Electric trains, trams and trolleybuses on movable bridges

The Russian city of Saint Petersburg is a located across a collection of islands, divided by the Neva River, and reconnected by a series of movable bridges that allow boats to head upriver. So how do electric trains, trams and trolleybuses make their way across?

Looking downstream to Дворцо́вый мост (Palace Bridge)

In central Saint Petersburg the bridges are low to the River Neva, and have multiple spans.

Looking over the Тро́ицкий мост (Trinity Bridge) from Petrogradsky District

Some bridges have trolleybus routes passing over them, requiring a pair of wires per lane.

Connection between the two halves of the trolleybus overhead on Birzhevoy Bridge (Биржево́й мост)

While other bridges have tram tracks, which only have a single wire.

Disused tram tracks across Trinity Bridge (Тро́ицкий мост) over the River Neva

In both cases, the overhead wires are terminated at the edge of the opening bridge.

Connection between the two halves of the trolleybus overhead on Birzhevoy Bridge (Биржево́й мост)

A small air gap remains for the trolley pole or pantograph to cross.

Connection between the two halves of the trolleybus overhead on Birzhevoy Bridge (Биржево́й мост)

While at the pivoting end, a small hinge allows the fixed and movable sections of overhead to move separately.

Connection between the two halves of the trolleybus overhead on Birzhevoy Bridge (Биржево́й мост)

Similar techniques are used at the Finland Railway Bridge that carries trains across the Neva River. It consists of two parallel double tracks bridges – the older bridge having a twin-leaf bascule span, the second a single span vertical-lift span.

Finland railway bridge (photo by Ivan Smelov, via Wikimedia Commons)
Finland railway bridge (photo by Ivan Smelov, via Wikimedia Commons)

And some more examples

There are plenty more European bridges where trams and trains cross movable bridges, with the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey being my first find.

Overhead lines aren’t an issue at all – metal structures either side of the opening span provides a secure location for the overhead wires to be terminated.

Tramway overhead at the double leaf bascule section of the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey (photo by Roger W Haworth, via Wikimedia Commons)
Photo by Roger W Haworth, via Wikimedia Commons

Trams cross the gap without any trouble, with the pantograph following the solid metal bars either side of the air gap.

Tramway overhead at the double leaf bascule section of the Galata Bridge in Istanbul, Turkey (photo by Roger W Haworth, via Wikimedia Commons)
Photo by Roger W Haworth, via Wikimedia Commons

The Netherlands also have a number of tramways crossing movable bridges – the Kattensloot Bridge in Amsterdam is one, and the Erasmus Bridge in Rotterdam is another.

Rotterdam's Erasmus Bridge in the open position (photo by Ziko van Dijk, via Wikimedia Commons)
Photo by Ziko van Dijk, via Wikimedia Commons

And not quite a tram, but I found a photo of this rolling lift railway bridge over the Hunte river in Oldenburg, Germany – again, overhead wires are no problem.

Rolling lift railroad bridge over the Hunte river in Oldenburg, Germany (photo by Jacek Rużyczka, via Wikimedia Commons)
Photo by Jacek Rużyczka, via Wikimedia Commons

I’m sure there are plenty more examples of electrified railways and tramways crossing movable bridges to be found across the world.

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2 Responses to Electric trains, trams and trolleybuses on movable bridges

  1. Hubert Strasser says:

    On the very last pic of the St.Petersburg trolley overhead lines caption, the switching shack next to the river bridge near Oldenburg, Germany, ironically reads “Bruecke”, meaning nothing else but “Bridge”. So that nobody can miss it…..

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