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HISTORY OF MONTEVIDEO TRAMWAYS

The first horse tram line in the city was inaugurated on May 25th, 1868 but regular services began on June first. The tram system helped the city to expand, creating permanent links between neighbourhoods and downtown.

`Unión y Maroñas´ tram at 18 de Julio Avenue - Postcard from Marcelo Cáceres collection

Horse tramways linked downtown with the main neighbourhoods of the city - IMM collection photos

Electric trams began to run on November 19, 1906 by S.C. de M.(Sociedad Comercial de Montevideo - Montevideo United Tramways). Public services started on December 8, 1906.

Inaugural tram of the S.C. de M. electric services - IMM collection photo

On June 2nd, 1907 German company "La Transatlántica" opened line 1 between downtown and Paso Molino. Both companies bought horse tramway lines to electrify the system.

`La Transatlántica´ inaugural car travelled over several lines on June 2nd, 1907.  On the photograph, the car at `Parque Urbano´ with two horse tramways of the former `Tranvía Oriental´ that was bought by La Transatlántica - SODRE collection photo

An S.C. de M. and a La Transatlántica car at `Parque Urbano´ (now Parque Rodó) - Postcard from Allen Morrison collection

The last horse line, owned by the state from 1915 (Tranvía del Norte, after 1920 Ferrocarriles y Tranvías del Estado), ceased from running on December 31th, 1925, after failed, because of politic discussions, all intents to form a state owned electric tram network.

From Norte station, the special wagons that carried meat pulled by steam locomotives from the stockyards at Santiago Vázquez (20 km to the West) were uncoupled and drawned by horses to the three markets of the city - El País collection photo

On 1924 the State Railways reached an agreement with La Transatlántica to cover the passenger service of the railway line to Santiago Vazquez (also know as "Barra de Santa Lucía"). The railway had lost their main freight traffics: meat and sand. The line was electrified between Belvedere and Santiago Vazquez and connected with the tram network. The electric service over the "E" line (the only one of the city with a letter instead of a number) started on December 15, 1926 and became a hugh success. The biggest ten cars of La Transatlántica were upgraded for this service.

Inaugural `E´ car - Mundo Uruguayo photo

"La Transatlántica" was sold out to S.C. de M. in 1928, and completely merged into one in 1933.

Two cars of former `La Transatlantica´, which became the `LT division´ of S.C. de M., near downtown - SODRE collection photo

On December 28th, 1947 the S.C. de M. was sold to the state, which formed the Municipal Transport Board (Administración Municipal de Transportes Colectivos de Montevideo, known as A.M. de T.) with the mission of withdrawal all tram lines and replace them by trolleybus, bus and microbus lines. A.M. de T. made the first track supression on the city centre on April 1rst, 1948.

Amdet tramways in Sarandí street - AUAR collection photo

Several cars were rebuilt to single end with folding doors - AMDET photos

The last seven surviving urban tram lines (9, 10, 11, 12, 28, 55, 61) ran on November 17, 1956.

Last Montevideo urban tramway, line 10, car 380, at the door of Goes Station.  November 17, 1956, 14:08 - Mundo Uruguayo photo

The last line, interurban to La Barra de Santa Lucia (16 km, running since January 1956 from Belvedere outwards) closed at 1:00 A.M. on April 14, 1957.

Last Montevideo tram arriving to Belvedere - El Diario photo

El Diario photo

Six electric cars (159 -last tram-, 200, 370, 595, 599, 881) and a horse car (72, mistakenly numbered 94) were placed outdoors at the F. Garcia park on 1959. Unfortunately these cars were badly damaged by vandalism and the weather.

Two of the `preserved´ trams - Photos:  Richard Yudin

An heritage tram service ran between October 15th, 1967 and April 28th, 1974 on eight blocks of Isla de Flores street. Car 595 was taken off the museum and repaired.

Car 595 on the inaugural day of the heritage line - Photos: archivo AUAR

The A.M.de T. dissapeared in February 1rst, 1976 and with it the mayority of the trolleybuses lines.

Horse car 72 and electric 595 were saved, the former because it was moved from the park and exhibited on another place, the later for running on the heritage line and after it, was stored on closed places. They were both kept at the old Central tram station, which was and still is a municipal garage, between 1982 and 1990.

On 1980 the five Fernando García park cars remaining were transported to the old Goes tram station and destroyed (by the same major which closed the heritage line) on March 24th, 1982.

Another car, number 46, built by Dick Kerr in 1906 for S.C. de M. (and supossed the first electric car running in the city) was conserved by the company and used from 1932 as instruction fixed car at Agraciada Station. After the tram supression it was arrastred from station to station until it was given to Uruguayan Railfan Association (A.U.A.R.) in 1982, very damaged. As A.U.A.R. hadn't a fixed place to keep it, it was stored in several places where it damaged even more.

On October 1984 it joined 72 and 595 on Central Station. On May 8th, 1990 the electric cars were transported to the A.U.A.R. Transport Museum, which unfortunately hasn´t yet a place to settle. Car 72 was donated by the municipality on November, 1990 and was adapted to run by now with rubber tyres (but keeping its steel wheels).

It ran on a tourist service between Plaza Independencia and the Town Hall on weekends between January 13th and March 23th, 1991. It was withdrawal by lack of sponsors. Now it run on special services (Children's Day, historical celebrations, etc) and it's exhibed on expositions by A.U.A.R.

Car 595 is being restored by Uruguayan Railfan Association and a former "La Transatlántica" trailer (382), is exhibited in front of Montevideo Town Hall, used as a sausage bar.

Car 595 being repaired by Uruguayan Railfan Association - M. Benoit photos

Car 72, temporary running out of rails - M. Benoit photo

Former La Transatlántica trailer in front of Montevideo Town Hall - M. Benoit photo


MONTEVIDEO STUDIES TRAM RETURN

On 1996, a network composed by seven main circuits was proposed to the Montevideo major Mariano Arana by the commision created on May, 1995 to study the city public transport improvment. On the basic circuits first will be created reserved lanes for buses that lately will be converted in trams lanes. The network will be completed by distrital circuits that complement the main lines. Also was studied the addition of two suburban lines to the projects: The existing railway line Montevideo-Progreso that will be electrificated and served by Karlsruhe type LRT's and the light metro line which construction is studied by State Railways between Montevideo and Atlántida (46 km).

The private enterprise "Metro Montevideo" is studying from 1994 the construction of one metro line in Montevideo. This axle will run under the historic road that was the first served with horse tramways in 1868 (18 de Julio Avenue and 8 de Octubre Avenue) between the Old Town and Union. A tram line from the Town Hall to the Stadium, connecting in both terminus with the Metro line and via two shoppings in the Pocitos district will be second. Other tram lines are planned like one that will run from Tres Cruces Metro station to Carrasco Airport.

TO SPANISH VERSION

Wish more info? Contact Marcelo Benoit

I thank to LFU for the space on their web site

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