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Halle: farewell to the Swabian 1.

It was about time to visit a large tramway system after the small ones of Jena, Gotha and Nordhausen. The town of 260 thousand residents has a network of 82 kilometres, the length of the lines is 227,5 km, so this means the lines are going together on very long sections. Even, the lines are going out of Halle, too, line 5 goes to Bad Dürrenberg via Schkopau and Merseburg, and it carries the workers to the big chemical factories nearby (there had been more lines in the outskirts decades before, they are long gone now). And why the title? Well, the thing which affected me in this town in terms of tramways the most, is that they pulled all of their ex-Stuttgart and ex-Freiburg GT4's out of service by 22nd March. This means we arrived here too late, though it was a place where we could had seen them going coupled, in traffic, just like at home in Stuttgart. Nevermind, let's see what else can be seen in this town. Unfortunately, our schedule of travel was turned over because of a lots of other things (we booked a sightseeing tram-tour in Erfurt for the next day), so only around three hours remained instead of the originally planned half day. And this is too short.

What we wanted to see ahead of everything else is a quite new cancelled route, a lost rail. We took line 7 to the Berliner Brücke (Berliner bridge) which can be seen at the background on the left. The tramcar was built by Siemens-DWA or Siemens-Bombardier, but it's a type of the DUEWAG designed low floor tramcars, that's for certain. It's a six axle, partly low floor tram type MGT6-D. On the two ends there are powered bogies where the floor height is higher, and it has two pairs of unpowered wheels under the middle section.

There is a nice and useful table inside, showing the entire network. Colorful LED lights show the way which the tram follows: red lights for the passed stations, greens for the ones to come, and blinking yellow for the next stop (thank god a bi-color led is able to show the yellow too, by a gimmick :-)) ). It changes together with the loud passenger information system ("artificial chick" :-)) ).

The line had gone through the bridge itself, but that couldn't take the additional loads of the tramways on. The tramway lines have been cut, line 7 comes until here, the pretty rare line 9 goes only until the other bridgehead. The riveted steel construction bridge was built in 1916, and crosses the railway tracks of the Halle main station and the freight yard, at a length of 275 metres. Of course, walking in the ex-GDR, not surprisingly, we saw these tracks of the freight yard were being dismounted.

The bus line 27 substitutes the trams on the bridge.

On the first picture the tram was standing at the "temporary" alighting station, they have to reverse back here with a half turn to the "temporary" departing station on the Helmut-von-Gerlach Strasse. They start back to the city with a left turn on the delta junction. This track is also the circumventing connection of the depot at Freiimfelder strasse.

Take a look inside if we are here. Of course, we cannot miss a Gothaer motor car as always: the small orange car no. 027 services here as a shunting locomotive. You can see this depot also accomodates buses.

A modernized two car Tatra-train arrives, type T4D-C (C=chopper control). You can see on the right that the Tatras also have something new here: a lots of cars (not only the modernized ones) became a new type of bogies. The axle-suspension is a MEGI-spring as at the GT4's (in Hungary the ex-Hannover TW 6000 of Budapest and the ex-Vienna E1 of Miskolc have also these kinds of trapezium-shaped rubber springs). I might not be sure but it seems the two axle bearing casings are in an angle to each other, and that would mean the axles could be turning inside the bogies, too.

A series of spare trains. Can you see what are those on the left?

Yes, they are the GT4's, the Swabians, pulled out of service. The pantographs are dismounted, the last 27 of the original 38 cars are sold to Romania. These modernized cars were pulled out of service because the HAVAG company bought them as a temporary solution until the new low floor trams arrive (I don't know, I would rather pull the unmodernized Tatra's out of service if I were them...).

After these we walked through the Berliner Brücke, then - because line 9 was not in operation at this time - walked further to Steintor. This is a train of a modernized Tatra T4D-C - B4D-C cars (motor car and trailer), going towards a happy future :-))) No, it's not a joke, there really is a part of the town (the end station of line 1) which is called Happy Future (Frohe Zukunft)!

Going a few metres further we met another delta track connection (where lines 4 and 12 run), then a third one after these. We recognized that there are no pedestrian crossings in this town (or at least in this part of it), we crossed the streets along the bycicle lanes.

A tram on line 12 from the main railway station and another MGT6-D from the same towards Marktplatz, passing this third delta. We also go to Marktplatz, not by chance.

Meanwhile we take a few photos. Two modernized trains are coming, the first is motor car + trailer on line 1 towards Frohe Zukunft again, then a motor car + motor car + trailer train to Beesen on line 2.

We take a tram 5E, it is an unmodernized Tatra train. The trailer is the no. 194 type B4D which is the third car of the train (I never knew where the trams stopped at the stations, this is a speciality of German-Austrian tramways :-) )...

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

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