Overhead Line - History

History

In 1881 the first tram with overhead lines was presented by Werner von Siemens on the International Electric Exposition in Paris 1881 but the installation was removed after that event. In October 1883, the first permanent tram service with overhead lines was started on Mödling and Hinterbrühl Tram in Austria. These trams had bipolar overhead lines, consisting of two U-pipes, in which the pantographs hung and ran like shuttles. In April to June 1882, Siemens had tested a similar system on his Electromote, an early percursor of the trolleybuses.

Much simpler and more functional was an overhead wire in combination with a pantograph borne by the vehicle and pressed at the line from below. This system, for rail traffic with a unipolar line, was invented by Frank J. Sprague in 1888. Since 1889, it was used at the Richmond Union Passenger Railway in Richmond, Virginia. That was the onset of worldwide use of electric traction.

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