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

A tram (in North America streetcar or trolley) is a rail vehicle which runs on tramway tracks along public urban streets; some include segments of segregated right-of-way.[1][2] 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-tyred 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",[3] 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 mid 20th century. Trams have seen resurgence in recent years.

Etymology and terminology

The English terms tram and tramway are derived from the Scots word tram,[4][publisher missing] referring respectively to a type of truck (goods wagon or freight railroad car) used in coal mines and the tracks on which they ran. The word tram probably derived from Middle Flemish trame ("beam, handle of a barrow, bar, rung"). The identical word la trame with the meaning "crossbeam" is also used in the French language. Etymologists believe that the word tram refers to the wooden beams the railway tracks were initially made of before the railroad pioneers switched to the much more wear-resistant tracks made of iron and, later, steel.[5] The word Tram-car is attested from 1873.[6]

A sign in Portland that reads "go by streetcar." Trams have typically been called streetcars in North America.

Although the terms tram and tramway have been adopted by many languages, they are not used universally in English; North Americans prefer streetcar, trolley, or trolleycar. The term streetcar is first recorded in 1840, and originally referred to horsecars. When electrification came, Americans began to speak of trolleycars or later, trolleys. A widely held belief holds the word to derive from the troller (said to derive from the words traveler and roller), a four-wheeled device that was dragged along dual overhead wires by a cable that connected the troller to the top of the car and collected electrical power from the overhead wires;[7] this portmanteau derivation is, however, most likely folk etymology. "Trolley" and variants refer to the verb troll, meaning "roll" and probably derived from Old French,[8] and cognate uses of the word were well established for handcarts and horse drayage, as well as for nautical uses.[9]

The alternative North American term 'trolley' may strictly speaking be considered incorrect, as the term can also be applied to cable cars, or conduit cars that instead draw power from an underground supply. Conventional diesel tourist buses decorated to look like streetcars are sometimes called trolleys in the US (tourist trolley). Furthering confusion, the term tram has instead been applied to open-sided, low-speed segmented vehicles on rubber tires generally used to ferry tourists short distances, for example on the Universal Studios backlot tour and, in many countries, as tourist transport to major destinations. The term may also apply to an aerial ropeway, e.g. the Roosevelt Island Tramway.

Although the use of the term trolley for tram was not adopted in Europe, the term was later associated with the trolleybus, a rubber-tyred vehicle running on hard pavement, which draws its power from pairs of overhead wires. These electric buses, which use twin trolley poles, are also called trackless trolleys (particularly in the northeastern US), or sometimes simply trolleys (in the UK, as well as in Seattle and Vancouver).

The New South Wales, Australia, government has decided to use the term "light rail" for their trams.

Other Languages
Afrikaans: Trem
Аҧсшәа: Атрамваи
العربية: ترام
aragonés: Tramvía
asturianu: Tranvía
azərbaycanca: Tramvay
تۆرکجه: قونقا
বাংলা: ট্রাম
беларуская: Трамвай
беларуская (тарашкевіца)‎: Трамвай
भोजपुरी: ट्राम
български: Трамвай
bosanski: Tramvaj
brezhoneg: Tramgarr
català: Tramvia
čeština: Tramvaj
Cymraeg: Tramffordd
dansk: Sporvogn
Deutsch: Straßenbahn
eesti: Tramm
Ελληνικά: Τραμ
español: Tranvía
Esperanto: Tramo
euskara: Tranbia
فارسی: تراموا
français: Tramway
Frysk: Tram
Gaeilge: Tram
galego: Tranvía
한국어: 노면전차
հայերեն: Տրամվայ
हिन्दी: ट्राम
hrvatski: Tramvaj
Bahasa Indonesia: Trem
íslenska: Sporvagn
italiano: Tram
עברית: חשמלית
Basa Jawa: Trèm
ქართული: ტრამვაი
қазақша: Трамвай
kurdî: Tramvay
Кыргызча: Трамвай
Ladino: Tramvay
latviešu: Tramvajs
Lëtzebuergesch: Tram
lietuvių: Tramvajus
lumbaart: Tram
magyar: Villamos
македонски: Трамвај
മലയാളം: ട്രാം
मराठी: ट्रॅम
Bahasa Melayu: Trem
Nederlands: Tram
日本語: 路面電車
norsk: Trikk
norsk nynorsk: Sporvogn
occitan: Tramvai
oʻzbekcha/ўзбекча: Tramvay
Papiamentu: Tram
پښتو: ټرام
polski: Tramwaj
português: Elétrico
Ripoarisch: Kaläkktrische
română: Tramvai
русиньскый: Трамвай
русский: Трамвай
Scots: Tram
sicilianu: Tram
Simple English: Tram
slovenčina: Električka
slovenščina: Tramvaj
ślůnski: Sztrasbana
کوردی: تڕام
српски / srpski: Трамвај
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Tramvaj
svenska: Spårvagn
Tagalog: Trambiya
татарча/tatarça: Трамвай
తెలుగు: ట్రామ్
ไทย: รถราง
Türkçe: Tramvay
українська: Трамвай
اردو: ٹرام
Tiếng Việt: Tàu điện
文言: 電車
吴语: 电车
ייִדיש: טראמוויי
粵語: 有軌電車
Zeêuws: Tram
žemaitėška: Tramvajos
中文: 有軌電車