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Leipzig: a low-floor heaven 1.

We still had a visit to Leipzig ahead of us this day. Just like Dresden, I had been here last year but it was about time to try these trams, too. A wide variety of vehicles, a unique track gauge of 1458 mm, you can't afford to miss. As it is have to be at a large tramway network with 151 kilometres of track, the second largest in Germany.
Source: Strassenbahnen zu Ulbrichts Zeiten *
As you can see, the low floor trams really have a large heritage: at the 1926 autumn trade fair the first two middle-entrance motor cars and four trailers were introduced. 100 more of these partly low floor trailers were built later by the waggon factories of Görlitz and Niesky, which have served the passengers between 1928 until the eighties. They were the type 61, according to the local ordering system. One of the trailers is preserved by the Leipzig tramway museum, although not surprisingly, they have a large number of historic vehicles, and as I heard, covering the entire history of the Leipzig tramways. The low floor trailers and the fitting high floor motor cars had the nickname Pullmann-cars due to their rounded roof and dormer-windows.

As we walk out of the main railway station, we find ourselves at the most important junction of the network, with a four-track station where buses also stop. Because I made enough pictures about it last year, we start our journey somewhere else. We're at the stop Neues Rathaus. We see the shortest possible tram passing by, a solo T4D-M (modernized) motor car - or according to the local type-ordering system, one of the 33c, 33d, 33e types -, here as a special train (Sonderfahrt). I thought this was a substitute for the sightseeing Tatra tram due to technical problems, it had had to be out somewhere in town.

At the same place - not the only one in the town - lost rails can be seen, turning right to the Harkortstrasse. There is a train of a T4D-M (33c, d or e) type Tatra motor car and a B4D-M (65c or 65d) type trailer in the distance.

Another type: a younger kind of Tatra motor car, type T6A2 (in the local ordering system: type 35), actually a train of two.

This is now Wilhelm-Leuschner-Platz and a partly low floor, articulated motor car type NGT8D (or a 36-er). It really does look like it was coming this way, doesn't it?

Despite those we have seen in Halle or Erfurt, designed originally by DUEWAG, it has a running gear with a different gauge, and there are two-axle small-wheel bogies underneath the middle section. This is how it has got an eight-axle arrangement.

All for one: no. 1111 type NGT8D and the back of no. 1001 type T6A2. We go another stop further.

Augustusplatz. In the previous direction, another train runs towards the main railway station; behind the T4D-M motor car there is another type, built by Bombardier, type NB4 (or type 68), a low floor trailer. We still have something interesting on the picture: the crossing line, namely there had been the first horse-pulled tram of Leipzig.

To be punctual: the first horsetram line started here in may 1872 towards Reudnitz, in the fourth place in the country after Berlin, Hamburg and Stuttgart. The trams above are coming from the same direction: a motor car+motor car+trailer (T4D-M + T4D-M + NB4) train, a double pack of T6A2's and an NGT8D. The horsetram network has been electrified since 1896 by the Grosse Leipziger Strassenbahn company, this is also the date of the beginning of the electric tramway era. They preferred to keep the 1458 mm gauge of the horsetram rather than regauge the whole network to standard gauge (1435 mm). What was the reason of the unique gauge size in the beginning anyway? I don't know, maybe, according to the classic story: did the Leipzig horses have a larger butt? :-))) Anyway, the next stops of the two crossing lines are both at the main railway station (Hauptbahnhof), they only run along different streets, but this means the theoretical capacity between Augustusplatz and the railway station is of a four-track line.

Suddenly, the real sightseeing Tatra tram appeared too, which is called the Gläserner Leipziger or the Glassed Leipziger. Exactly it's one of the two motor cars and a trailer which have been rebuilt with panoramic windows in the roof (and looking at the windows I think these are also equipped with an air-conditioner too), this is the first of them. To be more precise, it's only the second one of this kind, there had been working a sightseeing tram called Offener (Opened-) Leipziger too, which had - thanks to the original Tatra livery without any equipment on the roof - completely glass roof behind the pantograph. The three new cars can form a long train to run in everyday traffic to carry normal passengers, too.

Let's go on, back to the railway station. First, there is an NGT8D with a full size ad, then a Tatra train in the current, or we can say original livery. At last they found out that the original color scheme of the Grosse Leipziger Strassenbahn also suits well today's modern fleet. Well, it would had been great if the new Combino Budapest trams received something else than the completely orange livery...

Look at that, an old acquaintance: a Mercedes-Benz (EvoBus/DaimlerChrysler) articulated bus, a special kind of the Citaro family which I had seen in Hannover before. Those were made for the 2000 EXPO, now Leipzig also has bought a few of them. The design is by James Irvine.

And the building in the background is not other than the main railway station itself. In the foreground there is a "Grosszug", a large train of two Tatra motor cars and an NB4 trailer (you can see the middle car in the previous, short lived livery, the Leipzig trams had been the usual cream colored ones before this one, just like at most German towns). The low floor, bogie trailers NB4 were purchased by Leipzig together with Rostock, 38 cars of the total 62 is at the LVB company. Bombardier Transportation delivered 19 cars both in 2000 and 2001. We get up one of these.

One of the best passenger information systems I have seen so far is this: it displays the next three stations, the terminal station and the line number with LED pixels. You can see one of the four surveillance cameras mounted on the ceiling which can record 24 hours of video.

* The photo is from the book entitled Strassenbahnen zu Ulbrichts Zeiten / Trams in der DDR: Die 60er Jahre in Farbe, published by GeraMond (C) 2002

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