Light Rail Transit Association
Advocating better public transport since 1937
Incorporated 2004

Publishers of the International Light Rail Magazine
Tramways & Urban Transit
17 Nov 2019 
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Brussels - A Tramway Reborn > Reviews
Your reviewer first became aware of Brussels' tram subways and PCC tramcars from an article in the Meccano Magazine around 1960 and must admit to having been attracted to them ever since. Various publications over the years have covered rolling stock, particularly the PCC's, and also the Vicinal system around the city, but surprisingly there has been very little in English on the histoty of the urban network. This book is therefore extremely welcome. Yves-Laurent Hansart is a native of Brussels and Geoffrey Skelsey has spent much time there, so both write from a wealth of personal knowledge. The book is very well written, attractive, readable, and free from typos. The Vicinal within Brussels is also covered since it forms an integral part of the story. There is a brief history of Brussels itself and of the tramway systems up to 1945,when the urban network had 1495 trams and trailers and 241km of routes. From then there has been much contraction (to extinction in the Vicinal's case), but also impressive modernisation of the system and, in phases, the fleet, all described fully. Politics, economics, automobile competition and the building of the metro have all played their parts. The future is now looking positive after the completion of recent reorganisation, and extensions are planned.

The maps show comprehensively the closures, alterations and extensions to the network, and the fold-out map is basically that of J.C. Gillham from 1949, corrected where necessary. At 70cm by 69cm, however, this masterpiece is rather cumbersome to use, being glued inside the rear cover. The photographs are a good, broad selection, although in one or two cases reproduction could have been better. All in all this is a superb book, filling a huge gap, and is bound to be popular. There is also likely to be an increase in the number of tram enthusiasts visiting Brussels!


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