Electric traction

Jones, Montague Rhys 1891 , 'Electric traction' , Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania , pp. 72-88 .

jones-electric-...pdf | Download (1MB)
Available under University of Tasmania Standard License.


Whether the present generation had discovered the ultimate
force in nature most applicable to the service of men was a question for
the scientist of the future to decide, but he thought they could claim
the present to be an electrical age, as in pre-historic times there were
ages of stone and bronze. The practical utility of the application of
electricity to the propulsion of railway and tramway cars was first
demonstrated at Berlin in 1879 by Siemens and Halske on an experimental
line of 500 metres, in the form of an oval. The train consisted
of a small electric locomotive and carriages, which had very small
wheels, with two rows of seats running parallel to the rails. The
success of this experiment led to other attempts of an exhibitional
nature at Brussels, Dusseldorf, Frankfort and other places, and then
electrical traction passed from the experimental to the commercial
process of development. The Lichterfelde electric tram near Berlin
was the first of its kind. The length was 1 1/2 miles, and the equipment
in 1881 consisted of two motor cars, the motion being transmitted to
the wheels by belts working on grooved pulleys outside the wheels.
The prime source of power was a steam engine, with a Siemens motor
and generator, but the installation differed in some respects from the
Berlin line, the central rail not being used, but the one rail acting as a
lead, and the other as a return for the current. Up to 1887 this line
canied 100,000 passengers yearly. These instances showed that the
inception of electrical tramways took place in Europe, the principle
being the generation of electricity by dynamo, and conveying the
current through conductors connected by sliding contact with the cars while in motion. Modern electrical railways were now built chiefly on
this principle, although America had far succeeded Europe in the
improvement and perfecting of the system. The remainder of the paper
consisted of a description of the various systems in vogue, after which
he dealt with the "overhead system," which had most successfully
operated commercially and practically. Many objections of an aesthetical
nature had been urged against the overhead gearing, but they were
more apparent than real, and he recommended such objectors to
look to the telegraph cables so obtrusively conspicuous in big
towns. It was superior to other systems of traction.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Jones, Montague Rhys
Keywords: Royal Society of Tasmania, Van Diemens Land, VDL, Hobart Town, natural sciences, proceedings, records
Journal or Publication Title: Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Collections: Royal Society Collection > Papers & Proceedings of the Royal Society of Tasmania
Additional Information:

In 1843 the Horticultural and Botanical Society of Van Diemen's Land was founded and became the Royal Society of Van Diemen's Land for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science in 1844. In 1855 its name changed to Royal Society of Tasmania for Horticulture, Botany, and the Advancement of Science. In 1911 the name was shortened to Royal Society of Tasmania.

Item Statistics: View statistics for this item

Actions (login required)

Item Control Page Item Control Page