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Los Angeles’ new ‘trolley’

Battery tram - picture Julian Wolinsky

15 March will see the inauguration of the expansion of Los Angeles’ famous Farmers Market, now a gigantic outdoor shopping centre. Linking the Grove and the original 1934 site at Third and Fairfax Streets, the developers have built a 375-m single-track standard-gauge tramway, unwired, and worked by one battery-powered car. This is a 62-seat open-top, open-platform double-decker modelled loosely on British practice, and built by the Production Resources Group on an underframe incorporating two ex-Boston PCC trucks, with four new motors and hydraulic disc brakes. Maximum speed is about 8 km/h and the tram runs very 10 minutes 09.00-22.00 daily. The tram carries 52 12-volt batteries, wired as two parallel sets of 26 in series to give 312 volts traction power. A novel piece of technology is inductive battery recharging each time the tram stops for three minutes to unload/load at the east end of the line. Batteries are also conventionally recharged each night.

14 March 2002

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