The Tramways of
capital of Pará state
Part 2: 2004-
In 2002, the Prefeitura de Belém (Belém municipal government) decided to restore the historic old streets and buildings in the city's port area and initiated a project called "Via dos Mercadores" [Merchants Road]. A street railway was considered part of the revival and, inspired by the success of the heritage tram line in Santos [see Bondes de Santos and O Bonde], the search for a vehicle began.
Twenty tons of rail arrived at the Belém docks in May 2004 and 1.985 km of meter gauge track was laid along Rua Jočo Alfredo, Praća Dom Pedro II, past the Cathedral, through the Feira do Aćaí (market) and around a fortress on Guajará Bay [see map]. Overhead wire was brought from the trolleybus system in Santos. The photograph below, taken in September 2004, shows construction along the south side of Praća Dom Pedro II. That's the City Hall on the right [Alexandre Pollastrini]:
A former Campinas tram was located in a playground in Louveira, 20 km south of Campinas (Sčo Paulo state), where it had languished since that system closed in 1968. [See pictures of Campinas trams.] A Santos firm called Clinimaq renovated the vehicle and installed electrical equipment from Santos tram 38, which presently operates with a gasoline motor at the Memorial do Imigrante in Sčo Paulo. Car 110 was photographed in Santos on 8 September 2004, right before its departure for Belém [Sergio Martire]:
110 left Santos the next day, traveled 3,005 km (1,867 mi) by highway through central and northern Brazil, and arrived in Belém on 16 September 2004. The photograph below shows the car escorted through the streets of Belém – the first tram seen in that city in 57 years! Note "CLINIMAQ" banner on the side [Celso Bizerra]:
Here is another view of 110 on its flatbed trailer. This is Av. Magalhčes Barata, formerly called Av. Independźncia [see map], where trams had run on rails many years before [Celso Bizerra]:
110 finally arrived at the Feira do Aćaí [see map], where it was unloaded onto a section of the new meter-gauge tramway track. The overhead wire was temporarily removed from this section [Celso Bizerra]:
Finally, the great moment had come. On 4 October 2004, tram 110 was lifted from the flatbed that had brought it from Santos and placed onto the tram rail where it will begin a new life in Belém [Celso Bizerra]:
At dawn the next day, secure on its rails and with bow collector attached, car 110 waits at the edge of Guajará Bay [see map] [Celso Bizerra]:
On Wednesday 6 October, the power was engaged and 110 began testing on a short section of track [Celso Bizerra]:
Construction of the line was completed in December and Mayor Edmilson Rodrigues rode the tram in a formal inauguration on the last day of 2004, his last in office. The plaque below, mounted over the carbarn door, honors his grandfather, Gumercindo Rodriguez, who was a motorman on the city's original tramway system [Ricardo Barbalho]:
Here is a twilight view of the "Estaćčo" at the southeast corner of Praća Dom Pedro II [the asterisk on the map]. These photographs were taken on New Year's Day 2005, at the dawn of a new tramway era in Belém [Ricardo Barbalho]:
Alas, the new era did not begin smoothly. The new administration that took office in 2005 had other priorities and commercial operation of the line was delayed. There were also problems with the traffic signals and complaints about the wires in front of the cathedral. The engineers from Clinimaq in Santos returned to Belém and shortened the route (at least temporarily). The public was finally invited to take a ride on Thursday 18 August 2005. It was the first time in 58 years that one could andar de bonde in the state of Pará [Celso Bizerra and Rogerio Nascimento]:
But, again, the tram operated only one day. And did not run again for two years! Finally, in 2007, the figure-8 route was restored to its original length [see map] – but this time without overhead wires. The bow collector was removed from the tram and it was equipped with a gasoline motor. The line received its third formal inauguration on Friday 12 October 2007. It started carrying passengers again the following Sunday . . .
[ - to be continued - ]
This page was originally uploaded on 24 October 2004. Additional information and photos were added later.