Friday, September 30, 2011

Indian summer

Southampton 45 and Rack 2 were ideal service trams on Wednesday.


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Thursday, September 29, 2011

159 on wheels

On Saturday London United 159 was mounted on its bogies. These pictures were taken on Wednesday morning when the controllers were being fitted.



Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wine to Champagne; a tramway odyssey

was the title of a 10 day coach tour from 16th to 25th September. Friday was taken up with journey from Manchester to Den Haag in the Netherlands. The picture shows our coach at Dover waiting to board the 12:40 sailing of the new P&O ferry, Spirit of Britain.
Saturday and Sunday were free days in Den Haag timed to coincide the AGM of the LRTA and celebrations to mark the 50th anniversary of the closure of the interurban tramways between Den Haag and Leiden. It had been hoped to operate three former interurban cars on service 10 to Voorburg but was not possible and three PCCs and an NZH motor and trailer set from the former Leiden town service was substituted. The LRTA annual dinner took place at the museum premises on Saturday evening. On Sunday morning there was a tour using two coupled PCCs and then on Sunday afternoon we travelled on a few service trams.
The Netherlands now has a nationwide smart card ticketing system which is fine for locals but difficult for visitors. Smart cards cost a minimum of 21 Euros if purchased at a railway station but we were told that cheaper smart cards and paper day tickets were available at the HTM office. The problem was that it was closed on Saturday morning and we were then advised to go to the Tourist Information Office, some distance away and ironically nearer our hotel, where we were able to buy paper days tickets covering the central zone and adjacent zones but not including the outer termini of longer routes. At 6.80 Euros these seemed expensive and as the ticket cancellers have been removed from the trams they have to be stamped by the drivers.
The long coach journey to Strasbourg began at 08:00 sharp and after some some traffic delays we were on our way to Duesseldorf for a lunch break. Duesseldorf has in effect two tram networks: low floor cars operating surface routes and high floor stadtbahn cars on services which are underground in the city centre. There are also major construction works which suggest that more routes will be buried. We were lucky and found a brew pub in a side street. It was established in 1835 and is typically German selling just two beers: alt and hell. The coach then continued to Mainz for another short break near a suburban terminus for a few more pictures.
The next two days were free in Strasbourg with suggested outings to Karlsruhe or Friburg over the border in Germany but we stayed in Strasbourg which is a very pleasant city with an excellent tram service. Day tickets costing 4 Euros can be bought from machines at all tram stops and they are also valid on a cross border bus to Kehl in Germany. There are also validators which stamp the date and time on tickets at each stop.
It is less than two hours drive to the Swiss frontier at Basel and the coach deposited us on the French side of the border from where it was a few minutes walk to the terminus of tram route 3. Day tickets for 8.50 Swiss Francs could be bought from a Kiosk or a machine which would also accept Euros. There were no border checks at all with the control posts completely unmanned. Switzerland seemed very expensive with present high value of the Franc. In the early evening we walked back into France, spent our last Francs on a beer and drove to Mulhouse.
Friday was a free day in Mulhouse where day tickets for the urban system cost 4 Euros and were available from machines at stops which didn't accept notes so I tried a debit card which to my surprise was accepted. Goodness only knows what the bank charges will be for an 8 Euro transaction. Tickets for the tram train are based on zones A thru D.
Saturday morning was taken up with the drive to Reims where we were dropped at the suburban TGV station. There were some misgivings about the smart card based ticketing system but it proved to be very easy. The vending machines at the stops simply charged an extra 30 cents if you hadn't got a blank card. I couldn't persuade the machine to issue 4 Euro days tickets but it did sell a group day ticket for 5 Euros which even at 5.30 Euros was a bargain as it was valid for up to 5 people.
Sunday was taken up by the journey home with a 7:30 start but we arrived in Birmingham before 17:00 despite some delays on the M25. A similar trip to new French tramways is being considered for next autumn.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Colourful Reims

The Reims tramway opened earlier this year with a cross town route and a short spur to the suburban TGV station.

For 5 stops through the city centre the APS surface contact system is used.

APS equipped track and points.
In response to David Holt's comment, the camera is not exagerating and you can feel the kink if you ride round the 'curve'.

The trams traverse one of the main shopping streets.


Change pits.
Frank Bagshaw has suggested that younger readers wouldn't know about change pits which were a feature of London Tramways. So here is a link to a description. The APS change over is much simpler: the tram stops and the pantograph is raised or lowered.

The red tram is at the changeover point with its pantograph partially lowered.

The suburban sections are similar to other new French tramways.

Colourful Reims.
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Monday, September 26, 2011

Mulhouse (3) - train

Diesel railcars share tracks with the tram train on the SNCF section of route from Lutterbach to Thann and then continue beyond the electrified section to Kruth. Low platforms are used throughout this section and the railcars have a low floor drop centre between their bogies.


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Mulhouse (2) tram train

The tram train is operated jointly by SNCF and the city transport operator Solea. The route shares tracks with city service 3 from the main station to Lutterbach. At Lutterbach, a connection is made to the existing railway line to Thann and Kruth. This line has been electrified at 25 kV AC as far as Thann St Jacques, and is single track with passing loops. It carries both the tram-train service and an SNCF diesel railcar service to Kruth, which uses the main railway line between Lutterback and Gare Central.
The terminus outside Mulhouse Station.

Outer terminus of the tram train at Thann.

Shared tracks with SNCF.


Shared tracks with the trams in the city centre.


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Mulhouse (1) - tram

Mulhouse is a French city just north of Basel. The tramway opened in 2006 with two crossing each other in the city centre. A third route opened in December 2010. All the trams are Alstom Citadis.

All the stops on route 2 have these distinctive arches.


All three services pass through a four track layout in the city centre.


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Friday, September 23, 2011

Basel (3) - BLT

BLT operates the long suburban routes 10 and 11. This is a new low floor car.


The only Duwags we saw in service were second cars on the BLT.

Typical BLT coupled articulated cars.

Most if not all have low floor centre sections.

E11 is a peak hours only route worked by single cars.

A final glimpse of a new artic.
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