Imagine standing in a light railway station and a train pulls up. But instead of passengers, it’s filled with fresh produce from local farms, ready for you to buy. That’s pretty much what a new concept from Germany is planning to do. Called the Hoftram (Farm Tram), it wants to use retired carriages from the public transport provider in the city of Karlsruhe to create rolling shops selling fresh produce and products from surrounding farms. What sounds a little bit mad is actually not a bad idea.
At the moment, and as far as I can tell, the Hoftram is only a concept and was created by students from the University of Offenburg. It takes old electric tram trolleys and converts them into farm shops on rails. Once turned from seating to shelving, the trains will be loaded up with goods from selected local farms and make their way around the extensive tram network in the region.
During scheduled stops lasting around an hour each, shoppers can board the train and stock up on fresh fruit, vegetables, meat, and anything else that’s produced by carefully selected farms in the area. Shoppers can also preorder online, and then just pick up their shopping when the tram stops by.
The idea may seem a little crazy, but the longer you think about it, the more sense it makes. Getting goods into any city is a huge challenge, and using road-going trucks means creating more traffic and pollution. Trains are far superior when it comes to efficiently moving cargo, and what makes this concept so unique is the fact that it combines transporting the goods with selling them—no more need for inner city warehouses or brick-and-mortar shops. Also, no need to drive to the shop, as the shop is coming to you.
While it’s difficult to imagine this in a place like Metro Manila where trains are struggling to just do the job they were actually designed for, concepts like this are a great way to brainstorm what’s possible and how we can challenge established ideas.
Imagine MRT and LRT trains stocking up with fresh goods on the outskirts of the metro, and then bringing them straight to waiting residents all over the city. Thousands of truck journeys would be cut, tons of carbon-dioxide emissions avoided, and commuters could even save time by shopping on the train. One can dream, right?