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Transport / Mass transit

Here's everything we learned from this map of all Europe's tram systems in Czech

It’s been a long week, what with one thing and another, so it’s probably about time to kick back, relax and enjoy a map of all Europe’s light rail systems written in Czech.

The map in all its glory. You can click to expand but, if we’re honest, you probably need to go to Dopravni Podnik Hlavniho Mesta Prahy’s website to see it in its full glory. There’s a link at the end of this story.

The map comes from the Prague transport agency (or Dopravni Podnik Hlavniho Mesta Prahy, to its friends), and here are some of the things we’ve learned from it, with the aid of our trusty companion, Google Translate:

There are 265 active tram systems in European countries. That, though, includes 18 in Russia which are so far east that they don’t show up on this map. So if we were being picky we’d question whether they all counted as “European”, but… never mind.

Russia has an advantage – by land mass, it’s by far the largest country in the world – but nonetheless, with a score of 44, it ranks very near the top of the “most tram systems in a European city” league table.

Eastern Europe in detail. Image: Dopravni Podnik Hlavniho Mesta Prahy.

Ukraine ranks fourth with 23: trams were clearly a big deal in the USSR.

It’s beaten only by Germany, which has 55. There are tram systems in just about every German city you’ve ever heard of – Berlin, Frankfurt, the other Frankfurt, Dortmund, Munich – and quite a few you probably haven’t. (Perhaps it’s just me, but I have literally never seen the word “Cottbus” before, but it is apparently a Brandenburg university city of 100,000 with a moderately good football team in it.) The one notable exception is Hamburg. Poor Hamburg. No trams for you.

An extract from the map’s key, covering Germany, Britain, the Netherlands, Belgium and France. Click to expand. Image: Dopravni Podnik Hlavniho Mesta Prahy.

Germany also plays host to what, best we can tell, is the largest tram network in Europe: the one covering Bonn/Cologne, which has 195.km of routes. That’s nearly half as big as the London Underground, in a conurbation about a third the size.

The country with the third most tram networks, since you ask, is France, with 24. There too most major cities seem to have some form of tram. By far the largest network is Lyon’s, at 63.3km.

A tram. This one’s in Paris. Image: Getty.

Britain does… less well. There are just seven tram systems active at present, the oldest being Blackpool’s (1885). But it’s a bit of a poor show for a country of 65m people: the same number of tram systems the Czech republic itself, a country one sixth the size. Maybe that’s why they made the map: bit of bragging to wind up those self-obsessed, Brexiteering islanders.

One the upside, we do have Manchester, which with 92.5km of route is one of the bigger networks on offer. Go Manchester.


So, there we are. After detailed consideration, our conclusion, undoubtedly, has to be: Europe has a lot of trams.

You can see the full version of the map here.

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