What travels on the road like a bus and runs on rails like a train? Find out about trams in Germany!


In Germany it is very common to get from one place to another by Straßenbahn (tram). In many towns and cities all over the country, it is a popular form of public transport. It is a vehicle which runs on fixed rails on the street. The tracks that a tram runs on are called a tramway.

The Straßenbahn has a long history: The first models were even drawn by horses! The first electric tramway in the world began operation in 1881 in Groß-Lichterfeld, which is a part of Berlin today. From then on, existing horse-drawn tramways were progressively converted to electric operation.

As cars and buses became more popular, trams started to fall out of favour. In many countries (the UK and the US for example), tram systems were abandoned. In Britain, by the end of 1962, all but one tramway system (in Blackpool) had closed. In Germany, many systems remained open, and have been progressively modernised.

Did you know …?

  • In Germany, more than 60 towns and cities have trams.
  • The smallest tram system in Germany is in Bad Wildbad, with just two stops!
  • The word tram originally comes from the old German word for ‘beam’.
  • Nowadays, most trams are run by electric power provided by overhead tram wires.
  • Today, there are some tram systems in the UK again! At the moment you can find them in Croydon, London’s docklands, Birmingham, Manchester, Sheffield, Newcastle, Nottingham and Blackpool.
  • Even more tram systems are being planned in Edinburgh and South London at the moment.

Words Ahoy! · Wörter Ahoi!

Deutsch English
die Straßenbahn tram
die Schienen tracks
der Verkehr traffic
der Strom electricity
das Pferd horse