2015: A Transit System Officially Begins Operations in Colombia

October 20, 2015

After more than a half-century without any tram (streetcar) service in Medellín, the transit system known as the Ayacucho Tram was formally launched in that major Colombian city. The Ayacucho Tram, which is operated by the rapid transit network Medellín Metro, is currently the only tram service in all of Colombia.

For many years, there had been a robust tram system in Medellín. This system initially consisted of horse-drawn tramcars; all of these vehicles were eventually replaced by electric tramcars. At its height in 1945, this system was served by a total of 61 tramcars. As with many transit systems of its kind across the globe in the ensuing years, however, the tram service in Medellín was steadily scaled back. This service was ultimately shut down altogether in 1951.

Over time, though, this decision to cease tram operations in Medellín was reassessed as traffic congestion worsened with an ever-growing number of automobiles and buses clogging the city’s streets on a regular basis. To help alleviate at least some of that congestion, the city’s plans to resume tram operations took more definitive shape during the first several years of the 21st century. In 2011, the contracts for developing a new system were approved; construction on this transit line began the following year.

Starting in 2014, rubber-tired Translohr tramcars built by the French manufacturer Lohr Industrie were shipped to Medellín for use by the Ayacucho Tram. These tramcars were deemed to be the most optimal vehicles for the steep hills on the planned route for the Ayacucho Tram. (The Translohr is also used for tram networks in Paris and Clermont-Ferrand in France; Shanghai and Tianjin in China; and Padua and Venice in Italy.)

The first test runs for the Ayacucho Tram took place on July 13, 2015. Free but limited passenger service on these tramcars was initiated on October 15 of the following year. The dedication of this system was held five days later. Those attending this ceremony included Juan Manuel Santos, who served as president of Colombia from 2010 to 2018. Regular, full-fledged passenger service on the Ayacucho Tram did not officially begin until March 31, 2016.

The Ayacucho Tram covers 2.7 miles (4.3 kilometers) altogether. This system encompasses a total of nine stations, three of which serve as transfer points for both the Medellín Metro and Metrocable (the city’s gondola lift service).

Photo Credit: Secretaría de Movilidad de Medellín (licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license at https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/deed.en)

For more information on the Ayacucho Tram, please check out https://artsandculture.google.com/entity/ayacucho-tram/g11b6bv9f9c?hl=en and https://railuk.com/rail-news/colombias-president-opens-ayacucho-tramway/

A video of the Ayacucho Tram in operation is available at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bum7GO79jwk

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