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Istanbul marks 110th anniversary since 1st tram hit roads

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Istanbul’s tram celebrated its 110th anniversary, having commenced operations on the Karaköy-Ortaköy line on Feb. 20, 1914, and remaining an integral part of public transportation today.

The city’s rail system journey started with the founding of the “Dersaadet Tram Company” on Aug. 30, 1869. This initiative, granted permission and privilege by Ottoman Sultan Abdülaziz, was prompted by the city’s population nearing 1 million and the growing need for public transportation.

This is also considered the date of the establishment of Istanbul Electric Tramway and Tunnel Enterprises (IETT), the first operator of transportation in the city.

The cobblestones on the Tophane-Beşiktaş route were removed to lay more comfortable rails for horse-drawn trams in the city. Rails were placed in their place, along with paving stones.

After trial runs, the horse-drawn tram started to serve between Azatkapı and Beşiktaş with the opening ceremony on July 31, 1871, in Tophane Square.

Due to high public demand, new lines were established between Eminönü-Sirkeci-Beyazıt-Aksaray and Aksaray-Yedikule.

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Public transportation services were provided with 430 horses and 45 trams on the rapidly expanded lines.

With the beginning of the Balkan War in 1912, all the horses of the company providing horse-drawn tram service were purchased by the state and used in army service.

Later, the transition to electric trams began with the establishment of the electricity factory in Silahtarağa in 1913.

While the first electricity was supplied to the trams in the city on Feb. 11, 1914, on Feb. 20, 1914, the electric tram made its first trip on the Karaköy-Ortaköy line, with a ceremony inaugurated by Bedri Bey, the deputy mayor of Istanbul in Karaköy district.

The electric tram, which was a turning point in public transportation in Istanbul, then passed through the Galata Bridge.

During the process, Usküdar-Kısıklı, Bağlarbaşı-Haydarpaşa, Usküdar-Haydarpaşa, Fenerbahçe-Bostancı-Moda, Fatih-Edirnekapı and Bağlarbaşı-Karacaahmet tram lines were established.

Reasons were put forward that electric trams did not go fast and disrupted traffic, especially after taxis, buses and minibuses began to be used for public transportation in the city after 1930. For this reason, it made its last voyage on the European Side on Aug. 12, 1961, and on the Anatolian Side on Oct. 03, 1966.

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The last two lines, Usküdar-Kadıköy and Kadıköy-Hasanpaşa services, were abolished on Nov. 14, 1966.

Then, three of the tram vehicles that were in service before 1966 were renewed and started to carry passengers on the Taksim-Tunnel route on Jan. 29, 1990, under the name “Nostalgic Tram” after a 24-year break.

While the T1 Kabataş-Bağcılar Tram Line, Aksaray-Beyazıt in 1992, Sirkeci-Beyazıt in 1992, Aksaray-Topkapı in 1992, Topkapı-Zeytinburnu in 1994, Sirkeci-Eminönü in 1996, Eminönü-Fındıklı in 2005, Fındıklı-Kabataş in 2006 and Zeytinburnu-Bağcılar as T2 line started to serve on 2006.

The T1 and T2 lines also merged on Feb. 3, 2011.

In Istanbul, today, Kabataş-Bağcılar, T3 Kadıköy-Moda Tram Line, T4 Topkapı-Mescid-i Selam Tram Line and T5 Eminönü-Alibeyköy Tram Line serve Istanbulites.

Today, electric trams come to the fore from time to time with complaints of derailment, malfunction, trip cancellations and congestion.

Apart from the electric tram, 10 metro lines and three funicular lines, including the Karaköy-Beyoğlu Historical Tunnel Funicular Line, serve the city as a rail system.

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Source: Daily Sabah

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