Difference Between Trains and Trams

Public transportation plays a crucial role in commuting people to and fro. These transportation includes buses, rails, trams, airlines, etc. Trains and trams are the two modes that are often confused with one another.


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Trains are the mode of transport of land that is used to cover long distances, there are several carriages and coaches attached to it to increase its capacity.

Trams are also a land mode of transportation and are used to cover shorter distances as compared to the distance covered by a train.

Key Takeaways

  1. Trains are long and heavy vehicles that run on tracks and are primarily used for long-distance travel and transportation of goods, while trams are shorter and lighter vehicles that run on tracks and are used for short-distance travel within a city.
  2. Trains can reach high speeds and travel long distances, while trams have a limited speed and travel shorter distances.
  3. Trains require dedicated tracks and stations, while trams can share the road with other vehicles and have stops along the way.

Trains vs Trams

The difference between trains and trams is that trains are heavyweight long distance transport systems that have more number of coaches attached to a coal-driven or steam-driven engine to increase its passenger capacity, it runs on iron tracks which are termed as railways and are laid some inches above the ground, on the other hand, trams are lightweight short distance transport system with only a few coaches and carriages attached to an electronic or diesel driven engines, they run on ground level lightweight tracks.

Trains vs Trams

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Comparison Table

Parameter of ComparisonTrainsTrams
What is it?A train is a heavyweight land transport system used by people to travel over long distances, the overall length of a train depends on the number of coaches and carriages attached to an engine, attaching more coaches and carriages increases its capacity.A tram is lightweight land transportation used to travel within the city or within two cities depending on whether they are inter-cities or intra-cities. They only have a few coaches attached to the engine.
Tracks for runningThe track rails and beds for running trains are made of heavyweight iron to support the weight of trains. The track runs a few inches above the ground. The track is also surrounded by small stones to bear the shock from the high speed of trains.The tracks for running trams are known as tramways. The tracks laid for trams are lightweight so that they don’t damage the roads. The level of these tracks is the same as that of roads.
Type of enginesIn the initial days, trains were run by coal-driven engines but with technological advancements, coal-driven engines were replaced by steam engines, in recent times, electronic engines are also used, however, steam engines are still dominant.Initially, trams were driven by animals. But now they are run either on electricity or on diesel, some tram engines are capable of running on electricity as well as diesel.
Running areasTrains run over long distances between different cities, they do not share their running areas with any other mode of transport.Trams run over short distances as compared to trains and over a longer distance as compared to buses. Trams may be inter or intra cities. They share their running area with cars, buses, etc.
StoppagesSince trains are long distance transport, therefore, have stoppages over long distances. Their stops are at least 1 km apart.Trams stop after every few yards and generally run within the city limits, these are found mostly in developed urban cities.

What is a Train?

The trains were first used in Ancient Greece in the 6th century BC when paved tracks were used to transport boats and wheeled vehicles pulled by animals and men run in such a way that they do not leave the track.  

Trains are heavyweight transportation that runs over long distances. The tracks are specially laid to run trains. Trains were initially driven by coal engines but later seen a transformation when steam engines came into existence.

These days electronic engines are also used to run trains.

In 1964, the first electrified train was introduced between Tokyo and Osaka in Japan, these trains run at a minimum speed of 300km/h. In 2018, hydrogen powered Alstom Coradia Lint Train was introduced. 


What is a Tram?

Tramways date back to the 1550s when they were initially used to facilitate transportation to and from mines and were run by horses. Later they became popular in Europe as a mode of transportation and were used as a public transport. 

The first passenger tram ran in Wales, UK. 

Trams are lightweight transportation that covers comparatively shorter distances. The tracks are also lightweight. The engines that run trams are either electrically powered or diesel-powered.

People see trams as a more convenient mode of transportation since trams stop at every few yards and since the tracks are at the road level, therefore, are easier to get in.


Main Differences Between Trains and Trams

  1. A train is a heavyweight mode of transportation whereas trams are a lightweight mode of transportation.
  2. There are several carriages and coaches attached to the engine of a train whereas in trams there are fewer coaches and carriages.
  3. The tracks laid for running trains are heavyweight iron tracks to support the weight of trains, these tracks are termed as railways whereas the tracks of trams are lightweight so that they do not damage the roads and are termed as tramways.
  4. The level of railways is a few inches above the ground and is surrounded by small stones to bear the shock of the speed of trains whereas the level of tramways is the same as that of the roads.
  5. In recent times, the engines of trains are mostly steam-driven, however, electric engines are also used to run trains, on the other hand, the engines of trams are either electronic engines or diesel driven engines.
  6. Trains are used to cover longer distances as compared to the trams.
  7. The stoppages of trains are at a difference of some kilometers whereas trams stop at every few yards.
  8. Trains do not share their running space with any other mode of transportation whereas trams share their running space with all other road transports.
Difference Between Trains and Trams
  1. https://academic.oup.com/annweh/article-abstract/42/5/331/215878
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2210539516301572
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