Wednesday 31 October 2018

Superb Service in Stuttgart (5)

The swinging sixties saw the final demise of UK trams (e.g. Sheffield, 1960) ...
... followed soon afterwards by the remainder of the trolleybus networks.
But, while teacher-to-be fbb was enjoying the Brussels tram network, came the announcement there that trams were to be removed from city centre streets ...
... boo! The main central corridors would be put in tunnel and were designated "pre-metro". Metro lines evolved ...
... and suburban tram routes were upgraded, largely by diving under busy road junctions.
Many subsidiary lines were closed, but the network evolved into a busy modern speedy system.

In Stuttgart, the authorities followed a similar scheme but with one extra ingredient. Firstly all trams were to run in tunnels through most of the city centre. Secondly the underground stations would be of a "pre-metro" design with pavement level stops for the trams and higher platforms for the future "metro".
But the mega-change would be from metre gauge to standard gauge (4'8½")! Just consider what this would mean. It would be necessary to relay many lines with dual gauge track as both systems would run in parallel until the whole conversion was complete.
And this was exactly what happened.

The first standard gauge "stadtbahn" route started in 1985 mixing quite happily conventional "narrow gauge" trams.
The last line to lose its trams was No 15 in 2007. A parade of both systems was held.
It wasn't quite as simple as that. The Southern section was replaced like for like by the new vehicles, but the northern sections suffered the delights of a replacement bus service ...
... while a new tunnelled section was opened under the Unterlanderstrasse at Zuffenhausen.
This section opened in 2011 ...
... with much rejoicing!

Even with genuine street running, it was usual to build raised platforms to fit the new units ...
... although in a few locations it was still necessary to deploy the pneumatic steps to allow boarding in the middle of the highway!
Odd to see a "U" labelled vehicle loading from road level, but such is the ingenuity of the change from tram to Stadtbahn, that Stuttgart resident took it all in their stride. The maps below show where the tunnelled sections are (darker colours) - split into two to fit the blog page.

All very impressive and, needless to say, a whole raft of extensions and improvements are under consideration or at the building or planning stage. One pressing need is to increase capacity on some of the original;y converted lines, hence, fbb has been informed, the introduction of the controversial Monday to Friday X1 bus (see earlier blog).

The X1 will provide extra capacity until a rebuild can be set in motion to accommodate longer units.

Currently lines are served by one or two "two-car" units as shown diagrammatically on the electronic signs.
The vast majority of u routes run every ten minutes which gives some very frequent headways where several routes come together.
But, in general, all routes run almost completely on reserved track and in tunnel but with many "at grade" intersections with real traffic, as here at Bad Cammstatt then ...
... and now!
And one extra delight. Although the network conversion is now complete, some sections of dual gauge track have been retained allowing SBB to run some heritage tram services on certain weekend days. Apparently the trips are very popular.

Tomorrow - a couple of non-standard bits of operation.

 Next Stuttgart blog : Thursday 1st November 

Tuesday 30 October 2018

Superb Service in Stuttgart (4)

The promised blog adumbrating the change in Stuttgart from tram to something that isn't quite a tram and isn't quite a train is postponed until tomorrow due to the exigences of the situation.

[Busy day with full afternoon tea for our Bible Study gang - fbb makes, tests and finishes off any surplus sandwiches. Yesterday's selection: egg and cress, cream cheese and cucumber, roast turkey, followed by Mrs fbb's Victoria Sandwich cake with added clotted cream ...]
Yummy! The fbb's only provide such quality nosh when there are five Mondays in the month - hence the neatly named "Fifth Monday Special."
But back to Stuttgart and back to May this year when the city hosted the seventh European Tram Driving competition.
No, neither had fbb.

The winners were a team from Stockholm.
Here the winning team display the exciting trophy.
Next year the exciting competition moves to Brussels.
The event was introduced by an exciting group of singers ...
... and an enthusiastic commentator guided the public through the "exciting" event.
There is an on-line video which lasts for over three hours - which fbb thought might just be a tad too much of a good things, so here are a few screen shots. The only UK entry was from ...
... whose team was introduced after a short video (Eurovision style) of trams in Manchester where, as we all know, the sun always shines. Well it did on the video!

The "first to go" was the home team. Broadly, the challenge was to drive a Stuttgart tram via a series of obstacles and challenges.

Here is driver Viola Dieterichs about to push the green button to start the timer.
Task 1 was for slow driving. The tram was to brush up to a barrier ...
... whilst spilling or not spilling water from a huge jar.
Next, after increasing speed to 25 mph, the driver removed her hands from the controls ...
... at just the right moment to allow the tram's safety devices to stop the tram on a marked line.
Stuttgart - nul points!

Next the assistant driver, Kevin Holubar, had to place a marker such that Viola would just miss it on a curve.
Stuttgart - bestnoten!

Then it was quick dash to a second tram for LRT six-pin bowling.
Yes, really!

Drive your tram up to a large but mercifully soft ball and prod it towards a set of mega-skittles. Points awarded on the basis of how many pins you demolished. Nul punkte if you bashed the six-pins with the tram.
What excitement.
Stuttgart came fourth from bottom in the overall competition - with their own tram! Such is the penalty for going first. Hopefully other teams were given a bit of practice before grasping the controls of a foreign vehicle?

The two-day-championships includes: training runs and a sightseeing tour, drivers` party, competitions, and award ceremony.


We know that Stockholm won, but where did Manchester come?
Oh, so like Eurovision!

But, as the enthusiastic commentator kept reminding us, "It was a fantastic day for everyone!"

Of course it was!

 Next Stuttgart blog : Wednesday 31st October 

Monday 29 October 2018

Superb Service in Stuttgart (3)

Is It A Tram OR A Train ...
Or a Metro, or an LRT, or a Tram-Train, or an Underground?
Or an S-Bahn, or a Funicular, or a Rack Railway?

With a significant concentration of the Motor Industry, it is not surprising that Stuttgart was heavily bombed in the Second World War.
Stuttgart endured 18 large-scale attacks by the RAF during the war (the first and last of which were on 5 March 1942 and 13 February 1945 respectively), during which 21,016 tonnes of bombs were dropped on the city, but the RAF concluded that its attacks against Stuttgart were not as effective as they could have been despite the damage wrought, saying:-

Stuttgart's experience was not as severe as other German cities. Its location, spread out in a series of deep valleys, had consistently frustrated the Pathfinders and the shelters dug into the sides of the surrounding hills had saved many lives.

Much of the rebuilding changed "the look" of the city and that rebuilding continues to today. As an example, here is the Marktplatz in days past ...
... and today.
Köningsstrasse (Kings Street) was a busy tram route in the past ...
... and now is almost unrecognisable.
Much of it is pedestrianised, quite different from the "then" picture above. Originally the road passed in front pf the grand Köningsbau (Kings Building) ...
... again now a beautiful vehicle-free area.
The " U " sign gives us a massive clue as to what has happened to the trams.

More of this transformation in tomorrow's posting.

The Hauptbahnhof (Main Station), which we met in last Thursday's and Friday's blog, was bombed several times, here showing most of the station without roof.
This view is from the western side rather than the front as shown previously.
Streetview shows a similar aspect but with more trees ...
... but switch to Google Earth and a bit is missing!
Amidst huge protests, the left hand bit of the frontage has gone completely as has another "wing" chunk on the eastern edge of the platforms.

The front view is, thankfully, undamaged ...
... but with its trams, too, underground.
Something controversial but super-spectacular is happening to the Hauptbahnhof.

Currently the station is a terminus, approached from the north (ish) as we saw, looking from Bad Cannstatt, in previous blogs.
Through trains have to do an "in and out" manoeuvre. The "Stuttgart 21" plan under construction at the moment will create a THROUGH station at right angles to the present tracks and wholly in tunnel.
The red dotty lines show the new tunnels, plus a new S-Bahn station under the "linear park". The scheme will also incorporate a brand new line to the airport (centre left bottom).

This view (from the east) ...
... shows the whole site.
New entrances are included and the whole wodge will have glazed "bubbles" to admit plenty of natural light.
The artist's impressions look amazing.
This is all for inter-city trains; the S-Bahn will retain its present route but be buried underground.

In the UK, the public is utterly excluded from such construction projects but in Stuttgart the residents have had a chance to see work in progress ...
... including a beauty parade of excavators lined up, with typical German thoroughness, in precise formation! Josef Öffentlichkeit was even invited to inspect the tunnels and a very non boring boring machine.
The whole caboodle is costing gazillions of  euros and has attracted a fair share of public opprobrium for the cost and vandalism of the side wings of the station building ...
... BUT ...

It will deliver a through station for the growing network of high speed ICE (Inter City Express - a phrase with no obvious translations into English) train services.

It is a part of the Stuttgart–Augsburg new and upgraded railway and the Magistrale for Europe (Paris to Vienna) in the framework of the Trans-European Networks. Its core is a renewed Stuttgart Hauptbahnhof, amongst some 57 kilometres (35 miles) of new railways, including some 30 kilometres (19 miles) of tunnels and 25 kilometres (16 miles) of high-speed lines.

The project was officially announced in April 1994. Construction work began on 2 February 2010. As of 2017, the start of operation is expected in 2021.

Perhaps not quite as lo-o-o-ong as Crossrail, but it is certainly just as astounding from an engineering point of view.

Tomorrow we see what happened to the trams.

 Next Stuttgart blog : Tuesday 30th October