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Chagford - The Difference between Railway and Tramway Operation



Hi All


Railways have station and halts, whereas tramways have depots and wayside stopping places. Tramways generally have very rudimentary signalling if any at all and where they do it is often not interlocked with the points. It was the drivers responsibility to check that the points were correctly set.


On rural tramways, the points were indeed often operated by the tram crew, usually on steam operated tramways, by the fireman. Points were often operated by lineside weighted levers, photographs exist of these levers, in books about the Hundred of Manhood and Selsey Tramway, later refereed to as the Tramway section of the West Sussex Railway. On tramway loops the points were and still are on the Croydon Tramway spring operated, and trams entering the loop are required to traverse these points at a maximum speed of 5 mph. Thus all down trams will use the same track in the loop, regardless of whether an up tram is present.



A loops the service operates on a timetable basis, if the timetable says the trams will pass at the loop then the first tram to arrive cannot proceed until the tram in the opposite direction has arrived, regardless of how late it arrives. On urban electric tramways, since trams are frequent this does not present problems.


In the past in this country,and often on mainland Europe and other parts of the world tramways convey freight, which is transferred from the railway at a set of transfer sidings and either conveyed on the tramway by a special locomotive or as tail traffic on passenger services.


Another difference is that tramways often have much sharper curves and steeper gradients and many ungated level crossings than railways. The points are usually much smaller radius and trams and as a result usually traverse then at 5 mph.



Tramways are regulated not by the Railway Inspectorate, but by the Tramway Commissioners, which these days are part of the Department for Transport. To build or extend a tramway does not require an act of parliament, but simply the tramway commissioners to issue a Tramway Order and outline planning permission. Many links between mainline railways and industrial plants e.g. cement works, were constructed under a tramway order, and are officially refereed to a Mineral Tramways.


Previous blog entry - Chagford - Building structures for tramways and light railways,was posted 4 days previously and can be accessed using the link below.






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