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Transport / Mass transit

Rio's oldest tram line is up and running again after a tragic accident

This quaint tram is chugging across the 45 metre high Carioca Aqueduct in Rio de Janeiro. It’s part of the Santa Teresa tram line, or “bonde, which has been serving the city since the late 19th century.


The  two-route network is one of the oldest street railway lines in the world, and the last remaining metropolitan tram line in Brazil. By 2011, the Santa Teresa line had run continuously for an astonishing 134 years, in recent years mostly as a tourist attraction. But in August of that year, disaster struck: a tram’s brakes failed as it was heading downhill in the Santa Teresa neighbourhood. It derailed, and five people were killed. 

Since then, the city has invested in a fleet of 14 brand new trams, and has renovated the network. The tram in the main picture is carrying out a test drive; full service is expected to resume gradually this year. 

Residents will be relieved. While the crash was viewed as a tragedy – see the tram logo with a tear, which was widely seen around the city in the aftermath of the crash, below – the line and its cheerful yellow trams are still seen as an iconic local landmark. 

Months after the derailment, when the tram’s future wasn’t clear, a load of clowns (yes, really) staged a protest in favour of its return:

And the line has been commemorated by several public murals:  

Welcome back! 

Images: Getty.
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