Trams in Vienna - A

Trams in Vienna - A

Trams in Vienna or Wiener Straßenbahn, in everyday speech also Bim or Tramway are a vital part of the public transport system in Vienna, capital city of Austria. In operation since 1865, with the completion of a 2 km (1.2 mi) route to industrial estates near Simmering, it reached its maximum extent of 292 km (181.4 mi) in 1942. In February 2015, it was the fifth largest tram network in the world, at about 176.9 kilometres (109.9 mi) in total length and 1,071 stations.

The trams on the network run on standard gauge track. Since 1897, they have been powered by electricity, at 600 V DC. The current operator of the network is Wiener Linien. In 2013, a total of 293.6 million passengers travelled on the network's trams. As of 2013, there were 525 tramcars in Vienna's tram fleet, including 404 trams or tramsets scheduled for service during peak periods, comprising 215 single cars and 189 motor and trailer sets.

Vienna Trams History

Vienna Horsecar Tramways

The earliest precursor of the Vienna tramway network was the Brigittenauer Eisenbahn, a horsecar tramway. From 1840 to 1842, it led from the Donaukanal to the recreational establishment known as the Kolosseum, at the end of the Jägerstraße.

Some two decades later, several firms competed for a concession to construct an urban "horse-tramway" in Vienna. Schaeck-Jaquet & Comp prevailed. By October 1865, trams could be recorded as operating between Schottentor and Hernals, and on 24 April 1866, the route was extended to Dornbach.

Subsequently, the municipality of Vienna tried to persuade other firms to construct tramway lines. However, due to the difficult conditions, all of the competing firms (including Schaeck-Jaquet & Comp) arranged a merger, leaving the newly formed Wiener Tramwaygesellschaft as the only remaining firm. In later years, that firm built the majority of the Vienna tramway network. The social conditions were nevertheless such that labour disputes arose. In 1872, the Neue Wiener Tramwaygesellschaft was formed as a competitor, but was able to build only a network in the suburbs.

The Vienna Steam Tramways

In 1883, the Dampftramway Krauss & Comp. opened Vienna's first steam tramway line, between Hietzing and Perchtoldsdorf. In 1887, the line was extended further south to Mödling, and towards the city centre to Gaudenzdorf, and a new branch line led to Ober St. Veit. A further line, of national significance, was opened in 1886 from Donaukanal to Stammersdorf, where the trams connected with trains on the Stammersdorfer Lokalbahn to Auersthal. From Floridsdorf a branch line led to Groß Enzersdorf.

Alongside the Dampftramway Krauss & Comp., the Neue Wiener Tramwaygesellschaft also operated a few lines with steam locomotives.

Vienna Early Electric Tramways

At the turn of the twentieth century, Vienna's Bürgermeister Karl Lueger began the municipalization of urban services, which, until then, had been supplied by private enterprises. In 1899, by a proclamation issued by Minister Heinrich von Wittek, the municipality received a 90-year concession from the Imperial Railway Ministry for "a network of standard gauge light railway lines in Vienna to be operated by electric power". The 99 lines (or sections) explicitly identified in the proclamation included new lines, and the purchase of the network of the Wiener Tramwaygesellschaft, the employees of which were to be taken on as far as possible by the city. The lines were integrated into the Gemeinde Wien - Städtische Straßenbahnen service, which was entered on 4 April 1902 into the company register. In 1903, the network of the Neue Wiener Tramwaygesellschaft was also purchased.

On 28 January 1897, an electric tram operated for the first time in Vienna, on the tracks of today's line 5. With their lower noise and odour production compared with horse-drawn and steam tramways, the electric trams quickly became favourites. On 26 June 1903, the last horse tramway was ceremoniously farewelled. In 1907, the line designations still valid today, using numbers and letters, were introduced. The steam tramway was able to continue operating its services until 1922 on a few branch lines in the outer suburbs. Well into the second half of the twentieth century, Viennese frequently referred to the electrified tramway as die Elektrische (the electric).

Up until 1910, the only trams delivered to the Vienna tramway network were vehicles with unglazed platforms (or cabs), i.e.: without any windscreens protecting occupants from the cold and wind. This was still in the tradition of the horse cars, on which direct contact of the driver with the harnessed horses was required. (It took until 1930 until the cabs and platforms of all tramcars had protective glass.) In 1911, the first double stops were introduced.

During World War I, tram operations were increasingly difficult to perform. From 1916, women had to take over part of the work of the male tramway staff engaged by the military. Due to the harsh conditions of that time, operations had to be partially closed down. In 1917, a quarter of all stops were abandoned.

On 16 October 1925, the Wiener Stadtbahn, which had been taken over by the municipality of Vienna, was absorbed into the tramway network's tariff system. In 1929, the peak tram fleet was achieved, and in 1930 the network reached its maximum length, 318 km (198 mi). In the interwar period, Vienna had more people than today. In 1910, the city reached 2.1 million; after First World I began, the population decreased significantly, reaching its lowest level at the time of the 1991 census, at about half a million. Between the wars, the tramway was virtually unrivalled as a city transport in Vienna.

After the Anschluss with Germany's Third Reich, the tramway network was changed on 19 September 1938 from left hand traffic to right hand traffic. During World War II, tram operations continued, for as long as Vienna remained spared from fighting. Its peak haulage, on the then still extensive route network, was almost 732 million passengers, in 1943. That year, 18,000 people found work on Vienna's tramways.

In 1944-1945, however, when Vienna was bombed extensively, operations had to be gradually closed down, until the last line, the O-Line, was closed on 7 April 1945.

Trams in Vienna After World War II

Following the Battle of Vienna in early April 1945, the first five lines were able to be returned to service on 28 April. Most of the city's fleet of 4000 trams were badly damaged, 400 of them beyond repair. The task of restoring the network would not be completed until 1950, some short sections of track were never put back into operation.

In 1948, Vienna acquired second hand trams of Type Z (road numbers 4201-4242) under the Marshall Plan from New York. These trams, which became known as Amerikaner (Americans), were a little wider than other trams used in Vienna. They could only be put into operation on tracks that had a wider track spacing, left over from the steam tramways. An example of these more widely spaced tracks was Line 331 to Stammersdorf. The Amerikaner were comparatively modern, because they were equipped with air-operated doors and automatic retractable ramps. Additionally, the seat backs could be adjusted, so that all seated passengers could always face towards the direction of travel. Some of the major modifications required for the Amerikaner to be able to run in Vienna were carried out by Gräf & Stift in Wien-Liesing.

Until the 1950s, the network was still consistently operated with old, repaired and partially rebuilt trams, as new ones could be purchased only from 1951 onwards. Even in the 1950s, new trams were consistently obtained in series of only limited numbers, as from 1955 the abolition of the tramway in Vienna was the contemporary transport planning vision, and investments were made accordingly.

In their early to mid-20th century, private cars had been the exception in European cities, because they had then been too expensive for most of the population. However, with the growth of private transport in the postwar period, the calls for a car-friendly city became louder. Rail traffic on the road was therefore seen as a "transport barrier" (the term "transport" applying only to motor vehicles), and the full relocation of public transport to the U-Bahn and buses was seen as the vision of the future.

In 1956, Vienna's first articulated trams, designated as Type D, were commissioned from Gräf & Stift. Due to the tight financial situation, the new trams were assembled from salvaged parts. The basis of each one was two old Stadtbahn trailer chassis, on which modern car bodies were mounted. The chassis and bodies were then connected, by means of a telescopic joint section, of Italian design. The prototype of the Type D, with road number 4301, was delivered on 3 July 1957. After the testing and commissioning process had been completed, the Type D entered service from 17 February 1958. The inaugural trip operated by these trams was on Line 71.

A total of 16 type D trams were built. They were used until 1976 on Lines 9, 41, 42 and E2. They were cumbersome, due to their high weight (28 t (31 short tons; 28 long tons)), and were also otherwise unconvincing.

Trams in Vienna Changes, New Trams,Pre-Metro and U-Bahn Construction

In 1958, at the time of conversion of the short Line 158, the practicality of using buses to replace trams was tested. From 1960, there was ongoing conversion of sections of track running through narrow streets in the densely built up areas within the Gürtel; the best known example is line 13 from Wien Südbahnhof to Alserstrasse. However, individual sections on the periphery of the city, and in surrounding communities beyond the city limits, such as the former steam tramway lines to Mödling and Groß-Enzersdorf, were replaced by bus lines. In the 1960s, a pre-metro system was built to move tramway sections under surface, that - according to the attitudes in those years - obstructed car traffic on the main roads.

The realisation that the contemplated abolition of the tramway would not be a short-term project, mainly because of the rather lengthy construction of the planned
U-Bahn network, led to the introduction, from 1959, of the six-axle articulated type E and E1 trams, of which a total of 427 were built to 1976. This was a generational change of long-term effect.

The last high-floor articulated trams to enter the fleet were the Type E2 vehicles, which were built under licence from Duewag, together with matching type c5 trailer cars; they entered service on 28 August 1978 on Line 6, and remain in service today. This type was the first to be fitted with exits featuring retractable steps to improve comfort when entering and alighting. Additionally, the tramcar design was modernized, and the safety features of the technical equipment were considerably improved. A total 98 cars of this type were produced by Simmering-Graz-Pauker, and 24 by Bombardier.

The construction of the
Vienna U-Bahn led to further extensive line closures in the tramway network, due to a policy that trams are not to operate in parallel with the U-Bahn, even on short sections. As this policy is still in effect today, further closures of tramway lines can be expected, to coincide with the further expansion of the U-Bahn network. However, the continued existence of the tramway network in Vienna is no longer in question, and there are even some new openings planned.

For reasons of economy, Wiener Linien ceased to roster conductors in trailer cars from 1964, and in powered cars from 1972. Industrial relations factors delayed the final departure of conductors until 1996, when the last conductor ended his service (on Line 46).

On 2 September 2017 the U1 extension to Oberlaa (former tram 67) opened with great fanfare and the section of tram line 67 from Per-Albin-Hansson-Siedlung was cut to terminate at Reumannplatz. Also, a new network of bus services in the Favoriten area commenced. From the same date tram lines 2, 10, 44 and 60 saw major changes and Line 58 was replaced by extensions of lines 10 and 60.

Vienna Tram Lines
Line Termini Length Depots
1 Stefan-Fadinger-Platz Prater, Hauptallee 10.52 km (6.54 mi) Favoriten, Gürtel
2 Friedrich-Engels-Platz Dornbach 12.83 km (7.97 mi) Brigittenau, Ottakring, Floridsdorf (1 car pm)
5 Praterstern S U Westbahnhof S U 7.87 km (4.89 mi) Brigittenau, Rudolfsheim, Floridsorf (1 car pm)
6 Burggasse-Stadthalle U Geiereckstraße 7.39 km (4.59 mi) Favoriten, Simmering
9 Gersthof S
Westbahnhof S U 6.18 km (3.84 mi) Hernals, Rudolfsheim
10 Dornbach Unter-St.-Veit
7.84 km (4.87 mi) Ottakring, Speising, Rudolfsheim (1 car pm peak)
11 Otto-Probst-Platz Kaiserebersdorf
13.22 km (8.21 mi) Favoriten, Simmering
18 Burggasse-Stadthalle U Schlachthausgasse U 8.07 km (5.01 mi) Rudolfsheim, Favoriten
25 Aspern
Floridsdorf S U 9.42 km (5.85 mi) Kagran
26 Hausfeldstraße U Strebersdorf
11.88 km (7.38 mi) Kagran, Floridsdorf
30 Floridsdorf S U Stammersdorf 5.27 km (3.27 mi) Brigittenau (3 cars ex FLOR), Floridsdorf
31 Schottenring U Stammersdorf 11.21 km (6.97 mi) Floridsdorf
33 Josefstädter Straße U Friedrich-Engels-Platz 5.86 km (3.64 mi) Brigittenau, Floridsdorf
37 Schottentor U Hohe Warte 4.78 km (2.97 mi) Gürtel
38 Schottentor U Grinzing 5.33 km (3.31 mi) Gürtel
40 Schottentor U Gersthof
4.43 km (2.75 mi) Gürtel, Hernals
41 Schottentor U Pötzleinsdorf 5.12 km (3.18 mi) Gürtel, Hernals
42 Schottentor U Antonigasse 3.38 km (2.10 mi) Gürtel, Hernals (1 car pm peak)
43 Schottentor U Neuwaldegg 5.99 km (3.72 mi) Hernals
44 Schottentor U Ottakring
4.39 km (2.73 mi) Ottakring
46 Ring/Volkstheater U Joachimsthalerplatz 4.80 km (2.98 mi) Ottakring, Rudolfsheim (1 car pm peak)
49 Ring/Volkstheater U Hütteldorf
8.54 km (5.31 mi) Rudolfsheim, Ottakring
52 Westbahnhof S U Baumgarten 5.78 km (3.59 mi) Rudolfsheim
60 Westbahnhof S U Rodaun 11.10 km (6.90 mi) Rudolfsheim, Speising
62 Oper/Karlsplatz U Lainz
10.99 km (6.83 mi) Speising
71 Börse Kaiserebersdorf
12.93 km (8.03 mi) Simmering
D Absberggasse Nußdorf
11.74 km (7.29 mi) Favoriten, Gürtel
O Raxstraße
Bruno-Marek-Allee 9.11 km (5.66 mi) Favoriten
U2Z Schottenring Karlsplatz
3.18 km (1.98 mi) Favoriten

The longest line is currently line 11, running 13.2 km (8.2 mi) from Otto-Probst-Platz near the Wienerberg via the districts of Favoriten and Simmering to Kaiserebersdorf. On the other hand, line 42 is the shortest route, only covering 3.4 km (2.1 mi) from Schottentor to its terminus at Antonigasse in the district of Währing.

From end of May 2021 until autumn 2023 the new line U2Z, replacing underground line U2 during construction, is slightly shorter.

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