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"Modelling" Karlsruhe 1.

If someone goes to Germany just to see tramway networks, can't afford to miss one town. Karlsruhe it is, which is known about a modell, an example of an interesting system of transport: a rail system linking together the city tramway lines and the interurban railway tracks. As the tramway reaches the outskirts of the town, it turns on the railway tracks, leads to other small towns where it can turn itself to a tram again. The everyday user can only see that they didn't have to transfer the vehicles from tram to train, from train to tram.

Regarding that we have arrived here on the sitting car of the Orient EuroNight train, we have been through a very uncomfortable night, and this botheration was on me all day long. Nevermind, we started tramming early in the morning, first we went to Marktplatz, possibly the busiest junction of the network. At this time yet, there have been workmen working on the tracks of Ettlinger Tor, so we could only pass this junction slowly, by an old, rounded face DÜWAG-kind of tramcar.
A part of the Karlsruhe tram network map (city detail)
Looking at the map you can see that not less than 11 lines are crossing the Marktplatz, and it really means that I just couldn't stop making the video shots as there was always at least one tramcar moving on it, for minutes. Although the junction is only a Y-divergence from the Kaiserstrasse with a branch towards the main railway station. This is where we catch the Stadtbahn line S5 which is a real "Karlsruhe-modell", a dual system light rail vehicle. My friend Mestska wanted to see an angle cable-bridge on the river Rhein. Our tramcar, getting out of the city, accelerated, it rolled through the frequency-changing section (where the overhead voltage changes from 600...750 V DC to 15000 V AC of the railway network) by momentum, then it climbed up the embankment, turning to the tracks of the German Railways (DB).

Taking a walk back through the cable-bridge (in the background on the right) to Maxau stop we are waiting for another tram back to the city. Well, I guess this only picture has already told what the Karlsruhe modell is all about, so I shall end this site right now.

Oh, no, okay, just joking! :-) So, we're here in the second car of the train.

We get off at Lameyplatz. I'm wondering wether you pointed at the difference of the two cars or not: at front there is no. 863 type Siemens-ADtranz GT8-100D/2S-M built in 1999 while no. 805 is at the back which is a GT8-100C/2S built in 1991 by DUEWAG. It's really unusual sight for a Hungarian, while we cannot couple various types together of the same origin, at the same time this is not a problem here if they have only different type of cars: you can simply couple them together anywhere on the network. And believe me, you'll see much more extreme examples for coupling cars together!

This is the same kind of DÜWAG-licence car which we have first travelled by. No. 214 was built by Waggon-Union in Berlin in 1978 as a six-axle, two-section articulated car (GT6), then later they added a middle section to it in the own workshop of the VBK (Verkehrsbetriebe Karlsruhe GmbH), becoming an eight-axle car (GT8).

121 looks the same, difference is that it was built originally by the DÜWAG factory in 1969, as an eight-axle car. It has runned at the Albtal-Verkehrs-GmbH (AVG) at first. I don't know anything about line 16 because it doesn't even appear on the network map, and at the same time this car was passing the station without passengers, going from the depot Betriebshof West.

An originally six-axle car again, built by Waggon-Union in 1972, no. 204 on line 5. The middle section and another bogie was added in 1975. This type meant that breakthrough which is the base of the Karlsruhe modell: the local and regional lines have to be linked together.

Interconnection between the urban and regional networks has only meant a neccessary transfer between vehicles for decades, and this is a reason why the passengers decide on the individual travel, by cars. To win back individual travellers for the public transport, the two systems had to be connected. Large cities like München (Munich), Frankfurt, Stuttgart or Hamburg with a large budget, they have built local fast train networks called S-Bahn, which are running as a regional passenger train in the outskirts and in the conurbation, and as an underground metro in the inner city, carrying the passengers living in the region directly into the centre. Those smaller towns like Karlsruhe which didn't have a large amount of money to built underground tunnels in the city, had to find a cheaper solution: they have to utilize the existing tramway network.
First they have chosen the Albtalbahn (Alb Valley Railway). They haven't have the good use of this narrow gauge branchline until the 50's, with a great passenger potential of the settlements Ettlingen or Bad Herrenalb along the line. The inner terminus of this line with a low passenger traffic was laying south of the main railway station, that means it hasn't even reached the city. They started to re-gauge the tracks to normal (1435 mm) and they have electrified the Albtalbahn line until 1961. The traffic started again utilizing these rounded face DÜWAG and DWM (Waggon-Union) articulated tramcars. The city of Karlsruhe founded the Albtal-Verkehrs-Gesellschaft (AVG) to operate the new line beside the local transport company VBK.
In 1979 the "A", today's S1 line was lengthened Northwards, too. This is the next milestone in the life of the Karlsruhe Modell: they used the tracks of the Deutsche Bundesbahn (German State Railways) in a 1,5 kilometres long section. Even if this line was only used by a rare freight service. To interconnect the other settlements around Karlsruhe into the network, it was neccessary to make special kinds of tramcars which are able to use the overhead wiring of the railways. The first prototype was built in 1986 in a contribution of VBK/AVG and ABB, the first dual system line was opened on 25th September 1992, between the city and Bretten.


Photo: Mestska
See how good it is when you have company, and your photo is not successful :-). This is a track-emery car, rebuilt as a bi-directional car (I guess it's neccessary to be useful at S-Bahn lines). It has functioned as a "Party waggon" until 1994 which could have been chartered.

This is the DUEWAG GT8-100C/2S no. 836 built in 1995, the type says this is a dual system Stadtbahn car with a maximal allowed speed of 100 kph with chopper control (C=Chopper). I don't know why it is white...

This is a Grand Union junction at Duck Catcher :-) (Entenfang), which means the vehicles, coming from the four directions, are able to go either on the three other directions without stopping.

This is a car en route "E" coming from the tracks of line 2, this sign in most of the towns usually means "Eilzug" (fast train). And actually, the tram didn't stop at the near station, it went through.

These traffic light phases are interesting, aren't they? They give priority for the tramway, the intelligent lights are giving it for the straight running tram in one direction, while they are giving "green lights" for the turning tram in the other direction.

This is two of the low-floor class GT6-70D/N on the Vogesenbrücke bridge, above among others the river Alb. These cars were made by variously named builders as the years went by (and as the companies have bought each other), first by DUEWAG/ABB Henschel, then by DUEWAG, and at last by Siemens. Note that the car bodies for example were made in Bautzen, where there is a Bombardier facility, so a rival of the Siemens. :-) Now let's go back to the city!

This is Mühlburger Tor and a train of one-directional Stadtbahn cars on the classic AVG line S1 en route to Bad Herrenalb. Karlsruhe was also interested in these modern Stadtbahn cars which were spreading through Germany in the 70's and 80's, when they purchased new cars in addition to the old, rounded face DÜWAG and DÜWAG-licence cars: they have bought six-axle, two-section articulated, one directional cars since 1983. Some of them, just like the one above, were lengthened by a middle section to be eight-axle cars (they became GT8-80C from GT6-80C), while they have bought additional eight-axle cars, too. These are still single system trams (operational voltage of 600...750 V DC), they aren't able to run on the railway frequency (15000 V, 16 2/3 cycles), and they have a speed limit of 80 kph.

The next step was to purchase dual voltage-system trams class GT8-100C/2S from DUEWAG from 1991. The vehicle based on the eight-axle cars are different than its predecessors by look: the railway network allowed only bi-directional cars so a driver's cabin was neccessary at both ends and doors at both sides. The high-voltage operation required a main transformer which is hanged up underfloor in the middle section. This space-requirement meant that there are no room for doors in the middle section, only at the two end-sections. The pantograph was moved from the "A" end to the middle, nearly the same distance to both car ends, and at the same time the nearest to the transformer (smaller amount of high-voltage wiring inside the car).


An additional problem appeared: the junctions are diferent in details at the tramway and main railway tracks. In order to be capable to run safely on both systems, the surface of the wheels were equipped with a special form, a so called mixed profile, which fulfills also the regulations of the EBO (Eisenbahn-Bau- und Betriebsordnung = Regulations of Railway Building and Operation) as well as the BOStrab (Betriebsordnung für Strassenbahnen = Operational Standards for Tramway Traffic). As a plus, the vehicle needs to receive and understand all data of the railway signalling system. This all means that these vehicles are known not just as dual-voltage but dual system vehicles (Zweisystemfahrzeug). Due to the regulations of the EBO these vehicles had to stand a longitudinal force of 1500 kN to ensure safety for the passengers (passive safety when an impact occures with another vehicle). But these cars are weaker and lighter than that because of the limited load capacity of the conventional tramway tracks, they can stand only 600 kN. They ensure safety in the active way instead: they have to use the rail-brakes on the railway lines, too, which enables extreme short brake distance. This is the reason why the light diesel motor unit cars type Desiro of Siemens were also equipped with rail-brakes.


There is the temporary terminus of line 6 on the other side of the square, which is a short branch of a tramway-circulation. It will be here until the line is not lengthened towards North.

Three other trains on the eastern side of the circulation: a coupled train of two GT6-70D/N's no. 247 and 231 on line 1, then two single system Stadtbahn trams on lines S1 and S11.

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

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