Shanghai’s rubber tired tram

A long way off the beaten tourist track of Shanghai is an unusual mode of transport – the Zhangjiang Tram.

Rubber tired tram departs the terminus at Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Station

It looks a little like a normal light rail system.

The 'tram' trundles down the road south from Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park

With a track running down the middle of the road, and overhead wires to supply electric power.

'Tram' guideway runs down the middle of the road

And platforms for intending passengers.

Pair of platforms at the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park terminus

But the vehicles run on rubber tyres, guided by a central rail.

Headed into the middle of the road after departing Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Station

So are legally considered motor vehicles, and have registration plates affixed to the front.

Waiting for passengers at the Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park terminus

The 10 km (6.2 mi) line runs from Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Station on Shanghai Metro Line 2 to Heqing Town, with 15 stops along the way. Construction of the Zhangjiang Tram started in December 2007, with the first tram running in December 2009. The Translohr system was originally developed by Lohr Industrie of France.

A note on the track

The trackwork for a Translohr system differs to standard tram tracks.

Crossover between up and down tracks at Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park Station

The pair of rubber tyres leave scuff marks behind.

Scuff marks on the concrete mark where the rubber road wheels roll

Beneath each vehicle are a pair of guide wheels arranged in a ‘v’ shape.

Diagram of the Translohr guided tramway wheels
Diagram via Wikimedia Commons

1- Road
2- Flangeway
3- Rail
4- Resin
5- Wheel flange
6- Spring
7- Wheel

Which engages the central guide rail, which has two running faces.

Detail of the central guide rail embedded in concrete and asphalt

But the pointwork is the most complicated part of the system – the ‘frog’ section made up of two rigid pieces of rail fixed to a solid plate.

Detail of the point blade in the central guide rail

Which rotate in place to direct the guide wheel along the straight or diverge route.

Detail of the point blade in the central guide rail

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