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Nordhausen: a small town with big ambitions 1.

On the first day of our Saxony-Thüringen tramway tour we reach a third town: Nordhausen. This small town is can be found at the Southern end of the Harz mountains. Despite its population of only 48000 and an area of 79 km2 it can be proud of a tramway network of two lines, and the rolling stock is completely reforming. The tram celebrated its 100th birthday in 2000, carries 2,3 million passengers a year on a 6,8 kms long network (the total length of the two lines is 7,77 kms).

Right in front of the main railway station - just like in most of the towns with tramways - we met the tram. This is the midpoint of a loop in theory, but the way out is closed, the Bahnhofstrasse is being completely renewed from wall to wall including the tramway tracks. The trams run in two directions on the remaining half of the loop. This means the line 1 can only be operated by bi-directional tramcars like this Siemens Combino no. 105.

The end station at the railway got its today's look in April 2002: you can see two meter-gauge tracks on the two sides of a middle platform. The one in the inner side of the loop (nearer the houses) allows one- or bi-directional tramcars to stop while the other is usually used by the diesel motor coaches of the narrow-gauge forest railway, the Harzer Schmalspurbahnen GmbH (HSB). These carry passengers from Ilfeld to Nordhausen where they can change vehicle at the common platform. Five diesel motor coaches are prepared according to the prescriptions of the BOStrab (Betriebsordnung Strassenbahn, the operational standards for tramway traffic): they are equipped with brake lights and signalling bells (order numbers 187 015...019). One of the junctions have special crossings (without filling up) because it's used by the railway, too.

Although it doesn't have any rail-brakes like a normal tramway but the more it has its signalling bells, it left the main square by loud bell tolls. It went by the railway buildings of the HSB (where the steam engines with the nostalgic trains still arrive and depart), then turned left to the narrow-gauge line towards Ilfeld. Next year the new, hybrid powered Combino trams will take part of the Ilfeld line: these will be powered by the overhead cables in the city while in the narrow-gauge railway sections by diesel-engine. The new line 10 will offer a non-transfer connection between Ilfeld and the Nordhausen city.

The one who enters here... gets up a Combino tram - if you believe the description on the thresholds :-) The day ticket was valid for two person so lucky we were.

We "trammed" to our hostel then we walked back towards the city centre. Right here there is a "lost rail" towards the old city core along the Alt Tor - I think it's not a mistake that they left this short line for the after-ages.

Today's single track of the line 2 goes around it from the West, like my words: right at the back gardens. On the picture you can see the one-directional Combino no. 103.

Shortly after we reach the main depot (workshop) where we can see familiar faces from Stuttgart or Freiburg: GT4's. On the left picture you can see a bi-directional GT4, this is from Freiburg (namely no. 94, ex-Freiburg 114, built in 1965), while the one on the right was built for Stuttgart but it has been rebuilt: named Twino they test(-ed?) the hybrid powered propulsion on it. You can easily recognize an ex-Stuttgart GT4 by its two headlights under each other. Just like many other German tramway companies, Nordhausen bought these trams only as a temporary solution until the new low-floor trams (here the short Combinos, the Bambinos) arrive. We couldn't find too many GT4's in service either.

Of course, we can't survive this town without the Gothaer trams: in the halls of the depot there was the party waggon among others, which is an articulated Gothaer type G4-61 built in 1961 for Leipzig on its 1458 mm gauge. Another members of the historic fleet are a two-axle Gothaer built in 1959 and another two-axle motor car built in Wismar in 1934.

Combino no. 104 arrives at Wiedigsburghalle from Parkalle, and stops beside the narrow platform (the lines are built to accomodate one-directional tramcars, the bi-directionals help to avoid traffic disturbance where there is no loop or delta tracks to change direction).

Then two other Combinos came from the city, the first is the no. 105 again, going in the depot, then no. 101 afterwards which has been the first newly bought car for 41 years. You can see its face is more angular then the newer ones. This car was in Halberstadt in summer 2002 as a guest vehicle. That tramway network is threathened by closing so the organisation of the Halberstadt tramway friends, formed in 2001, hired this car to show how attractive can a modern tramway be for the passengers. Today it's likely that they will buy new cars, too, but it's not sure at all that they will buy Combino, rather they would buy LF 2000 cars built by Bombardier. The small Multicar truck with its big eyes is quite funny on the right, remaining from the old Eastern-Germany.

Let's go further. This is a bi-directional car, no. 106, going up the hillside in the curve beside the town hall.

Interior of a bi-directional Combino.

On the left you can see very well the cover of the supporting springs, the wheels are underneath the seats. The motors are arranged in the length of the car, each drives two half-axles on one side.

Driver's cabin. The right chair-arm can be folded upwards and it has a few, often used buttons on it.

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

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