InTramCities with Gordon Stewart : Special Report

West Germany in the 1970s : Additional photos by Ian Stewart

Gordon Stewart and his father Ian visited West German tramways on several occasions in the 1970s. It was a time when towns and cities, large and small were debating vigorously about what to do with their tramways. Gradually close them down, as some places were, modernise and expand, or as many of the major cities tried, dig as many tunnels as possible and run their trams underground. For most, this proved to be far too ambitious and cheaper alternatives were sought. Many were left with compromise solutions and several cities created problems of their own making due to the differing levels of compatibility between their new developments and their existing tramway infrastructure. Nobody was quite sure what would be the outcome. It seemed that tramway photography would largely be a matter of catching views before most were finally closed down. As it turned out, the 1980s saw the development of the low-floor tram which would bring a great improvement in the physical accessibility of trams. The low floor tram probably saved the street tramway and changed the public's perception of them. This special report by Gordon Stewart showcases some of the photos taken in the 1970s and puts them in the context of the developments taking place at the time.
Featuring : Heidelberg - Mannheim - Ludwigshafen / Aachen / Kiel / Hamburg / Stuttgart / Frankfurt (Main) / Hannover / Karlsruhe / Dortmund / Bochum - Gelsenkirchen / Essen / Herten - Recklinghausen / Herne / Mulheim (Ruhr) / Duisburg / Dusseldorf / Krefeld / Wuppertal / Mainz / Darmstadt / Wurzburg / Ulm / Augsburg / Freiburg


Heidelberg (above) was one such city where the debate about what to do about the tramway raged. Complete closure was not seen as an immediate prospect even if a longer-term aspiration, but three branches had already been closed in the early part of the 1970s alone. Fourteen more articulated trams of a well-tested Duwag design were delivered in 1973, with tram 230 the first of the batch. It was only one year old in the photo above, taken in 1974, when it was seen approaching Bismarckplatz on Hauptstrasse. The narrow street runs right through the historic centre of the city and trams terminated at Karlstor, close to the terminus of the funicular to the Konigstuhl which overlooks the city. Although private cars can be seen in the photo, it was the trams which were the first to be removed, taking place from June 4th, 1976 and the street eventually became a pedestrian zone.     

In 1974, Heidelberg still operated a number of smaller two-axle cars. The delivery of this "Verbandstyp" design which built on a wartime utility design came in 1955 and 1956 and although less than twenty years old they were very much outdated by 1974.  The obsolete tram (75, above) contrasts with the modern reserved track alignment along the Kurfurstenanlage near Hauptbahnhof  which suggested that at least some of Heidelberg's network was suitable for the requirments of the rapidly modernising world. 

Bismarckplatz remained a busy tram station in Heidelberg's city centre although it was now a reasonably long walk for people to reach the heart of the old city. Replacement buses did not run along Hauptstrasse and only skirted the southern side of the pedestrianised area. Tram 238 was still only four years old when seen on July 27th, 1977, but it was based on a visual design from the late 1950s at a time when several other cities were ordering something much more modern looking.

One of the factors favouring the retention of a tram service through Heidelberg was the OEG (Oberrheinishe Eisenbahn Gesellschaft) service which linked Heidelberg to the neighbouring larger city of Mannheim in a loop line which also connected the town of Weinheim. Parts of the OEG line were "inter-urban" in nature with sections of reserved track which were seen as not impeding road traffic. Whether the OEG service was justified financially was another matter, but both tramways survived the doubts and entered the days of tramways' renaissance with renewed confidence. Trams of both the local Heidelberger Strassenbahnen (HSB) and OEG are seen above in the increasingly "popular" all-over advertising livery which operators welcomed as an additional source of income. The OEG's tram 83 was one of a number of eight-axle double articulated sets purchased in the 1960s, this one being from Duwag in 1966 and presenting a rather larger appearance than Heidelberg's own trams. The tram in red represented the latest in new trams for the Heidelberg system, one of four eight-axlers for the Leimen route. This photo was taken on July 27th, 1977 when the Heidelberg tram was completing its second year of operation. 

The OEG network is run jointly by the authorities of Mannheim, Heidelberg and Weinheim and is one of the survivors of the numerous light railways which were once common throughout Germany. Tram 103 dates from 1973, so was relatively new when this photo was taken in Seckenheim on July 27th, 1976. The reserved alignment indicates that the OEG's heritage is light  railway rather than tramway and the route taken into Mannheim and its terminus at Kurpfalzbrucke from Heidelberg via Seckenheim had no shared operation with Mannheim's own trams.

Seckenheim Bahnhof on the OEG route from Mannheim to Heidelberg on July 27th, 1976 with one articulated tram and a three car "Grossraumwagen" set from a generation of trams delivered throughout the 1950s until as late as 1963. 

Mannheim itself operates a large street-based tramway and with the exception of a very short section of subway on Luisenring, has not opted for underground running. Duwag tram 323 was sixteen years old when seen here on Moltkestrasse on July 27th, 1976

Moltkestrasse in Mannheim was served by numerous lines which could lead to a build of of trams. Duwag had become the tram supplier of choice when Mannheim re-equipped in the late 1950s and 1960s. Tram 453 was one of twenty delivered in 1970-71. It retained the traditional Duwag style but incorporated the latest in comfort and technology and this became generally known as the Mannheim-type in Duwag's catalogue. 

448 was one of a batch delivered to Mannheim in 1967 and is seen in front of the city's Hauptbahnhof

A Ludwigshafen tram (121) in Mannheim at Tattersall. Mannheim and Ludwigshafen are positioned directly across the River Rhine from each other and are linked by two bridges with tram lines crossing not only the river, the city boundaries but also a state boundary with services jointly operated by the two undertakings.

Although Mannheim is considerably the larger of the two and possessing a much larger tram network, Ludwigshafen opted to construct tunnels for its trams. It was an optimistic move and one which was to backfire . Tram 148 is seen on surface tracks on July 27th, 1976

Running through Ludwigshafen is the Rhein-Haardt-Bahn (RHB), a line jointly owned by the Mannheim and Ludwigshafen undertakings, which links Mannheim with Bad Durkheim. Although interurban in character after leaving the Ludwigshafen urban network at Oggersheim where local services terminate, it runs as a street tramway otherwise. Notable is the length of the tram. 1022 is a five sectioned articulated car with twelve axles, four examples of which were received from Duwag in 1967


The city of Aachen was coming to the end of its programme of tramway closures when this photo was taken in the summer of 1974. A large network of interurban lines linking surrounding coal-mining communities and stretching over the nearby Dutch and Belgian borders had disappeared and the remaining city-based lines followed in the early 1970s. The final cross-city line closed at the end of September 1974. The city had maintained some degree of modernity in its fleet by buying in second hand trams, including from nearby Monchengladbach (above) where tram operations ended in March 1969 and Oberhausen (below) whose trams ran for the last time in October 1968. Aachen was following the national trend - and a trend which was expected to continue

Aachen : One of four Westwaggon-built trams brought in from Oberhausen. These were still only thirteen years old when this photo was taken in 1974


Another tramway which did not survive was in the northern port town of Kiel. By the mid 1970s (this photo is thought to be from 1975) the tramway consisted of one remaining line only and it was to close in May 1985. Tram 263 was one of fifteen six-axlers delivered by Duwag in 1960 and 1961. The trailer is a so-called Aufbauwagen, built in 1949 on trucks from an earlier tram destroyed during the war and came from the city of Lubeck in 1960 following the closure of the nearby system in November of the previous year


Hamburg : It was not only smaller and medium-sized cities which were debating what to do about their tramways. The three largest cities in West Germany, Munich, Cologne and Hamburg were also grappling with the same issues, but for different reasons. There was the usual thought about freeing up road space in the hope of allowing cars to circulate more freely, but also the ambition to equip their cities with something much grander - an underground railway network. The outcomes were all different. Cologne retained its trams and built a large network of tunnels to run them through the city centre. Munich embarked on an ambitious plan to build its underground (U-Bahn) which was to become reality and complement a large regional railway (S-Bahn) network with its own underground tunnel in the city centre. Hamburg had a well-advanced U-Bahn and a good local railway network which they concentrated on expanding and developing. Munich started to cut back its tramway network in the ultimate belief that it would not be required once their U-Bahn plans had been realised, but this was to be a long and phased process. It was long enough for times to change and for the tramway not just to be to be saved, but expanded as a vital surface-aligned complement to the the heavier modes. Hamburg's plan was much more severe. Trams would be removed in their entirety - and quickly - with the motor bus being the direct replacement. By October 1st, 1978, Hamburg trams were no more. Hamburg had not bought trams since the 1950s and not even had articulated cars. 3553, seen above in 1975, had been in service since 1951. 

Germany has many cities with populations in the 500,000 bracket. They are not mega-cities in world terms in that respect, but in the 1970s, there was a confident expectation of future growth. What transport system would they need and what could they afford ?  History had left them with large street tramway systems, but systems needing major investment and systems which seemed to many to be inappropriate for future needs. As a result, the "Stadtbahn" concept was formulated : a mixture of tram and underground railway which could be built in stages as finances permitted but integrated to the extent that trams could, at least in the immediate future, run through the tunnels imitating "proper" underground railways in the city centre. Outside the centres, they would run as traditional tramways, but be upgraded on to tracks segregated from traffic and ultimately, it was hoped, be able to to be converted to the wished-for U-Bahn standard. Stuttgart was the city that followed the concept most closely and since the 1970s has been able achieve perhaps the best results. U-Bahn systems would, amongst other things, be based on standard-gauge tracks. Stuttgart, along with many other cities, possessed a tramway with metre-gauge tracks. This was not a problem to the extent that a suitable time in the future, lines could be converted and this happened in Stuttgart. For many years, three rails could be seen so that standard-guage "Stadtbahn" cars and metre-gauge trams could run along the same track. Stuttgart's tunnels were built in bite-sized chunks and outer alignments upgraded according to a long-term plan. In the photo above, taken in July 1977, a metre-gauge tram has just ascended the ramp in the middle of Konigstrasse, the city's prime commercial and retail street. A tram tunnel had been opened under the north-eastern section of the street and in front of the main railway station (in the background) where a major interchange station was being constructed. The tram is approaching Schlossplatz, whilst tunneling work continues underneath and once ready, the ramp would be removed and trams removed from the surface in this part of the city.     

Stuttgart :  Trams still run on the surface of Konigstrasse at Schlossplatz in July 1977 - but not for long as the tunnel underneath the square is close to completion

Stuttgart : Trams still run along the south-western part of Konigstrasse in July 1977. There is no tram tunnel under this part of the street, but the link with Hauptbahnhof would be retained via a new tunnel for regional heavy railways and the trams removed. Trams turn left or right at Rotebuhlplatz.

Stuttgart : Those trams turning left out of Konigstrasse immediately encountered a ramp leading to the tunnel network, from where a tram emerges in the photo above. This ramp was also temporary, allowing trams to use the tunnels as they became ready in stages. It would be some time later that conversion to standard-gauge took place.

Stuttgart : At Liederhalle in July 1977 tunnels await use by trams but the surface alignment above the excavations remain in service

Stuttgart : An example of an upgraded surface alignent at Mercedesstrasse on the line to the northern suburban centre of Bad Cannstatt where the tracks cross the River Neckar. Sleepers were installed in such a way as to accept rails of 1435 mm spacing (standard gauge) when required

Stuttgart : Wilhelmsplatz is the central transport interchange in Bad Cannstatt and on 26th July 1977 presents a traditional tramway scene with no hint of the changes which will be evident once the system is converted to a standard-guage "Stadtbahn"


Aufbauwagen 478 pulls two trailers in a soon to disappear view in central Frankfurt in 1974

A two-axle tram pulls a three-car set past St Katherine's church at Hauptwache

Aufbauwagen 462 heads along the "Altstadt Strecke" in 1974

Driver training car 1 was built by Crede in 1954 and converted for its later use in 1974. It is seen in bound, turning out of Vogelweidstrasse into Paul-Ehrlich-Strasse

Railgrinder 2021 at Opernplatz

Busy scene at Hauptwache

Frankfurt-am-Main was another half-million-sized city with lofty ambitions commensurate with its status as Germany's financial centre. Its policy was to attain a "track-free city centre" by moving its trams into a network of tunnels. Frankfurt had the benefit of a standard-gauge tramway system but its plans brought other problems which were to land the city with a set of hybrid solutions which were to prove slightly unsatisfactory for many years. Frankfurt's ideal solution would have been to have a genuine underground railway, but it to had to compromise by putting its trams underground in stages. However, it wanted to have "trams" which were much closer to U-Bahn sets, wider than convential trams, running in multiple coupled units and operating much like an "underground" from the outset. The photo above, taken at the Weisser Stein station on the Eschersheimer Landstrasse in northern Frankfurt on August 2nd, 1976, shows the "A" line, the first upgraded line to be put into operation. The vehicles, built by Duwag, were designated as "U2" and were clearly meant to be at least some way towards being "underground railway" stock. yet were running on tram lines with the existing station platforms built accordingly to a low height. The platforms in the tunnel sections were therefore built to match. This hardly represented the ideal U-Bahn when passengers had to alight using steps as had been normal practice for trams. One concession to upgrading the line was to fence off the central reservation and reduce the number of open road crossings - allowing much faster speeds, but also virtually cutting communities in half .   

Frankfurt : The early years of the A line saw the U2 cars share services with traditional trams as seen here at Weisser Stein in 1976. Trams did not use all of the A-line tunnel. A temporary ramp at Taunustor allowed tram-operated services to reach the surface and continue running in a more traditional manner rather than terminate at Theaterplatz (now Willy-Brandt-Platz).  The extension of the A line under the River Main to a new terminus at Sudbahnhof in 1984 was the cue for further closures of survace tracks in the city centre. It was many years before the A line could be converted to high-platform operation and by that time the U2 cars had been replaced by a newer generation of stock.

Frankfurt was at the forefront of  modernising its tramway fleet in conjunction with the Dusseldorf-based manufacturer Duwag. The 1970s also saw the introduction of the "P" class cars, commencing in 1972, which moved on from the classic Duwag tramcar design so familiar in Frankfurt and a large number of other West German tramway systems. Tramway routes were also built into developing areas such as Niederrad (above, with P-type tram 664 in 1976 on tracks opend on June 1st, 1975) where a new "Office City" was being established. Whilst presenting a modern appearance, platforms were still low and the tram's floors were still high, requiring the use of steps. For subsequent underground developments, particularly the "B" line which, Franfkurt had a dilemma. Low platforms were ruled out for the underground stations, but high platforms were not available on the tram routes themselves and would not be available for many years - and at great cost.  The solution was to equip a number of P cars with folding steps to allow them to use high platforms in the underground stations. Frankfurt also had to decide which tram routes would eventually become part of the "U"-designated Stadtbahn-style lines and what was to become of the remaining tram lines.  A further complication was that the tunnels were built to be served eventually by wider cars than the tramway-style P cars and for many years intering solutions were used whereby certain platforms were fitted with extensions to close the gap with the narrower cars or the cars using the tunnels were fitted with extensions around the door areas to do the same job. A number of interim solutions were in use for many years.   

Modern P-type trams 664 and 687 are seen outside Frankfurt Hauptbahnhof  in a modernised tram station. Although Hauptbahnhof was to be served by an underground line, it was expected that surface lines would be seen for many years to come and passengers would still be required to climb in and out of the vehicles rather than have the benefit of level access. What was anticipated, however, was that the surface link to and through the city centre via Munchener Strasse would eventually disappear. It was not until the 1990s that the ambition for a totally "track free city centre" was abandoned and the Aldstadt (Old City) route won a last minute reprieve. This was not before the rest of the city centre's tracks had been lost to further tunnel construction. Nevertheless, in the 21st century it provides a valuable link to the city centre and links the eastern and western parts of the surviving tram network. The issue of stepping up to the trams from street level, a major problem for street tramways in the 1970s, for passengers in general and for disabled passengers in particular, wsas soon to find a solution. Trams could be built with low floors, either in part or eventually throughout their entire length due to design improvements such as shifting electrical equipment from underfloor to the roof and changing wheelset and bogie design. Unfortunately for Frankfurt. the "low-floor revolution", which gathered pace in the 1980s, came slightly too late as the city had already embarked on its massive tunneling projects and had hard-wired a high-platform design for its upgraded "U-Bahn" routes. Frankfurt was quick to buy low-floor trams when it needed to re-equip its remaining traditional tram routes and this is one reason why trams are now highly favoured as an attractive, accessible and, in comparison to the U-Bahn, relatively inexpensive  solution. 

Despite the constant stream of new stock, a number of two axle trams remained in Frankfurt deep into the 1970s. 449 is one of the "Aufbauwagen" type, delivered in the 1949-51 period, but constructed on older trucks recovered from trams destroyed by bombing during World War II.  They were increasingly anachronistic in a city such as Frankfurt, the last being withdrawn from service in 1978.  Despite being only just over 25 years old when seen in 1976, the difference in pereived age between these and, for example, the P cars at the same age is striking. 

Despite all the frantic construction work and the big plans for the future, most of the Frankfurt network was and would remain a traditional tramway. Eight-axle Duwag tram 801, the first of a batch of thirty delivered in 1963, is seen in a traditional setting near Vogelweidstrasse tram stop on the south side of the River Main.

From late 1970, route closures and changes became increasingly prevalent in Frankfurt. On September 3rd, 1979, Two P8 cars wait at Hauptwache which had become a stub terminus due to the closure of tracks in Zeil, the prime shopping street of the city in May of the previous year - perhaps the most significant change to the network at that time. The entrance to the Underground (U) and S-Bahn (S) stations below can be seen by the signage behind trams 707 and 714

The closure of Zeil to trams would have had enormous consequences for the operability of the network had services not been diverted to tracks reopened on an alignement betweenn Goetheplatz and Schafergasse via Schillerstrasse (tram 643, above) and Stephanstrasse slightly to the north of Zeil. September 3rd, 1979 

Frankfurt, 699 at Goetheplatz on September 3rd, 1979. The tracks in the foreground are disused.

Interchange station at Ginnheim with P8 tram 742  approaching platform 1 with an inbound service. To the right, the larger profile cars on the A line also wait with an inbound service, but one which runs outwards via Nordweststadt before turning south and reaching the city along (and then under) the Eschersheimer Landstrasse. September 3rd, 1979 

View towards the city centre along Bockenheimer Landstrasse at Bockenheimer Warte - an alignment which was to be replaced by an underground line in 1986.P8 trams 700 and 697 on September 3rd, 1979

Frankfurt - Tram 691 at Festhalle - Messegelande in on September 3rd, 1979. On the right, a tram is on Friedrich-Ebert-Anlage on route 18

Frankfurt - Hauptbahnhof in 1979

P8 tram 702 leaving Theaterplatz (now Willy-Brandt-Platz) on Neue Mainzer Strasse towards the Untermainbrucke. The A tunnel  (lines U1, U2 and U3) was extended to Sudbahnhof from Theaterplatz on September 29th, 1984 with the associated closure of the above line from Theaterplatz to Schweizerallee/Gartenstrasse.     

Theaterplatz (now Willy-Brandt-Platz), viewed towards the city centre from Munchener Strasse on September 2nd, 1979

Stresemannallee/Gartenstrasse - view towards the city centre. 

Stresemannallee/Gartenstrasse - view outwards


701 at Neu-Isenburg


Louisa on 3rd September, 1979

The A line in the central reservation of Eschersheimer Landstrasse at Fritz-Tarnow-Strasse, looking northwards, in 1979

The former "A" tunnel in 1979 with routes now designated U1, U2 and U3

If the A line had been a compromise solution with low platforms, the so-called B line was also - but in a different way. The tunnel, opened on May 26th, 1974 between Friedberger and Theaterplatz was designed for use by genuine "U-Bahn" cars with level-floor access from high platforms. The vehicles were not available and the only line feeding the tunnel, at least initially, was the surface tram route from Preungesheim, to where the line had been extended from Giessener Strasse in 1977. There needed to be a solution which allowed the 2.35m-wide P8 trams use tunnels designed for use by 2.65m-wide U-Bahn cars. A number of P8 cars were fitted with folding steps to allow them to call at the new stations as well as traditional tram stops (designated Pt) and a temporary strip was fitted along the platform edges to bridge the gap between tram and platform. This continued until 1980 when the tunnels were extended to allow the introduction of a genuine U-Bahn service to Bornheim (Seckbacher Landstrasse). At the city end, the tunnel had been extended to Hauptbahnhof on 28th May, 1978 and seen above on September 2nd, 1979. With the tunnel passing under the old city centre and served by a new station at Romer, it was planned that the surface tram line through the city centre would become redundant. The proposed closure of the "Altstadtstrecke" would become a cause-celebre for the Frankfurt public and was ultimately saved once a new pro-tram policy was followed by the city authorities. That was, however, still some way in the future. The Preungesheim route was cut back to terminate at an underground stub at Konstablerwache and would remain so until it was upgraded to allow through working.  

The Frankfurt S-Bahn network is connected by a tunnel underneath the city centre. The first stage of this was the extension from Hauptbahnhof to Hauptwache, opened in 1978 and seen in 1979


Hannover enthusiastically embraced expansion, but as a major city, it wanted an appropriate transport system. Four underground axes under the city centre were planned and three created in rapid time. As a "proper" modern system required high platforms to achieve level access in the absence of suitable low-floor vehicles, Hannover was left with an expensive programme of converting its tram stops whilst using cars with folding steps as an interim measure. One of the axis (designated the D - Line) was not built and one tram line was left to penetrate the city centre above ground. Remarkably, in 1977, there were still some cars in service which were approaching 50 years old. 209 is one of the reamining cars from abatch of firty two axle trams received from the HAWA factory between 1928 and 1930. A "Grossraum" tram and trailer set is also in view

In the 1950s, Hannover turned to the Duwag factory at Dusseldorf for its new trams. Duwag were establishing themselves to become what would be the dominant supplier in West Germany for many years with their popular "Grossraumwagen" design. This large-capacity car was a significant improvement on earlier vehicles, especially Hannover's ubiquitous HAWA cars, but the tram and trailer set-up was to be eclipsed by a six-axle articulated design by the end of the decade


The tram network in Karlsruhe appeared secure in the 1970s but exactly what the future would look like was unclear. This view of Europaplatz on July 26th, 1977 gives a hint. The yellow tram with red flashings is a Karlsruhe city tram which is about to turn into the busy tram and pedestrian precinct of Kaiserstrasse. The green and yellow tram, clearly of Duwag design, is run by the Albtal Verkehrsgesellschaft (AVG) whose services linked the city to Bad Herrenalp and Langsteinbach. The AVG, which was converted from a metre-gauge interurban light railway to standard gauge in the 1958-61 period, is majority owned by the city of Karlsruhe and runs on city metals to reach Kaiserstrasse and Europaplatz from its own "Bahnhof" adjacent to Karlsruhe's Hauptbahnhof. This provided the template for a major expansion of light rail in the Karlsruhe region with several "heavy" railways converted to operation by tram-like cars to allow passengers to reach the heart of the city rather than have to change to urban trams at Hauptbahnhof which is located at some distance away. There was little interest in expensive tunnels ..... until the new developments, which became known worldwide as the "Karlsruhe Model", became so successful that tracks in the city centre became so busy that a change had to be made. That was for the future.   

In the coal mining and steelmaking area along the Ruhr River in Northrhine-Westphalia a dense patchwork of large cities and smaller mining communities had grown up, stretching from Duisburg, the great inland port on the River Rhine in the west to the city of Dortmund in the east, with both cities being known also for steel and beer. With traditional industies in decline by the 1970s, but still of overwhelming importance to the area, good transport links were seen as essential for the future. Railways tended to follow the west-east axis and it was felt that north-south links throughout the area should be strengthened. The tramways tended to run on traditional street alignments which were becoming increasingly busy with car traffic and the relatively narrow streets afforded limited opportunities to create segregated high-speed transit corridors. The concept of a Rhine-Ruhr Stadtbahn was widely adopted with most of the urban area's major communities joining to form a company to develop a network of totally segregated lines. The idea was to create a genuine underground railway with no traffic conflicts and with third rail power delivery which would rule out street running. It was an ambitious plan which ultimately had to be abandoned, but by the 1970s, extensive construction work was underway to create tunnels for the trams to use using a specially designed "Stadtbahn B" car which would be able to use both tunnels and surface tracks.
possessed a fine section of reserved track through the city centre along Kampstrasse (above, at Reinoldikirche, seen on August 6th, 1976) and tram 6 was one of thirteen Duwag trams which were only three years old at this point. They were, however, not suitable for the tunnel-based services which the authorities had in mind.

Dortmund tram 53, also on Kampstrasse on August 6th, 1976, had come from a much earlier batch of Duwag trams which were outwardly almost identical to those delivered in 1973, but dated from 1959. It is seen negotiating a construction site associated with the east-west tunnel which would eventually lead to the withdrawal of trams from Kampstrasse.   

One Dortmund tram alignement which was sacrificed was that along Konigswall, seen here on August 6th, 1976 at Hauptpost. At this point tracks ran parallel to Kampstrasse and had no chance of being replicated underground. In 2020, the whole area is pretty unrecognisable from the scene 44 years earlier

Dortmund tram 88, from a batch delivered in 1988 passes along Konigswall running westwards with the Hauptbahnhof tram stop in the distance in front of the main railway station, seen in the right-hand distance. The massive "U" symbol towering over the city centre does not represent the future "U-Bahn" but the Dortmund Union Brewery.The tracks branching to the left lead to the city centre and Kampstrasse. Hauptbahnhof was not to be disconnected from the future network, with an underground station built as part of the mainline station complex on a line running north from the city centre.

Still in service in Dortmund was tram 434, built by Hansa in 1956 and only three years older than tram 53 but looking a lot older, being in effect two immediate post-war style two-axle trams joined together by a hanging centre section.

Dortmund : Hansastrasse, southern section, at the junction with Kampstrasse  on July 19th, 1977. Sacrificed at the altar of U-Bahn construction, such a scene  would find favour with most mid-sized cities considering their transport systems in the early quarter of the twenty-first century. Although the trams still have a bit of an ageless look, passengers are still required to take three steps up when boarding - a problem now overcome with all conventional trams in the twenty first century now having extremely low floors allowing level, or almost level, access for all

In 1977, this view of Kampstrasse in Dortmund still suggested that there was more construction going with the city's buildings than with its transport system ....

...... but close-by things were quite different. Tram 48, still in its unusual green livery one year after an earlier photo passes alonside the giveaway workings on Dortmund's Kampstrasse.

Another view of the tunnel excavations along Kampstrasse in Dortmund in 1977 which proceeded whilst trams still ran above

Tram 32 advertises a retail outlet whilst loading outside Dortmund Hauptbahnhof on July 19th, 1977. No construction work was evident here, but the whole area would be transformed once all the city's plans for the city centre had been brought to reality.

Dortmund tram 60 runs along Konigswall at the junction with Hansastrasse in a striking all-over advertising livery. The tracks in Hansastrasse had already been disconnected at this point.

By September 1979, track along Konigswall were still in operation but new trams designated as Stadtbahn-N (with the N signifying normal, standard, gauge) were increasingly apparent on the network. These trams were similar in appearance to the metre-gauge Stadtbahn-M version which had been introduced in Bochum and Essen amongst others.


Dortmund's neighbouring city Bochum also had a surface tram line running through its city centre. The area was being increasingly pedestrianised and in accordance with what remained of the Stadtbahn proposals and each city's own associated plans, trams would eventually be transferred into a tunnel. The line to Laer, served here by a Duwag six-axle tram of 1968 vintage on August 9th, 1976, was one of the lines the city planned to keep. Unlike Dortmund's tram network, Bochum's was metre-gauge so would be unable to operate through the same tunnels as the lines specified in the regional Stadtbahn proposals. This would mean considerable expenditure for the local city authorities if their plans were to be realised.

Upgraded tram lines, including stretches of underground operation, which were additional to the main Stadtbahn would be operated by modern trams and Duwag produced the extremely successful "Stadtbahn-M" design which was adopted in Bochum (for its joint operation with neighbouring Gelsenkirchen) and, amongst several others, Essen, whose trams ran into central Gelsenkirchen and also to Gelsenkirchen's northern suburb of Horst. The latter line was later rebuilt as standard-gauge Stadtbahn, marketed as a U-Bahn, but the former remains a tramway. Stadtbahn M car 303 was still very new when seen in 1976 ouside Bochum Hauptbahnhof.

Bochum : Tunneling construction works were, however, very apparent around Bochum Hauptbahnhof. Tram 1, dating from 1961, passes along Sudring in front of the Hauptbahnhof.

Bochum : One of the new M8 trams turns out of Sudring into Universitatstrasse immediately prior to passing under the main railway tracks - a scene which was soon to vanish and the surrounding area transformed into a busy multi-lane highway.

Bochum's trams were operated as one with those in Gelsenkirchen. They were and remain linked via Wattenscheid as a traditional tramway. Trams in central Gelsenkirchen were also to be forced underground and this view of Duwag-built Essen tram 1619 at Ahstrasse has long since been history although Essen trams continue to run to Gelsenkirchen Hauptbahnhof 

Cream was the predominant colour for trams in the post-war period and few tram operators had moved away from this even by the 1970s. The only real variation was the colour of the band underneath the windows. In the Ruhr area, Dortmund had introduced a distinctive brown livery for its articulated trams but it was not until the arrival of the Stadtbahn-B trams in the 1970s that standardised "Ruhr" colours of red and white were adopted in Bochum and Gelsenkirchen. Essen followed suit but later switched to its adopted city colour of yellow. Tram 254 is seen on Ringstrasse at Grillo Gymnasium in Gelsenkirchen on August 9th, 1976 on a temporary aligment laid to allow trams to reach Hauptbahnhof due to closures in the city centre associated with tunnel construction.

Gelsenkirchen tram 267 on Hauptstrasse, turning into Grillostrasse depot on August 9th, 1976.

In 1976 Gelsenkirchen still owned a number of older trams. Grillostrasse depot was used as a store for 97, 107, 103, 96 as well as 203 and 268. The two-axle trams lined up alongside the depot wall were Fuchs-bilt cars dating from 1948 and 1949 and of the KSW (Kriegsstrassenbahnwagen / Wartime tram) design. 268 was a six-axle articulated car which came in a batch of 38 from Duwag between 1957 and 1959. 203 dated from 1964 but was rebuilt from four axle cars from 1952. 

On July 21st 1977, tram 271 is at Gelsenkirchen Bahnhof  on the long Line 1 to Essen via Buer and Horst.


Adjoining Gelsenkirchen is the city of Essen, famed for its steelworks and home of the Alfred Krupp organisation. Krupp's steel and armaments factories were largely responsible for the growth of Germany's military prior to World War I and its rearmament in the years following. Although Essen was scheduled to build Stadtbahn lines according to the original regional plan (to Mulheim in the west with a branch to Essen-Margarethenhohe, the Gruga Park exhibition grounds to the south and Gelsenkirchen-Buer in the north), it also began to invest heavily in a tunnel for its own metre-gauge trams. Hauptbahnhof and Berliner Platz were to be an interchange for the two systems and Essen's trams would run underground via Porscheplatz, Viehofer Platz and Berliner Platz to encircle the city centre on the east and northern sides. This is the view of the massive construction site at Porscheplatz in 1974. In the post war reconstruction of the city, trams were not returned to the central alignment along Kettwiger Strasse. The city was quickly rebuilt very much along the original street plan with the main commercial street being particularly narrow. It became an early example of a pedestrian precinct in Germany. Traffic was diverted to a new and expansive highway, Schutzenbahn, built to the east of the central city. Putting tunnels under Schutzenbahn at least spared the central area from even more disruption.       

Essen trams negotiate the workings along Schutzenbahn en route to Hauptbahnhof in 1974

A view northwards of a tram coming from Porscheplatz

For the time being, Essen - Viehoferplatz remained very much unaltered

On August 11th, 1976, Viehoferplatz remained very much "as was", but Stadtbahn-M cars were now making an appearance in the standard Ruhr area red and white 

On the western side of the Essen city centre, Limbecker Platz was an important tram stop.  August 11th, 1976

With a major tram station and mezzanine level under construction, things still appeared to be carrying on as usual in front of Essen Hauptbahnhof on August 11th, 1976

On the south side of the railway tracks, Freiheit remained one of the most important tram stops in Essen. Lines from the south and south-west met here

Although most of the tram lines in Essen were on street alignments, the constuction of the "Ruhrschnellweg", a multi-lane highway running east to west across the Ruhr metropolitan area gave the opportunity for trams to be inserted into the median strip, segregated from traffic and without junctions. The stretch of highway between Essen and Mulheim-Heissen was identified as part of the proposed Stadtbahn and Line U18 linking Essen and Mulheim was the first major element of the new network to open, duly converted to standard gauge and operated by Stadtbahn-B cars which would be the new standard. Running east from Essen an exemplary modern tramway provided a fast route to the suburb of Kray.  Tram 1804 is seen approaching Feldhaushof station on August 11th, 1976. This section was not included in the Stadtbahn plan and although the Essen tram operating company would no doubt have integrated the line into their own tunnel-using network, it was not to be. Essen became one of the test-beds for a guided bus system and the rail tracks were ripped up in favour of concrete slabs. Although guided buses were intoduced at a number of places in the Essen transport network, including sharing the new tram tunnel for a short time, the experiment was ultimately unsuccessful and short-lived.

Many of the Essen suburban areas were distinct communities with their own centres and often associated with one of more coal mines.  This is the north-western suburb of Borbeck with a modern tram in an area where traffic calming at least eased the passage of the modern trams (1004, seen on August 11th, 1976) along traditional alignments in narrow streets.

A coupled Stadtbahn-B set (5002 and 5006)  from Mulheim arrives at Essen - Humboldtring on line U18 in the central reservation of the B1 Ruhrschnellweg on July 20th, 1977. This illustrates to some degree the original idea for Stadtbahn lines in the Ruhr area which were not running through tunnels. Although Stadtbahn cars were segregated from other traffic, the stations were relatively inaccessible, being distant from the main centres of population with passengers having to find their way across bridges or through tunnels to reach the platforms. This was not entirely ideal especially in poor weather or hours of darkness.

Essen Hauptbahnhof Underground station on July 20th, 1977.  The Stadtbahn-B car waits to depart for Mulheim - Heissen Kirche, the provisional terminus of line U18. It was not until later that the line was completed as far as Mulheim Hauptbahnhof. A sticker on the front of the car proclaims that it is running an "Underground" service, but written in smaller print across the middle of the "U" is "Stadtbahn" in line with the original marketing concept. The tracks are standard gauge and the platforms are "high", to match the height of the car's floor and thus allowing step-free access. The fact that the platform was built slightly on a curve means that there remains a small gap to negotiate when stepping aboard. The arrival platform for the U18 is at the far left of the photo and only accessible from the mezzanine level above. Between the two U18 track are those for Essen's metre-guage trams serving low platforms and requiring the inevitable step up into the car

With Porscheplatz underground station now operational (this photo was taken on 20th July, 1977), the Schutzenbahn and surrounding area is getting back to normal, or at least with improved provision for cars amidst the new greenery. A new City Hall is under construction. Tram 1618 ascends the temporary ramp on its way to Viehoferplatz

The old tram alignment is still in place. Stadtbahn-B car 1018 presents a highly modern appearance. This design proved to be extremely successful and further batches were ordered over many years. Many were fitted with folding steps to allow them to stop at stations with high level platforms, although unlike Stuttgart, joint running of standard and metre gauge services along the same alignment was never attempted except for the line south to Bredeney which shared a tunnel under Ruttenscheider Strasse with the U-Bahn line to Gruga

Tram 1609 approaches the Schutzenbahn ramp on July 20th, 1977 in a scene which still had not altered much over the years. It was quite different below ground and things would change before too long. 1609 is a tram delivered in 1958 and showing what became the instantly-recognisable face of a Duwag tram, replacing the flat-screen design of the tram to the right. 

If things on the surface appeared quiet at Viehoferplatz, there was plenty of work going on at Berliner Platz where a two-level interchange station was under construction. Here, Essen's own city lines would cross the north-south running future extension to the standard-gauge network.


The area often referred to as "the Ruhr" was concentrated between the River Ruhr to the south and the River Emscher to the north. Outside this central area, development was much more limited. To the south the land became hilly, but smaller industrial communities developed and were linked by an extensive network of inter-urban tramways often running through very rural areas. By the 1970s, these lines had disappeared. However, in the northern part of "the Ruhr" and close to the River Emscher, the pattern of development was determined by the presence of coal. Numerous small towns developed. The larger towns such as Bottrop, Gladbeck, Herten and Recklinghausen had tram links with the major cities, but also a network of their own which included an east-west axis with numerous links to outlying communities. The Vestische Strassenbahnen had shrunk to a bare skeleton by the early 1970s, but still linked to Essen's tramways at Gelsenkirchen-Horst and to Bochum-Gelsenkirchen's at Horst and Gelsenkirchen-Buer. A through service also ran from Recklinghausen to central Bochum. North of the "main line" only the communities of Polsum and Sinsen were attached to the network by this time. Tram 371, a standard Duwag six-axler, common to the Ruhr area and in the Vestische fleet since 1957, runs through Herten in what was a fine modern alignment on Kaiserstrasse. Originally it had been hoped that the mooted regional Stadtbahn would cover this route along the Emscher, but it proved to be far too ambitious an aspiration.

Trams 382 and 371 on Kaiserstrasse, Herten. The 1970s saw the continuation of a long-established policy of route closures. Herten was one of the last communities to remain connected. The westward link to Gelsenkirchen-Buer closed on October 1st, 1980 and the eastwards link to Recklinghausen on May 31st, 1981.

Buer Rathaus was an important interchange on the tram system covering the northern part of the Ruhr urban area. Having its own Rathaus betrayed the fact that it was once an independent town, but it had been incorporated into Gelsenkirchen along with many other communities. The central area of Gelsenkirchen proper remained remote and far to the south although reached by two differing tram routes. By the 1970s, the Buer Rathaus area was laid out pleasantly and still by the July 21st, 1977, when Bochum tram 38 is seen, there remained a significant number of tramway movements. 

The line from Gelsenkirchen to Buer  (above) via Schalke had many sections of upgraded track. Tram heads south on De-La-Chevallerie-Strasse with Buer Rathaus on the right

Another view at Buer Rathaus, where lines approached from four directions, featuring Bochum-Gelsenkirchen's tram 44. This tram is approaching Buer Rathaus on De-La-Chevallerie-Strasse. In the distance the tracks fork to give the option of two routes to Gelsenkirchen - left into Cranger Strasse towards Erle or straight on on Kurt-Schumacher-Strasse to the Schalke stadium 

Stadtbahn-M car 324 from the Bochum-Gelsenkirchen fleet approaches the spaciously laid out platforms on Goldbergstrasse at Buer Rathaus on July 21st, 1977. With the later closure of the route to Recklinghausen, this became a stump terminus

Tram 403 in the Vestische Strassenbahnen fleet was the last tram to arrive as one of four bought from Monchengladbach in 1968 after the closure of the latter system. It was originally put into service in 1960 and was only slightly younger than the Vestische's own six-axled and of similar design. 403 is seen not far from Buer Rathaus en route from Recklinghasen via Herten. The rural nature of the surroundings illustrates the fact that the Vestische lines linked numerous smaller communities and that there really was not the realistic potential for a Stadtbahn here.

Latterly lying at the extreme eastern end of the remaining Vestische system, Recklinghausen was a substantial town in its own right. Tram 370 is seen on Konigswall 

Recklinghausen Rathaus was served by trams from Herten until the link was severed in 1981

Another view in Recklinghausen


Originally it had been anticupated that Recklinghausen, lying directly to the north of Bochum and linked by a tram line via Herne which was operated jointly with the Bochum operation, would be connected to the forthcoming Stadtbahn. Conversion of the tram line appeared justified. It was not to be as The Vestische pulled out of the joint service at the end of September 1982 and the authorities at Recklinghausen had earlier withdrawn from participation in the Stadtbahn project, primarily on cost grounds. Bochum continued with the project, but the new standard gauge line built to Stadtbahn standards and primarily in tunnel ended abruptly at Herne.  Bochum tram 11 runs along a tram and pedestrian reservation on Bahnhofstrasse in Herne. This section of line fell victim to the later opening of the Stadtbahn line underneath.

Tram 298 runs along Schulstrasse in Herne on July 21st, 1977. This track was laid only to allow trams to run whilst the Stadtbahn was under construction


The town of Mulheim lies immediately to the west of Essen in the densely populated Ruhr region. It operates an extensive network of its own, but it was possible to take trams to Essen (using two separate routes), Duisburg to the west and, until its own system was closed in 1968, Oberhausen to the north. The original Ruhr Stadtbahn proposals include each of these links. In the photo above, Mulheim tram 226 and trailer 191 negotiate temporary tracks aproaching Mulheim Hauptbahnhof on August 9th, 1976. The line to Essen was under reconstruction with the first part of the proposed Ruhr system already open as U18 between Essen and Mulheim-Kirche. Tram route 8 continued until it was possible to extend U18 to Mulheim Hauptbahnhof which was achieved on May 8th, 1977. Tram 226 was a four-axle "Grossraumwagen" built by Duwag in 1954 and the trailer in 1955. The so-called "large capacity" cars were highly-modern for their time, a considerable improvement on the outdated cars of the late 1940s and a suitable bridge to the articulated cars which dominated deliveries from the end of the 1950s.     

A Grossraum tram and trailer are seen in central Mulheim on  August 9th, 1976

In common with other local undertakings, Mulheim ordered Stadtbahn-M cars for its local tram routes and also embarked on tunnel-building to integrate these metre-gauge lines into a coordinated network alongside the future standard-gauge Stadtbahn

Mulheim's Stadtbahn M8 cars were painted in a tasteful yellow, whita and grey livery rather than the red and white seen in Essen, Bochum and Gelsenkirchen. 271 is at Kaiserplatz on August 9th, 1976 

Tram and Stadtbahn construction works at Mulheim Hauptbahnhof led to a range of temporary track alignments being used for several years. Grossraum tram and trailer sets remained in service. 227 and trailer 183 had, in the meantime, received Mulheim's new corporate yellow livery.

The repainting of trams to match the new Stadtbahn M8 cars in Mulheim was still in progress. 256 was one of twelve six-axle articulated cars received from Duwag between 1958 and 1964. They were an improvement over the Grossraumwagen in that they had an even greater capacity, but 256 still needed a trailer, 191, which was of the older design. This view was taken at Kaiserplatz on July 21st, 1977.

Although it remained possible to get directly to Essen and Duisburg by tram from central Mulheim, only the line through Essen-Borbeck was jointly workable by both local operators. As a consequence, Mulheim trams could be seen in Essen and vice-versa. This was not the case with Duisburg because of a track-gauge difference. Because of this, it was the Dusiburg transport company which operated the service exclusively with their standard-gauge trams. Only the final section of the route was on an alignment shared with local Mulheim services and here four rails were laid to accommodate each. In the above photo taken at Mulheim-Stadtmitte on July 21st, 1977, Duisburg's tram 1065 waits to depart for its home city using the outer set of rails.  1065 was received from Duwag (as might be recognised from the distinctive Duwag frontal styling) in 1966 as a six-axle tram but almost immediately extended to eight-axle with an additional centre section. Duisburg trams were still sporting the traditional German tram livery of cream with a coloured band but were later to adopt orange and yellow before choosing red. It had been anticipated that the tunneling under Mulheim's city centre would result in a through service from Essen to Duisburg, but this was not to happen and, in 2020, remains elusive with an ever-reducing likelihood of it happening.


Construction company hoardings in the background indicate that tunneling work is well under way in Duisburg on August 5th, 1976. Tram 1061 has just turned into Dusseldorfer Strasse from Konigstrasse

Konigstrasse in Duisburg was itself a massive construction site in August 1976, Tram 1237 runs eastwards alongside on temporary track with a service to neighbouring Mulheim.

Duisburg bought fourteen new eight-axle trams from Duwag in 1973. These were traditionally styled and unlike those subsequently bought by Dortmund and Kassel which were standard-gauge versions of the new trams which had arrived on metre-gauge systems in the Ruhr area and designated "Stadtbahn-N".  1080 is seen looking east at Hauptbahnhof in the new orange and yellow livery on August 5th, 1976.  

Looking west towards Konigstrasse at Duisburg Hauptbahnhof, also on August 5th, 1976

Despite the new arrivals, old-fashioned trams were still in operation in Duisburg on August 5th, 1976. 1205 is one of a number of articulated cars created out of two older wartime trams in the late 1950s. Line 2 was a short run from Hochfeld to Kaiserberg on the Mulheim route.

Duisburg is linked with neighbouring Dusseldorf by a long interurban route in a jointly operated service. Brand new trams delivered to the Dusseldorf operators are seen at Sittardsberg. Sittardsberg station, built in 1970 was the first element of the new "Stadtbahn" to be opened in Duisburg. It was, unusually, located in a cutting, but other parts of the line were built on elevated track through the southern suburbs of the city.

Duisburg trams also ran through Sittardsberg on the Dusseldorf route, whose conversion to "Stadtbahn" standards had already been largely completed in the area between the two cities' main built-up areas. Duisburg trams terminated at a loop at Huckingen

Dusseldorf is the capital of Germany's North Rhine -Westphalia State which encompassed the Ruhr area and as well as being the administrative capital, Dusseldorf could lay a strong claim to be the commercial capital of the whole of West Germany. Its street-based tramway was the largest in the West. In the 1970s it made quick work of building the tunnel underneath the city to bring U-Bahn services to Hauptbahnhof and later beyond as part of the original Stadtbahn plan. The city's own attempts at putting its own trams underground made slow progress despite the early construction of the necessary tunnels around Heinrich-Heine-Allee and it was another forty years before tram routes running from the north-east of the city to the south were removed from the surface. This last change saw the removal of what was for so many years the central tram interchange : Jan-Wellem-Platz, seen in 1978, above with, what was then a modern GT8 tram and a more traditional Duwag-styled tram and trailer.  

A traditional scene outside the Wilhelm-Marx-Haus in central Dusseldorf in 1974

A modern GT8 tram in central Dusseldorf contrasts 1970s design with 1950s design. Four-axle Grossraumwagen motor and trailer set were still  to de seen in 1978

Dusseldorf in 1975 : Heinrich-Heine-Allee is one big excavation site

Heinrich-Heine-Allee, Dusseldorf, in 1975

Heinrich-Heine-Allee, Dusseldorf, in 1975. A new generation of trams (GT8) had just arrived but Grossraumwagen trams and trailers were still plentiful. Trailer 1830 dates from 1955 and was produced in the city by Duwag whose production was greatly helped by having such a large customer on its doorstep.

2266 is seen in front of the prominent Wilhelm-Marx-House office block on Heinrich-Heine-Allee in 1975, with tunneling works not visible from this angle. A large two-level station for a future U-Bahn interchange would be built, but only one level brought into early use. Completed in 1924, the building was one of the earliest high-rise buildings in Europe. Due to its close relationship with Duwag, the local Rheinische Bahngesellschaft was an early adopted on the company's articulated trams


In addition to the fast line to Duisburg, Dusseldorf was connected to the town of Krefeld by a similar long-distance route, designated as "K" (the Duisburg route being "D" prior to the adoption of U-designated numbers). The K line was standard-gauge which allowed it to run freely in Dusseldorf but a separate alignment was needed in Krefeld where local trams ran on metre-gauge. The terminus for the K line was Rheinstrasse where an expansive tram stop was laid out accommodating both at separate platforms. A K line train awaits departure on August 5th, 1976

With the two central tracks used by the K line vacated, Krefeld's own trams occupy the outer platforms. 619 is visibly one of Duwag's standard products. Duwag's main tram factory was in Dusseldorf (hence Du - Wag) but the company also had facilities in Uerdingen, a suburb of Krefeld, which concentrated on heavy railway vehicles. Duwag was the leading supplier of trams throughout West Germany at this time. The company became part of the Siemens organisation and the Dusseldorf factory closed.  Apart from the K line, Krefeld remained relatively untouched by developments going on nearby. Expensive tunnels were never an option nor a requirement and the tram network survived relatively intact


One tramway immediately to the south of the Ruhr area and originally connected with other systems by a network of metre-gauge interurban tramways in the Bergische Land was in Wuppertal. Created by the merging of a number of towns in the Wupper valley, Barmen and Elberfeld being the most significant, transport was heavily concentrated in the valley alongside the river. This resulted in services being provided by train, tram and latterly. bus .... but also the Schwebebahn and elevated "hanging" railway of innovative design, opened in 1901. In the above view taken on August 6th, 1976, tram 8013 picks up a decent number of passengers at Alter Markt tram stop inthe Barmen area of the city. Immediately overhead is the Schwebebahn. The Wuppertal tramway had already contracted considerably by 1976 and the city authorities had decided that the duplication of service was unacceptable, especially as the tramway had lost its branch lines over the years. It was not until 1987 that the system was finally closed. Tram 8013 was one of sixteen eight-axle Duwag cars rebuilt in 1958-60 out of former four-axle cars dating from 1954-55.  

8012 at Alter Markt, Wuppertal on August 6th, 1976

The city of Mainz became a Duwag customer for its modest-sized tramway in the 1960s, but its chosen supplier had previously been Westwaggon. 227 was from their final batch of deliveries to Mainz, arriving in 1961. It is seen at Hauptbahnhof in 1976.

The first trams which Duwag delivered to Mainz were 228-235 in 1965. 229 is seen at Strassenbahnamt in 1976

228, the first of the Duwag cars for Mainz is seen approaching Hauptbahnhof in 1976. The city transport company was in the process of abandoning the ubiquitous cream for a more striking orange livery. 228 had yet to be attended to.

Mainz tram 240 featured the familiar Duwag look, but although it only arrived in 1972, it was one of five originally built in 1960 and purchased second hand from Heidelberg. It is seen in 1976 at Strassenbahnamt

Depots are usually a good place to see the older members of a city's tram fleet, either in store or in operation as shunters in the depot or works cars for wider use around the network. Tram 93, built by the local Gastell factory in 1929 was still around as the Mainz works car in 1976 .... and was later retained as part of Mainz's historical fleet

Unusual three-axle car 257 was one of three "Aufbauwagen" delivered to Mainz by Westwaggon in 1949-50 having been reconstructed on the trucks of damaged wartime trams. By 1976 its working life was coming to a close but it still presented in fine condition

A look inside the depot hall reveals that 260 and 259, two-axle Aufbauwagen received from Westwaggon in 1951 were still in Mainz alongside 93

It was not just old Aufbauwagen which were in storage in Mainz. 209, 210, 211 and 212 were neatly lined up along the wagon hall wall in 1976. These were in fact recent arrivals having been purchased from Aachen, where the last tram line in operation closed at the end of September 1974. Built in 1956 by Duwag, they had originally operated in Monchengladbach but were moved to Aachen in 1969 following the closure of tramway operations in the former. The new arrivals were already in Mainz's orange and cream livery and hoping for an extended life on their third tramway. It was not to be a long life, but 210 was later to be preserved back in Aachen. Whatever the future for these twenty-year-olds, the future of tramway operations in Mainz was, like in many smaller citiesa matter of intense debate amongst the public and their representatives on the city council.  The short branch along industrial land alongside the River Rhine to Ingleheimer Aue closed, but the rest of the system remained intact until there was a change of political opinion in strong favour of trams.


Tram 025 at Schloss tram stop in central Darmstadt, outside the former castle of the Elector of the State of Hessen, in 1975

Darmstadt tram 87 at Friedensplatz with the Weisser Turm (White Tower) in the background. In 1975, two-axle cars were still in regular operation. 87 is one of four of the Verbandstyp design built by Rathgeber as late as 1956 at a time when Duwag were producing their much more advanced Grossraumwagen. These cars were originally in service in Regensburg and came to Darmstadt in 1964 after the closure of the tramway system in the Bavarian city

Luisenplatz can be regarded as the centre of Darmstadt, but although there are construction companies' information hoardings in prominent view, the work is not involving tram tunnels, but a revamping of the area to create a "new city".  Six-axle tram 033 dates from 1962, but although built to closely resemble the standard Duwag design, the manufacturer was actually DWM.

Tram 027 approaches Luisenplatz on Rheinstrasse

Tram 97 was the last of a batch of seven trams delivered by DWM in 1963/64

A remarkable survivor was 068 which was one of a number of trams dating from 1929 which was held in reserve in Darmstadt. Line 9a was a special service in the western suburb of Grieheim providing local runs as an extension of route 9 between the Grieheim depot and Griesheim-Schule. It ran from 1960 to 1976 using old double-ended stock because the terminus did not have a loop so could not be used by the single-ended articulated trams until construction was completed.

The eastern terminus of  line 9 was Ostbahnhof. Although 96 was one of the city's newest trams at the time, the route from the city centre to the eastern railway station was to fall victim to further cuts. It was to be the last closure as Darmstadt, which, along with many other towns and cities, reversed its policy of managed decline to one of positive tramway expansion

Detail of tram 96 at Ostbahnhof

The loop at Ostbahnhof terminus in Darmstadt in 1975

Luisenplatz, Darmstadt,with the Schloss in the background on July 23rd, 1977. Tram 95 is now in the city's new livery which now includes a bright shade of orange

7602 with trailer 160 in Rheinstrasse, Darmstadt on July 23rd, 1977. This tram was one of eight of a new design supplied in 1976 by Waggon-Union. 160 is a Duwag product of 1965

The Darmstadt tramway network integrates two former interurban light railways, one of which is the line to Griesheim. Tram 92 is seen at Robert-Bosch-Strasse on July 23rd, 1977.


Tram 223 edges past traffic on Kaiserstrasse in Wurzburg shortly before reaching Hauptbahnhof in 1975 . The tram was one of six built by the Crede works in 1961-3 using the recovered trucks of older trailers.

225 at Wurzburg Hauptbahnhof showing the two-axle trucks and the suspended centre-section which gave the city an acceptable articulated car at modest expense

248 was a brand new delivery from Duwag in 1975 when seen at Wurzburg Hauptbahnhof


Ulm in southern Germany was one of the smaller cities where the survival of tram operations looked far from assured. Major closures in 1964 had left the city with one remaining tram line which did receive some modernisation. Rolling stock remained outdated although the ten Grossraumwagen received from the south German manufacturer at Esslingen in 1958 had a certain modernistic appearance even when seen in 1975. Tram 5 is seen at Bahnhofplatz

Fifteen two axle trailers built by Fuchs in 1953 were purchased by Ulm from Stuttgart in 1965.These certainly looked outdated in comparison with the Grossraumwagen in this view at Bahnhofplatz

A standard Ulm set turns into Bahnhofplatz from Olgastrasse on a working to Soflingen


Augsburg survived the 1970s and embarked on a modernisation and expansion course, but in 1975 when this photo was taken on Fuggerstrasse at Konigsplatz with the Stadttheater in the background, this was not at all clear. The Bavarian city used the local MAN (Augsburg-Nurnberg Machine Factory) as its tram supplier and in the 1970s these unusual five-axle trams dominated the streets. 534 was supplied in 1964

Konigsplatz in Augsburg was and remains even more so, a busy central interchange for the city's extensive stree-based tramway

This view in Augsburg is little changed although the trams have long since been replaced. Burgermeister-Fischer-Strasse, with Moritzplatz in the background was already traffic-calmed


Freiburg-im-Breisgau turned to the Esslingen factory in the 1960s when renewing its fleet in the 1960s and 105, seen above passing through Schwabentor en route to Littenweiler in 1977, was one of these

113 was one of a second batch which arrived in Freiburg in 1966 and is seen eleven years later on Kaiser-Joseph-Strasse at Bertoldsbrunnen. Freiburg was an early example of a city removing motor vehicles from much of its historic city centre. In 1977, however, the future of the tramway was extremely insecure and was much shrunken from its greatest extent. Fortunately a change of direction was around the corner.

Bertoldsbrunnen, Freiburg in 1977

Freiburg's attractive tram and pedestrian precinct is the scene for this 1976 view of a Verbandstyp tram of 1951 which had been converted to offer a rolling pub attraction "for thirsty people" as was proclaned on its front. 

116 at Siegesdenkmal, about to enter the Kaiser-Joseph-Strasse precinct. This tram was delivered by Rastatt to the Esslingen design in 1967

Freiburg, Bertoldstrasse at Stadttheater with one of the four eight-axlers obtained in 1971

Freiburg, Bertoldstrasse, viewed towards Bertoldsbrunnen. Tram 122, the final delivery of eight from Rastatt in 1968

Freiburg 204 at Oberlinden near Schwabentor. 204 was one of four eight-axle double-articulated trams purchased from Duwag and delivered in 1971

Although tram 119 has long since gone, the scene remains the same at Oberlinden in 2020. The end of the 1970s saw a change of fortunes for trams in Freiburg and the city embarked on a major expansion which is still continuing in 2020. A number of tram systems closed in the 1970s, but fewer than in the 1960s. Those which made it through to 1980, in most cases, experienced the same change in fortune that Freiburg enjoyed.

In the 1970s, taking photos of trams was a matter of recording systems before they closed - or so it seemed. In the 21st century, the photographer has a full time job recording all the new systems being established worldwide and the extensions to route mileage to those already in operation. Quite some change. 

Return to Homepage and Series List