THE DAY TO TAKE THE TRAM
S&H employees travelling on board of the first electric tram (image: Siemens AG)
The first electric tram in the world, built by Siemens & Halske, had its last official test run on May 12, 1881 in Berlin-Lichterfelde, between Lichterfelde Railway Station and the Main Military Academy.
The tram used 2.4-kilometre long tracks with rails serving as current suppliers (an arrangement changed in 1891: the original tram tracks were the cause of many unpleasant electric shocks to both humans and horses). The carriage offered 12 seats but could be used by 26 passengers, if 14 of them agreed to travel standing. At the average speed of 15 km/h (maximum speed was, however, 40 km/h!), it was a skill which passengers first had to master.
A drawing by E. Hosang published in the May 1881 edition of the “Illustrirte Zeitung” (image copyright Deutsches Historisches Museum)
The test run was attended mostly by Siemens & Halske employees eager to see their project in action. On May 16, 1881 the first private passengers were welcomed on board: the service was available 12 times a day in both directions.