Is A Tram A Train?

5th July 2017


It’s a question that makes train enthusiasts the world over gasp in horror. Is a tram considered a train? While to the uninitiated they may seem like practically the same thing (after all, they’re both modes of transport that run on tracks) those in the know will tell you that there are a number of key differences.

Trains are modes of transport that run on specially laid tracks constructed from iron rails and are generally used for longer distance travel that reaches beyond the city limits. Although trams are also rail-based modes of transport, trams are designed to travel shorter distances on public city and urban streets, sharing the road with other vehicles. However the differences don’t stop there. Train tracks are laid a few inches above the ground while tram tracks are laid at road level to enable cars and other vehicles to drive over them.

Trains consist of a series of vehicles or coaches which are coupled together and drawn by a locomotive. Along with transporting passengers, trains are also used to transport cargo and freight over long distances. Originally, trains were powered by steam however diesel and electric power sources are increasingly being harnessed by Australian trains. High speed trains are also growing rapidly, with some trains above to reach speeds in excess of 200 kmph.

Trams, which are also known as trolley cars, are much shorter and lighted in comparison. Travelling much slower than trains (in respect for the vehicular traffic around them) trams are powered by an overhead electrical apparatus or occasionally by diesel. This is a progression from earlier trams which were powered by petrol, steam or gas. The earliest trams were actually horse drawn cars and the only horsepower they used was that produced by the draft horses who carried them.

Trains v Trams

DefinitionA mode of transportation run on specially laid tracks of iron rails generally used for long distances; usually run outside city limitsA rail borne mode of transportation designed to travel short distances on streets in the city and along public urban streets.
TrackA separate track from road generally laid outside the limits of city.Along a road, sharing the road with other modes of transportation.
PurposeMostly to connect long distance cities etc.Mostly to cover short distances.
LengthA train is longer than a tram.A tram is shorter than a train.
OnboardCarries both passengers and goodsGenerally carries passengers only
Track LevelA few inches above the groundSame level as the road