Some European cities may give away or sell second-hand trams in order to modernize their public transport fleets or get rid of old vehicles. On the other hand, by acquiring second-hand trams, other cities not only buy still working vehicles at reasonable prices but also invest in the image of ‘green’ and modern public transport. However, this migration of trams may gain a neo-colonial air when the developed West profits from discarding old vehicles to the developing East. But, making use of the durability of tram cars, which may easily be operated for forty to fifty years, is a sustainable way to utilize public transport infrastructure.
4,702 old trams from Germany have travelled the world since 1990. The research team Lukas Adolphi, Wladimir Sgibnev, and Tonio Weicker have traced all these trams and observed how old vehicles technically and visually adapt to their new environments. A good example of this transformation is a Tatra KT4DtM: first operating in 1983 in East Berlin, it now runs in Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan (All images: transphoto.org)