Streetcar Home Page DC Massachusetts Pennsylvania Canada
Systems List Delaware Michigan Tennessee InnoTrans Berlin 2010
Arkansas Florida Missouri Texas Latest Updates
Arizona Georgia New York Utah  
California Iowa North Carolina Washington  
Colorado Kentucky Ohio Wisconsin  
Connecticut Louisiana Oregon    

 

U.S.  Streetcar Systems- North Carolina


Charlotte
Charlotte Trolley Inc.
Began Operation: 1996
Route Miles: 2.1
Stops:  11
Org: Transit Agency + Non-profit
Schedule: Service Replaced with Light Rail
photo: Jon Bell

Charlotte Trolley is a classic case of a grass-roots non-profit effort which started small and blossomed into something big. Operations began on an abandoned rail spur in 1996. The group used a restored Charlotte streetcar towing a diesel generator to provide electric power. The line connected Charlotte's South End district with downtown Charlotte, using a city-owned railroad right-of-way. From these modest beginnings, the line was incrementally upgraded into a modern transportation corridor that today is part of the City's new light rail system.

By 2003, the initial operation had been upgraded with new track, overhead, stations and replica Vintage Trolley vehicles. That same year, the non-profit Charlotte Trolley turned over the operating reigns to the Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS). Charlotte Trolley continued its participation as an important "friends of the trolley" support organization. The $40 million investment by the City of Charlotte and CATS had created a two-mile transit corridor that formed the basis for constructing the new light rail system then in the planning stages. The trolley operation and the anticipation of the new light rail service spurred an intense level of economic development along the corridor. More than $400 million in new projects, apartments and condominiums, shops, restaurants and more were added along the route during this initial period.

Starting in June 2004, trolley operations started on a daily basis using restored original Car 85. The car had been updated with different trucks and a modern control system. In July, an additional replica car from the Gomaco Trolley Company joined car 85. In October 2004 three new Gomaco replica trolleys arrived and began operating the bulk of the service. In February 2006, the line was shut down to allow construction of the City's first light rail line, which would overlap the existing trolley corridor at its north end.

Operation of the Lynx light rail line began in November of 2007. Vintage trolley service resumed in April 2008, operating over the northern end of the line between Atherton Mill and 9th Street. The trolley shares station stops with the light rail service, but utilizes terminals which are physically separated from the line. As of Summer 2009, one car operates weekends only. The trolley offers hourly departures from each end of the line, immediately following a light rail departure to avoid impacting regular operations. Trolleys also run during the week for charters and other special operations. 

Equipment: Until the purchase of three Gomaco replica trolleys, the mainstay of Charlotte Trolley service was Duke Power car 85. Something of a local celebrity, car 85 was built in the Charlotte streetcar shops in 1927, and in 1938 it received the honor of being the last streetcar to operate in Charlotte. Following retirement it saw several secondary uses, finally becoming part of a house in Huntersville, NC. It was acquired by the Historic Landmarks Commission in 1986 and restored locally over a multi year period.  The three Gomaco replica trolleys arrived in 2004.

More details of the fascinating saga that is Charlotte Trolley can be read in the Updates section below.

Photos

Charlotte 053109 trolley 6 sm.jpg (163318 bytes) Charlotte 053109 trolley 5 sm.jpg (181965 bytes) Charlotte 053109 trolley 1 sm.jpg (160872 bytes)
The Southern terminus for the Vintage Trolley overlay service. The trolley has its own track at this location, protected by the derail in the foreground. Northbound, approaching the East/West Blvd. station.
     
Charlotte 060109 Bland St 2 sm.jpg (151361 bytes) Charlotte 053109 museum 1 sm.jpg (154756 bytes) Charlotte 053109 museum 2 sm.jpg (129226 bytes)

The attractive new Lynx stations (this is Bland Street) include live trees on the platforms. Note the condos along the tracks.

The new Charlotte Trolley "Powerhouse Museum" is located adjacent to the Bland St. station

A former Connecticut Company streetcar is used as a classroom inside the museum building.

     
Charlotte 053109 museum 3 sm.jpg (103994 bytes) Charlotte 053109 trolley 4 sm.jpg (147414 bytes) Charlotte 053109 trolley 12 sm.jpg (209194 bytes)

The museum's main floor is a multi-purpose space. Future exhibits are being planned to be moveable.

Southbound trolley at Carson Street station. Condominiums line much of the light rail alignment.

Northbound run approaching the Morehead Street overpass.

     
Charlotte 053109 trolley 14 sm.jpg (188379 bytes) Charlotte 053109 trolley 13 sm.jpg (183775 bytes) Charlotte 053109 trolley 7 sm.jpg (123552 bytes)
Approaching Morehead Street southbound.

Northbound run passing over the Interstate 74 bridge into downtown Charlotte.

Northbound car arriving at the Stonewall station.
     
Charlotte 053109 trolley 8 sm.jpg (143200 bytes) Charlotte 053109 trolley 9 sm.jpg (161111 bytes) Charlotte 053109 trolley 2 sm.jpg (145208 bytes)

The stations were built with a separate boarding area for the trolleys which is at railhead height.

The 7th Street station is the northern terminal of the Lynx station. The trolleys stop here and then operate to a separate terminus at 9th.

The 9th Street trolley terminus remains from the original trolley only operation. It allows the trolleys to turn back independently of the light rail schedules.

     
Charlotte 053109 trolley 10 sm.jpg (161229 bytes) Charlotte 053109 trolley 11 sm.jpg (168181 bytes) Charlotte 053109 trolley interior sm.jpg (166824 bytes)
Heading southbound through the light rail platform at 7th Street.

Southbound runs cross over just past the station.

Interior of one of the Gomaco replica cars. Longitudinal seating has been used to permit a wheelchair to move through the car.
     
Charlotte 053109 trolley operators controls sm.jpg (130129 bytes) Charlotte 053109 maint facility sm.jpg (144851 bytes) Charlotte 053109 maint facility 2 sm.jpg (132437 bytes)

Operator's controls in one of the Gomaco cars. A cab signal system has been fitted to permit operation on the light rail alignment.

The trolleys and light rail vehicles share a new state-of-the-art maintenance facility. 

On the inspection pit inside the maintenance facility.

     
Charlotte 060109 trolley 1 sm.jpg (146038 bytes) Charlotte 060109 trolley 85 interior sm.jpg (133524 bytes) Charlotte 060109 trolley 85 controls sm.jpg (111611 bytes)
The car that started it all, Duke Power 85. First restored by volunteers in the early 1990s, the car was upgraded in 2004 with the same type of truck as used on the Gomaco cars, as well as a chopper-type control system.  Cab signals were also fitted to permit its use on the light rail alignment. The car is now used only for special events.
 John Smatlak photos.

News & Updates (Scroll Down for Latest Updates)

4/3/01- Crowder Construction of Charlotte is the apparent low bidder for the contract to rebuild the entire 1.96 mile line and install overhead wire. The line will be graded for double track, but will initially receive only single track with passing sidings.  The contract will also include reconstruction of the Stonewall St. bridge, which is where the current trolley operation ends. As yet unresolved is the method of bringing the line through the Charlotte Convention Center, which will be worked out later and included in a separate contract. The intention is for all construction to be compatible with light rail standards. Work started on April 2, and is scheduled for completion before the end of 2002. Sources: Rail Transit On Line, Charlotte Trolley.


Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved5/22/01- During track reconstruction, service has been annulled over the line between South Blvd. and Stonewall St.  Instead, the trolley is temporarily running south to Scaleybark, a distance of approximately 1.5 miles. Track work on the original line is expected to be completed as far as Park Ave. on July 1, and to Stonewall St. on August 1. Source: Charlotte Trolley. JS Photo.


11/01 Construction Update- construction on the 1.96 mile trolley corridor is progressing rapidly. The pictures below were taken by John Smatlak during the week of November 5, 2001. The corridor is really starting to take shape! Particularly impressive is all of the development taking place along the line. The trolley continues to operate with its towed generator, with overhead trolley wire expected to be finished by the August 2002. 

Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved

Car 85 at the carbarn. The car is maintained in excellent condition.

Condos under construction adjacent to the trolley. The sign advertises condos "on the trolley"

Signage with info on the historic 'South End', typical of the high-quality work on the entire corridor.

A local restaurant picks up the trolley theme. The trolley theme runs throughout the South End.

Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved
Interior of car 85, restored by Charlotte Trolley volunteers from a carbody. Running gear came from a Melbourne streetcar.

Car 85 leaving the carbarn area. Note the short stretch of overhead wire.

The junction between the carbarn lead and the trolley corridor, currently the southern limit of the new construction. Car 85 passes by freshly poured sidewalks.
Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved
Welded rail and concrete ties have been used throughout the corridor. The generator is pushed northbound and trails southbound.

Bland St. station, a simple wooden shelter.

Crossing Bland St. heading north, more new condos under construction at right.
Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved Photos by John Smatlak

Approaching Morehead St. southbound.

Looking out over the bridge over I-277.

Both of CT's generators sport ads for local sponsors

Photo by John Smatlak 2001, all rights reserved12/01 Convention Center trackage presents additional challenges-  When construction of the new trolley corridor was approved, the final design for routing the line through the Charlotte Convention Center was deferred. With the new right-of-way now in place on either side of this gap, the issue has assumed center stage with the emergence of several costly, and time-consuming proposals for completion. The local business community has expressed its strong support for the trolley line in several recent op-ed pieces in local media outlets. "Put Trolley on Track" Business Journal, December 7,  and, "Will light-rail trains derail trolley effort?"  Charlotte.Com December 9, are both worth a look.

In the photo, car 85 is at the current end of the line. The Convention Center is the low-rise white building in the right background. Bridge piers are already in place to carry the elevated track to the spot where the track is planned to pass through the structure.


12/16/01- The debate continues over routing of the trolley corridor through the Charlotte Convention Center. The December 14th edition of the Business Journal had this in-depth article.


2/7/02- The February 2002 edition of Rail Transit Online had this update on the Convention Center issues- 

City officials have suddenly done an about face and now say they can get the heritage trolley extension from the South End to the Uptown area running by next February.  The original plan called for the line, which is now under construction, to open in August of this year.  The tracks would be shared with the proposed $331-million South Corridor LRT line that won’t be completed until February 2006.  But the route cuts through the main hall of the Charlotte Convention Center, where engineers decided to build an elaborate, glass-enclosed and sealed tunnel complete with an underpass so that people using the facility would not have to walk across the tracks.  However, the trolley could have begun operation without the tunnel because the streetcars would be smaller, lighter and run less frequently than LRVs.  But convention center officials did not want to tear up the building twice and also felt they had a better chance of getting federal funding if the whole job was done at once.  So it was decided to hold off trolley service until light rail could be completed, a decision that angered business owners who were looking forward to the new customers the streetcars would bring.  The new plan calls for construction to take place in the center’s public areas only once.  That would happen this year and will include track laying and other changes needed for light rail.  In 2005, the rest of the work would take place in a service area away from public view.  The underpass, complete with elevators and escalators, would be installed as part of a planned expansion of the convention center.  The city council will vote on the plan Feb. 25.  Meanwhile, a revised proposal for building the tunnel is also scheduled to be ready this month, one that should cost far less than the $32 million previously estimated. A draft EIS on the 15-station, 10.3 mile LRT project should be ready in March.


6/1/02- Construction Update: Poles for the overhead wire are now being installed. It is expected that the overhead wire work will be completed by the Fall, and that the trolleys will begin operating via the trolley wire (instead of their tow-behind generators) by the end of the year. Also, the City of Charlotte has agreed to move ahead with the Convention Center track work; they expect to to award the contract in June, with work starting in July. This will permit Charlotte trolley to operate over the entire 1.96 trolley corridor, without having to wait for the completion of the full 10.3 mile light rail line in 2006. Source- Charlotte Trolley

CharlotteMap3.GIF (19660 bytes)This map from Jon Bell's transportation web site provides a good look at the current trolley corridor. Mr. Bell's site also has a series of excellent construction photos. Map credit: Jon Bell

 

 

 

 

6/10/02- Construction Photos: Thanks to Bill Blomgren of Charlotte Trolley for sending in these recent photos of the overhead wire system being installed.

Charlotte OCS 1.jpg (56155 bytes) Charlotte OCS 2.jpg (38923 bytes)

Charlotte OCS 3.jpg (44896 bytes)

Photos by Bill Blomgren

Setting overhead line poles, 5/14/02

6/17/02- Construction Photos: Jon Bell's website has been updated to include a number of recent construction views, divided into two groups; South End and Uptown. A few are found below, check out his website for more.

CharlotteBlandSiding.jpg (75281 bytes)

CharlotteConvCenterNorth.jpg (77765 bytes)

CharlotteAerialSouth.jpg (71976 bytes)

Photos by Jon Bell

 

New passing siding at Bland Convention Center, January 2002 Aerial view south thru downtown

 

Charlotte 10 02 Bell.jpg (83314 bytes)11/21/02- Construction Photos: Jon Bell's website has once again been updated with some recent construction photos. The photos detail the progress on spanning the gap in the line with a link through the Charlotte Convention Center. 


3/14/03- Charlotte Trolley in Transition- As the $20.3 million trolley infrastructure project approaches completion, the non-profit Charlotte Trolley Inc. finds itself in a transitional period that marks the beginning of a new era for the group. 

As of this date, the installation of the overhead trolley wire and two substations is essentially complete on the two mile line, with testing expected to begin in the near future. The construction of the elaborate suspension system that will support the track as it passes through the Charlotte Convention Center has been completed, although the track has not yet been laid on this short section. One other gap still exists in the line, adjacent to the Westin Hotel construction site. Track should be laid here as soon as the construction on the adjacent hotel site wraps up. Car 85 continues to run three days a week, towing its generator behind. To date, grade crossing protection continues to be provided by an onboard policeman. As for the group's other cars, the Greek single-truck car is receiving testing and running gear work, the single-truck Birney is in the midst of a major overhaul, including work on its underframe, and the group continues to work on development and implementation of a plan to convert the double-ended PCC-type suburban car from its present Pennsylvania broad gauge to standard gauge running gear.

As Charlotte Trolley Inc. (CTI) and Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) prepare to launch daily trolley service,  a number of implementation issues are now receiving new attention. To begin, the suitability of CTI's current group of cars to perform daily service has been questioned, and the need to finalize plans for a permanent storage and maintenance facility is also being scrutinized. CATS' consultants have studied the issues at hand and issued a report, and CATS is currently weighing the options. The announcement that CTI's historic cars were perhaps not the best option for daily service apparently came as quite a surprise to the local business community, which has invested an estimated $400 million along the trolley corridor over the past three years. CATS initial recommendation to reduce the level of trolley service to weekends and lunchtime only during the week proved to be quite controversial. Since then, other options are being looked at, including the possibility of refurbishing two of CTI's cars, and acquiring two or more new replica cars. This option has been suggested in an article in the Charlotte Business Journal entitled "Getting Charlotte's Trolley Back on Track". Penned by Lynn Wheeler, an at-large member of the Charlotte City Council. The article is recommended reading and provides a good look at the current situation. (Ed. note: a March 13th article in the Charlotte Observer reports that CATS is talking to Little Rock, Arkansas about leasing two of their new Gomaco replica trolleys. The trolleys are done but the line is not ready yet)  

With the significant investment and intense level of interest in the trolley corridor, it seems a solution will shortly be worked out. Certainly the project has come an incredibly long way from its roots as a single car being operated with a generator over disused freight railway tracks. We look forward to reporting on further developments. Sources: CTI Staff, Charlotte Business Journal

 

Charlotte Tremont Sta Feb 2003.jpg (85815 bytes) Charlotte Park Sta Feb 2003.jpg (76521 bytes) Charlotte Overhead Feb 2003.jpg (63656 bytes) Charlotte Morehead Overpass Feb 2003.jpg (88547 bytes)
Tremont Station Park Station New OCS pole Morehead underpass

Photos by Jon Bell, February 2003  

March 2003 photos from Jon Bell's website

7/10/03- I have posted links to two news articles from June detailing the ongoing work by CATS to get Charlotte Trolley up and running. On a related note, consideration is being given to leasing two of the Gomaco replica cars built for Little Rock, Arkansas. Little Rock is not able to accept delivery of the two cars at this time and so a lease may prove workable.


11/3/03 Updates- Local Transit Agency Will Run Vintage Trolley Service- An early 2004 date now looks probable for the start of daily service on the new trolley corridor. The final phases of construction, and the source of considerable delays, have been the track running over the Westin Hotel's parking deck, and the trackage through the Convention Center. 

With the start of daily service, Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) personnel will assume responsibility for operating and maintaining the vintage trolley service. According to Charlotte Trolley's August Trolley Update, "Charlotte Trolley's volunteers will continue to serve as docents and ambassadors, riding the cars during peak tourist hours, explaining the role of the electric streetcar system in Charlotte's development and offering a guided tour of the personalities and landmarks associated with the trolley corridor."

In other trolley news, the City of Charlotte is moving ahead with engineering for the renovation of the City's original trolley barn at South Boulevard and Bland Street. The historic building will be rebuilt to serve as the maintenance facility for the trolley line, with up to four tracks feeding in from the trolley right-of-way, which runs past the back of the building. An order has been placed with the Gomaco Trolley Company for three new replica vintage trolleys for delivery in mid-2004. The cars will be similar to those produced for Tampa and Little Rock, and will feature air conditioning and on-board wheelchair lifts. In addition, discussions continue with Little Rock, Arkansas for the possible lease of two of their Gomaco-built  trolleys. The two leased cars would serve together with Charlotte Trolley's vintage car No. 85 until the new cars are delivered. Charlotte Trolley has been providing weekend service with car 85 since 1996. Sources: Charlotte Observer, Charlotte Business Journal, Historic South End, Gomaco Trolley.  


2/3/04 Updates- The Charlotte Trolley page on the Historic South End website provides the following updates for February 2004:

Trolley Corridor Construction: Contractors have completed the track work at the Convention Center. At the Westin Hotel parking deck, track work is well underway, and the City expects completion in the coming weeks. At that point, the overhead wire contractor can return to Charlotte for the final construction tasks. A preliminary test of the sub-station and overhead wire occurred in the South End early in January, and all went well. The City assures us we are still on-track for a February/March completion – and then service can begin into Uptown!

Trolley Service To Resume in Late February: Due to final construction on the corridor and office construction at our Atherton Mill barn, Charlotte Trolley has suspended its weekend service from January 5, 2004 until February 19, 2004. We are scheduling tours and parties in March, and we look forward to serving you again very soon!

Restoration of Charlotte Car #85: We have taken advantage of this out-of-service period to advance the restoration of Car #85 – Charlotte’s last remaining 1920s electric streetcar. When we resume service in late February, the car will have new trucks, new wiring, new window sills, new door mechanisms and much more. 

Historic Trolley Barn Purchase: On December 30, 2003, Mecklenburg County and Charlotte Trolley purchased the Southern Public Utilities Trolley Barn at South Boulevard & Bland Street. The Charlotte Area Transit System (CATS) has agreed to restore this facility to its 1920s look, and the site will eventually house CATS’ trolley operations as well as Charlotte Trolley’s museum and restoration shop. In the coming months, Charlotte Trolley will begin fundraising efforts to support the upfit of this one-of-a-kind structure.


August 2004 Updates- The full trolley route finally began daily operation on June 28, 2004. An overhauled Car 85 is now operating from overhead trolley wire and the tow-behind generator has been retired. Not surprisingly, public interest was overwhelming and one car could not possibly keep up with the demand for rides. On July 29, a second car, leased from the Gomaco Trolley Company, joined No. 85. Three Gomaco replicas are due later this year, and the Gomaco website has several pages detailing the construction of these new cars.

Jon Bell has added several pictures of the expanded operation to his website, several of which are presented below. Congratulations to all at Charlotte Trolley and CATS on completing this next major step! 

Charlotte NinthSt.jpg (90112 bytes) Charlotte SixthSt.jpg (97858 bytes) Charlotte 1976atSixth.jpg (100899 bytes) Charlotte 85LeavesConvCtr.jpg (79429 bytes)
Gomaco open car 1776 at the 9th St. end of the extended line Car No. 85 at 6th St. Car No. 1776 at 6th St. Car No. 85 leaves the Convention Center.
Charlotte 1776 Tremont.jpg (90333 bytes) Charlotte ConvCtrExit.jpg (63100 bytes)
Gomaco open car 1776 crossing Tremont St. Exiting the Convention Center

Photos by Jon Bell  

 


December 2004 Updates- Charlotte Trolley began using their three new Gomaco replica trolleys beginning October 16. The Gomaco website has an excellent page with photos of the debut of the new cars. The Charlotte cars are also something of a debut for Gomaco. Although they utilize the company's standard double-truck Birney replica carbody, they feature a solid state chopper control system in place of the traditional K-type platform controllers used on the majority of the company's products to date. A few photos are reproduced below, with additional pictures available on the Gomaco website.

In other developments, CATS is pondering how to construct their new South Corridor Light Rail line (which overlaps the present trolley corridor) while minimizing the impact on the existing trolley service. Several sources report that Charlotte Trolley operations may be temporarily suspended in late 2005 as construction begins on the light rail line (link to Charlotte Business Journal article). Also, Charlotte city planners are taking a look at the possibility of a modern streetcar line in the Center City area. Click here for a link to the Charlotte Business Journal article and here for a link to the CATS press release for more details. Finally, the Gomaco Trolley replica "open car" that helped start up the expanded trolley operations in Charlotte has moved on to the TECO Electric Streetcar Line in Tampa.

Gomaco Charlotte 1.jpeg (83200 bytes) Gomaco Charlotte 2.jpeg (77343 bytes) Gomaco Charlotte 3.jpeg (100791 bytes) Gomaco Charlotte 4.jpeg (97673 bytes)
New Gomaco replica cars on line in Charlotte

Photos by Gomaco Trolley Company  


March 2005 Updates- With construction now underway on the CATS South Corridor Light Rail project, it now appears that the Charlotte Trolley will cease operation entirely in February 2006 for a seven month period, to be followed by two months of limited service, before returning to a full schedule. Light Rail operations are scheduled to begin in April 2007, at which time the Vintage Trolley operations will probably operate during off peak hours. The saga of the trolley maintenance facility also continues, with the project currently on hold pending resolution of funding issues. 

Jon Bell has updated his website with some additional pictures of Charlotte Trolley operations as of February 2005. A few of the photos appear below, check out Jon's site for more. 

 

Charlotte 85-Trade.jpg (67360 bytes) Charlotte 92-6thSt.jpg (89623 bytes) Charlotte Gomacos.jpg (81412 bytes) Charlotte ConvCtrSouthSide.jpg (58218 bytes)
Charlotte trolley operations February 2005

Photos by Jon Bell 


March 2006 Updates- as planned, Charlotte Trolley operations shut down effective February 6, 2006. The operation is expected to remain shuttered for one year during construction of the new 9.6 mile South Corridor portion of the "Lynx" Light Rail system. Trolley service is slated to resume in 2007, although in a modified form, as it will be sharing tracks with the new LRT operation. The 1/6/06 Charlotte Business Journal contained an interesting Letter to the Editor from a developer urging continued support for expanding the trolley.


November 2007 Updates- the new South Corridor Light Rail line is now scheduled to open on November 24. Reports are that the Vintage Trolley vehicles will remain on hiatus until at least February 2008, giving the new system time to get everything running smoothly first.

In other Charlotte Trolley news, on September 26 the group broke ground on a new Trolley Barn and interpretive center adjacent to the Bland Street station. Although the facility will be adjacent to the new line, it will not initially have a track connection to the system. It will however provide a home base for CT operations and a location from which to continue its educational activities. Additional details are available on the CT website.

Finally, Charlotte Trolley has announced that it has struck a deal with the Ft. Collins Municipal Railway to sell former Fort Collins Birney car 25 to the group. One of five Fort Collins streetcars still in existence, it had been purchased by Charlotte Trolley in 1999 from a public utility company in Charlestown S.C. The FCMRS plans to restore the car for operation along with  sister Car 21. Further details are available on the group's website.


April 2008 Updates- Vintage Trolley service returned to Charlotte on April 20, now fully integrated into the new South Corridor Light Rail line. The cars will operate on weekends through May and then assume a daily schedule. Jon Bell has more details of the return to service on his informative website. Congratulations to all at Charlotte Trolley!

Lynx85Bland2.jpg (158711 bytes) 92Tremont2.jpg (204803 bytes) Lynx-85-92-Atherton.jpg (168632 bytes) Lynx-92-Arena.jpg (185704 bytes)
Vintage Trolley service resumed April 20, 2008. Jon Bell photos

June 2009 Updates- Regular Vintage Trolley service is now being run on weekends only, although weekday operations also take place for charters and special events. One car operates from 10 am to 5 pm both Saturday and Sunday. 

In other news, progress continues to be made towards the creation of a new inner-city streetcar line in Charlotte. The proposed 10-mile alignment could ultimately link the main CATS transit center downtown with the Eastland Mall Transit Center. About one-half mile of double track for the new line is being installed during the rebuilding of Elizabeth Avenue between Kings Drive and Hawthorne Lane. On June 3, the City Council voted to keep $8M in the 2010 budget for additional studies and engineering work, click here for a related article in the Charlotte Business Journal.

 
Charlotte Elizabeth Ave new track 060109 A sm.jpg (124304 bytes) Charlotte Elizabeth Ave new track 060109 B sm.jpg (129931 bytes) Charlotte Elizabeth Ave new track 060109 C sm.jpg (154290 bytes)
New streetcar track being laid in Elizabeth Avenue. Three views looking southeast along Elizabeth towards Hawthorne Lane. John Smatlak photos.

July 2010 Updates- Budget cuts appear to have spelled the end for regular Vintage Trolley operations in Charlotte. The June 28 Service Change announcement from CATS simply announced without further explanation that the weekends-only operation had been discontinued, passengers being directed instead to the Lynx Light Rail trains that run on the same alignment.

Just as this chapter in the Charlotte rail transit saga seems to be drawing to a close, another one has just taken a major step forward. The City's new streetcar project received a $25M federal grant. The funds will be used to complete a 1.5 mile initial segment that links the uptown transit center to Presbyterian Hospital. Streetcars could be running on the route by early 2014. Click here for a related article in the Charlotte Business Journal. The FTA website has a complete list of cities receiving grants under the Urban Circulator program.


January 2011 Updates- On January 20, Kinkisharyo debuted its new ameriTram 100 percent low-floor streetcar in Charlotte. RPR was there and filed this report.

 

Ameritram Charlotte 1 sm.jpg (212750 bytes) Ameritram Charlotte 2 sm.jpg (210621 bytes) Ameritram Charlotte 3 sm.jpg (279169 bytes)

While American light rail and streetcar systems have been using partial low-floor vehicles for many years, the 100 percent low-floor concept found throughout the rest of the world has not yet made it to the USA, until now. Kinkisharyo has developed a prototype 100 percent low-floor streetcar, dubbed “ameriTram”, exclusively for North America. Aimed squarely at the emerging US streetcar market, the vehicle is described as being compliant with all current US safety standards and with meeting “Buy America” regulations governing US-content in federally funded transit projects.  Responding to growing marketplace interest, the vehicle also features off-wire capability using batteries. The ameriTram debuted in Charlotte, North Carolina on January 20, 2011 following several weeks of testing on the Charlotte Area Transit System’s “Lynx” light rail line.  

The vehicle concept is based on the successful J-Tram design for Hiroshima. The three-section prototype is 20 meters in length and 2.65 meters wide (a 2.4 meter wide version is also offered). The relatively short length is compatible with the other modern streetcar designs now operating in the USA, which are all based on three-section Skoda designs. The vehicle is capable of negotiating an 18 meter curve and is also to be made available in five section (30m) and seven section (40m) lengths.

The ameriTram is designed for 750V operation and has a top speed of 80 kph. The running gear features independently rotating wheels with a cranked axle arrangement. Two self-cooled 120KW AC traction motors are mounted in a longitudinal drive arrangement on the outside of each bogie. Each motor is directly coupled to gearboxes at both ends, driving both of the wheels on its side of the truck. The vehicle features a hydraulic suspension instead of the coil springs found on the J-Tram.

The Lithium-Ion batteries are arranged along the floor line on both sides of the center section, the battery compartments occupying the space underneath the longitudinal seating along both walls. Each side of the vehicle has only two doorways, one 122 cm wide doorway in the center section and one 84 cm doorway on an end section. Along the wall opposite each of the single doors is a designated wheelchair berth. The placement of the batteries in the center section prevents the use of more than one door on each side of the center section, although Kinkisharyo advises that additional doors could be added to the center section for a version of the vehicle without the batteries. Maintenance access to the batteries is via removable covers on the vehicle sides. Testing in Charlotte is reported to have confirmed a five mile range for battery operation. 

Ameritram Charlotte interior 1 sm.jpg (196334 bytes) Ameritram Charlotte interior 2 sm.jpg (169472 bytes) Ameritram Charlotte 10 with Gomaco car sm.jpg (127503 bytes)

The interior provides 28 seats and room for 87 standees, for a total capacity of 115 persons. There are a total of twelve seats arranged longitudinally along both walls of the center section, and eight back-to-back single seats in each of the end sections. All seats are equipped with removable fabric inserts. The seats in the end section are arranged around the running gear suspension housings which protrude through the floor into the passenger compartment. The minimum aisle width inside the vehicle is 880mm. The interior is functionally styled, with a gently curved ceiling accented by floral and aquatic decorations in the ceiling transition area above the windows. Tri-color LED signs are used for communicating destination and route information, and four interior video screens offer additional opportunities for passenger communication.

The operator’s cab is elevated well above the passenger compartment floor, with an outward swinging access door provided on the bulkhead wall. This elevated cab leaves room underneath the vehicle to mount a full coupler if desired by the customer. The operator’s control handle is built into the swiveling seat, and indicators and other controls are gracefully arrayed in an arcing console along the bottom of the curving windshield. In lieu of mirrors, the prototype is fitted with individual video screens for left and right views along the side of the vehicle. A multi-function computer screen in the console can also provide views of the vehicle interior.

Ameritram Charlotte 4 sm.jpg (168622 bytes) Ameritram Charlotte interior 3 sm.jpg (163977 bytes) Ameritram Charlotte 10 sm.jpg (251627 bytes)

At the VIP unveiling event on January 20, representatives from CATS, the City of Charlotte and Kinkisharyo all spoke on the significance of the prototype’s arrival. The City is actively developing a new streetcar system to complement the Lynx light rail and has received USD $25M in federal funding towards the project. Following the ceremony, rides were offered to the attendees with Kinkisharyo staff on hand to answer questions. The vehicle traveled back and forth over the short section of track beyond the 7th Street terminus of the Lynx light rail line. This short single-track segment ends at a small station at 9th Street and was included in the line’s original design in order to accommodate heritage trolley operations. The following day the vehicle was on static display for members of the public to view. The vehicle left Charlotte the next day headed for stops in Dallas, Texas and Washington DC. 

 

 


Links

"Council Keeps Streetcar Funds in Budget", Charlotte Business Journal  6/3/09

"Streetcar Plan Hitting the Fast Track", Charlotte Business Journal 1/9/09

"Trolley Has Made an Impact" Letter to the Editor, Charlotte Business Journal 1/6/06

"Developers Hitch Fortunes to Trains" Charlotte Business Journal opinion piece 12/24/04

"Will New Trolley Stop Put System Off Track?" Charlotte Business Journal article 12/17/04

"Charlotte Trolley thinks it can" article from Charlotte Business Journal 6/18/04

Historic South End Web Site

Article from Charlotte Business Journal 6/23/03

Article from Charlotte Business Journal 2/28/03

Article from the Charlotte Business Journal 6/17/02

Charlotte page on Jon Bell's transportation web site (construction photos)

Charlotte page on the APTA Heritage Trolley site

Lynx Light Rail Website

Charlotte Trolley Official Site

Charlotte-Mecklenburg Historic Landmarks Commission trolley site

This page was last updated on 3/1/11


 

 

U.S. Streetcar Systems Website

Home Page |  What Do We Do? |  Streetcars  

Links |  Library |  Red Car Line |  Contact Us

Email: jsmatlak@earthlink.net

Copyright by RPR Inc. 2000-2012, All Rights Reserved