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Published by membersonly, 2018-07-18 15:40:43

1308iExtra42

21st July 2018

BLNI Extra 42 July 2018 – German Trams

[D36] - Germany – Bremen tram grice

Staying two nights in Bremen en route to the two-day IBSE tour in mid-April, one member took the
opportunity to continue his exploration of the city’s tram system, having begun to do so some four
years previously on the way home from a three-day IBSE tour! The seven-route system is operated
by Bremer Straßenbahn AG (BSAG), which also operates the local buses using a fleet of single-
ended, articulated, low-floor vehicles from two manufacturers. Timetables can be downloaded as
PDFs from www.bsag.de/de/auskunft/infos-plaene/linien-und-fahrplaene.html (follow “Auskunft”
and then “Linien und Fahrpläne” from the German language homepage – the English language
version leads only to a journey planner). For much of the day, trams run every ten minutes on most
routes, although on some and during the evenings it is every twenty minutes. There are also some
night routes, prefixed N. An up-to-date track plan for the system can be found at:
www.gleisplanweb.eu

As you would expect, much of the track in the city centre is on-street, although sometimes
separated from other traffic, while further out some routes run in the central reservation of roads
or even on their own alignment as “rapid tram” routes. There have been some route extensions
over the last twenty years, and the BSAG website details two extensions under construction from
Huchting in the south-west – route 1 to Mittelshuchting and route 8 to Leeste. There is a short
section of route 3 along Auf der Muggenburg either side of the Eduard-Schopf-Allee stop (just to the
north-west of the city centre) where mainline freight trains can run along the tram route, although
there are separate rails, offset inwards from the southbound track in order to clear lineside
structures.

Flying to Bremen from Stansted, the writer was pleased to find that the Flughafen tram stop (one
stop short of the southern route 6 terminus at Flughafen-Süd) had two ticket machines which would
sell Land tickets as well as local ones. The same machines are found at a few tram stops in the city
centre, as well as on all trams, and they have an English language option. They take coins and notes,
but will not give more than €5 in change – so the writer had to go for a coffee to break a €10 note in
order to pay a €23 fare. They don’t take credit cards – what looks like a credit card slot is actually
for topping up local smart cards. Journey time from the airport to Hauptbahnhof is sixteen minutes
– although it was found that the interval between trams was sometimes greater than or less than
the scheduled ten minutes!
Every terminus has a balloon loop, and most have separate set-down and pick-up stops. The
exceptions are Huchting Roland-Center (routes 1, N1 and 8), Arsten (route 4) and Bahnhof
Mahndorf (routes 1 and N1).

The southern terminus of route 4, at Arsten. Tram 3057 on the right is waiting to depart, while 3064 on the left
has not long arrived and set down its passengers; after 3057 has departed, it will pull forwards to pick up. The
two tracks here appeared to be used alternately. The balloon loop is behind the photographer, and can be seen
coming back in on the extreme right of the picture. The last section of this line is a “rapid tram” route, with tracks
on their own alignment (and often fenced).

However, during his 2014 visit the writer was carried round the whole of the loop at
Kulenkampffallee (northern route 8 terminus) without asking. Many termini are interchange points
with local buses, and at Weserwehr (route 3), Bahnhof Mahndorf (routes 1 and N1) and Gröpelingen
(routes 2, 3, 10 and N10) the tracks cross so that trams run round clockwise – allowing cross-
platform interchange with bus stops in the middle of the loop. The track layout at Gröpelingen is
more complex as routes 2 and 10 approach along a different road from route 3, although a short
connection between the two routes means it would be possible if necessary to approach from the
“wrong” direction or even avoid the terminus altogether. There is also a depot here, and the
Gleisplan website suggests the depot is being rebuilt in 2020, with the tram stops moved to the side
to allow for a possible northwards extension of one of the routes.
Hauptbahnhof is a six-track affair, with long platforms shared with bus routes; there is also a BSAG
information office. It is served by all the day routes except the 2 and 3. Not all routes can access
every track; for example, routes 6 and 8 can only use platforms E and F on the north (station
entrance) side, and there are also two pairs of track-level “microgricing” moves which do not have
regular all-day services. It’s a busy place, with trams and buses sometimes queuing to get through,
and platforms long enough to hold two or three vehicles at the same time. Meanwhile, Domsheide
is probably the most central stop, and sees routes 2 and 3 cross the 4, 6 and 8.

As usual when exploring European tram systems, your correspondent was interested in any “TSUL”
workings, and had printed off the relevant section from the EGTRE website – although that was
dated 2008. Unfortunately he had discovered that most of the interesting TSUL workings do not
appear in the timetable PDFs (and neither do they appear on departure sheets at stops), but it does
appear that many can be found by using the on-line journey planner, plus, of course, they show on
the “next trams” indicators at stops. In common with many other (but not all) German tram
systems, “off-route” workings run with route numbers suffixed “E”, the numerical part indicating on
which route the tram’s destination is located. Thus any trams going to Neustadt depot run as 6E no
matter what their origin. The stop here is called BSAG-Zentrum (although the trams show a
destination of “Neustadt”), and is located on the country side of the spur into the depot; thus 6E
trams from the city terminate on the depot spur, where there are set-down and pick-up stops – and
the route 6 timetable PDF shows several such workings on Mondays to Fridays after the morning
peak (four of them – the writer fell on one back in 2014) and mid-evening (three) – but other 6E
workings were seen originating from other routes (those from route 8 are shown on that timetable,
but those from route 4 are not shown at all). The route 6 timetable PDF also shows some early
morning services starting at BSAG-Zentrum, with a footnote to say they depart from the
“Betriebshof” – the stop on the depot spur, while the route 8 timetable also has a footnote
indicating the first few trams of the morning start at Neustadt / BSAG-Zentrum (Betriebshof).
There is a short branch on the north side of the city centre which does not have a regular service, to
Bürgerpark. It is not known whether there are special services for events at the Messe, and the
2008 EGTRE entry suggested the line is used by the Sundays-only tourist tram. However, one
working was noted on the route 6 timetable, running every day at 23.43 from Flughafen-Süd, with
times as far as Hauptbahnhof (at 00.00) and a footnote “bis Bürgerpark”; going the other way there
is then a depot-bound working at 00.15 which starts at Hauptbahnhof – the on-line journey planner
confirms this as being 00.12 from Bürgerpark: the tram has simply gone there to turn round.
On the way into the city centre from the airport at about 11.30am (on a Thursday), the writer’s tram
was followed along the last stretch to Hauptbahnhof by an off-route route 3 tram showing a
destination of Bürgerpark. A couple of route 3 trams were also noted going the other way, bound
for Gröpelingen, and it was guessed there was some disruption on the southern end of route 3 and
trams were using the Bürgerpark branch to turn round – although there are other ways of turning
trams in the city centre. As the writer was catching a train, there wasn’t time to investigate what
was happening, but by 6pm there was no sign of any workings to Bürgerpark (or route 3 trams at
Hauptbahnhof), and it was not repeated the following day.
The route 6 timetable PDF also shows two workings which use the west-to-north curve near
Sielwall, providing a direct service between Wulwesstraße (on routes 2 and 3) and Humboldtstraße
(on routes 10 and N10). These only run on Sundays and public holidays, and depart from BSAG-
Zentrum at 04.11 and Flughafen-Süd at 05.07 – and will actually be formed of the same vehicle!
They have times as far as Domsheide and then a footnote to say they run via Ostertor and Am
Dobben to Hauptbahnhof; having turned round, they depart to the Flughafen at 04.30 and 05.30,
via the normal route. There may be others that do similar – alternate trams from Huchting in the
morning peak are shown on the route 8 timetable as terminating at Domsheide and running as
route 8E: your correspondent has not yet worked out where they go (further exploration of the on-
line journey planner is needed)!

Route 8 is unusual in having trams only every twenty minutes for most of the day, at least along its
entire length. From about 8.30pm (7.30pm on Saturdays) the route only runs north of
Hauptbahnhof, with trams making a circular journey via Am Wall, Am Brill and the east curve at
Westerstraße (not used by anything else) to regain the normal northbound route and return to
Hauptbahnhof (before departing northwards to Kulenkampffallee); your correspondent did this at
about 10.30pm. Just after departure from Hauptbahnhof for the first time they do one of the
microgricing moves mentioned earlier. Such trams change their route number to simply “E” (not
8E) before arrival at Hauptbahnhof for the first time, and then change it back to 8 at Westerstraße
(the official start of the return journey). Trams displaying route E and looking like they were doing
exactly the same thing were also noted at Hauptbahnhof at other times of the day: it was assumed
they were to provide a ten-minute interval service between the city centre and Kulenkampffallee,
but these workings do not appear in the timetable PDF.

This curious road vehicle was seen in action at the northern end of route 8. Its job is to remove the gunk which
has collected in the flange grooves of the tram tracks, which it does using the two vacuum cleaner-like devices on
the front. These engage with the grooves; a high pressure jet of water is sprayed into each groove, and the water
(and gunk) is sucked up. When a tram approaches from behind, the vehicle disengages from the rails and moves
out of the way for the tram to pass. The text on the side translates as “Rail cleaning... so everything runs
smoothly”.

Another longer connection the writer managed to do is the link along Georg-Bitter-Straße, which
connects the eastern ends of route 3 and routes 2 and 10, and has a triangular junction at each end.
The EGTRE TSUL entry listed a number of workings throughout the day, from Sebaldsbrück (where
there is a depot) early in the morning and from Weserwehr at times when the service frequency is
being reduced; your correspondent was sat in his hotel room looking at the entry when he realised

one of the latter might have been a few minutes away from setting off... He rushed to the tram
stop (three minutes’ walk away) to see a normal route 3 tram depart – but the departures screen
showed three further departures: one normal one followed a minute later and then again thirty
minutes later by route 2E workings to Sebaldsbrück. The first departed at 00.18 (so the second
would have been at 00.47), having pulled up to the stop immediately after the normal 3 at 00.17
had departed, the writer (and no-one else) boarded, and after a pause the tram departed. Alighting
six minutes later at Malerstraße (after a non-stop journey), it then took only six minutes to walk
back to Weserwehr by a much more-direct route. These two workings are confirmed by the on-line
journey planner.
Route 4 runs between Arsten (in the south) and Lilienthal in the north, the latter being outside the
city boundary (and, indeed, in a different Land – Niedersachsen). The boundary is shortly after
Borgfeld, which was the line’s northern terminus until August 2014, and special tickets are needed
to cross it – although as the writer was using a Land ticket (valid in Niedersachsen, Bremen and
Hamburg), he did not need to worry. Automated announcements about needing a special ticket
were made on the tram in both directions as the boundary was approached. For much of its length,
the northern end of the route runs along the central reservation of the dual-carriageway main road.
Shortly after Borgfeld, when the road singles, the tracks move to their own alignment; the road into
Lilienthal then branches off the main road, after which the tracks move back into the middle of this
road to cross the River Wümme (the Land boundary is just beyond this bridge) and run through the
middle of the town. There is a short section of single line on this stretch. Route 4 is also one which
has express services in the peaks, shown as route 4S in the timetable – inbound in the morning and
outbound in the evening.

Route 4 trams run every twenty minutes to Lilienthal, but for much of the day a ten-minute interval
service runs as far as Borgfeld; these short workings stop during the evening (as shown on the
timetable PDFs). Therefore for a couple of hours or so there are arrivals at Borgfeld which do not
appear to go back, but the reality is that they return in passenger service as either route 6E services
to Neustadt or route 1E to Neue Vahr. The former do no unusual track other than the depot spur
described earlier, but the latter workings do the east side of the triangle at Kirchbachstraße. There
seemed to be no obvious pattern as to which workings went to which depot; it looked like there
were several to one depot and then several to the other. The writer travelled on what appeared to
be the last of all of them, a 1E to Neue Vahr departing Borgfeld at 20.52. [However, when looking at
the on-line journey planner about ten weeks later (on the same night of the week – Thursday), it
appeared there were 1E departures from Borgfeld at 18.27, 19.27, 19.57, 20.12 and 20.32, with
several more at the end of service after 11pm (which presumably originate from Lilienthal) – but the
20.52 was a 6E to Neudstadt!] This terminated at the Kurt-Huber-Straße stop, just before route 1 to
Mahndorf begins a stretch on its own private alignment, away from roads. The depot is just after
this stop, so the tram was empty when it ran onto the depot spur, but a tram carrying passengers
was noted arriving from the other direction and going onto the depot spur (where its passengers
alighted) at about 21.25 (so about 21.00 from Bahnhof Mahndorf); looking at the route 1 timetable
PDFs, it appears that this was the last of several such workings as the outbound service interval
increased from ten minutes to twenty.

The following morning the 9am restriction on the Land ticket forced a slight lie-in (compared with
other mornings on this trip!), and your correspondent explored the north-western part of the
network before departing by train at 13.17. About five minutes behind his route 3 tram to
Gröpelingen was a 3E; it arrived at its destination at about 10am and went onto the depot. It had
first shown on the departures indicator at Hansator, suggesting it had used the line from
Lloydstraße, although the writer was unable to ascertain which curve it had used at the Lloydstraße
end (both appeared to be equally rusty!). The 2008 EGTRE entry for this line only listed trams
running the opposite way, in the morning peak (and as express route 3S). Exploration of the on-line
journey planner about ten weeks later (for the same day of the week – a Friday) unfortunately did
not shed any light on it, while no workings the other way appeared either. Your correspondent
vowed to return to investigate, sooner rather than later.

[D37] Germany - Clearing the Dessau tram system – in an hour and a half
The two-day IBSE railtour in mid-April had its overnight stop in Dessau, and, although running
slightly late, arrived just in time for five of the Brits on board to travel the remaining two routes of
the city’s tram system. Although each route runs at quarter-hourly intervals during the day (half-
hourly on Sundays and public holidays), trams stop running from about 8pm (after which there are
hourly night buses), and careful planning was necessary to make sure the routes were done in the
correct order in order to avoid being stuck at an outer terminus.
Day tickets, costing EUR5 each, were purchased from a ticket machine at the Hauptbahnhof stop,
where there is also an information office (albeit closed by 18:45 on Saturday). It was useful to be
able to buy multiple tickets in one transaction, as the writer only had a EUR10 note and wasn’t sure
whether the machine would give as much as EUR5 in change. This terminus is located on a balloon
loop which crosses the grassed open space immediately in front of the DB station; at the stop itself
there is a passing loop so that each route can use a different track, but the passing loop was rusty
and all trams stopped at the same platform.
The five explorers departed on a route 1 tram at 19:02 for the eighteen-minute journey to
Tempelhofer Straße (Dessau-Süd). The tracks initially run down the centre of Fritz-Hesse-Straße,
where the Theater stop is located. All the stops have proper platforms, so there is level access to all
the trams (which are low-floor). Following this, the line turns sharp left to enter the town centre,
running along Friedrichstraße (past the Poststraße stop), then turning sharp right into Kavalierstraße
to reach the Museum Nord stop. This section was being rebuilt, with single line working in operation
on what appeared to be a temporary track and the road closed to rubber-tyred vehicles.
The double track started again at Museum Nord, where the route 3 diverges westwards in the
central reservation of Askanische Straße. The third side of the triangle here appears not to be used
in passenger service. Route 1 then continues southwards, initially in its own lanes down the centre
of Franzstraße which then becomes Heidestraße. Just after the Klughardtstraße stop, the now-
closed route 4 diverged eastwards, on its own private right-of-way; this ran three stops to
Sportplatz Kreuzbergstraße (serving a small sports and leisure park). The fourth edition of Robert
Schwandl’s Tramatlas Deutschland (June 2016) indicates that route 4 only ran on Mondays to
Fridays, with alternate trams of route 1 diverting this way on Saturdays (therefore doing both curves
of the triangle at the junction), and the route being served by buses on Sundays. However, the line

is now very much out of use as it was noted that some rails had been removed (and the latest
Google Satellite View images also show the route blocked).
The tracks of route 1 then move out of the roadway to run down the west side of the road, although
later rejoin the carriageway. A couple of stops further on, three stops before the terminus, on the
west side of the line is the tram depot. This has access from both directions, so the last trams of the
day terminate at the end of the line and run empty to the depot. The terminus has separate set-
down and pick-up stops on a balloon loop, with trams running clockwise so that the platforms are
on the inside of the loop – where there are bus stops and a small car park. A quick word with the
driver saw the five gricers (who outnumbered normal passengers!) allowed to stay on board round
the loop (“Schliefe” and “Straßenbahnfreunden” came in useful here!), after which the tram quickly
departed for the centre of town as the single-line working had meant a slightly late arrival. Alighting
at Museum Nord, they crossed to the other platform to await the route 3 to Junkerspark – and were
quite surprised that the tram from which they had just alighted returned on this service.
After several stops running in the centre of the road (with road traffic on the outside), the tracks
move to its south side and turn sharp left. This section of line is more rural, with a mix of green
spaces (including a golf course) and low density housing. Immediately after Kleine Schaftrift the line
goes single, there’s a reversing triangle, and the running line turns sharp right to run alongside
Lindenstraße. At the next stop, after another sharp left turn, the double track resumes; a few stops
and a few more corners later, the line runs clockwise in a big loop around some higher density
housing, the nominal terminus at Junkerspark having a passing loop. The tram paused for a moment
here, before returning to the centre – the last route 3 tram of the evening (officially at 20:06). After
arriving at Hauptbahnhof (at 20:29), it then formed the 20:35 route 1 departure – the last tram of
the day – which would then run empty from Tempelhofer Straße to the depot.

[D38] Germany – Brandenburg trams and line 2
After the grice of the Brandenburg tram system detailed BLNI 1305.188 one member decided to
track down the source of the problem which caused the diversions.

The problem causing
the tram diversions in
Brandenburg was
digging in the
Hauptstraße,
between the
Jahrtausendbrücke
and Hauptstraße
stops. It was difficult
to decide whether it
was complete track
renewal or just
removing the road
surface then digging
out and replacing the
ballast.

According to the poster, the work
had started on Tuesday 3 April
(hence the start date on the route
2 timetable) and was expected to
last 8-9 weeks. Our member was
surprised that he’d not seen this
poster earlier, but it appeared to
be only at the closed stops.


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