In the 1980s and 90s, two cities in Brazil attempted to build light rail systems modeled on the "pre-metro/metro" plan developed in the 1970s in Belgium. A modern light rail vehicle or LRV - known in Brazil as a "veículo leve sobre trilhos" or VLT - would operate on a surface route, with grade crossings and simple, street-level stations. As traffic grew, the line would be upgraded to metro standards and the cars replaced by trains that collect power from third rail. In 1977 Brazil ordered 68 VLTs from an international consortium composed of BN of Belgium, Siemens of Germany, MTE of France and Cobrasma of Brazil. (Belgian and German manufacturers had supplied trams to many Brazilian cities earlier in the century.) New rail lines were constructed in Rio de Janeiro and Campinas. Both projects failed. One was redesigned and built as a conventional metro. The other ran a few years and closed. Click on the links below for illustrated histories of the LRV/VLT adventures in these cities:

1) RIO DE JANEIRO [text, map, 7 photos]

2) CAMPINAS [text, map, 19 photos]

Completely new – and successful – light rail lines were inaugurated in 2016 in Rio de Janeiro and Santos.


This website was originally launched on 21/5/2002
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Electric Transport in Latin America


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