Trams on the steep slopes of Lisbon

Question:

I have just visted Lisbon and did a tourist tram ride. I have spent the last couple of days trying to find details of how the trams manage the very steep hills as the slopes are much steeper than I would expect. Can you signpost any internet sights for me.

Lisbon tram no.560 at the top of the steep Calçada de São Francisco; 19 July 2008

Answer:

I’m not sure about information on the internet about this. That the small Lisbon tramcars can tackle the hills is because of a combination of things:

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Larmanjat

A Larmanjat tram at Portas do Rego, 1873

The Larmanjat was a monorail system invented by the french engineer Jean Larmanjat (1826-1895). The system was made of a central vignola type iron rail and at both sides longitudinal wooden sleepers about 60 cm from the central rail. This system was adopted by “The Lisbon Steam Tramways Company ltd“. Locally the system was called “Companhia de Tramway a Vapor“, but commonly known as the Larmanjat. The lines used the existing roads from Lisboa to Sintra and Torres Vedras.

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