The Anonymous Widower

Seville’s Elegant Trams

Seville’s tramway; the MetroCentro, by the cathedral is powered without using traditional overhead catenary.

Each double-sided stop has a high electrified rail on each side.

When the tram stops, it puts up a pantograph and then for a minute or so, it charges the batteries.

Seville’s Urbos trams are the same as in Birmingham, so will the Midland Metro be using the same elegant system to charge the batteries, that are now been fitted, so trams can run to Centenary Square in Birmingham and the railway station in Wolverhampton?

|Edinburgh also has another version of Urbos trams, so if Birmingham battery trams are successful, will we be seeing them North of the Border?

There’s only one thing wrong with Seville’s trams. Every one is wrapped in advertising, which makes it difficult to see out and look at the outstanding buildings.

How Does The Battery System Work?

CAF , who built the Urbos trams, have this page on their web site, which is entitled Greentech Tram.

The system uses two methods of storing electricity.

Supercapacitor Modules

A supercapacitor has the advantage that it can be quickly charged and discharged.

So as a tram only takes perhaps fifteen seconds to stop from full speed, the fast charging allows the regenerative braking energy to be stored.

On starting again, this energy can be discharged quickly from the supercapacitor to accelerate the tram.

This charging/discharging cycle does degrade the supercapacitor  and they would have to be replaced periodically.

Lithium-Ion Batteries

Lithium-ion batteries can hold greater amounts of electricity, but their charge and discharge rate is slower.

They can provide smaller amounts of power to keep the tram going at a constant speed after it has been accelerated.

A Sophisticated Control System

The page talks about a sophisticated control system that optimised the driving of the tram and the minimisation of energy.

The System Can Be Licenced From CAF

It should be noted that CAF will licence the system to other manufacturers.


By using two different storage systems with different characteristics, CAF are able to drive the tram along its 1.4 km route, charging at each stop.




June 24, 2017 - Posted by | Energy Storage, Transport | , , , ,


  1. […] MetroCentro trams, which I described in Seville’s Elegant Trams, charge themselves at each […]

    Pingback by An Affordable Reinstatement Of The Stour Valley Railway « The Anonymous Widower | August 13, 2017 | Reply

  2. […] In Seville’s Elegant Trams, I wrote about the MetroCentro in Seville, which is catenary-free and charges the batteries of the trams at stops, through an overhead rail. […]

    Pingback by More Innovation From CAF « The Anonymous Widower | June 14, 2018 | Reply

  3. to answer your question on Birmingham, the city centre extension is only 840m long, so the batteries will be recharged from existing OLE – there’s no need for any additional charging at stops. All the trams are being fitted with batteries, as this also enables discontinuous operation in areas where installing OLE is tricky, such as at the planned Curzon St station. According to “passenger services are planned to commence in late 2019”. Something else for me to take a look at.
    On supercaps, I don’t think you’re correct to say that “charging/discharging cycle does degrade the supercapacitor”, as it’s an advantage of supercaps that they degrade very little, unlike the chemical process in batteries. states that “The supercapacitor can be charged and discharged a virtually unlimited number of times.” Alstom’s new trams in Nice do show though that you can use supercaps on lines with frequent stops and no real gradients.

    Comment by Peter Robins | August 5, 2019 | Reply

  4. […] These pictures show the charging system in Seville from my post called Seville’s Elegant Trams. […]

    Pingback by Who Needs Wires? « The Anonymous Widower | December 14, 2019 | Reply

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