Friday, 11 March 2011

Amsterdam in the Spring

One of the oldest trams at the newest terminus. 815 sits on the turning circle at Azartplein on 15th March
A visit to Amsterdam during early March 2011 revealed the survivors of the 1979/80 batch of Linke-Hofmann-Busche cars (780-816), the final batch of Amsterdam's 'classic' artics, still involved in gainful employment on various routes across the network. Despite the decline in this class, which included the transfer of 16 to Sarajevo during 2009, 16 are still held in stock by operator GVB, split between the two depots at Havenstraat and Lekstraat. These are 780-782, 784-787, 794, 801, 804-805, 809, 810, 813, 815 and 816.

781 on a route 7 working to Flevopark displays its recently applied pop art livery to full effect. Marnixstraat, 14th March.
The LHB cars can literally turn up on any route, and have recently been observed on routes 1, 4, 7, 10, 12 and 14, often seeing use on the short turn duties making them rather absent during the evenings - and they are rarely seen out on Sundays.

During the snapshot visit in March, 781, 785, 786, 794, 801, 804, 805, 809, 810 and 815 were observed in use, and of these 781 was in a very retro-looking 'pop art' livery. These multi-coloured styles were once a feature of the Amsterdam scene, but were phased out from 2002 with the introduction of the Combinos. The style on 781 provides a welcome splash of colour, although closer inspection reveals the livery to be a vinyl wrap unlike the former hand painted styles.

A private hire saw a procession of four museum cars at Waterlooplein. The first two evaded the camera but 401 brought up the rear as seen here being intimidated by a Combino

533 and trailer cross the road with 401 following
contributed by James Millington

Tuesday, 1 March 2011

UV Sunset

UV Sets at Kalvin Ter on route 49 March 2007
2007 saw the final withdrawal of the Budapest UV cars after over 50 years service. Although the initial cars were double ended, for most of their lives the UVs were single ended and ran in back to back pairs or with a matching trailer in the centre to make a three car set. 375 cars were built between 1956 and 1968.

Withdrawal of the UVs took place in three phases with some withdrawn in the mid 1990s. Phase two was caused by the arrival of 75 second hand trams from Hanover from 2001 with the resulting loss of UVs from 2001 to 2004.

2006 saw the first of 40 extremely long Combinos arrive for use on routes 4 and 6 on the Grand Boulevard. These released 80 of the 1970s Ganz articulated cars (which used to run in pairs on the 4 and 6) which therefore could release 80 UV sets. The wind down commenced on 31 July 2006 when routes 42 and 52 saw their last UVs ending operation of this type on the compact South Pest network. November saw the end of UVs on route 19 leaving just the 41, 47 and 49 with UV cars. March 30 2007 saw the end of UVs on route 49; 22 July was the last day for the 41's UVs with the end coming on 20 August with route 47

The following photographs show UVs in use in March 2007.

UV Interior
UV interior

Trailer interior
Withdrawn UV at a driver training school 2007

Budafok Depot 2007
UV Afterlife
BKV retained a heritage fleet of UVs comprising 3873, 3885, 3888 and 3898 with trailers 5869 and 6010. These have seen use on various tram tours, a summer tourist tram in 2009 and 3873/3898 have operated as a decorated Christmas tram for the last two years. Additionally 3200 is in the official museum at Szentendre.

MAVITE has preserved no less than seven cars - 3201, 3258, 3306, 3436, 3468, 3856/7 and trailers 5808, 5824 and 5988. 3468 has recently been replaced by 3465 though. Another group (VEKE) owns 3800 and 3809 while 3257 and 3899 are privately preserved. 3402 (one of four double ended training cars) has passed to Debrecen for use as a works car!

A recent visit to Budapest found nine cars in store at Angyafold depot (3249 3258 3350 3465 3811 3816 3822 3830 3831). Of these 3258 and 3465 are part of the MAVITE collection now - 3258 was displayed at an event in Kispet in both 2009/10 but did not operate under power.

3816 at Angyafold Depot Feb 2011 (Philip Higgs)

3465 at Angyafold Depot Feb 2011 (Philip Higgs)
3830 at Angyafold Depot Feb 2011 (Philip Higgs)

Monday, 18 October 2010

Lisbon Route 12: Castelo Circulaca

545 at the Praça da Figueira terminus of routes 12 and 15
Route 12 is Lisbon's shortest - a single direction circular from Praça da Figueira via Martim Moniz, Sao Tomé, Rue. Conceição and back to Praça da Figueira. It is a long established service, for many years running as a single tram shuttle up the hill from Martim Moniz to Sao Tomé and back. In 1999 it was extended to operate as a circular providing better links to the main city centre.

Martin Moniz - 563 arrives at the 12 loading stop with a route 28 car behind
Two cars are provided daily, operating every 13 minutes, or every 12 at peak times. Round trip time is 21 minutes though morning peak journeys are timed as every 19 minutes and early evening journeys at 18 minutes. With a route mileage of 2.5 this gives an average speed of 4.5mph!

The service runs from 0800 to 2045. On departing Praça da Figueira the car runs to Martin Moniz along a single track alignment shared with the tourist tram - the return link via different roads is only used by route 28 cars returning to depot. After Martin Moniz the car turns onto Rue dos Cavaleiros and climbs the steep hill. The tram track is single line though several disconnected passing loops show the legacy of a busier bi-directional service on this route. Parked cars make this road narrower than it should be an progress is often halted while cars travelling in the opposite direction make dramatic avoiding moves.

The Narrow Streets and poor road user discipline cause problems for route 12. Here the second car on the route - supposedly 13 minutes behind has caught up with its sister!

Here Rue dos Cavaleiros  becomes Calçada de Santo André and a disconnect passing loop is visible
Further along Calçada de Santo André where the road becomes R. de São Tomé is the famous 'three wheel corner' where a the track gradient changes on a curve where one wheel often leaves the track as the car deals with the change in track geometry 

In 1984, like a startled horse, car 725 crests the summit at 3 wheel corner before coming down to earth with a bump and running down the hill to the then terminus.

In October 2010 car 543 approaches Three Wheel Corner on a diverted 28 service

543 crests the summit and starts the decent to São Tomé
At São Tomé the 12 meets the 28 route at an interesting junction illustrated later on the route 28 post. The 12 now follows the 28 route to Rue do Conceição then turns up Rue da Prata back to Praça da Figueira.

566 on Rue do Conceição

The turn from Rue do Conceição into Rue da Prata is so sharp that the track eats into the pavement. Here is 548 on another diverted route 28 working cutting the corner.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

Lost Lisbon: Arco De Cego Depot

Lisbon's main depot in its heyday was Arco De Cego near Saldanha. This opened in 1902 and closed around 1995 having witnessed many of its routes closed in the 1990s. The depot remains standing having been a coach station until 2004 and a car park since. These before and after shots show the situation in 1984 and 2010.
In 1984 Bogie Car 342 terminates at the Depot on route 19

2010: The car park in Arco De Cego Depot building

1984: Bogie car 810 leaves the depot yard on route 3

2010: The palm tree in the centre shows the new public park on the site of part of the tram depot

Metro Transportes do Sul

To the south of the Portugese city of Lisbon, across the river Tagus, lies the Almada and Seixal municipalities, which since 2007 have been served by a brand new light rail network – Metro Transportes do Sul.

The system is of standard gauge (1435mm), contrasting with the narrow gauge rails of the neighbouring Lisbon city system, and features 24 Siemens Combino Plus trams of a wide bodied four section design which taper at each end of the individual modules to a standard width articulation unit.

The present three line operation has evolved from a short single route between Corroios and Cova da Piedade which opened in May 2007, and has been extended to Universidade in November 2007, and to the waterfront at Cacilhas in December 2008. Extensions are planned in the future with the longest of these stretching beyond Corroios, where the depot is located, to Lavradio. The terminus at Cacilhas is adjacent to the ferry terminal which allows connection to Cais de Sodre in Lisbon in as little as ten minutes. A ticket office at Cacilhas provides information on tickets and services, ticketing being within the umbrella of the regional authority who’s ‘Viva’ ticket is valid on Lisbon’s trams, buses, local railways and ferries, although different zones apply if crossing the river Tagus.

The system runs a very proactive publicity campaign highlighting the tram priority schemes in operation, and each tram (as well as having a smiling face!) has the word ‘Obrigado’ on the windscreen, which translates at ‘Thank You’ [for allowing priority].

For further information visit the Metro Transportes do Sul website at

Written and Illustrated by James Millington

Lisbon's Last Standards

Standard 732 at Belem on route 15 on October 12 2010
As noted in the post about the Remodelados Carris built its own four wheel bodies to Brill design until 1940. Its last 'Standards' were 701-735 built from 1935 to 1940 on Maley & Taunton 4 wheel trucks with English Electric DB1 controllers. In 1947 Carris built ten more four wheelers, but to a new boxy design as cars 736-745. In 1987 737, 738, 741-745 were rebodied with Standard bodies from 200 series cars. These cars were equipped for the hilly routes and were double ended, though were converted for one person operation in their latter years.

The cab of a Standard with  DB1 controller with air brake interlock, air brake and hand brakes.

The interior, showing how the traditional layout has been retained on the Remodelados, albeit the Standards have 2+2 seating giving a total of 24
Several of these 700 cars have survived the modernisation of the fleet with 13 still in stock in October 2010:
  • 723 and 726 are Tourist cars 3 and 4, though these were not noticed in use during an October visit - both were at the back of the depot
  • 722 and rebodied 745 are 'Christmas Trams' decorated with lights and lettering for Christmas tours - again both were noted at the back of the depot
  • 713, 717, 720, 732, 733, 735 and rebodied 741, 742 and 744 are still in service.

717 leaves depot for a Private Hire
During an October visit the following observations were made:
  • Thursday 7th- 1030 732 on private hire at Graca
  • 1300 732, 741 and 717 left depot on Private hire with tourist car 7. 744 shunted in Depot
  • 1605 717 and 735 noted at Estrela
  • 1605 732 and 741 noted on route 25 at Estrela for Prazeres
  • 1625 733 operated on service 25 from Estrela to City
735 and 733 at Prazeres 12 Oct.
  • Monday 11th - 732 operated on service 25 during the morning; 733 during the afternoon
  • Tuesday 12th 732 and 735 both on service 25 but swapped for Remodelados; 741 operated route 18 in the afternoon peak and 732 worked to Belem on route 15 before being replaced by 506.
  • Wednesday 13th 735 operated on service 25.

The Standards, such as 735 here, have not been equipped with Pantographs, but still have a full run of the network, despite the preference for Pantographs on the 15, 18 and 25. Note the more style of doors compared to Remodelados 548 in front - and the full complement of lights at the rear end of these double ended cars.
With their traditional DB1 controllers and air brakes, plus two hand wheel-brakes for the hilly routes these cars seem less popular with drivers - perhaps explaining several switches to more modern cars and some questionable driving standards - that said some drivers drove them with gusto and skill.

Will the Real 741 Please Stand Up
The rebodying of the 1947 cars with older bodies in the 1980s has resulted in the existence of two car 741s. The body removed from 741 was selected for the museum and placed on a spare truck while its equipment was fitted with an older Standard body that makes up the current 741! 

741's original body on a spare truck in the museum
The 'new' 741 amongst the Palms at Rua da Alfândega

Lisbon - The Remodelados

Pioneer Remodelado 541 at Commercio
Lisbon is associated with the Brill style American cars. Its initial electric cars were crossbench cars built by Brill along with some enclosed cars built by the St Louis Company, both from America. These were followed by enclosed Brill bogie cars in 1906 and the first four wheelers in 1909. These were semi convertible with windows that could be raised to be fully open providing the ventilation of a crossbench car in the summer and the comfort of an enclosed car in the winter.

In 1924 Carris - the Lisbon operator - commenced constructing its own bodies to the same style in its workshops and built 200 to the Brill design on 4 wheel trucks by 1940. Cars 203-246, 248-282 used the trucks from the 1901 crossbench cars, 415, 455, 467 & 468 on the trucks of St Louis cars and 483 was a rebody of a Brill built car.
Front and rear views - the revised light clusters being the main giveaway. Note the doors on both sides and the dual pantograph and trolley collectors

In 1995 with a contracted system of coastal route 15 for which new cars arrived and the remaining hilly routes, Carris decided to upgrade 45 of its four wheel cars, recognising their iconic status and tourist appeal. 39 of these were taken from the 200 series (including the 415 and 483) and six from the later 700 series. All 45 were completed in 1995/6.
The cab features a modern driver's seat, Kiepe controller on the left and hand brake on the right. An air brake for parking is located just below the ticket machine.

The rear platform has a shunt controller

The interior shows the traditional layout with wooden panelling - though only the lower half of the windows open and fluorescent lights are now fitted behind the shades

Body overhauls were undertaken, retaining the traditional appearance but the cars became single ended, though doors are retained on both sides, albeit with the offside ones not used. Ferrostaal provided new trucks with 2x 50 kw Skoda motors allowing a top speed of 50km/h (31mph) and Kiepe controllers. With 17 power and 15 brake notches the new controllers give a much smoother acceleration and braking than the old DB1s. The brakes are a mix of air and electric with air track brakes and air parking brakes to cope with the challenging hills. The cars were numbered 541-585 with the 579, 581-585 being the six former 700 series cars. The bodies, dating from 1932 to 1937 were fitted onto new underframes and being constructed from wood do suffer from the significant stresses placed on them by the equipment and terrain. Fortunately Carris have a skilled bodyshop and keep overhauling the bodies with 541-544 showing evidence of recent works attention.
582 is one of the shabbier cars - note the rotten pillar by the doors

552 demonstrates the application of advertising - which is now by no means universal compared to a few years ago

Tourist car 7 (ex 584 and originally 707) shows the change from trolley to pantograph at Estrela

Today all 45 remain in use, though six have become tourist cars 5-9 and 11 (ex 585, 585, 546, 584, 570 and 569 resp). These are used on the "Colinas" Hills Tram Tour in a red livery, whereas the remainder are in yellow and white, several with side and end adverts. All feature both trolleys and pantographs. Trolleys are required on route 12 and 28 but the cars use pantographs on the 15, 18 and 25. Unusually the tourist route changes collector twice (at Praça da Figueira to a trolley and at Estrela) to a pantograph to comply with the trolley requirement on route 28.  

During a visit in early October, 39 of the 45 cars were noticed in service 541-545, 548, 550-558, 560/1, 563-568, 571-576, 578, 580-582 and Tourist cars 5-9 and 11. Cars 559, 562 and 577 were observed in the depot but not in service while 547, 549 and 579 were not noted, though one unidentified car was stripped down in the works.

These trams are an excellent compromise between a desire to retain the traditional trams and a need to modernise their equipment. At just 20 seats, but 38 standing, they can be slow loading and heavily loaded but their equipment is well suited to the routes, with appropriate acceleration and braking, doing away with the need to use handbrakes to help descend the hills.
Accidents happen in Lisbon's narrow streets and on 11 October car 567 was in collision with a lorry which caused several window pillars to be torn out, fortunately with only apparently minor injuries to its passengers.

A closer look at 567. Route 28 was badly disrupted by this incident between L Camoes and Estrela. Some cars turned at Camoes and others were diverted via route 25 to reach Estrela and Prazeres, while others shuttled between the latter two points