 passengers, seated, and 18 standing. Their origins were as follows:
761: comprised the body of 276 and the truck of 736,
762: ditto, using 226 and 739
763: ditto, using 568 and 740
771 was based on 557; 772 on 554; 773 on 561; 774 on 563; 775 on 553;
776 on 562; 777 on 566; 778 on 571; 779 on 555; 780 on 565; 781 on
567; 782 on 560; 783 on 564; 784 on 559; 785 on 556.
These were adapted in 1987 from the earlier cars of these numbers. They were bi-
directional and had two 45hp motors. They had 24 seats and weighed 10,730kg.
#501-510 These comprise ten three-section trams built by Siemens and used exclusively on the coastal route #15 to Algés from Praça da Figueira. For details see Part One of this webpage.
#541-585 These are the new numbers for 45 remodelled trams drawn from 221-282 series and from 701-724, but also including 415 and 483.
Right: Remodelado tram 576.
541 (formerly 270)
550 (formerly 278)
568 (formerly 254)
577 (formerly 252)
Footnote: *556 - 256 is often stated to be tram 556's source but David Gourlay reports that it is actually either 240 or 246, so the numbers may be transposed with the source of 557.
Tram and trailer in the Praça da Figueira
The last trailers were withdrawn in 1989. They can be grouped into two categories:
Right: One of the 'new' trailers, #155, behind tram #550 at Belém on route 15 in June, 1989.
Numbered 153-202, these were Brill vehicles which ran from
1901 to 1953/55. Measuring 7.12m by 1.970m, they weighed
3,320kg and accommodated 32 sitting and 18 standing.
Numbered 100-200 and built by Carris, these ran from 1950 to 1989. Their
dimensions were 8.436m by 2.378m and they weighed in at
4,500kg. They had seats for 28 and space for the same number of
standing passengers. They had flush sides like the 'caixote' trams.
Twenty-three survived till 1988/89. In 1999, trailer 173 was placed on a display plinth at Belém, adjacent to the tram turning loop.
Zorras are works tramcars used for track repair and transport of
materials, tools etc. Their fleet numbers are prefixed by the letter Z. Carris also now has a modern fleet of 'Pronto Socorro' vans and trucks, with fleet numbers which are prefixed by 'PS'.
Carris Museum of Transport
For full details of the Carris Museum, at Santo Amaro, see the Luso Pages
Carris Page. This houses trams, buses and other
L to R: A 3$00 ticket (1971); a 1991 ticket; a 1$50 ticket (1971).
João de Azevedo Lisboa: 125 anos sobre Carris. Lisboa:
Roma Editora, 1998. 151p. bibliog. (ISBN 972-8490-01-1)
A most informative guide, with many archive photographs in black
and white and colour.
Gavin Booth, Yellow trams, orange buses: Portugal's trams and British-built city buses. Edinburgh: Bus Enthusiast, 2011. 67pp. bibliog.
An excellent all-colour book of photos with descriptive text.
B.R. King and J.H. Price, The tramways of Portugal. 4th edition. London:
Light Rail Transit Association, 1995. 92pp. bibliog. maps. (ISBN 0-948106-19-0)
A revised printing appeared (1998) of this essential guide
to Lisbon and other Portuguese tramways. There are also brief sections on
the Estoril Line railway, funiculars, the Metropolitano de Lisboa and
the Sintra tramway. Illustrated with many black and white photographs, this
book gives historical detail, fleet lists and up-to-date information.
J. Abdo, Tram tours of Lisbon: Carreiras de elétricos de Lisboa. Second edition. Lisbon: Represse/Carris, 1996. 137pp. (First edition- Lisbon: Represse, 1991. 98pp. maps.
Both editions of this excellent little book detail every stop of the then extant tram routes of Lisbon, accompanied by high-quality colour photographs. The second edition therefore covers fewer routes but is enlarged because it has full text in both Portuguese and English. The book is available from the Carris Transport Museum shop; it has no ISBN.
Marina Tavares Dias, História do eléctrico da Carris: The history of the Lisbon trams. Lisboa: Quimera, 2001 158pp. (ISBN 972-589-066-3)
An excellent, heavily illustrated history of the Carris tram, with text in both Portuguese and English.
Neil Pulling, 'Light rail diversity in Lisbon' in Tramways & Urban Transit, no. 886, October 2011, pp.386-390.
A review of the situation on both sides of the Tagus in 2011.
DVDs of Lisbon Trams
Carro eléctrico de Lisboa: os primeiros 100 anos. Lisboa: Carris, 60 mins. Excellent review which covers other forms of transport as well as trams. Commentary in Portuguese.
Lisboa 1991 captures many of the old bogie trams and much more jsut before their withdrawal. Available from Premofilm.
Lisbon trams: driver's eye view. Produced by Peter Middleton, Video 125, 2010. Incorporates full length high-quality recording of routes 28 and 15 from the driver's cab, with bonus features on the Carris Museum and the Bica funicular. 85 minutes plus bonuses. Commentary in English.
Lisbon's trams: past & present. J&K Video, 9 Bassett Gardens, Osterley, Middx. 100 mins.
Pictures of Lisbon Trams
More pictures of Lisbon trams may be found on
the European Railway Server.
Further information on tram services may be found at the Carris WWW site
Links to Other Sites Covering Lisbon Trams
Lisbon trams turn up in the most unexpected locations as this picture (right) of #520 arriving at the workshop in Waitakere City, New Zealand, for restoration. #526 is also under restoration at the same location. Photo courtesy of Dave Harre.
Hakon Kinck Gaarder,
from Oslo, Norway, has a well-designed site which includes Lisbon tram photographs in
both colour and black and white.
Hans Bjorknas from
Finland has some excellent photographs of Lisbon trams, with an accompanying
text which is in Swedish.
from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, maintains a interesting site named 'Os Amarelos', ('The Yellows'),
after the traditional colours of the Carris tram car fleet.
Tramways.com has links to many pictures of Lisbon trams and also to some buses, trains and Metro images. These lack captions, however.
The New York Subway site has many pictures of Lisbon trams.
Llandudno and Colwyn Bay Tramway Society maintains a site which includes a page on Lisbon 305, which it has acquired.
Mar del Plata, Argentina, on the Atlantic Ocean now hosts Lisbon trams 342 and 343. There are some excellent photos of these at Allen Morrison's webpage.
Lisbon 350 is now in Córdoba, Argentina.
Tram 530 is in Duluth, Minnesota, USA, where the Lake Superior Museum of Transportation, opened a 1/4 mile line in 1983. Lisbon 531 was sold on to Canada (see below).
The Whitehorse Trolley is home to Lisbon 531, which was bought by the Government of Yukon in autumn, 1999 for $85,000, from Lake Superior (see above) where it had been since 1978. There is more on this here.
A web site for Historic Railway Restoration who prepared the Lisbon car for operation in Whitehorse, Yukon. This site includes a page on Lisbon 531 being prepared for service in the Yukon, here. Also of interest is an article on Brill car 100.
Information on car 346 in New Jersey.
I am endebted to Bill Robb of Canada for many of the above links.
For a list of books on Lisbon transport in general, see the Lisbon Transport
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