ⓘ Trams in Pyongyang

Trams in Pyongyang

ⓘ Trams in Pyongyang

Pyongyang Tram is a public tram system in Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. The first line of the current system opened in 1989. There are currently four lines in operation.


1. Overview

Before the Korean War from 1950 to 1953, there were three tramway systems in the entire Korean Peninsula: one each in Seoul, Busan and Pyongyang. However, the system in Pyongyang was discontinued after the war, largely due to the significant destruction of the city by US/UN bombing attacks. The remaining two in Seoul and Busan survived the war but were eventually discontinued too when motorcars became more common and a larger means of transport in South Korea in 1968, thus leaving no tramway networks on the peninsula.

Unlike South Korea, personal ownership of automobiles in North Korea is very rare. North Koreans, especially those living in Pyongyang and other major cities, rely mainly on government-run public transport. Also, as the limited oil supply imported into the country is mostly allocated to its military especially exemplified under Kim Jong-ils Songun Military-First policy), private vehicle ownership is virtually non-existent. In Pyongyang, there are electrically-powered trolleybuses the Pyongyang trolleybus system and subways the Pyongyang Metro, with these two serving as its main forms of public transport. However, as trolleybus lines became gradually overcrowded, the city decided to re-open tram-lines. The first line was finally built and opened in 1989.

In the late 1990s, the city had frequent power outages due to decrepit power stations and the lack of resources. The tram lines also suffered from outages, but the situation has improved in recent years. In 2003, however, the section of Line 1 between Pyŏngyang-yŏk and Songsin was closed, as the bridge over Taedong River started to decay.

In 2008, the City Transportation Company of Prague sold 20 used T3s to Pyongyang Public Transportation Enterprise together with a shipment of tram-rails. These trams were made in the late 1970s and the early 1980s. According to Ondeej Peceny, a spokesman for the City Transportation Company of Prague, these trams are in very good condition, and can run for at least two years without the need of a service. The tram cars were made by Tatra, a Czechoslovak company, during that nations socialist era. Various types are used, but there are currently no low-floor tram cars.

Foreign tourists were previously not permitted to ride the tram lines, but some recent tours have started to include tramway rides though rides are not shared with locals and are instead chartered, unlike the Pyongyang Metro.


2. Lines

There are currently four lines in operation.

  • Line 2: Tosŏng 토성; 土城 - Rangrang 락랑; 樂浪 - Munsu 문수; 紋繡
  • Kŭmsusan: Service to Kŭmsusan Palace of the Sun no transfer to other lines
  • Line 3: Sŏpyŏngyang 서평양; 西平壤 - Rangrang 락랑; 樂浪
  • Line 1: Pyŏngyang-yŏk 평양역; 平壤驛 - Mangyŏngdae 만경대; 萬景臺

As of 2006, the fare is ₩5 for any section. There are also coupon tickets 시내 차표; 市內車票 ; sinae chapyo.


3. Rolling stock

Prior to 2018, the only rolling stock used were the Czechoslovakian ČKD Praha Tatra T6B5 and KT8D5K in typical red/white livery. The Kŭmsusan line uses VBZ Be 4/4 Type Ib rolling stock on a different gauge of 1.000 mm, rather than 1.435 mm for lines 1-3.

In August 2018, following the introduction of new trolleybuses and metro cars, new partially domestically-produced tram cars were introduced in Pyongyang for the first time in decades. The cars were recently put to use along the Kwangbok Liberation Street line and connect to Pyongyang Station. It is unclear how many new cars have been added to the line. The new domestically-produced tram vehicles add LED destination displays but do not appear to include air-conditioning. The trams were manufactured by Pyongyangs Bus Repair Factory under the domestic Songsan brand, assembled mostly, but not entirely, with domestic parts.

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