In Saltivka, a working class suburb of Kharkiv in eastern Ukraine, the trams are running again.

Built in the 1980s, the Soviet-era streetcars may look rickety as they rattle past war-damaged buildings, but for local people they represent a step back towards something like normal life in a district that came under heavy bombardment in the days following Russia's invasion in late February.

Igor Popov, 59, a passenger who hopped on to a tram when the service restarted on Thursday, said it cut his travel time to work from four hours by various buses to just 40 minutes.

"I live in an area in Saltivka that was intensively shelled and we had no transport," he said. "If you need to go somewhere it is very inconvenient, and with the restart of this route everything became much easier."

On Feb. 27, three days after Russia invaded, the trams' electrical power station was destroyed by heavy shelling, as was their depot shortly after.

Of Saltivka's roughly 160 trams, part of the Kharkiv city fleet, 60 were destroyed and another 60 damaged, according to district tram officials.

The remaining 40 are now returning to service, after Ukrainian forces retook the area around the country's second largest city in May.

Only a small percentage of Saltivka's pre-war population remain due to the heavy bombardment it suffered. The revived tram service is a spot of joy for the residents who are still living there, said tram driver Natalia Pavlenko.

"When public transport works, people can go to work, and they don't think so much about the war," she said. (Reporting by Yiming Woo; Editing by Alex Richardson)