Did you know that Sarajevo had an electric tram before Vienna? Sarajevo was the first city in the Balkans and in Central Europe to have a tram.
Tram in Sarajevo, 1901

A tram is a rail vehicle that travels on tramway tracks on public urban streets.

The first tram in Sarajevo was put into service on New Year’s Day 1885 as a test for the tram that was supposed to start operating in Vienna during the Austro-Hungarian administration.

Horse traction was used as a drive and the width of the rails was 760 mm. One horse was not allowed to ride more than two laps, so as not to get exhausted.

First electric tram

On May 1, 1895, the first electric tram was launched on the streets of Sarajevo.

The route of the electric tram went from the railway station, which was located near today’s “Bristol” hotel, to the Latin bridge. The vehicles that were used were produced by the company “Siemens-Sohukert”. That trams were the first trams created in its facilities.

The first electric tram had two doors and could accommodate a total of 24 passengers. This tram had separate carriages for smokers and non-smokers. Even, at first, there were separate carriages for men and women. Drivers and conductors had rules for dressing and maintaining hygiene.

However, citizens did not trust this electric machine, so initially, the tram was mostly half-empty. Nevertheless, already next year, on September 6, the electric tram will record a record number of transported passengers – as many as 3,800 or almost 15 percent of the entire population of Sarajevo.

The increased number of passengers demanded significant changes in the traffic regime, so instead of every 15 minutes, trams left every ten minutes from the starting station. The railway was extended to the Town Hall on December 1, 1897, and less than a year later, another line was put into traffic, and another one in 1923.

Trams in 20th century and today

After the Second World War, tram traffic in Sarajevo was rapidly modernized, and it reached its technological peak in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

Tram in the past

During the siege of Sarajevo (1992 – 1995), tram vehicles were badly damaged. The system stopped working on April 15, 1992, 9 days after the start of the war in Bosnia and Herzegovina. It was restarted on April 15, 1994, even though the war was still going on.

Today, trams are one of the main models of transportation in Sarajevo. Sarajevo has one tram line with a length of 10.7 km. Trams connect the central part of Baščaršija with Ilidža. Transportation is managed by JKP GRAS Sarajevo.

The establishment of an electric tram in Sarajevo has retained a special historical value to this day. While the electric-powered trams rumbled through the Sarajevo, in the imperial capital of Vienna trams were still powered by horses. It was similar in Budapest. The first electric tram passed through Vienna, almost two years after Sarajevo, the same year an electric tram was established in Budapest.

Amina Šehović, History MA

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