Hybrid tram goes live in US city


The world has hybrid cars, hybrid buses and even hybrid boats – and now it has a hybrid tram (streetcar), unveiled this week in a US city.

The patriotically-named “ameriTRAM” was actually built by a subsidiary of Japanese firm The Kinki Sharyo Co and began trundling along the streets of Charlotte, North Carolina January 20, powered by electricity and a rechargeable lithium-ion battery.Ai??

It’s the first prototype of a design that Kinkisharyo International believes could help widen the appeal of electric trams, which normally need overhead power (known as “catenary”) cables constructed along the route to power them.Ai??

Charlotte's new hybrid tram

Thanks to its lithium-ion batteries and regenerative braking, the ameriTRAM can manage around eight kilometres of catenary-free operation before it needs to be charged again, making it suitable for areas where cables would be unsightly or unpopular.

Kinkisharyo estimates that authorities can save themselves $1 – $2 million for every mile of cabling avoided, as well as the associated savings gained through reducing energy usage.Ai??

Finding a green way to power trams without adding the “visual pollution” of powerlines has proved tricky for local authorities and transportation manufacturers, both keen to reduce dependence on fossil fuels.

In 2009, transportation firm Bombardier unveiled its first catenary-free tram, which used inducted energy (similar to that used in electric toothbrushes) to power trams wirelessly.Ai??

The German city of Augsburg was selected host a pilot project last year, with 0.8 km of track being fitted with the new system.



2 Responses to “Hybrid tram goes live in US city”
  1. High St Ken says:

    Well, that’s ten postings on Light Rail, at grade Tramways in one day; every single one informative, newsworthy and no slagging-off of the Canada Line and TransLink.
    The RvtV team are certainly well informed.
    Europe & the US are leading the field, so all you Skytrain folks, how are you going to respond?
    Will you continue to argue that at grade LRT, tramways & streetcars have no place in the modern urban transit landscape?
    Too slow, too expensive to build & operate; the rest of the world cannot be wrong or do you think it is?

  2. Evil Eye says:

    It seems that the only people who complain about Zweisystem and the Rail for the Valley blog are people who want expensive rapid transit systems like SkyTrain. I have learned more about transit and the issues about transit here than from any other local transit blog.

    Here they talk about action and doing it right, while others seem to be lost in theory and wishful thinking.

    We need passenger rail for the valley and Rail for the Valley seem to have the answers.