5: GAUGES, ROLLING STOCK, CURRENT COLLECTION, TRAFFIC DIRECTION
GAUGES. The first railroads in South America, inaugurated in Guyana in 1848 and in Peru and Chile in 1851, were built to the English "standard gauge" of 1435 mm (4 ft 8 1/2 in). The first railroad in Brazil, the fourth in South America, opened in 1854 with the "Indian gauge" of 1676 mm (5 ft 6 in). This became the principal railroad gauge in Chile in 1856 and in Argentina in 1857, but was replaced in Brazil in 1858 by the "Irish gauge" of 1600 mm (5 ft 3 in). Today trains between Rio de Janeiro and Belo Horizonte, between Rio de Janeiro and São Paulo, and from Santos through São Paulo to the far reaches of São Paulo state run on 1600 mm gauge tracks; this gauge is also used by rapid transit and suburban railroad lines in Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Porto Alegre, Belo Horizonte and Recife. 1435 mm gauge was introduced into Brazil by Rio's Botanical Garden tramway in 1868, but was never used extensively by railroads. Nor were there any significant examples of 914 mm (3 ft), 1067 mm (3 ft 6 in) or 1219 mm (4 ft), common in other Latin American countries. Meter gauge was introduced in 1873 and is used by 90% of all railroads in Brazil today; 1000 mm (3 ft 3 3/8 in) is Brazil's true "standard gauge."
Brazil's first street railway, opened in Rio de Janeiro in 1859, was built to the same 1676 mm gauge as its first railroad. Gauges of an 1864 tramway in Porto Alegre and an 1866 line in Salvador are unknown, but the steam tramway that the English opened in Recife in 1867 had 1219 mm gauge. The 1435 mm gauge established by the American-built mule tramway in Rio de Janeiro in 1868 was also used by the steam tramway that the Americans built in Belém in 1869, and became one of two principal tramway gauges in the electric era. Most mulecars in Rio de Janeiro used 820 mm gauge, but the São Cristóvão company used 1372 mm (4 ft 6 in) and mule lines on top of Santa Teresa hill used 914 mm. Mulecars in Niterói and São Paulo used 1050 mm gauge and those in Belém 750 mm. Santos used 800 mm gauge in town but 1350 mm on its interurban tramway to São Vicente. Gauge of mule and steam tramways in most other cities is unknown.
The first electric tramway, the Tijuca line in Rio de Janeiro, was built to a gauge of 600 mm in 1891, but didn't begin operation until it was regauged to 1435 mm in 1898. Rio's Jardim Botânico tramway inaugurated electric operation with 1435 mm gauge in 1892, and English "standard gauge" was subsequently established on electric tramways in Salvador, São Paulo, Belém, Porto Alegre, Fortaleza and Pelotas. However, by far the majority of the electric tramways in Brazil were built to 1000 mm. As on railroads, meter gauge became the standard on Brazilian tramways: in Recife, Belo Horizonte, Niterói, Juiz de Fora, Campinas, Curitiba, Manaus and in 25 other cities. There were exceptions. Rio's Santa Teresa tramway, which was electrified in 1896 and still runs today, was built to a gauge of 1100 mm. The electric tramway in Santos, including the section which reopened in 1984, had 1350 mm gauge. The private tramway at Itatinga, near Santos, uses 800 mm gauge. The semi-private electric line at Nova Lima used 660 mm gauge. And the gasoline tramway between Joaquim Egídio and Doutor Lacerda, near Campinas, used the 600 mm gauge rejected by Rio de Janeiro.
ROLLING STOCK. It is estimated that 6,000 trams - 4,000 self-propelled cars (electric or gasoline) and 2,000 trail cars (pulled by electric cars, locomotives or mules) - operated on 100 tram systems in Brazil. Not all operated at the same time, and many of the cars were rebuilt so many times that little original material remained. About half, of all types, came originally from abroad: the United States, Canada, England, Scotland, Belgium, France, Germany, Switzerland and Italy. The other half were built in Brazil: trucks, motors, controllers and other parts were often imported, but eventually even these were manufactured by the tramway companies of the large cities and by a railroad equipment supplier in Rio de Janeiro named Trajano de Medeiros. Most of the trams that ran in Rio de Janeiro - i.e., half of the trams that ran in Brazil - were built in Rio de Janeiro.
Records for Trajano de Medeiros, like those for many of the tram builders of the Northern Hemisphere, are lost. The only Trajano de Medeiros orders that have been confirmed are cars for Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo and Belo Horizonte. From the records which survive, builder's catalogs, advertisements in trade magazines and comparison of photographs and postcards, it is possible to estimate the rosters of many of the tram systems. Full details are contained in the descriptions of these systems in Part 6.
The builder of the passenger cars that ran on Brazil's first tramway in Rio de Janeiro in 1859 is unknown. But advertisements and builder's photos of the John Stephenson Co. show orders for Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Salvador and Recife in the 1860s. At least two English manufacturers sent horsecars to Brazil: George Starbuck built trams for Recife in the 1860s and G. F. Milnes supplied equipment to Rio de Janeiro in the 1870s. The Gilbert Car Co. of Troy, New York, constructed a palace car for Emperor Pedro II in 1888. Between 1866 and 1906 English, American and German manufacturers supplied steam locomotives for street railways in Recife, Salvador, Belém, Rio de Janeiro, Santos, São Paulo, Paranaguá, Manaus and João Pessoa. The locomotives which the Manning Wardle Co. of Leeds built for Recife in 1866 are said to have been the first in the world constructed specifically for street railway use. Between 1905 and 1925 manufacturers in the U.S., England, France, Germany and Italy sent gasoline-powered tramcars to Niterói, João Pessoa, Campos do Jordão, Joaquim Egídio (Campinas) and São Bernardo do Campo.
More statistics are available for electric cars because more records of their construction were preserved and some of them ran until recently. Some of the motormen who operated them were interviewed.
Between 1891 and 1930 the United States built approximately 600 electric streetcars (passenger and freight) for 27 tram systems. The first electric cars that ran in Rio de Janeiro and Manaus in the 1890s were built by John Stephenson in New York. But the majority of the trolleys built for Brazil in subsequent years came from J. G. Brill in Philadelphia, which supplied cars to 17 cities. The systems installed by Eduardo Guinle (see Part 4) used GE electric equipment; most of the others used Westinghouse equipment. In addition to these, St. Louis Car Co. built trolleys for São Paulo, Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, Santos and possibly Belo Horizonte. The latter city also had cars from Jackson & Sharp, and Manaus also had vehicles from American Car & Foundry. In the 1930s Electric Bond & Share Co., which controlled tramway operations in 13 cities, brought 175 streetcars second-hand from the U.S. for its lines in Porto Alegre, Curitiba, Salvador and Recife. In 1940 Rio Grande bought five cars second-hand from Providence, Rhode Island, and in 1947 São Paulo bought 75 cars from New York. In all, about 900 of the 4,000 trolleys that ran on Brazil's streets were wholly constructed in the United States.
The second-largest supplier of electric trams were the English, who built 350 cars for ten Brazilian systems between 1906 and 1926. The United Electric Co. of Preston (renamed English Electric in 1918) sent cars to Belém, Porto Alegre, Salvador, Rio de Janeiro, Manaus, Fortaleza, Santos, Recife and Campos do Jordão. Brush Electrical Co. in Loughborough built cars for Rio de Janeiro, Belém and Pelotas. In 1940 Belém acquired 20 trams second-hand from Cardiff, Wales, that had been built by Brush in 1926-27. United Electric was also the major supplier of motors and controllers for trams built locally in Rio de Janeiro, Recife, Belém, Porto Alegre, Manaus and Santos.
The Hurst Nelson Co. in Motherwell, Scotland, supplied most of the electric cars that ran in Santos and Canadian Car & Foundry in Montréal built 101 car bodies for São Paulo.
After the United States, Germany was the second country chronologically to send electric trams to Brazil and built about 90 cars between 1896 and 1926. Waggonfabrik Falkenried in Hamburg supplied the initial equipment for Salvador, Vitória, Natal and Lavras. Van der Zypen & Charlier of Köln built 55 trolleys for Rio de Janeiro. M.A.N. built electric locomotives for Rio Grande and passenger trams for Guarujá that still run today in Campos do Jordão. Salvador acquired two trams second-hand from Berlin that had been built by Böker in Lichterfelde. At least 24 cars in Aracaju, João Pessoa and Sacramento had Siemens electrical equipment and were probably built in Germany, but their manufacturers could not be identified. The Aracaju trams probably came from Van der Zypen & Charlier and the João Pessoa cars from Orenstein & Koppel. The builder of the Sacramento trams, which carried a unique type of bow collector, may forever remain unknown.
Belgium built at least 48 passenger cars for Brazil between 1912 and 1928. Les Ateliers Métallurgiques in Nivelles sent trams to Curitiba, Vitória and Santos; Société Franco-Belge in La Croyère built cars for São Carlos; l'Énergie in Marcinelle built trams for Porto Alegre; and Dyle & Bacalan in Louvain built trams for the Carioca company in Rio de Janeiro.
Finally, S.L.M. and the Oerlikon companies in Winterthur, Switzerland, built four miniature electric locomotives (with twin trolley poles) for the Corcovado rack railway in Rio de Janeiro in 1909. The same companies supplied new equipment (with twin pantographs) for the same line when it was rebuilt in 1977-79. In 1925 S.L.M. built a 4-wheel gasoline-powered rack car for the private use of the Guinle family on the E. F. Teresópolis, a mountain railway north of Rio.
The builder of the cars that inaugurated electric tramways in Campos in 1916, in Cachoeiro de Itapemirim in 1924 and in Além Paraíba in 1925 is unknown. Cars for the last two systems seem identical and all three resemble the equipment that Trajano de Medeiros supplied to Rio de Janeiro during this period, so it is assumed that their origin is the same.
Whatever their origin, what distinguishes Brazilian trams of all manufacturers from those of other countries is the fact that the majority of them, at least until World War II, were cross-bench open models. Many systems had a few closed cars, but predominance of these could be found only in the south: Porto Alegre, Rio Grande, Curitiba, Pelotas, Guarujá, Petrópolis; the last four had them exclusively. The typical Brazilian tram was also single-truck, single-deck and double-end. Many systems had a few double-truck cars, but large fleets of these could be found only in the large cities: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Recife, Salvador and (after World War II) Porto Alegre. Rio's first electric cars in 1892 had three axles and Santos built two six-axle cars in 1935. Unlike Argentina and Chile, Brazil had only a few double-deck trams: four in Porto Alegre and five in Pelotas; in both cities they ran only a short time. A few tram systems used single-end cars: Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Santos, Recife, Salvador, Sorocaba. These required turning loops, but turning loops facilitated operation with trailers and large numbers of these could be found in the first three cities. Single-end open cars were often fenced on one side, increasing safety and fares. All Brazilian trams always carried both motor-man and conductor.
CURRENT COLLECTION was evenly split between trolley poles and bow collectors. The former, as in Europe, were used primarily by systems installed by General Electric and its affiliates, the latter by systems installed by Siemens - or by Westinghouse in defiance of the GE monopoly (see Part 4, above). 25 systems used poles, 23 used bows and three used pantographs. Four systems - Santos, the Linha Circular in Salvador and the Jardim Botânico and Tijuca installations in Rio de Janeiro - began with trolley poles, switched to bow collectors. Natal began with bow collectors, then changed to trolley poles. The Corcovado rack railway in Rio de Janeiro used twin trolley poles à la Cincinnati until 1977, but operates today with twin pantographs. The Jardim Botânico system experimented briefly with pantographs. Trams in Guarujá always carried pantographs and continued to carry them when they were later placed in service in Campos do Jordão.
Streetcars and other vehicles ran on the left-hand side of two-way
streets in Argentina and Uruguay until 1945, but the rule-of-the-road
seems not to have been standardized in Brazil. Operation was
generally right-hand, but photographs show horsecars running
left-hand on double track in Belém and Recife. Electric cars
ran left-hand in Manaus, Recife and Pelotas until the 1920s and in
Porto Alegre until about 1935. All of the American cars brought
second-hand to Porto Alegre during the 1930s had two doors on each
side. Most photographs of Rio de Janeiro mulecars show right-hand
operation, but some show left. Several photographs show electric cars
running left-hand on Rua 13 de Maio in Rio de Janeiro, but right-hand
operation is shown during the same period on other streets. Left-hand
operation no doubt existed in other places, especially on mulecar
systems built by the English. But most photographs show only
single-track operation on narrow streets and no literature on the
subject could be found.
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