PHOTOS: Europe’s Grass-Lined Green Railways = Good Urban Design

by , 05/06/14

trams on grass, sustainable transportation, european public transportation, green transportation, urban design, urban heat island effect, green design, grass lined public transportation tracksPhoto via Shutterstock

Much like green roofs, these swaths of green provide a host of benefits to any urban area, like reducing urban heat island effect, providing a permeable surface for storm water to infiltrate, and reducing pollution. And did we mention that it looks so much prettier than concrete or asphalt? We wish the public transportation in the US looked this good.

We wholeheartedly agree with Monocle Magazine‘s top 25 Examples of Good Urban Design, which states: “There’s something quite magical about watching trams in Barcelona, Strasbourg or Frankfurt glide silently along beds of grass as they do their city circuit. Where possible, this attractive combination of efficient public transport and inspired landscaping should be standard as part of the urban fabric.”

Lead photo via Shutterstock

Related Posts


or your inhabitat account below


  1. kbriechle May 15, 2014 at 9:09 am

    Check out the New Orleans streetcar lines. It would be good to acknowledge the good U.S. examples!

  2. livefree333 May 8, 2014 at 12:43 pm

    I would like to see this. I am in Barcelona for one more day. Article does not say where… I google searched and can not find. Please let me know where I can see the tram on grass in Barcelona. Thank You! :)

  3. Martyn Butler May 6, 2014 at 5:54 pm

    Puts a whole new meaning to “CHILDREN – KEEP OFF THE GRASS” signs

  4. venuvlsi May 6, 2014 at 4:39 pm

    This grass needs water mowing(more pollution) weedicides….not worth it just for aesthetics…

  5. wicak December 11, 2011 at 8:45 am

    This is really a good idea — whether it is a new or old idea is not important. What we need to do is to promote this approach more…including in many rapidly developing and modernizing Asian cities..

  6. JKenneth July 29, 2009 at 8:47 am

    Perception is everything. Browning of the grass is a problem from the public perception side of things, as many folks seem to think that wehn the grass is brown it is dead. It is not, it is only going dormant. I’m all for a “green tracks” approach to rail design, but in areas where we have very hot and dry summers as here in Baltimore, MD, we need to educate the public on the reality of what it can/will look like, and the associated maintenance required to keep it looking “acceptable”. Sedums may offer a similar aesthetic gain, and would still be a “green soulution”. Irrigation is never an option, especially on public projects using State and Federal funding, but “green tracks” can help with a reduction of impervious surface and urban heat island.

  7. elis walbenya March 14, 2009 at 4:02 am

    Muito bonito… realmente diferente! deveria ser copiado por outros países.

  8. Ratz March 9, 2009 at 12:01 pm

    This is very nice! However I do wonder how they avoid the soil getting onto the rails and making the trams lose traction. Certainly in the UK the entire rail network seems to grind to a halt every time there is a leaf or a snowflake somewhere between London and Dundee.

  9. Asgeir February 7, 2009 at 2:31 pm

    Abo Says:
    so what?… we have had (in Ukraine) the stuff like this since USSR was… this is not a new idea

    Yes, the idea is new. The fact that you had green tram lanes in the Ukraine was probably due to the fact that the USSR, in those days, was seriously lacking maintenance.

  10. theheckle January 30, 2009 at 9:55 am

    Since many of these are located in climes that get snow, I assume they’ve figured out how to remove snow. That on top of the mowing and care issue may balance the urban heat island dissipation and permeability. I think the US could go a long way towards meeting the grade by having stormwater management integrated into whatever new light rail/trams that are built. That way maintenance costs are lower and the benefits are greater.

  11. Patrick33 January 30, 2009 at 1:22 am

    I live in Bordeaux , France and we have some parts of the tramway on grass. And there is a problem : water. Bordeaux has considerably decreased its quantity of water used for urban gardens so, during summer, the grass is completely dry and yellow. It’s not always as lovely than on these pictures. But i prefer that, so we use recycled water or no water but today we also have to think about it. Sorry for my “frenched” english.

  12. melhuet January 28, 2009 at 9:07 pm

    The US really needs to invest in public transportation. Not only is adding grass a beautiful thing to do, I love reading about the benefits it provides beyond its surface beauty.

  13. Abo January 28, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    so what?… we have had (in Ukraine) the stuff like this since USSR was… this is not a new idea

  14. Abo January 28, 2009 at 5:53 pm

    so what?… we have had (in Ukraine) the stuff like this since USSR was… this is not a new method

  15. elepski January 28, 2009 at 10:47 am

    There are varieties of grass that are very hearty and do not require much mowing. As far as when it dose… you could have a cutter that is part of the tram… as for the other areas.. electric mowers do just fine on maintained lawns.

  16. miltowny January 28, 2009 at 10:46 am

    such a classic approach. I would imagine this is also more quite than cement.

  17. elinehan January 28, 2009 at 10:45 am
  18. vadjutka January 28, 2009 at 6:40 am

    Great post, I wish we had tramways like these in Hungary as well!

  19. GR January 28, 2009 at 5:59 am

    Paris too has a green Tramway line

  20. Milieunet January 28, 2009 at 4:20 am

    I guess the Interstate Hydrogen Superhighway in Michigan is a modern solution, although i also like the trams in our country. Indeed that part of the complete tram-system in the Hague is pretty nice and green.

  21. physics2010 January 27, 2009 at 10:31 pm

    Integrate the reel type lawn mower onto the front of the train/tram.

  22. goodduck January 27, 2009 at 10:26 pm

    They have had this in New Orleans since 1835.

  23. cdbaut January 27, 2009 at 9:59 pm

    I was just wondering about the mowing issue..and the possible fertilizer/pesticides to keep them so very green. I do hope that it’s really green..all the way to the roots.

  24. Nameth January 27, 2009 at 9:44 pm

    I like it! It’s very nice too look at, but i could see kids wanting to play in the nice grass and getting hit by trains 😐

  25. organicway January 27, 2009 at 7:21 pm

    they look amazing, i visited the office in sydney recently and they have incoperated landscaping into their office, it looks and smell fantastic.

  26. zig January 27, 2009 at 6:57 pm

    Who’s going to cut all that grass? I bet it costs more than concrete in the long run.

  27. designrr January 27, 2009 at 6:46 pm

    Tell me that’s some variety of grass that doesn’t require mowing! If it does, and they use two stroke mowers to do the job, then all the benefits are basically nullified.

  28. emileNOLA January 27, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    Public transportation in the USA DOES look this good …
    Certainly you’re not suggesting that this is an idea unique to Europe?
    What about Streetcars and the nuetral grounds in New Orleans?

  29. Achmed Khammas January 27, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    They started with this last year also here in Berlin, Germany.

    More about the global renewable energy soloutions is been presented in my ‘Book of Synergy’ (sorry, recently only in German:

  30. elepski January 27, 2009 at 4:45 pm

    Very Nice and well done.

  • Read Inhabitat

  • Search Categories

  • Recent Posts

  • Recent Comments

  • Browse by Keyword

get the free Inhabitat newsletter

Submit this form
popular today
all time
most commented
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
more popular stories >
Federated Media Publishing - Home