1888 Vevey-Montreux-Chillon Electric Tramcar


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Louis Mékarski was an engineer who built the first electric tramway in Switzerland. In 1878 it was planned to work it with compressed air, but the 1881 Paris exhibition of 1881 demonstrated a tramway by Siemens & Halske using a slotted tube overhead power supply. In 1884 a concession was granted to build a tramway but there were problems with finance. Emile-Louis Roussy, a director of Nestlé, helped and construction began in 1886. Trams were running by 1st May 1888 along the 10.4 km route. Because telephones used a single wire and earth return, to avoid interference the tramway had to use bipolar overhead, instead of track/earth for its return circuit. Current collection was provided by Siemens. The overhead consisted of a pair of hollow rectangular copper tubes with a slot at the bottom edge of each tube, and inside slid a shuttle bobbin connected to the tram by a flexible steel rope and insulated copper cable. This was one of the batch of twelve cars built 1888-89 by Schweizerische Industrie-Gesellschaft of Neuhausen. The cars were two axles but only one was driven, by shaft and gears from a 15 hp motor. In winter the inside seats were provided with cushions and a small heater was put below the bench. At first the cars were lit by oil lamps, but these were replaced in 1890 by electric lights run from a small accumulator. This tramcar be seen today at the Verkehrshaus der Schweiz, Lidostrasse 5, Luzern, Switzerland.

Additional information

Dimensions 47.5 × 34.5 cm