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Gmunden: the small thing which counts

Gmunden's only tramway line has been working since 1894. No doubt about it had an additional advantage, too, namely the building of the electric network in the town. The tramway, as a permanent user of the electricity, made the building of the electric network really economical (at that time they would mainly use it only for lighting). The main task of the tramway line is to bring the holiday-makers from the Rudolf railway station (today's Gmunden Hauptbahnhof station) to the city, exactly to the Rathausplatz at the lake shore. The Gmunden tramway, with its today's "network" of only 2,3 kilometres, its rolling stock of 5 tramcars - from one of those is a historic car, another is an opened historic summer-waggon which is hired permanently from the Pöstlingbergbahn, and three other cars are used in normal service -, and with its personnel of not more than only five people, is the World's smallest tramway company. All five people are tramway drivers who are also responsable for the repairs and maintenance works of the vehicles!

Leaving the end station of the Traunseebahn the first view is at the lake. From here though you have to take a walk to the other shore of the river Traun because the connection between the Gmunden tramway and the Traunseebahn has still not been layed. We're following the way of the European Continent's first railway line, the World's longest horse-pulled railway line, as I have written it in the previous site.

Well, the tramway line has been shortened from the Rathausplatz until Franz-Josef-Platz, between the two only the different colour of the asphalt (in the middle, at the solid white line) and the untouched overhead wiring system reminds us that there had been a line here until 1975. Guess what, the representatives of the car-lobby thought that the tramway was obstructing their path. The re-lengthening of the tramway line is under planning again, and not to hinder the car traffic, it would be a double track.

The line at Franz-Josef-Platz "ends like a stick", as we Hungarians say. A Chrysler is sneering at it in the background. :-))

A few minutes later the normal car in service arrives, today no. 8 was out of the three. The other two cars were purchased as used vehicles from the German Vestische Strassenbahnen company, they were built by DÜWAG in 1952, while no. 8 was built at Lohner as DÜWAG-licence car in 1961. All three cars are bi-directional (each has a driver's cabin at both ends) but the speciality is that they have doors on only one side. Of course, all platforms of the stops are on the same side of the tram so doors on the other side are not neccessary. :-)

The passengers are gathering. At last there would be quite many, I was sure they were going to transfer a train at the railway station.

We can only hardly sense (no, that's not true but the way is really much too short :-) ) that we're already here at the station.

There are tramways in the World where there are some "obligatory" photographs you just can't miss if you're there: right here, you have to make a photo about how the tram hides behind those trees at the terminus at the railway station! :-)

Because we still had more than an hour to catch our train, I decided to go back for another turn to make some photos along the line. There were only one or two passengers this time, there wasn't any train to make transferring connections with.

A few minutes before, coming upwards, I was looking for good photo spots. Coming back downwards, I got off at Rosenkranz to make pictures about how the tram descends towards the lake, with the 1691 metres high Traunstein in the background. From here begins the steepest section of the line, after Tennisplatz stop the incline reaches 10 percents! Yes, the line faces a level difference of 60 metres along the 2,3 kilometres long line.

My next "great" idea was to catch the tram at a lower station when it arrives back the next time. I have chosen a place on the Kuferzeile, but the problem was that I remembered wrong: there was no tramway-stop. All right, yes, I should have looked for the tramway stop sign, but knowing it was so tawdry, I didn't even look for it among the many tawdry advertisement-plates. :-))) This is how it happened that I only looked at the tramcar, wondering, as it simply passed me by. After a while, I realized that it's far from a joke: my friend Mestska waits for me at the railway station with our luggage, we want to travel further, and our train is about to come. Let's hurry, run, up the hill!

Because it was in my way, I stopped for a while before Kraftstation stop to have a rest, at the same time I made a shot quickly, looking inside the window of the small depot, with the two ex-Vestische DÜWAG-cars, no. 9 and 10 standing there.

The least interesting part of the line is between Grüner Wald and the railway station, with a cementworks or something in the background. The tram was just heading back to the city, and I have arrived back to the station well in time.

One thing is certain: this is one of the most magical tramways in the World, for a tramwayfan even in itself, but for the regular people too, because it's surrounded by the wonderful Salzkammergut region. I wonder if this little tramway will conserve its magic after 2006 when the brand new low-floor trams arrive (most likely Combino's), after the line will be linked up with the Traunseebahn, after they build a new, high-tech workshop beside the railway station instead of the small depot of today: when this won't be the World's smallest tramway company? And what will be the future of the three DÜWAG cars which are quite special in themselves? Well, you'll never know, maybe these dreams won't even fulfil. But, I have to say anyway: I liked it as it is today, as I have seen it now.

Our next day elapses without tramways due to our whole-day journey on the Mariazellerbahn (Mariazell Railways), but the day after, after the smallest, we will be looking at one of the greatest tramway networks of the World.

Branchlines: a legal alien, or a guest star from Germany >>>

To Continue: "Modelling" Karlsruhe >>>

Text and photos by András Báti, except where otherwise mentioned (C) 2003-2004

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