Croatia marks electric tram anniversary


06 March 2024
Released on 2 January, a €2.60 miniature sheet from Croatia marks the 125th anniversary of the Rijeka electric tram, which entered service on 7 November 1899.

In the second half of the 19th century, Rijeka, on the Adriatic coast, began developing as a port and industrial centre.

In 1873, a new railway linked it with Zagreb and, with urbanisation along the coast, efforts were made to connect outer areas to the city centre using carriages and omnibuses, with trams an alternative option.

After a proposal for a steam-powered tram was rejected in 1875, it was another 15 years before the idea of a tram was considered. Then, after tenders had been submitted in 1892, Baron Oscar Lazzarini’s suggestion for a horse-drawn tram was accepted, which later developed into an electric tram.

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On 7 November 1899, eight trams set off on a 4km track from Fiumara to the Torpedo Factory, the first ceremonial ride from their depot at Školjić. The working conditions of drivers and conductors were harsh during the early years, with shifts lasting from 7am to 10pm.

After financial uncertainty during World War I, efforts were made to restore the tram system in a period of optimism after the war. However, Rijeka increasingly introduced bus lines from 1930, and replacing the trams with trolleybuses was considered as early as 1935.

During World War II, passenger numbers increased due to the needs of the military, with the tram the only mode of public transport in the city during most of war. Due to a lack of maintenance, the trams and tracks were in a poor condition by the end of the war. Therefore, replacement trams were sent from Zagreb and new tracks were ordered from Vienna. However, due to the lack of skilled workers, they were never installed.

After decades of providing public transport to the citizens of Rijeka, the trams went out of service in June 1952.