For many railfans their interest in railways ends at the border of their own country, with little interest in the trains found elsewhere in the world. But it seems that German railfans are an exception to this, being happy to follow trains wherever they run.
I first noticed this when I was looking up the Richards Bay Coal Line in South Africa, and the only Wikipedia page on the subject was in German – nothing in English, and nothing in Afrikaans.
But why? Science and technology form a large part of German culture, which presumably combined with a open worldview means a German railfan is more likely to take an interest in the railways elsewhere in the world.
There is a German company called Tanago that runs guided railway photography tours to offbeat locations all over the world.
On the outskirts of Moscow is VDNKh – originally built by an exhibition centre to show off the achievements of the Soviet Union, by the time I visited in 2013 it was a bizarre mix of fairground meets flea market, set amongst a collection of Soviet architecture.
Established in 1935 as the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (VSKhV) (Russian: Всесоюзная Сельско-Хозяйственная Выставка; Vsesoyuznaya Selsko-Khozyaystvennaya Vystavka), each pavilion showcased the achievements of a geographical region of the Soviet Union.
The park was further expanded in 1948 when the Soviet Council of Ministers issued a decree ordering a unification of VSKhV with the All-Union Industry Exhibition, which formed today’s Выставка достижений народного хозяйства (ВДНХ) (Vystavka Dostizheniy Narodnogo Khozyaystva (VDNKh)) – literally the “Exhibition of Achievements of National Economy”.
By 1989 the exhibition had expanded to an exhibition area of 700,000 square metres across 82 pavilions, many dedicated to a particular industry or field, but following the collapse of the Soviet Union the exhibitions were closed, replaced by a variety of tenants.
The administration of the park and the Moscow City Government have so far displayed a marked tendency to restore the Exhibition to its condition in 1954, favouring Stalinism over Modernism. In 2014, the facades of two modernist facades were hastily taken down, in defiance of the law.
The tram in Ploiești was opened in 1987 and originally consisted of six routes. 1998 saw route 105 close, and by 2003 only lines 101 and 102 were still in operation.
The initial fleet was Timiș 2 trams made by Electrometal Timișoara and V3A trams by ITB București Main Workshops. However by the late 1990s and early 2000s, they were replaced by Tatra KT4D trams from the town of Potsdam, Germany.
Modernisation works were started around 2014 and in 2016 the tram system was reopened, with modernised and up to date infrastructure.
Thanks to an internal program set up at TCE Ploieşti, operator of the Ploieşti Tramways, ten trams out of a total of 24, will be repaired and repainted into the colours of Ploieşti’s coat of arms (white, blue, red) and yellow, the colours of public transport common.
The coat of arms of Ploiești consist of a blue shield, loaded with two golden lions, with a red tongue, which sustain a silver, uprooted oak tree. Everything is put on a red scarf with the inscription of M.V.V. (Mihai Viteazul-Voievod)
I can see the resemblance, but no way did Ploieşti come up with the livery on their own!
One thing you won’t see in Adelaide is snow – here is KT4D #075 headed through a Romanian winter.
A few months ago I came across a photo on Twitter showing a barbecue along tram tracks, with a hotplate full of sausages sizzling away on top. So where was the photo taken, and what was the story behind it?
With the location and date, I was also able to find this news article by the France 3 Provence-Alpes network.
Railway workers demonstrated in the center of Nice on Monday “without train”
Laurent Verdi with AFP
Posted on 14/05/2018 at 15:15
Around 800 people, employees of SNCF and workers from other sectors demonstrated Monday in Nice against the reform of the SNCF. The demonstrators blocked a time the entrance of the town hall of the city.
Nearly 90% of the staff of the SNCF are on strike Monday in Nice according to the unions. Management also recognizes a particularly difficult day.
In Nice, a general meeting of the staff of the SNCF took place Monday morning at the initiative of the inter-union near the central station. About 400 people were present to discuss the social movement.
At the end of the general assembly, a procession of 800 people , according to the unions, marched in Nice to demonstrate against the reform of the SNCF. This procession was made up of SNCF staff and other sectors as well as political activists.
The protesters left the central station, went up Avenue Jean Médecin, to finish in front of the town hall of Nice as shown in this report by Nathalie Morin and Yannick Fournigault.
The network also posted footage of the protest.
In which I found the same tramway mounted barbecue that started my search.
The tradition to touch the statue of a bronze border dog at Ploshchad Revolutsii station arose long ago, but at first it was just a student problem. One can understand: the students in the majority of their people are dark and disorderly, they remember about the exam three days before its end, when all that remains is to hope for only a miracle. And who else can pray for the miracle of the Soviet Komsomol https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Komsomol – not the saints of the saints. So let the mystical patron of a lost Komsomol become a bronze animal, whose polished snout mysteriously flickers in the twilight of Moscow dungeons. In general, at first it was rather funny.
While also detailing the damage this ‘tradition’ has caused to the sculptures.
In the past ten years, the pilgrimage to the underground shrine suddenly became a nationwide action. Check for yourself: out of ten metro passengers passing along the platform, at least three will certainly attach to idols, and if someone does it in passing and in jest, then many are genuinely religiously zealous. At peak hours, the frequency of wiping each dog’s nose reaches 20-30 approaches per minute, and a queue forms.
Once the dog’s noses just glistened, and now they have completely lost the surface relief and are already beginning to lose shape. Pay attention to how finely and conscientiously the texture of these statues is worked out – the roughness of the soldiers’ overcoats, the furry dogs and everything else. The dog muzzles first lost their hair, then their noses – only holes remained, in a few more years they would not be there either. Roosters are rapidly losing feathers.
As Ploshchad Revolyutsii station there are 76 bronze figures depicting Soviet people, located on the pedestals in the corners of each archway. There are 20 different designs: 18 of them are repeated four times, and two – twice.
The sculptures were made at Монументскульптура (Monumentskulptura) in Leningrad under the guidance of prominent sculptor M. G. Manizer, with the team of sculptors including A.I. Denisov, A.A. Divin , A.A. Vetutnev, I. P. Ivanov, E. G. Falco, M. A. Vladimirskaya, V. A. Puzyrevsky.
And the scenes pictured:
The sculptures are arranged in chronological order from the events of October 1917 to December 1937:
For example, the approach to any serious bridge is enclosed by a zone of alienation with barbed wire, signs and armed guards.
We photograph the railway bridge, for example. The ВОХРовец is approaching us and politely is interested, but on what basis are you taking these photos?
ВОХРовец, according to the statute of the guard service they do not have rights to leave the facility, those because of the territory he should not leave. But to call the police – easily. And if on the fence, there are inscriptions about the prohibition of filming, then they will be right.
Specialised state departmental armed units responsible for protecting buildings, structures, vehicles, and cargo from unlawful attacks. They have the right to use military and service firearms, in addition to service dogs, handcuffs, rubber batons, and spike strips used to stop vehicles. Officials of state departmental protection (established by federal state bodies) have the right to draw up protocols on administrative offences, carry out personal searches, inspect items belonging to individuals, inspect vehicles and other procedural actions established by the Code of Administrative Offences of the Russian Federation.
The Federal State Enterprise “Departmental Protection of the Federal Agency for Railway Transport” carries out its activities on the basis of the Resolution of the Government of the Russian Federation of June 27, 2009, No. 540 “On Approval of the Regulation on Departmental Protection of the Federal Agency for Railway Transport.”
The Federal State Enterprise “Departmental Protection of Railway Transport of the Russian Federation” for nearly 90 years has ensured the safety of the cargo being transported, the protection of objects and the fire safety of railway transport in the interests of the state, citizens and the company “RZhD” all along the steel highways from Kaliningrad to Sakhalin.
Today the departmental protection of the railway transport has 68,000 employees, with over 2400 objects of railway infrastructure protected, including more than 1900 most important ones.
More than 400 fire inspectors carry out fire prevention at stationary facilities and rolling stock. In constant readiness for action are 307 fire trains, including 67 specialised, with increased tactical capabilities to eliminate emergencies with dangerous goods.
They also show off their work protecting major bridges.
The fact that the railway bridges are so heavily guarded is understandable, no one doubts this is necessary. But I’ve always wondered: why are automobile bridges not so zealously protected?
In the event of an accident on the rail such as bridge collapse, the consequences will be much more significant compared to a road bridge. Any car will have time to stop seeing ahead of the obstacle. In addition road bridges are much more numerous than rail bridge, therefore it is impossible to protect all the bridges (where to find so many guards).
It is easier for road vehicles to find a detour, or engineering troops can erect a temporary pontoon bridge. Blowing up a railway bridge means complete paralysis of the route until the bridge is completely restored.
I understand that we are talking about “big” unique bridges. Standard railway bridge across the small river should be restored in a very short space from pre-prepared sets. Actually, that’s why they are not protected.
Following the October Revolution railway facilities of strategic importance were under the protection of the military department; protection of “external order, deanery and public security” was carried out by parts of the railway guard and the police. Cargoes, property and ways were under the care of watchmen, who were in full subordination to those whose good they had protected.
In order to strengthen the leadership, in March 1918 a special decree was adopted “On the centralisation of management, the protection of railways and the increase of their efficiency”. By the decree of the government of July 17 of the same year, under the People’s Commissariat of Railways (NKPS), the Office of Protection was established.
The squad on the ground included transport experts. They fought decisively against stowaways and those who tried to transport goods without payment, in addition to monitoring the efficiency of rolling stock use. It was envisaged to increase the number of protection staff to 70 thousand people.
The authorities could not tolerate chaos and theft on the railways. Looters cut the telegraph wires. Profiteers swarmed trains, like locusts. Hidden were robbers, bandits and other criminal element.
The NKPS was forced to take extreme measures. At the stations, warehouses, warehouses temporarily formed non-military protection. As for bridges and other structures not guarded by troops, as well as railway tracks, they went under the tutelage of local authorities, which formed out of brigade workers.
Some few propaganda videos
A video from the Voronezh branch to mark 95 years of railway guards, who protect the South Eastern Railway.
And from the Samara branch, who protect the railway bridge over the Volga River on the Kuybyshev Railway.
In accordance with clause 2.1.1, the boundaries of the restricted area are protected by a barbed wire fence (tape or net) in 12 threads 2 m high. In the terrain, they are designated by warning signs 2 m high above the ground surface, installed along the fence line from the inside through every 50 meters in the enclosure of the restricted area can be arranged gates and wickets. In accordance with clause 2.2.3, on the watch posts, guided (rotary) floodlights of the PFS type (without lenses) or other narrow-beam floodlights are designed to increase the equipping of the terrain outside the restricted area. In accordance with paragraph 4.1, posts for the protection of artificial structures.
While the «По организации работы караулов ФГП ВО ЖДТ РФ» (Procedure for organising the activities of Departmental Security Service of Railway Transport of the Russian Federation) dated 21 September 2010 specifies the other security features required.
According to clause 2.4.1 of the manual a protection system is created to provide protection for the protected object, which includes: guard, posts, orders, locations and routes, surveillance sectors, engineering and technical means of protection, posts of service dogs, means and other forces. Equipment posts should provide the guard: a sufficient overview of all sections of the post and the surrounding area; sufficient illumination of the approaches to the object, its most important points; absence of lighting (blinding) by lighting systems of security equipment and guards; the possibility of centralised management of the entire lighting system or a group of fixtures, and in necessary cases, separate lamps (projectors).
Equipment of restricted areas includes: their fencing, checkpoint, warning signs, indicative and delimiting signs, a security lighting system, technical security equipment, postal communication and signalling, guard posts, defensive structures. Depending on the nature of the object and the conditions of its location, the fence is built around the perimeter of the site and the boundaries of the restricted areas. When erecting a fence, it must be taken into account that it must be rectilinear, without unnecessary bends limiting observation, not less than one and a half meters in height. To it should not adjoin any structures. In the darkness of the day, the approaches to the post and the protected object should be illuminated so that the sentry, being on the post or moving along the site of the post, was in the shade. In accordance with the established procedure, security lighting should provide illumination at the borders.
Recently I came across a viral photo on Facebook that showed a railway track dropping over the edge of a cliff, then continuing on below. So where was the photo taken, and why is the track layout so ridiculous?
The CarGoTram commenced operation in 2001, transporting car parts 4km to Volkswagen’s “Transparent Factory” located in central Dresden, from a road served logistics centre. Each bidirectional trams is made up of five units, with services operating along the same tracks used by passenger services.
Lesser known is the ‘Cargo-Tram‘ of Zurich, Switzerland.
This service commenced operation in 2003, travelling around the city collecting rubbish and recyclables from pick up points along the way. A redired passenger trams operates the service, towing two flat wagons loaded with rubbish containers.
A different type of freight service was the ‘Güterbim‘ of Vienna, Austria.
A trial service commenced operation in 2005, transporting freight to Wiener Linien’s tram depots around Vienna, such as driver’s seats, wheelsets and brake blocks. A specially converted works trailer wagon was converted to carry the freight, towed behind a workshop tram. The trial ended in 2007, but I can’t find out what happened to it.
For tramway maintenance
Converting trams to assist with track maintenance is common.
This unit is based out of the Leonova depot (№2) in Saint Petersburg, Russia.
Operation of tram electric locomotives began in Kharkiv in 1932, when the tram industry received two industrial electric locomotives of the type EPU (Electric Locomotive Industrial Narrow), manufactured by the Moscow Dynamo plant. Such electric locomotives were produced in the years 1926-1938 specifically to work on tram lines and access roads of industrial enterprises and fed from a 550-V contact network.
For many years, electric locomotives were used to deliver rail cars with cargo intended for the Kharkov confectionery factory “Kharkovchanka”. The latter is located one kilometer from the tram-railway “gate” of the station “Kharkov-Passazhirsky”, opposite the former Cargo depot. Wagons were transported along Chebotarskaya Street, where electric locomotives and passenger trams for a long time worked side by side, practically not interfering with each other.
In the second half of the 1990s, due to the fact that such carriages heavily worn out the rails and created problems for the passenger movement, a certain period of time (from 12:00 to 13:00 on weekdays) was allocated, when the passenger cars were sent to a detour along Kotlov street and a pier on Krasnoarmeiskaya street, and electric locomotives could quickly and unhindered to proceed with cargo. After the transportation was over, the condition of the route was checked and the passenger trams again followed their route.
In July 2001, the tram branch along the Chebotarskaya street was closed to the passenger traffic, after which it was regularly used only to deliver wagons to the confectionery factory. In 2009, the factory abandoned the services of “Gorelectrotrans”. The remaining “no-business” electric locomotives were put off from operation and relocated to the territory of the Saltovskaya tram depot. A few years later these cars were decommissioned.
Similar operations also occurred in other cities across the former Soviet Union, with Трамвайно-железнодорожный гейт (tram-rail gate) being the unofficial Russian langauge term for the junction of the tram and rail networks.
And some historical examples
Saint Petersburg, Russia operated a large network of freight trams until 1997.
Petrograd was the first city in Russia where freight electric transport was established using trams, following the construction laid in the fall of 1914 to the Warsaw freight station. The second cargo branch in 1915 connected the warehouses in Badaevsky to Zabalkansky Prospekt. These early freight trams consisted of two platforms attached to a motorised tramcar that acted as a locomotive. Load capacity of each platform was 4 tons. By the end of 1921, the total length of the special cargo way had reached 13 km, and the number of 4-ton cargo platforms had increased by another 100. The average annual volume of traffic in 1918-1921. was about 250 thousand tons.
The place of 4-ton platforms of pre-revolutionary times began to come 10-ton. Thanks to this, in 1930, 40 tram freight trains carried 491.6 thousand tons of cargo. By 1933, the length of its tracks had almost doubled, reaching 5.9 km, including 3.6 km of tramways and 2.3 km of railways.
By 1940 the freight tram fleet consisted of 67 motor and 177 towed cargo platforms. The number of tram per route reached 43, each with a payload of at least 30 tons. In addition to 10-ton wagons, new 12 and 15 tons capacity wagons were entered service.
In 1950, tram trucking reached 1942.7 thousand tons, and in subsequent years remained at the same level. The cargo tram depot in 1956 daily issued on the line 47 trains, which served more than 20 enterprises and organisations of Leningrad. The amount of work done by the park for this year amounted to 40 thousand railway cars.
The maintenance of enterprises by freight trams was discontinued in 1997. The last serviced enterprise was Sevkabel , which has a base on the right bank of the Neva on the territory of the Neva freight station.
Moscow also had a freight tram system, but it was abandoned much earlier.
Cargo trams operated over the Moscow tram network from 1915 to 1972. The route was completed in May 1915 from the railway station of the Paveletsky railway station to the “Business Yard” beside Varvarsky Gate.
From 1916 to 1919, the number of freight cars grew from 51 to 167 units. During 1918, 15 motor and 24 trailer cars were converted into freight ones. In 1919, about 17 km of new routes were laid for freight traffic, and followed in 1920 by another 10 km, but from the middle of 1921 the volume of traffic began to decrease in connection with the transition to road transport.
At the end of 1931 there were 139 freight cars in the Moscow tram. The cars were used for the largest construction projects: the Moscow Metro and the Palace of Soviets. Specially constructed trains-trailers with the carrying capacity of 50 tons were used for transportation of metal trusses for the construction of the Crimean Bridge, the Bolshoy Krasnokholmsky Bridge, and the Great Ustyinsky Bridge.
The heyday of the freight tram came during the Great Patriotic War , when practically all trucks were mobilized to the front, by 1942 the total length of purely freight branches was 38 km.
After the end of the war, the volume of traffic began to decline sharply – in 1953 they became seven times less than in 1945. In 1951, 9.3 km of cargo branches were dismantled. Some revival occurred in 1954-1955, when it was decided to use freight trams on housing construction. In 1956, 127 freight cars were on the inventory, in 1960 – 67, in 1966 – 30, and in 1971 – only 7 wagons.
In 1972, the freight tram was officially discontinued – the last 7 cars, which were already used only for the needs of the tram network, were transferred from freight to service trams.
The German term for ‘freight tram’ is Güterstraßenbahn – German-language Wikipedia has a summary of former operations in western Europe.
With a large fleet of nuclear power stations used for electricity generation across Russia, there is also an increasing quantity of отработанного ядерного топлива (spent nuclear fuel) needing to be safely transported to reprocessing or storage facilities, where the useful material can be reused and the remnant radioactivity can be safely managed for the thousands of years required for it to naturally decay. The chosen model of transport – train.
The US-based Cooperative Threat Reduction Program sponsored construction of six special TK-VG-18-2 type rail cars. The rail cars for spent nuclear fuel passed all the required tests and were certified for operation. Each car can take two 40-tonn containers with spent nuclear fuel. The new train will allow to speed-up the spent nuclear fuel transportation to the storage and reprocessing points. Until recent time Russia had two nuclear trains with four cars each. The Norwegian Government sponsored the second train’s construction.
In July 2006, activists from Greenpeace’s St. Petersburg office discovered several unguarded trains containing uranium hexafluoride at the station at Kapitolovo in the Leningrad Region, where Izotop is based. The train cars were parked directly next to passenger platforms. Moreover, Greenpeace measured the radiation dose on the platforms where passengers were standing at 800 microrontgens per hour, or more than 40 times the normal background radiation level.
“Nuclear and radiation safety is at a level such that transportation of nuclear materials presents no danger to the public,” Shishkin said. “A person would have to stand on the platform at Kapitolovo for 400 hours to receive the maximum yearly dose that would cause no harm to his health.”
Dmitry Artamonov, head of Greenpeace’s St. Petersburg office, disagreed with Shishkin’s reasoning.
“This sort of transportation could be a great present for terrorists, either as a source of nuclear materials, or as a direct target for an attack,” he said. “Such an attack could lead to very serious consequences, since it would not be too difficult to destroy the containers. And even without terrorists, an ‘everyday’ accident could produce an effect just the same.”
The protesters with Bellona and other Russian environmental groups were accosted by the guard bearing an AK-47, who cocked and pointed the weapon at the environmentalists who were filming the results of their radiation measurements – which exceeded background radiation levels by 30 times. The armed guard was travelling with the load as specified by law.
Bellona and Ecodefence have been following the load of uranium tails since it put into the port of St. Petersburg on Friday filled with waste from Germany’s Urenco enrichment facility in Gronau. Bellona and other Russian environmental groups demand the transport of the radioactive waste be ceased immediately.
Environmental protesters where hanging a banner emblazoned with the phrase “No to the import of nuclear waste” on the train platform in Avtovo, a thickly settled suburb of St. Petersburg where the train had come to a stop
A special-purpose train carrying 80 tons of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from Leningrad Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) near Russia’s second largest city of St. Petersburg is soon to head out to a closed town in Siberia – a first shipment in an envisioned large-scale SNF relocation project that environmentalists fear will turn Siberia into a nuclear dumpsite and drastically increase overall safety risks, while helping none to address the exacerbating threat of nuclear waste accumulation.
Up to 22,500 tons of spent nuclear fuel generated in Russia’s altogether eleven RBMK-1000 reactors still in operation may be relocated from the country’s European regions to Zheleznogorsk, on the banks of the river Yenisei. Two hundred and ninety “nuclear trains” will be required to transport that much waste – assuming that all three Russian NPPs employing this type of reactors will continue to operate beyond their design-basis useful life terms.
During the 1990s a green four-car train would make the rounds every few months to Russia’s snowy Kola Peninsula to cart nuclear fuel and radioactive waste more than 3000 kilometers south from the Arctic to the Ural Mountains.
At the time, the lonely rail artery was the center of a logistical and financial bottleneck that made Northwest Russia, home of the once feared Soviet nuclear fleet, a toxic dumping ground shrouded in military secrecy.
Infrastructure, technology and the Kremlin were failing to keep up with the mushrooming catastrophe. The nuclear fuel train could only bear away 588 fuel assemblies at a time three or four times a year – little more than the contents of one nuclear submarine per trip. Even if the train ran on schedule, removing broken or deformed nuclear fuel elements at Andreyeva Bay was still seen as impossible.