The Gas Tramcar: An Idea Ahead of its Time (Pen & Sword)

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The Gas Tram was a short-lived phenomenon which briefly seemed to herald a new way forward in tramcar design, replacing horses and steam locomotives on the streets with quieter and smoother travel. One of the major advantages of the gas tram, according to those who proposed it, was the low capital cost of the conversion and all without the need to install the expensive overhead catenary required for electric traction.

Designs for gas tramcars were patented all over the world and systems were briefly operated in Germany, Australia, Holland, Switzerland and the UK, and proposed in France, New Zealand and the USA. The fuel was invariably domestic 'town gas' drawn from the local gasworks and the vehicles were said to be very cheap to run.

This was a development which was probably a century ahead of its time – with twenty-first century gas systems using much greener biomethane as a fuel currently being developed in the UK, Korea, China and elsewhere and biomethane-fuelled trams already in service in Dubai and Aruba. Derived from the natural decomposition of organic waste which would otherwise be released into the atmosphere, biomethane is a clean and green alternative to fossil fuels. Other vehicles, using hydrogen fuel cells to generate electricity, are being developed in several countries.

This book – the first ever comprehensive history of these vehicles – uses many previously unpublished photographs, drawings and patents. Well-illustrated throughout with colour and black & white photographs, diagrams and reproduced documents. Hardback. 204 pages.

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