InTramCities with Gordon Stewart

Nordhausen (Germany) : 22nd February, 2005 : Photos by Phil Barnes

With a population of only 42,000 this small city in Thuringia is perhaps an unusual place to find a tramway and its continued existence was a matter of great debate in the early 1990s following German reunification. Its two line network, both commencing at the main station and serving areas to the north, had remained remarkably stable following its restoration after heavy bombing of the city shortly before the end of the Second World War. The early 1980s saw two short extensions added to the network - to Parkallee and to what is now the South Harz Clinic - but with minimal population growth and none of the new housing block estates typical of the German Democratic Republic of the time, the system's survival had never been entirely secure.

With the decision made to retain the tramway and in common with many of the tramways in the newly-added federal states, investment was pumped in to modernising the alignmnents and replacing outdated rolling stock. A new eastwards extension off the Clinic route added 1.8 km of track, an almost 50% increase in the length of the tramway system. New trams were not immediately affordable, so redundant Esslingen-built GT4 trams were acquired from Stuttgart and Freiburg. These provided a significant improvement to service quality pending the purchase of seven short versions of Siemens' Combino design low-floor trams between 2000 and 2002.

An additional three Combinos were introduced in 2004 and these were highly innovative. To improve local connectivity a plan had been formulated to link the city's tram network with the local railway the Harzer Schmalspurbahn (HSB) which also operated with metre-gauge track but was not electrified. Not justifying the cost of electrification, it was decided to run a tram in  trials over part of the route with an auxiliary diesel engine to generate electric power. Three new Combinos were purchased with an auxiliary diesel engine to run services through the city from the South Harz Clinic to the railway station and on to Ilfeld (Neanderklinik) via the primarily single track of the HSB with a distinctly inter-urban feel. The line was operated jointly by the city tramway with their Combino "Duo" trams and the HSB with diesel stock which was then given approval to run the short distance over street track from its own terminus station to Nordhausen's Bahnhofsplatz on the tramway in front of the main-line station.

This new and uniquely innovative version of the increasingly popular "tram-train" concept, normally associated with standard gauge trams running on electrified standard gauge main line rail routes, was still in its infancy when Phil Barnes visited in 2005.

Above :  Bahnhof Ilfeld with new Combino and diesel car 187 019-5 of the HSB. The HSB was established in 1993 when a number of local lines through the Harz mountains were taken over by a consortium of local authorities They had previously been operated by the Deutsche Reichsbahn, the state operator in the then recently-defunct German Democratic Republic. In total the network is 140 km with 44 stations and links Nordhausen with Wernigerode and Quedlinburg. The HSB is characterised by regular steam-hauled services on all routes but many services are handled by diesels and 187019 was one of four railcars built in 1999.  

Above :  Bahnhof Ilfeld with new Combino 201

Above :  201 on HSB track en route to Nordhausen at Nordhausen-Hesseroder Strasse

Above :  Bahnhofstrasse, viewed towards Rautenstrasse

Above : Rautenstrasse - view towards Bahnhofsplatz

Above : Rautenstrasse - view towards Bahnhofsplatz

Above : Rautenstrasse - view towards Kornmarkt

Above : Rautenstrasse - view towards Kornmarkt

Above : Rautenstrasse

Above :  Rautenstrasse, with ex-Stuttgart GT4 tram 80 heading towards Bahnhofsplatz. Kornmarkt in the background 

Above :  Rautenstrasse, with tram heading towards Bahnhofsplatz. Kornmarkt in the background 

Above : 202 on Stolbergstrasse at Topferstrasse, heading towards Theaterpltz, Kornmarkt and Bahnhofsplatz

Above : 101 on  August-Bebel-Platz at Stolbergstrasse, heading towards Theaterplatz

Above : GT4 tram 80 on Topferstrasse, outbound at Theaterplatz

Above : Topferstrasse. Duo tram 201, outbound at Theaterplatz, will shortly turn left into Stolbergstrasse en route to Krankenhaus

Above : Rautenstrasse : view towards Kornmarkt

Above : Bahnhofsplatz at Oskar-Cohn-Strasse

Above : Combino Duo 201 at Bahnhofsplatz. The tram has to change direction here to continue to Ilfeld, hence the Duos being specified as double-ended trams

Above : Bahnhofsplatz.

Above : 201, having left Bahnhofsplatz, runs along the connecting line in Oskar-Cohn-Strasse before joining the HSB alignment

Above : 201 approaches the HSB formation.
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