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China’s Old Tram Systems – A Quick Round Up

Posted: February 25th, 2009 | 4 Comments »

Quite a few people emailed to say they liked the Dalian trams and shared my belief that trams are a good solution to urban congestion and transportation issues as well as being far more interesting to look at than ever growing traffic queues. So here’s a quick round (alphabetically) up of China’s once extensive tram networks – apologies to any cities I’ve missed out.

Anshan – 55 miles southwest of Shenyang on the old South Manchurian Railway line. A single tram route was opened in 1956 to provide transportation for the employees of the Anshan Steel Works. This pic is from the 1980s.

Changchun – the electric tramway system opened in 1942. By the 1950s the system was extended to serve the western industrial area of Changchun with 28 km of track and 98 cars. I think trams still run in Changchun today.

Fushun – another north eastern industrial city near Shenyang and a major coal production area. The Russians arrived in 1902 followed by the Japanese. The South Manchuria Railway Company operated 26 trams around Fushun.

Harbin – the electric tram system opened in 1927, with nine miles of track and 14 trams, eventually growing to 40 trams on eight routes. Sadly they scrapped the system in 1987.

Hong Kong – The tram system in Victoria was opened on July 30, 1904, and still runs today (and is excellent, I hop it regularly through Central to Wan Chai. cars acquired upper decks in 1912 and the first closed trams were built in 1925.

Peking – early into the tram game – a first line opened in 1899, connecting the Ma-chia-pu Railway Station outside the city walls with the South Gate. The two-mile route used four motorcars and four trailers, and closed during the Boxer Rebellion in 1900 for a bit.

Shanghai – Shanghai had three tram companies. The British system, which opened in 1908, was the largest with seven routes and 216 trams; the French system, which opened in 1908, had three routes and 60 trams; the Chinese company opened in 1913, and operated 52 trams on four routes totalling 23.5 km in length.

Shenyang (Mukden) – The Japanese opened an electric tramway in 1925, and by 1937 there were 12 km of track and 21 trams. The system expanded over the years and closed in 1973.

Tianjin (Tientsin) – The tram system opened in 1906 – China’s second. By 1933 there were nine miles of track and 116 trams in service. A horse-drawn tramway connected the city with a large arsenal to the east. The last tram ran about 1972.

4 Comments on “China’s Old Tram Systems – A Quick Round Up”

  1. 1 Sylvie RAMIR said at 5:22 pm on March 14th, 2011:

    Attention Paul FRENCH

    Hello, I already sent you several messages through your e-mail and got no answer. I guess I had a wrong address. I got in touch with you through Marion Egal, Georges Egal’s daughter. I’m currently writing a book, a non-fiction narration which takes place in wartime Shanghai. To improve my background over this period, I’m looking for information about resistants and collaborators in the French Compound. For many years now, I’ve been working on the French Concession. Thanks for enabling me to get in touch with you.

    Sylvie RAMIR

  2. 2 Old Shanghai tramways – Shanghailander said at 11:08 pm on August 14th, 2017:

    […] More about tramways in other Chinese cities with this article from Paul French’s blog: […]

  3. 3 vincent said at 5:17 pm on August 1st, 2021:


    Thanks for this page it’s really interesting.
    My name is vincent a french filmmaker, and
    I was wondering if you have a more details about the french tramway system in shanghai and where I could find dome documentation. Indeed I am looking for archive, photographs and even film of the french tram during 1914 to 1927 in Shanghai. Just in case it would help me very much. Thanks a lot. Hoping to have a precious answer from you.

  4. 4 HANS MOMMERSTEEG said at 3:26 am on November 6th, 2021:

    Mijn belangstelling gaat uit naar de leverancier van de Elektrische Tram Mij te Peking in de periode 1896 -1901.
    In 1899 was mijn oudoom (Desire van Zuijlen)bij de Bokser opstand betrokken. Hij werd zelfs door de Duitse Overheid gedecoreerd.

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