Last Tram Rails Removed in Yerevan

Trams in Yerevan

I love trams. When traveling abroad, I never miss the chance of riding one. The trams in London, San Francisco, Brussels, Prague…  they add a special flavour to those cities. I ride the trams of the cities of the world with a sense of a bitter enjoyment, a sense of loss, a sense of revenge, from understanding, that Armenia will never have trams again…

The trams stopped running in Yerevan on January 20, 2004. The authorities said the trams are unprofitable, the rails need urgent reconstruction, the carriages need to be replaced and the country simply cannot afford to keep them.

Tram rails are removed in Yerevan

Armenia -- Last tram-rails are removed from Yerevan, 09Jun2011

Riding to work today, I noticed how some of the last remaining tram-rails are being removed from Erebuni district in Yerevan. Large metal rails, wooden railway-sleepers dug out of asphalt and waiting for their turn to be taken away and become history.

A very long history.

On September 29, 1906 the Erivanian municipal horse-rail of entrepreneur Mirzoyan started running. It remained operational till August 1918, when the tram was destroyed as a result of the war.

Since 1932 the electric-powered broad-track trams started running in Yerevan. The number of carriages increased to 16 in 1933, 77 in 1945, 222 in 1965. Two types of trams were running in Yerevan till its closure – 71-605 and РВЗ-6М2.

The trams covered 12 routes, connected all major residential areas of Yerevan with the centre. This massive engineering feat was only made possible due to huge investments of the centralized Soviet economy.

Destroying the rails took 7 years – from 2004 to 2011. The carriages, the rails were cut and sold as scrap-metal, the stations and the tram depot rented out to businesses.

The 98-year-old history was sold for a song…

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Photos of trams are from here.


5 thoughts on “Last Tram Rails Removed in Yerevan

  1. wow, wordpress has a new comment UI look

    anyway, I rode one on my 1st trip back to Yerevan and then never again obvious due to the stopped running :*(

    not profitable? not enough money to update it entirely? ooohh but they have BIG money to redo the national assembly building and build new roads, residential towers, overpass bridges (to ease one cross section), they have all this money to do this and that, to gamble $2M at casinos in monte carlo and force business owners to pay “mafiya” tax, but no money to keep something old, classic, some what modernistic traditional, and viably economical??? not to mention convenient & green

    Rail buses/subways (above or below ground) are the best thing EVER for public transportation and for convenience for metro cities such as NYC to Paris/London to Yerevan. Here in LA we finally have underground subways last 12-15 years. took long enough for California to get with the rest of the big metro-city programs, but none the less we have it. but its not as elaborate and long as NYC would be. not everywhere can LA dig underground to make tunnels due to earthquake fault lines (large & minor). but we have THE BEST bus system program EVER conceived. there is a MTA bus every 10-20 mins and there is a bus stop every 1/4-1/2 mile. in LA we can take a bus from glendale to downtown LA in 1 hour (due to picks up/drop-offs every 15 mins) otherwise, 15-20 mins by car no traffic, w/ traffic 1 hour (w/ traffic by bus 3 hours)

    anyway, I think such transit systems as railways/trains/subways is always the best. look at what the chinese & japanese have done. 200-250 mph (miles per hour) super speed trains that can take 3 hours from Shanghai to Beijing, where as driving would take on average 18 hours and Tokyo’s subway system puts NYC’s to shame.

    more countries should invest in high-tech fast railway transits
    we can save time, money, and the environment
    there is even the magnetic version railway, no fossil fuels needed to run, no electricity, its all magnetic and the train floats over a concrete railway system., Like they use at disney world in orlando, fl.

  2. @ Observer,

    Definitely a topic you can add to the list of mind boggling decisions made by our beloved government. The bigger picture that I see is the dire communication that is lost. A chance for the locals, diasporans and tourist to communicate while strolling around Yerevan has vanished. Nothing like saying a simple hello to a stranger sitting next to you. You never know where a smile and a conversation can lead to.

    What’s more interesting to this “spiritual day” is how you pointed out to me in another blog to read this. I had read this yesterday but just shrugged it off, i didn’t want to get too pessimistic. It wasn’t till this morning when I read it again for a second time that I thought about all the beautiful cities I’ve visited around the world and all the interesting people I’ve met in the public transportation. I wish I could’ve had a chance in 2004 to ride the tram all around Yerevan, but to my dismay, the tram had been shut down a few months before I arrived. But that’s not why I too started having a spiritual day…..

    It’s really amusing that you referred me back to this article. Quite simply, I wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for public transportation. My father met my mother in a public transportation in Yerevan, and if I’m not mistaken, it was on one if these trams. There you have it, LIFE, you know….. ;o)

  3. I just felt really strongly about the tram issue…

    You know, they keep talking about the fact, that Yerevan’s Metro (Subway) isn’t profitable as well… and I can’t imagine what will happen when these ‘businessmen’ in government start thinking of ways for making it profitable or closing down altogether.

    Back in 2004 nobody seemed to care about the trams. I hope today people are wiser, and there is some sort of a civil society, environmental activists, etc. who will stand up to defend it. My post about the past glory of the trams has one single purpose – I want to protect the future of Yerevan’s metro…

    And by the way – Yerevan’s rope-way is also gone… but that’s a whole other story.

  4. Hello, Observer! I was a little girl when the trams were removed from our Yerevanian streets, but I remember them. You can find trams in many nice cities and towns of the world that are proud of having trams, and I deeply regret we don’t have trams anymore just because some people think they aren’t profitable. Again, that’s the greed of particular individuals whose idea of welfare is so far to be called ‘civilized’ as they are primarily concerned about themselves.

  5. What is sad is that when we had some kind of chance to stop this crime from happening, WE ALL stood and watched. And it’s not like we are just learning about it, quite a few have blown the whistle at the time and no one responded.

    And just recently, the “Prime Minister” has made a statement that the trollys are to return and replace mini buses.

    If you ask me, he who took it out and has amassed hundreds of millions of dollars, should be made to put it back just the way it was.

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