After the announcement of Kato Unitram during August 2009 at JAM 2009 in Tokyo, Tomix announced an upgrading of their tram track line. Wide Tram as the new tram snap track line was called would ultimately include a moving bus attachment, and the ability to create single track or double track lines.
Wide Tram rail offers a seamless rail joint whereas the 3076 track covers always seemed to have a gap of a mm or two at joints. The rail was T-rail which is sometimes used as tram rail, but is not as common as grooved rail. Additionally some modelers were put off by the visible ties.
The 37mm width of Wide Tram single track was wide enough that I had used a single piece to create a three lane street. The wide narrow gauge track centers also is an issue for some modelers but there are plenty of prototypes for this in Japan and Europe today, and years ago in North America.
First to appear in October 2009 was the Tomix 5538 under track DC power feed for Wide Rail and Slab Rail eliminating the awkward standard stock rail Tomix DC feeder.
Even with Wide Tram turnouts are still handled by adding covers to Tomix 1231 and 1232 turnouts, but a new Tram Rail Accessories Kit 2 was offered in March 2010 with a smooth ashpalt pavement surface to match the Wide Tram track surface. Power routing and spring switch capability were thus retained.
Next to be released were the Wide Tram Super-Mini Oval Layout Set, Tomix 91085, and Wide Tram Mini Rail Basic Set, Tomix 91086, in September 2010. Wide Tram straight track was offered as Tomix 1790 S70, Tomix 1791 S140 and curved track as Tomix 1795 C103, Tomix 1796 C140, Tomix 1797 C177 were released later in September 2010.
But it would not be until May 2011 that tram modelers would finally have a 90-degree tram crossover. But even then the crossover would only be offered in a track set, with small S47.5, S37 and S18.5 straights used in maintaining Tomix’s 140mm track geometry.
By combining the Tomix 91088 Wide Tram Mini Rail Crisscross Set and 91086 Wide Tram Mini Rail Basic Set you could create a single track figure eight track set.
Also added were Tomix 5568 tram track sensors allowing some operations to be automated.
What is really interesting is the universal appeal of Tomix Wide Tram track along with the two Tomytec tram drives. I have found these products listed for sale on web sites in Germany, Spain, Italy and the UK and in addition to the Japanese home market. Its appeal seems to be strongest to modelers of micro layouts. Its certainly much easier than paving track with Spackle.
Next a look at Unitram.