I had a dreadful journey home tonight. The trams were crowded, and it was made worse by one passenger whose girth exceeded her ability to control it. Now the trams are bad at the best of times: neither braking and acceleration have the same fine-grained precision of a car. Accelerator and brake both have only two basic states—on or off—and the G-forces exerted as the vehicle moves between these states would turn the stomach of a Cold War MiG pilot.

The aforementioned large passenger came adrift as the tram accelerated, and hurtled towards the back of the tram, unable to restrain her own momentum. I was unfortunate enough to bear the brunt, standing directly behind her.

I remember the incredibly tedious lectures on motor control that I was obliged to sit through at university, explaining how to smoothly accelerate a large, heavy train. It’s a pity, then, that the tram designers appear to have no clue about how to implement a comfortable ride. Then again, as many of the Brussels trams appear to be made of bits of wood salvaged from Noah’s ark, perhaps 20 th century technology is a bit too high tech for them.