The Trammffordd Y Gogarth
(The Great Orme Tramway)
The Trammffordd Y Gogarth (Great Orme Tramway in English) in Llandudno, North Wales, is the only cable-hauled tramway still operating on British public roads.
First opening in 1902, and still using its original tramcars, this system features twin funicular railways where the ascending and descending tramcars must operate as matched pairs counter-balancing each other, so it is not a cable car system as in the San Francisco mold. Both funiculars meet at a midway station, which is where the winding house is also located. Passengers wanting to make a full journey need to transfer between upper and lower railways at this station. The combined length of the two lines is approximately one mile (1.6km).
The upper line extends from the midway station to the Great Orme's 679ft (207m) summit, and on days when the weather is favourable the views can include Snowdonia, Anglesey, the Isle of Man, Blackpool and the Lake District.
The lower line links Llandudno town with the midway station. It includes sections of both street running and roadside right of way.
It is questionable whether modern health and safety legislation would permit the construction of a new system - complete with street running - such as operates here; however as this line is already open it probably benefits from what is known as "grandfather" rights. (There should be no reason why there would be a problem for a new system that is away from the public highway).
Being aimed at leisure travellers services only operate between late March and late October, with trains running at 20 minute intervals from 10am (10.00) to 6pm (18.00) (March and October 5pm / 17.00).
More information and photographs of the Great Orme Tramway can be found by following these links:
These images only show the lower line near the midway passing point and part of the route where the trams travel on the public highway.
On way down from midway and approaching the passing point.
The passing point on the lower section is in the street domain but "off-road". The 'swept path' of the vehicle on the outside slightly fouls the public highway and the white dotted line next to the double yellow lines delineates this and is intended to discourage road vehicles from straying too near the tracks.
A similar view as above, but looking in the opposite direction.
In 1991 special 'white dot' traffic sgnals were introduced for use by British tramways and light railways. The idea is to avoid confusing the road traffic where the trams follow different signal aspects.
This signal is showing 'go' and as the descending tramcar must cut across the path of the road traffic all the other signals are at red (stop).
An anxious moment as a descending tram almost clips a blue hatchback stuck in a queue of traffic (beyond the junction) which was caused by single-file alternate directional traffic trying to pass a broken-down vehicle on the road further down the hill.
Originally the line was equipped with an overhead wire which was used for communicating between tramcars and a control centre. Nowadays the trams use radio communications and the overhead has been dismantled, nevertheless for decorative and historic reasons the tramcars retain their trolley-poles.
The lower line includes a section of street running; for safety motor vehicle access to this road is restricted to authorised vehicles only - this is an attempt to avoid the hazard of a tramcar travelling in one direction meeting an oncoming vehicle travelling in the opposite direction on a road so narrow that there is no space to pass.
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