Taking the tramvai

Trains in the city? In Russia, YES!

I’ve
never really figured out why Russia has such a fascination with the tramvai,
electric trains that run on steel tracks imbedded in the street. First off,
the ride is rough, with each bump in the tracks magnified by the big steel
wheels, and felt right trough the hard plastic seats. Next, I swear they
hold fewer people than a trolleybus, and are definitely
louder!

Stepping out in Ulyanovsk

Also, unlike a trolleybus, they require steel tracks
in the road. Not only do the tracks fix the route the tramvai takes, they
are in constant need of maintenance and are always under construction. I’ve
never ridden a tramvai route that didn’t have a section torn up for repair,
or a section that should have been!

All day, all night, rattling alongI guess they do have a historical place in the minds
of Russians, being the first forms of public transport in Russia and featuring
in so many writings. Remember one of the final scenes in Dr Zhavago, where
the good Doctor sees Laura from the tramvai and screams out her name? Not
the same scene if he’d been on the Metro.

Too hot in summer, too cold in winter!

With so many smog producing buses and cars, I should be happy that Russia invests in
such an ecologically sound form of transit. Too many times I’ve been running
up a hill and almost been killed by a blast of bus exhaust.