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RAILLESS ELECTRIC TRACTION,

AN INTERESTING REPORT,

Some interesting information concerning railless electric traction . has been supplied to the Christchurch Tramway Board by Mr D.- Sykes, a member of the Board, who has been visiting England. The information was conveyed in a copy of a report of a deputation from the City of Bradford that visited Europe to inspect various tramway systems worked without rails. In Italy, the report states, the deputation saw the "Filovia" system of railless trolley. At Argegno, on Lake Como. the system is operated under peculiarly difficult conditions. The route extends from Argegno to a village known as St Fedele, which is on the summit of a range of mountains bordering the shores of,, the lake. The road is of the ordinary macadam type, but owing presumably to the steep gradients and curves, is not in a very, good state of repair. It contains some very sharp "hairpin" turns some of. which are so stiff, that, notwithstanding the short wheelbase of the vehicle, the driver found it necessary to proceed part of the way round the curvej reverse, and manoeuvre , in many places, where the gradient was in the neighbourhood of one in eight' or one in nine. The rise from Argegno,. which is 656 feet above sea level, is continuous up to St Fedele, . which is 2582 feet, above sea level. The distance between the two 'places is a little under 5.5 miles, nic rise being therefore about 6 per cent, or one in 16.5, while in some places it reaches nearly 13 per cent, or one in 7.7. The overhead line is composed of two trolley wires nine millimetres in diameter, suspended in the usual way and supported by wooden and steel points. Only two wires are in use ; a negative and a positive, these serving for the up and down cars. The line is fed with direct current at a pressure of 600 volts by an overhead feeder carried by the pole supporting the trolley wires. The chassis of the waggons are equipped with two 12 horse-power electric motors, connected for running in series or parallel, similar to an ordinary tratnear. The wheelbase of these cars has been kept shorter than usual, being only nine feet, on account of the sharp curves, some ot which have a radius of less than 20 feet The road wheels of the cars are fitted with single solid rubber tyres. The drive from the motor to the wheel is by means of a sprocket-wheel and chain, similar to the drive on a petrol motor omnibus. Efficient brakes or both mechanical and electrical designs are fitted to the car. lhe down trips on this route are always performed without utilising any. electrical energy, except to start at the terminus. The cars are of the single deck typo, with seating capacity tor eifh+ee'ii to twenty jvissenffers and accommodation for luc;n;aa:e on the roof. 'Hie weight of the oars whon ompty is j 3J- tons. Tlie deputation Avas informed

that since the line had been opened there had been no serious interruptions. This is a remarkable record considering the very .difficult nature of the road.

This particular railless system of traction has been found to be of considerable utility. The first line of this system was installed in 1904, and since that date a number of lines have been put in, totalling over fifty miles. The Italian Government hns decided to grant a subsidy of £60 a year for each mile of line equipped on the railless system in districts not provided with railway or tramway services. The energy consumed per ton mile is about the same as laat consumed on a tramcar. This, the _ deputation stntos, is somewhat surprising, as it miejht be expected that the tractive effort of rubber tyres on an ordinary roadway would be much in excess of that of a tramway line. The explanation, however, is probably to be found in the fact that more modern motors of greater efficiency than the old typp of tramway motor are in usp. and in addition the frepdom of each driven wheel to take its own course when rounding curves Jfs a vpiV excellent electrical differential. The steering and control of the car are quite as rood, if no t better, than th Q control of an ordinary petrol vehicle of similar dimensions. The d^mi+.ntion was very favorably impressed with this system of railless trolley for hoavv routes, and is strongly of opinion thnt it v.> no speculative experiment, but a trood engineering proportion, and capable of considerable utilisation.

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Bibliographic details

RAILLESS ELECTRIC TRACTION,, Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LX, Issue LX, 23 September 1910

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760

RAILLESS ELECTRIC TRACTION, Hawera & Normanby Star, Volume LX, Issue LX, 23 September 1910

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