The First Railway System in Manila: Tranvias de Filipinas
The first railway system in Manila was the streetcar or tranvia system, which opened its first lines in 1883. The tranvia was a rail-based mass transit system with rails built in the middle of the streets. The first streetcars were horse-drawn tranvias. The system was operated by the Compania de Los Tranvias de Filipinas.
Centered on Plaza San Gabriel (Plaza Cervantes in Binondo), the tranvia’s lines stretched out into the city, to Tondo, Quiapo-Sampaloc, Intramuros, Ermita-Malate, and the Malabon Line (which featured steam-powered tranvias).
The system was eventually bought by the Manila Electric, Railroad, and Light Company (Meralco) in 1904, Meralco upgraded the tranvia into electric streetcars, and expanded the network further. By the 1920s, Manila’s tranvia system was among the largest networks in Asia. Sadly, the tranvia was destroyed during World War 2 and was never rebuilt.
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