Tramscape Tramway Photographs


Kassel, Germany : 3rd - 5th September 2002
Although now regarded as an extremely progressive tramway, it was not always so, and in the late 1970s, the city authorities favoured a complete closure of the system. Only a concerted effort by residents, especially along the threatened routes in Kirchditmold and Wolfsanger, led to a change of heart and a remarkable change in policy.

In the late 19th century Kassel's claim to tramway fame was to be home to the first urban steam tramway in Germany. Whilst most cities were turning to horse power for theer new tram systems, steam was seen as the most appropriate for linking the city with Wilhelmshohe - an extremely popular destination for excursions. The English-owned Casseler Tramway Company opened it's line in 1877 and it remained steam operated, although under different ownership, until 1899. At this time the whole tramway system was being converted to electric operation. All other lines had been horse-operated, first opened in 1884 and operated independently of the steam tramway until the two companies merged in 1897.

A new company was established in 1897 to run a tramway to the independent community of Wolfsanger and, unusually for the time, it was opened as a horse tramway. It survived in this form until the end of 1909, when electic wires had been extended into the Fuldatal, following incorporation into the "Grosse Cassseler Strassenbahn" , the company formed to take over and integrate all the city's lines in 1897.

The establishment of the "Grosse Casseler" heralded rapid improvements in the tram system. The earlier company had not built any more routes than those opened in it's early days in 1884, whilst lines into growing suburbs were badly needed. The horse tram routes had until 1898 reached only Bettenhausen station, across the Fulda River, and Wilhelmshoher Allee at Kirchweg, via Lutherplatz, the main railway station, what is now Friedrich-Ebert-Allee and Germaniastrasse. Between the middle of 1898 and the end of 1900 an extensive programme of electrification, track doubling and route extensions took place. The route length increased to over 22 km (around two thirds being double track). As well as new links within the built-up city area, services were extended to Kurhausstrasse (then called Mulang) from Bahnhof Wilhelmshohe and to Rothenditmold from Lutherplatz.

A further spate of extensions saw trams reach Hollandische Strasse (1908), Niederzwehren (1913) and Kirchditmold / Prinzenquelle (1914) as well as further development of the inner-city network. The First World War interrupted further growth but in 1920 an extension to Ochshauser Strasse (now Leipziger Platz) was opened in Bettenhausen. By 1925 trams were at Druseltal, branching from the Mulang route at Brabanter Strasse, and by 1927 at Eisenschmiede, reached via the nearby hospital. In the following year the line to Kirchditmold was extended from Prinzenquelle to a new loop at Hessenschanze.

Between 1920 and 1931 the postal service ran its own fleet of three trams over city tracks, linking the railway station, central post office and a number of outlying post offices. Three short spurs from regular service tracks were built for exclusive postal use.

In two stages, in 1940 and 1941, the line to Niederzwehren was extended to Baunatal to serve the Henschel aircraft engine factory, the site of which is now occupied by the VW motors factory. During World War II, Kassel suffered heavily from air raids, the attack on 22/10/1943 being particularly severe. The effects of the bombing, like in many German cities, led to a total closure of services in May 1945 and gradual reopening after the end of the war. In the case of Kassel, it was not until the 1950s that the city centre network as seen today was established, with tracks laid along the broad streets as rebuilt after the war.

The 1950s also saw a concerted effort to upgrade the rest of the tramway, doubling much of the track which had initially been rebuilt after war-time damage much as it had been before the war. Further new extensions were built in Bettenhausen (to Forstfeldstrasse in 1947 and Lindenberg in 1956), and from Eisenschmiede to Koboldstrasse (1953) and further to Ihringhauser Strasse (1956). In 1960, the direct route from Weserspitze to Eisenschmiede was built parallel to the retained alignment via the hospital. New loops were built at the Aue Stadium and at Mattenberg to accommodate short workings on lines increasingly served by single-ended trams.

The 1950s also saw the renewal of a significant part of the fleet as well as new trams to make good wartime losses, although it was somewhat surprising that no new trams were ordered until 1955. The tramway company, which became the Kasseler Verkehrs-Gesellschaft AG in 1939 and came into the ownership of the state of Hessen in 1946, had traditionally bought its trams from local suppliers. The city was home to major railway carriage manufacturers Crede, Wegmann and Henschel and Crede had supplied all Kassel's cars since 1932. A contract was given to the same company to supply trams and trailers based on the post-war two-axle "Verbandstyp" design, followed quickly by an order for similar cars but articulated, with a suspended centre section. The design was based on improvements on pre-war technology, and although the articulated cars made good economic sense, the rigid trucks of each type made for a slow and uncomfortable ride. The Duwag factory in Dusseldorf was, at this time, pioneering new designs that were soon to be widely adopted throughout Germany - the "Grossraumwagen" on two bogies, and the articulated cars on Jacobs-bogies - and as a result, Kassel's new cars quickly became outdated. Ten years later, the KVG returned to Crede for single-ended articulated bogie cars of the Duwag-type, with a further batch delivered by Wegmann in 1971 following Crede's withdrawal from the market. Wegmann also supplied a series of double ended cars in 1970.

A short stretch of underground tramway was opened under the square in front of the main railway station in 1968 and futher improvements to tram alignments, particularly in association with the widening of the main arterial roads out of Kassel, were made. The closure of the line to Rothenditmold in 1971 was on account of the difficulty in upgrading this alignment to the required standard, and although the first major route closure, it was not immediately apparent at the time that the whole system would soon be under threat.

The decision to retain the tramway system was helped by the good impression made by a Duewag-built Stadtbahn-N tram from Dortmund and 16 sets were purchased for delivery in 1981.Except for two sets of 1966 vintage, the Stadtbahn-N cars are now the oldest in service as new low-floor trams have been purchased on a regular basis.
Totally new lines have been built (Bhf Wilhelmshohe - Hellebohn - Niederzwehren), under-used local railway lines have been converted to tram operation (Mattenberg - Baunatal - Grossenritte and Kaufungen - Helsa) and Kassel is one of the pioneers of the new "Regio-Tram" concept, by which trams will share tracks with main-line railways outside the city centre.

Kassel : Herkulesbahn


On the ridge of a wooded hillside high above the city lies the Herkules Monument from where excursionists get a magnificent view of the water cascade down through ornamental gardens to the Wilhelmshohe Castle below and a panorama view of the whole of Kassel itself. The monument, almost 400 metres above the plain below, dominates the view along Wilhelmshoher Allee and other roads running westwards from the city centre.

A century after the castle and gardens were established, the area had become a favoured tourist destination and the first steam tramway was opened along Wilhelmshoher Allee to the foot of the attractive hillside in part to cater for this traffic. By 1900, the city tramways, now electrified, had been extended to Mulang and passengers were able to be taken deeper into the wooded hillside, but not to the Herkules itself as the gradients involved were too steep for a conventional service.

With one eye on the potential tourist trade, but with more interest in the transport of locally mined coal, Gustav Henkel, after several years of trying, obtained a concession to build a light railway linking his own electicity generating works at Palmenbad with a number of coal mines (and later stone quarries) in the Druseltal area and also the main line railway at Wilhelmshohe. In 1902, a single-track metre gauge line, financed by Henkel, was opened for goods traffic between Wilhelmshohe and Herkules, with a short branch to the power Station from Donche. In April of the following year, passenger services were introduced from Palmenbad, where the line terminated close to the city tramway's route to Mulang, to Herkules.

The network was extended to Brasselsberg and, at the peak of it's extent in 1925, to Hohe Gras, with sidings at the Herkules coal mine and a basalt quarry. The potential for passenger revenue was recognised early as in 1909, the line was extended towards the city centre along Kohlenweg to a new terminus alongside Wilhelmshoher Allee at Kirchweg. This led to the Herkulesbahn running in direct competition with the "Grosse Casseler" tramways between Kirchweg and Palmenbad and with the added advantage of being able to carry passengers deep into the Druseltal woodlands.

Competition intensified when the city tramway was extended to it's Druseltal terminus, close to the Herkulesbahn junction at Luisenhaus, in 1925, but the situation was short-lived. In February 1927, with the city authorities under pressure to approve the Herkulesbahn's plans to extend it's reach into the city centre, the "Grosse Casseler", with city support, purchased the majority shareholder in it's competitor. It was operated as a semi-independent subsidiary of the city's tramway until final incorporation in 1960 (with retrospective effect from October 1959).

The first action of the new owners was to re-gauge the short spur from Palmenbad to Donche to provide a connection with the city network, allowing Herkulesbahn cars to be loaded on to standard gauge low loaders for transfer to Wilhelmshohe depot for overhaul. The spur had been out of use for two years, having struggled since the closure of the power station in 1914. Very little changed until the closure of the outer part of the line, from the Herkules coal mine to Hohe Gras, in 1940. The Palmenbad branch was taken out of operation in 1957 and four years later, both the coal and the basalt traffic ceased. It was still intended to continue with passenger services, to Brasselsberg and Herkules, and a start was made on preparations for re-gauging the remaining track. With escalating costs, especially in view of the need to double some of the tracks, the operator's policy changed . The last run to Brasselsberg was made on 30th November 1965. A shuttle service between Luisenhaus and Herkules continued until 11th April 1966.

Date

Film No

No

Location

View

Dir

Tram

Notes

03/09/02

202112

1

Baunsbergstrasse

In

Out

473

At An den Eichen

03/09/02

202112

2

Christuskirche

Out

In

484

03/09/02

202112

3

Christuskirche

In

Out

617

03/09/02

202112

4

Brabanter Strasse

Out

In

473

03/09/02

202112

5

Bahnhof Wilhelmshohe

Out

In

617

03/09/02

202112

6

Bahnhof Wilhelmshohe

In

Out

355

355+563

03/09/02

202112

7

Walter Schucking Platz

Out

In

470

Druseltal route

03/09/02

202112

8

Walter Schucking Platz

In

Out

459

Druseltal route

03/09/02

202112

9

Walter Schucking Platz

Out

Out

459

Druseltal route

03/09/02

202112

10

Walter Schucking Platz

Out

In

455

Hellebohn route

03/09/02

202112

12

Hasselweg

In

Out

635

03/09/02

202112

13

Hasselweg/Hellebohnweg

In

Out

614

03/09/02

202112

14

Hasselweg/Hellebohnweg

Out

In

462

03/09/02

202112

15

Hellebohnweg

In

Out

634

03/09/02

202112

16

Hellebohnweg

Out

In

612

03/09/02

202112

17

Susterfeld

In

Out

616

03/09/02

202112

18

Susterfeld

Out

In

454

454 and 616

03/09/02

202112

19

Rhonplatz

Out

In

635

03/09/02

202112

20

Rhonplatz

In

Out

455

03/09/02

202112

21

Hellebohn

Out

In

469

03/09/02

202112

22

Heinrich Schutz Allee

In

In

614

03/09/02

202112

23

Heinrich Schutz Allee

In

Out

466

03/09/02

202112

24

Korbacher Strasse/Universitat

Out

In

632

03/09/02

202112

25

Korbacher Strasse/Universitat

In

In

616

03/09/02

202112

26

Schulzentrum Bruckenhof

Out

In

634

03/09/02

202121

1

Heinrich Plett Strasse

Out

In

414

03/09/02

202121

2

Heinrich Plett Strasse

In

In

414

03/09/02

202121

3

Oberzwehren Mitte

Out

In

455

03/09/02

202121

4

Oberzwehren Mitte

Out

03/09/02

202121

5

Oberzwehren Mitte

In

03/09/02

202121

6

Altenbaunaerstr/Europaschule

419

03/09/02

202121

7

Altenbaunaerstr/Europaschule

Out

In

452

03/09/02

202121

8

Altenbaunaerstr/Europaschule

In

In

606

03/09/02

202121

9

Mattenberg

In

Out

454

03/09/02

202121

10

Kleingartenverein

Out

In

519

03/09/02

202121

11

Kleingartenverein

In

In

519

03/09/02

202121

12

Baunatal Stadtmitte

In

Out

469

03/09/02

202121

13

Baunatal Stadtmitte

Out

In

454

03/09/02

202121

14

Hunstein

In

In

03/09/02

202121

15

Hunstein

In

Out

464

03/09/02

202121

16

Grossenritte Bahnhof

Out

In

465

Terminus

03/09/02

202121

17

Bruder Grimm Strasse

In

In

414

03/09/02

202121

18

Bahnhof Niederzwehren

In

03/09/02

202121

19

Druseltal

459

Terminus : 4 Sept 2002

03/09/02

202121

20

Waldorfschule

In

Out

424

03/09/02

202121

21

Waldorfschule

Out

In

459

03/09/02

202121

22

Wilhelmshohe

453

Terminus

03/09/02

202121

23

Kurhessen Therme

Out

In

453

03/09/02

202121

24

Hessicher Rundfunk

In

Out

354

354+569

03/09/02

202121

25

Kunoldstrasse

Out

In

354

354+569

03/09/02

202121

26

Rolandstrasse

420

Terminus

03/09/02

202121

27

Rolandstrasse

420

Terminus

03/09/02

202121

28

Rotes Kreuz

In

Out

467

03/09/02

202121

29

Rotes Kreuz

Out

In

464

03/09/02

202121

30

Berlepschstrasse

In

Out

413

03/09/02

202121

31

Berlepschstrasse

Out

Out

413

03/09/02

202121

32

Kirchweg

In

Out

408

03/09/02

202121

33

Goethestrasse

In

Out

406

03/09/02

202121

34

Annastrasse

In

Out

608

03/09/02

202121

35

Annastrasse

Out

In

04/09/02

202131

1

Standeplatz

In

Out

621

04/09/02

202131

2

Standeplatz

Out

In

406

04/09/02

202131

3

Standeplatz

Out

In

605

04/09/02

202131

4

Standeplatz

In

Out

602

View towards Rathaus

04/09/02

202131

5

Wilhelmstrasse

Out

In

409

04/09/02

202131

6

Scheidemannplatz

413

View towards Hauptbahnhof

04/09/02

202131

7

Scheidemannplatz

405

04/09/02

202131

8

Erzbergerstrasse

In

In

413

04/09/02

202131

9

Am Stern

Out

In

355

View towrds Hollandischer Platz

04/09/02

202131

10

Am Stern

Out

In

412

View towards Altmarkt

04/09/02

202131

11

Am Stern

In

Out

608

04/09/02

202131

12

Konigsplatz

455

View towards Rathaus

04/09/02

202131

13

Am Stern

Out

In

457

04/09/02

202131

14

Am Stern

Out

In

464

04/09/02

202131

15

Konigsplatz

409

View towards Am Stern

04/09/02

202131

16

Konigsplatz

631

View towards Am Stern

04/09/02

202131

17

Friedrichsplatz

354

354 and 631 View towards Rathaus

04/09/02

202131

18

Konigsplatz

404

View towards Am Stern

04/09/02

202131

19

Friedrichsplatz

635

View towards Rathaus

04/09/02

202131

20

Rathaus

Out

In

462

04/09/02

202131

21

Rathaus

In

Out

465

04/09/02

202131

22

Rathaus / Funffensterstrasse

In

In

613

04/09/02

202131

23

Am Weinberg

Out

In

402

04/09/02

202131

24

Am Weinberg

In

Out

460

04/09/02

202131

25

Heinrich-Heine-Strasse

In

Out

421

04/09/02

202131

26

Aue Stadion

In

Out

475

04/09/02

202131

27

Wolfsanger

Out

421

At terminus

04/09/02

202131

28

Wolfsanger

In

In

421

04/09/02

202131

29

Kirche Wolfsanger

In

Out

401

04/09/02

202131

30

Fuldatalschule

Out

In

401

04/09/02

202131

31

Am Fasanenhof

In

Out

418

04/09/02

202131

32

Weserspitze

Out

In

413

04/09/02

202131

33

Weserspitze

In

In

413

04/09/02

202131

34

Weserspitze

Out

In

615

04/09/02

202131

35

Irringhauser Strasse

Out

484

At terminus

04/09/02

202131

36

Arnimstrasse

In

Out

406

04/09/02

202141

1

Koboldstrasse

In

In

04/09/02

202141

2

Simmerhauser Strasse

Out

In

420

04/09/02

202141

3

Simmerhauser Strasse

Out

In

420

04/09/02

202141

4

Klinikum

In

Out

412

04/09/02

202141

5

Klinikum

Out

Out

413

04/09/02

202141

6

Hauptfriedhof

In

Out

461

04/09/02

202141

7

Wiener Strasse

In

Out

469

04/09/02

202141

8

Rotes Kreuz

In

Out

604

5/9/02

04/09/02

202141

9

Tannenkuppe

Out

In

613

04/09/02

202141

10

Tannenkuppe

Out

In

613

04/09/02

202141

11

Stadthalle

In

Out

609

04/09/02

202141

12

Bebelplatz

In

Out

619

04/09/02

202141

13

Bebelplatz

Out

Out

619

04/09/02

202141

14

Bebelplatz

Out

In

601

04/09/02

202141

15

Friedenskirche

Out

In

622

04/09/02

202141

16

Bebelplatz

Out

In

614

04/09/02

202141

17

Breitscheidstrasse

Out

In

619

04/09/02

202141

18

Teichstrasse

Out

Out

606

04/09/02

202141

19

Teichstrasse

Out

In

610

04/09/02

202141

20

Kirche Kirchditmold

Out

In

603

04/09/02

202141

21

Kirche Kirchditmold

In

Out

608

04/09/02

202141

22

Riedwiesen

Out

In

606

04/09/02

202141

23

Riedwiesen

Out

In

606

04/09/02

202141

24

Kirche Kirchditmold

In

Out

601

04/09/02

202141

25

Kirche Kirchditmold

In

In

608

04/09/02

202141

26

Kirche Kirchditmold

In

Out

614

04/09/02

202141

27

Hessenschanze

In

In

601

04/09/02

202141

28

Prinzenquelle

In

Out

604

04/09/02

202141

29

Prinzenquelle

Out

In

614

04/09/02

202141

30

Kaufungen Papierfabrik

In

In

614

04/09/02

202141

31

Niederkaufungen Mitte

Out

In

632

04/09/02

202141

32

Niederkaufungen Bahnhof

Out

In

605

04/09/02

202141

33

Rieckswiesen

Out

Out

619

04/09/02

202141

34

Rieckswiesen

Out

In

622

04/09/02

202141

35

Rieckswiesen

In

In

622

04/09/02

202141

36

Gesamtschule

In

Out

612

05/09/02

202151

1

Gesamtschule

Out

In

613

05/09/02

202151

2

Gesamtschule

Out

In

619

05/09/02

202151

3

Gesamtschule

In

Out

603

05/09/02

202151

4

Oberkaufungen Mitte

Out

In

612

05/09/02

202151

5

Oberkaufungen Bahnhof

Out

In

603

05/09/02

202151

6

Oberkaufungen Bahnhof

In

In

603

05/09/02

202151

7

DRK Klinik

Out

In

609

05/09/02

202151

8

Lindenberg

In

Out

632

05/09/02

202151

9

Forstfeldstrasse

In

Out

622

05/09/02

202151

10

Kirchgasse

Out

In

602

05/09/02

202151

11

Platz der Deutschen Einheit

Out

In

608

05/09/02

202151

12

Altmarkt

Out

632

632 and 459

05/09/02

202151

13

Konigsplatz

414

05/09/02

202151

14

Konigsplatz

354

The two operational tram/trailer sets meet at Konigsplatz


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