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"From Horse Tram to Metro - The Development of Modern Light Rail by Keith Jones, Head of Law & Administration, Aberdeenshire Council - Meeting of Tuesday 4 October 2005

Keith Jones used a large collection of slides to illustrate his presentation spanning 150 years of public transport. Using library slides of early Scottish trams included horse-drawn in Aberdeen, cable in Edinburgh and steam powered in Dundee; single and double deck; open and enclosed vehicles; and city and suburban routes, he showed how Scottish Tramways developed into an efficient mode of urban transport.

Aberdeen District Tramways' horse-drawn routes were colour-coded, predating First Aberdeen's metro-style branding by over a hundred years. In 1899 Aberdeen saw its first electrified route, operating to Woodside. British-style double-deck trams were exported to other parts of the "empire" such as Hong Kong and New Zealand.

However on continental Europe trams were smaller and single-decked. The 1930's saw the introduction of stream-lined vehicles in Britain such as the Coronation tram, and in London trolley-buses worked alongside trams. In post-war Germany trams were made from recycled materials.

Keith's own extensive collection of slides spanning the last 30 years, were taken in the UK, many parts of Europe including EU and former Soviet Union countries, Australia, Canada and the USA. These included low-floor trams, articulated trams, automated trams, cable-cars and funiculars.

Perhaps the best example of sustainable transport was the Calgary tram system powered by wind generators. Following the presentation an interesting debate was held on the factors required to sustain a successful tram system today. It was recognised that the local authority had a role to play in terms of land planning and traffic management.

Report by Marion Mackay.


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