Industry > Green

This tram is actually a rolling farm shop

Manila can learn a thing or two from this concept

This train will theoretically be delivering fresh produce via rail. IMAGE FROM HOFLADENTRAM

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.

An example of some of the produce that you would be able to buy. IMAGE FROM HOFLADENTRAM

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.

Considering how extensive the railway system is, this is a good idea for getting farm-fresh goods around the country. IMAGE FROM HOFLADENTRAM

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.

Imagine waiting at the MRT and a train car full of fresh produce rolls up in front of you. IMAGE FROM HOFLADENTRAM

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?

Frank Schuengel

Frank is a German e-commerce executive who loves his wife, a Filipina, so much he decided to base himself in Manila. He has interesting thoughts on Philippine motoring. He writes the aptly named ‘Frankly’ column.