This is our glossary page, where you can find definitions for key terms related to tramways and their operation. Whether you're a frequent tram user or simply interested in learning more about this mode of transportation, our glossary is a valuable resource for understanding the many components and concepts that make up a modern tramway system. From the technical aspects of trams and their parts to the more practical aspects of fare collection and customer service, this glossary covers a wide range of topics relevant to anyone interested in trams and their role in modern urban transportation.


Terms Definition
(Circut) Breaker A safety device that automatically cuts off the power supply in the event of an overload or short circuit.
Accessibility The degree to which trams are accessible to all passengers, including those with disabilities or mobility impairments.
Ammeter  An instrument for measuring either direct (DC) or alternating (AC) electric current
Axle box This provides the bearing between the axle and on all railway vehicles frame
Ballast The track ballast forms the track bed that supports the rail track load and provides water drainage.
Bamboo Pole The device used by drivers to help turn trolley poles to the direction of travel
Base plate The basic function of base plates is to take up and distribute the dynamic forces coming from the rail bottom, giving added stiffness to the whole track structure
Battery Banks Stores power used to supply the overhead wires to power the trams
Battery-powered tram A type of tram that is powered by batteries, allowing it to operate without overhead wires or third rails.
Bell Cord The device used by passengers to signal to the driver to stop at the next station
Bracket Arm The arm that is attached to the traction pole which holds up the overhead wire
Brakes a device for slowing or stopping a moving vehicle, typically by applying pressure to the wheels.
Bridge A structure carrying a road, path, railway, etc. across a river, road, or other obstacle.
Bucket Wagon Tram wagon that can be towed by the maintenance car which can store material such as ballast
Buffer Stop A device to prevent railway vehicles from going past the end of a physical section
C/T boards Commence and Terminate Boards are temporary signs displayed in sections where slower speeds must be driven. This may be due to work or maintenance in the section
Car switch   
Catenary A system of overhead wires is used to provide power to trams.
CCTV system The closed-circuit television system is used to monitor the inside and outside of the tram for security and safety purposes.
Check-rail A rail laid parallel to a running rail to guide wheels through points, rail crossings, and round curves, to reduce wear and the risk of derailments such as those due to flange climb.
Coach screw Coach screws are heavy duty screws used for fixing metal to timber or timber to masonry or concrete, meaning they are designed to hold heavy loads firmly
Compressor A compressor will force air into a storage tank to increase the pressure. Typically used for airbrakes on the trams
Controller A device used to control the voltage and current of the power supplied to the tram.
Culvert a tunnel carrying a stream or open drain under a road or railway.
Current power Drawn from the tram via the controller to the motors to enable the tram to move.
Customer service The provision of services and assistance to passengers, including information, support, and complaint resolution.
Dead Mans Switch A dead man's switch is a switch that is designed to be activated or deactivated if the human operator becomes incapacitated
Depot A facility where trams are stored, maintained, and serviced.
Destination Box The sign on the front of the tram displays its destination or route number.
Double Decker A double-decker tram or double-deck tram is a tram that has two levels or decks
Driver controls The control panel used by the tram driver to operate various systems and functions of the tram.
Driver Roster The timetable given to drivers to tell them when and what tram they will be driving on which day
Embankment An artificial slope made of earth or stones
Emergency exit A designated exit for passengers to use in the event of an emergency.
Emergency procedures The procedures to be followed in the event of an emergency, such as an accident or breakdown.
Engineer A member of staff with training which allows them to maintain machinery and vehicles such as trams
Fare The cost of riding the tram, is typically based on distance traveled or a flat rate per trip.
Fare evasion The act of riding the tram without paying the fare or using a valid ticket or pass.
Farm Crossing Crossing areas on the route specifically connecting to areas of farmland
Finials  Finials are decorative elements found on to of traction poles, also keeping rain out of the pole
Fire Extinguisher A fire extinguisher is a handheld active fire protection device usually filled with a dry or wet chemical used to extinguish or control small fires
First Aid Kid A first aid kit or medical kit is a collection of supplies and equipment used to give immediate medical treatment
Foot Crossing Crossing area designated for pedestrians to cross. Trams still have right of way
Frequency The number of trams that operate on a particular route or line during a given period of time, typically measured in minutes or hours between services.
Frog A Device which acts as a switch for the tram's trolley pole to take the correct overhead wire direction.
Frog lights  
Gangway A walkway or passage between two tram vehicles that allows passengers to move between them.
Gauge  The distance between the parallel tracks the trams operate on.
GPS Speedometer The use of GPS technology to track the speed
Grooved Rail Type of Track used where there is other traffic using the same road
Hand Break  
Headlight  The main white light which is on the front of the tram in the direction of travel
Headway The time interval between two successive trams on the same route.
High-floor tram A type of tram with a higher floor height typically requires passengers to climb stairs to enter the tram.
Infrastructure The physical components of the tramway system, include tracks, stations, signals, and other equipment.
Inspection pit A Pit found in the depot to allow engineers to easily access the underside of a tram to inspect and maintain the tram
Inspector The staff member in control of the day's traffic, roster and overall safety during tram service
Instructor A Staff member who is authorised to instruct and train people to drive a tram
Insulator A non-conductive material used to support and separate the contact wire from other parts of the overhead system.
Level crossing A point where tram tracks crosses a road or pedestrian walkway.
Lifeguard  At each end of the tram infront and around the trucks
Light rail transit (LRT) A type of tramway that operates on dedicated tracks and provides rapid transit service to urban or suburban areas.
Light rail vehicle (LRV) A type of tram designed to operate on dedicated tracks and carry passengers in an urban or suburban environment.
Line Light A small bulb in the driving end of the tram to indicate that the trolley pole is connected to the overhead and power is switched on
Lineside Hut  
Low-floor tram A type of tram that has a lower floor height, making it more accessible to passengers with disabilities or limited mobility.
Machine shop  
Maintenance car A tram specifically designed to operate on the line to maintain track and overhead
Metal Workshop  
On-board announcement system A system used to make automated announcements to passengers, such as upcoming stops or safety information.
Open Top A Style of tram which does not have a roof in the passenger area
Open Vestibule Where the driver sits, does not have a roof
Operations management The process of managing traffic flow around the tramway to minimise disruptions and improve safety.
Overhead Cable The wire in the catenary system supplies power to the tram.
Overhead wires Wires that supply electricity to the tram via the Trolley Pole
Pandrol clip  
Pantograph arc The visible electrical discharge that can occur between the pantograph and overhead wires when the tram is in motion.
Parking Break The break which is applied when the tram is stationary 
Passenger information system The system used to provide passengers with information about tram schedules, routes, and destinations.
Plain head rail  
Platform An area where passengers can board or disembark from a tram.
Point A device used to divert a tram from one track to another.
Points A point where two or more tram tracks intersect.
Radio A communication tool for drivers to contact the inspector and other drivers
Resistance bank  
Right-of-way The legal right to pass through a particular stretch of track without interruption or delay.
Rolling stock The vehicles used on the tramway, including trams, trailers, and other related equipment.
Route The specific path or series of stops that a particular tram service follows.
Saloon A covered passenger tram or passenger area
Seats Where passengers are permitted to sit on the tram
Section Breaker  
Single Deck  A tram that has one level or deck
Sleeper Railway sleepers are large heavy beams that support the rails of a railway track.
Solid State Chargers  
Speed limits The maximum speed at which trams are permitted to travel.
Stairwell The area where stairs are used to access top of bottom levels of trams
Stock rail  
Stretcher bar  
Tail Light The red light which is on the rear of the tram in the direction of travel
Tamper Tampers are track maintenance machines that make sure the track is correctly aligned and has a smooth level along the rail. They help to prevent the risk of trains derailing, and ensure smooth, comfortable journeys for passengers 
Ticket The physical or electronic ticket or pass that allows a passenger to ride the tram.
Timetable The schedule of tram services that are offered on the tramway system.
Token system The system used to control the movement of trams and ensure their safe operation.
Track bond   
Track Crossing A section of track where two tracks intersect.
Track geometry The physical characteristics of the track, include its alignment, curvature, and gradient.
Track maintenance The ongoing maintenance and repair of tram tracks.
Track Spikes  
Traction The power required to move a tram along the tracks.
Traction motor The electric motor is used to drive the wheels of the tram.
Traction Pole Large Pole at the side of the track that holds
Tram driver The person responsible for operating the tram and ensuring the safety of passengers and other users of the tramway system.
Tram Shelter A Shelter for passengers at stations to stay out of the rain
Tram stop A designated location where trams stop to allow passengers to board or disembark.
Tram tracks The rails on which the tram runs.
Tramway A railway system consisting of tracks along which electric or horse-drawn vehicles run, typically in urban areas.
Tramway accessibility The degree to which the tramway system is accessible to passengers with disabilities or limited mobility, including the provision of ramps, lifts, and other accommodations.
Tramway capacity The maximum number of passengers that can be carried on a particular tramway service at any given time.
Tramway maintenance The range of activities and procedures used to ensure that the tramway system is safe, efficient, and reliable, including regular inspections, repairs, and upgrades.
Tramway network The entire system of tracks, trams, stations, and other infrastructure used to operate the tramway.
Tramway operator The organisation or company responsible for operating the trams and providing passenger service.
Tramway safety The set of practices and procedures used to ensure the safety of passengers, employees, and other users of the tramway system.
Tramway signal The system of lights and other indicators used to communicate with tram drivers and ensure the safe and efficient movement of trams on the tramway system.
Tramway track The physical rails and other components that make up the path on which trams travel.
Tramway vehicle The individual trams that operate on the tramway system.
Tramway vehicle The individual trams that operate on the tramway system.
Trolley buzzer  The device which sounds when the trolley has been removed from the overhead
Trolley Pole A device mounted on the roof of a tram that collects power from overhead wires.
Trolley tension  
Truck A chassis or framework that supports the wheels and axles of a tram.
Uni-directional tram A type of tram that can only operate in one direction, typically through the use of a single driver's cab at one end of the tram.
Vestibule The small area at the entrance of the tram, usually where the driver's controls can be found
Voltage Voltage describes the “pressure” that pushes electricity. We operate 120 volts DC,
Volunteer a person who freely offers to take part as a staff member
Webcam A Camera that streams video live online.
Welding bay the area of a Depot where Welding is permitted to take place
Wheelchair ramp A device used to provide wheelchair users with access to the tram.
Wheelchair space A designated space on the tram for a wheelchair user to safely and comfortably ride.
Wheelset A pair of wheels connected by an axle that supports the tram and allows it to move
Whistle or Bell Used on a tram to signal a tram starting or stopping to move.
Wi-Fi A wireless internet connection is provided to passengers at tram stations
Wig Wag or Warning Lights The noise and lights at the level crossing signalling to road users to stop to allow trams to cross the road.
Wood Workshop