Vintage Lisbon trams to help revive Rio route

Wed Nov 2, 2011 1:08pm EDT
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LISBON (Reuters) - The company running Lisbon's trademark vintage yellow trams will help crank up one of the most charming rides in Rio de Janeiro - the tram line in the hillside colonial Santa Teresa neighborhood that has been shut for months on safety concerns.

Rio de Janeiro state Gov. Sergio Cabral on Wednesday signed a contract with Lisbon's transport company Carris to help modernize and maintain the Santa Teresa "Bondinho," loved by many Rio residents and tourists alike.

The Santa Teresa trams, which have been rolling up and down the hilly cobbled streets above the Guanabara Bay for over 100 years, were inspired by the streetcars popular in the capital of the former colonial master Portugal.

Earlier this year, a French tourist fell to his death while riding the open-sided tram in Rio, and a few months later, in August, a tram derailed on a steep slope, killing five people and injuring dozens. The line has been shut since.

Carris operates 57 trams, most of them refurbished trolley cars made as early as 1924. Route 28 is the most popular tram line with tourists in Lisbon as it affords views of the historic quarters in the upper and lower city, from the ancient St. George's Castle to the majestic Basilica da Estrela.

(Reporting By Andrei Khalip, editing by Paul Casciato)

<p>Volunteers of CASA (Homeless Help Center) organisation distribute meals in Lisbon November 1, 2011. REUTERS/Rafael Marchante</p>