Bending a tram like a banana

Modern low floor trams are made up of multiple articulated segments, which allow these long vehicles to make their way around sharp corners. But this 2018 crash in the German city of Bochum shows another thing these trams can do – bend like a banana.

Bochum Fire Department photo

Bochum Fire Department photo

Bochum Fire Department photo

This media release by the Bochum Fire Department explains how this tram came to be in such a precarious position.

Traffic accident between truck and tram calls for 11 injured persons

5 December 2018

At 1:33 pm, the Bochum Fire Department was alerted to a traffic accident on Wittener Straße in the crossing area “Alte Wittener Straße”. A truck car transporter collided there for unknown reasons with a Bogestra railway.

As a result of the collision, the track was lifted completely out of the rails and thrown sideways. 11 people, including 5 teenagers, were injured in the impact. 6 people suffered severe, but no life-threatening injuries, 5 others were slightly injured. The fire brigade was deployed with 55 forces. The crew of 5 ambulances, two ambulances and two emergency doctors provided the injured on the spot before they were transported to various hospitals. Rescue operations were coordinated by a senior emergency physician.

The employment of the fire-brigade was finished at 15.45 o’clock. The recovery of the railway was initiated by the Bogestra and will take several hours. During this time, Wittener Straße is completely closed in the area of ​​the accident site.

The police have started the investigation into the cause of the accident.

The affected tram was Variobahn #114 on route 302. You can see the site of the crash on Google Street View – the tram route runs in the median strip of a divided highway.

Trams in Bochum are operated by BOGESTRA, with their fleet of Stadler Variobahn trams entered service between 2010 and 2018.

Further reading

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Reversing a tram in Düsseldorf, Germany

On the tram network of Düsseldorf, Germany is a curious terminus arrangement – a turning wye that crosses over itself!

Google Street View

This triangle is found at the route 706 terminus in Hamm, at the corner of Auf den Kuhlen and Kuhstraße.

Google Maps

And is needed so that Düsseldorf’s single ended trams can change direction, before their return journey to the city.

Arriving trams take the left leg of the triangle.

Google Street View

Head into the first dead end stub.

Google Street View

Then change direction and reverse through the loop, which crosses over the inbound track.

Google Street View

Before ending in the second track stub, where the tram can now head forward again.

Confused? You can watch a tram traversing the triangle here.

And I’ve marked the route on Open Street Map!

Open Street Map

So why is such a convoluted terminus arrangement needed? Linie D (Arbeitsgemeinschaft historischer Nahverkehr Düsseldorf) explain why in this history of trams in Hamm (German language):

There has been a tram connection to Hamm since 1924, when the line 8 of the Hafenamtsstraße (today’s area Franziusstraße) was extended. The line designation 8 (708) belonged until the year 2016 firmly to Hamm, only in connection with the new line network of the Wehrhahnlinie changed the line number on the 706.

Today the journey is a varied tour out into the country. In the last section fields are passed through and also the terminal is a special feature, because here is the last track triangle in the Rheinbahn network.

The then line “8” was one of the last Rheinbahn routes still using two-axle trams. However following the 1965 introduction of new Düwag articulated trams, which had doors only on one side of the wagon, the Kuppelendstelle (stub terminus) just before the railway embankment at the end of Kuhstraße was not sufficient. Due to a lack of space for a new turning loop between the fields, a turning triangle with a “creative” track layout was created instead.



The German word for a railway triangle is Gleisdreieck.

You can find route 706 to the bottom left of this diagram of the Düsseldorf tram network.

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Trams and freight trains share the road in Bremen

I’ve written about freight trams before, but in the city of Bremen in northeast Germany freight there is something a little different – a freight siding that shares the tram tracks.

The freight siding joins the route 3 tram tracks on Eduard-Schopf-Allee via a level crossing.

Road traffic is protected by boom barriers and flashing lights.

Google Street View

As is the parallel bike path.

Google Street View

The combined single directional tram track and the bidirectional freight siding then continue west as four rail gauntlet track along Eduard-Schopf-Allee and Auf der Muggenburg.

Google Street View

Until they reach the Kellog’s factory.

Google Street View

Where the freight siding leaves the tram tracks.

This time without any boom barriers and flashing lights for cars.

Google Street View

The gauntlet track is marked in blue.

Derived from this diagram by Maximilian Dörrbecker

And in relation to the wider Bremen tram network:

The German-language Wikipedia article on Straßenbahn Bremen explains why it was built:

Line 3: The new route through the Überseestadt , between Hansator and Faulenstraße, parallel to the previously existing route was opened in December 2006. The inland track was built over a distance of about 800 meters as a four-track track, because here in addition to the tram and the freight trains to Kellogg’s company operate in the bidirectional operation. The previous route in Hans-Böckler-Straße has been preserved as operating route.

It also has a history of the Überseestadt district:

The urban development project Überseestadt includes the district Überseestadt (formerly Handelshäfen) and belonging to the district Steffensweg Waller Wied. It extends between the districts Mitte and Gröpelingen along the Weser. The area is 4.5 kilometers long and one kilometer wide. On the land side, it is bounded by Hans-Böckler-Straße / Nordstraße / Bremerhavener Straße.

Überseehafen and Europahafen were classic general cargo ports. In 1964, the time of the container began in Bremen. In 1966, the first container ship released in Europe, the Fairland, made its way to the overseas port. Since 1967, consisted in this port a temporary facility for RoRo ships. In the subsequent period, the cargo volume went back – the general cargo freight ended in the 1980s. New ships were built with more capacity and depth, so that the 19th-century ports, the associated storage areas and the Weser were too narrow for modern needs. Also the equipment of the two ports with RoRoTerminals in 1967 and 1972 could not stop their economic decline.

Due to considerable dilapidation of the wharves, the overseas port was closed in 1991. As there was no longer any need for the port and its security was too costly, the harbor basin was filled in 1998 with approximately 3.5 million cubic meters of sand, which came from dredging in the outer Weser. This was the basis for the urban development project “Überseestadt”.

The Bremen Senate decided in 2000 the “Development Concept for the Restructuring of the Old Port Districts in Bremen”. In 2003, the “Master Plan Überseestadt” was adopted. The Europahafen will continue to exist as a harbor basin, but there will be no harbor-typical use. The water surface is mainly used by recreational shipping, on the north side was the Marina Europahafen, The adjacent land is reserved for service and residential purposes.

And a few German railfans explain how trains and trams share the single track:

Because of the relatively low rail traffic (Kellog is the only remaining user of the rail connection) it was decided at the time of planning the new route, for reasons of space, for rail and tram to share.

Because of the same gauge the tram and railway could have run the same track; but that would have required a total of four switches, as there is a tram stop in the stretch. With only two train journeys every working day (once each way back and forth) the effort would have been too great, and so it was decided to invest in the four-track track.

Once the shunting has been completed, DB will report the intended passage to the BSAG tramway control center. There is a separate screen for this route, on which the events are monitored. The control center blocks the section for trams and releases the passage for the train (correctly, it should actually be called “shunting unit”). If the train has passed through the section completely, the route for the tram is released again.

The same procedure then takes place on the return journey.

The gauntlet track is slightly offset on the inside of the tram track to protect the stop to be passed on the way. On the siding, even parallel tram operation is possible thanks to sufficient track center distance, as long as the freight train has cleared the track crossing near the Oldenburg Railway! Everything is naturally signal-protected. The tram operation is thereby stopped only about 2-3 minutes.

But unfortunately for railfans this interesting operation is no more: Kellogg’s announced the closure of their Bremen plant in 2016, with the final trains running in 2018.

More photos

Further reading

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A change of pace

Eventually everything comes to an end, including this blog – I’ll no longer be posting new articles every fortnight.

Buffer stops at Gara de Nord station

I started Euro Gunzel back in 2013 following my month long trip to Europe, and since then I’ve been digging through my massive archive of train, tram and trolleybus photos to explore what makes the railways of Europe tick.

150 posts later and I’ve started to run out of fresh content to share, and with no new trips to Europe on the horizon, it’s time for me to slow down – I’ll only be posting new articles on the first Thursday of every month.

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Cable hauled train at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport

Automated people movers between airport terminals are a common sight around the world, but the system at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport is a little different – the trains are hauled by cables.

It is called the Межтерминальный переход в Шереметьево (МТП) or “Interterminal Transfer at Sheremetyevo” and connects the newly completed north Terminal B to the existing southern Terminals D, E and F and the Aeroexpress railway station, via tunnels passing beneath the main runway.

Opened to passengers on 3 May 2018, the system is made up of two parallel tunnels 1,936 meters long, forming two automated transport systems:

– автоматизированной системы перевозки пассажиров (АСПП) for passengers
– автоматизированной системы транспортировки багажа (АСТБ) for baggage

Sheremetyevo Airport development report

It was the first system of its kind to be completed in Russia and airport management has claimed that it is the first system in the world to be tunnelled beneath existing runways.

The system is intended to transport 11.5 million passengers per year, with a capacity of 3,352 passengers per hour, the one way trip taking 5 minutes. The capacity of the luggage transport system is 5.9 million pieces of luggage per year, or 1,816 pieces of luggage per hour.

The stations are located beneath the passengers terminals.

Passenger trains use Doppelmayr Cable Liner technology using a “Double Shuttle” layout. Two trains run side by side on a 2 kilometre long double guideway track, each with its own haul rope and drive machinery, with the two trains operating independently. Each train has four carriages, with two “landside” carriages for passengers yet to clear airport security, and two “airside” carriages for transfer passengers.

Baggage is moved using a Beumer Autover independent carrier system (ICS), which uses 187 automatic carriages with induction motors to move bags at up to 10 m/s along 4.8 kilometres of guideways, each carrying one piece of baggage.

Beumer Group photo

You can see the Interterminal Transfer at Sheremetyevo in action here:


Межтерминальный переход в Шереметьево article at Russian-language Wikipedia

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Delivering a crane by train

I’ve seen many interesting pieces of Russian heavy machinery, but this is a new one – a crawler crane that can be moved by rail.

The crane arrives at the Tyosovo Railway Museum in Novgorod Oblast on the back of a railway flat wagon. The end ramps are then lowered, allowing the crane to drive down to the ground and through the railway yard, where the crane is used to lift narrow gauge diesel locomotive TU2-155 off a road truck and onto the rails.

The crane itself is a Сокол 80M – which translated to “Falcon”.

The “Сокол-80” crane is designed as a mobile vehicle of large carrying capacity for railway emergencies, and it can also be used to move heavy loads in off-road conditions and in hard-to-reach areas.

Produced by OJSC Sokol in the city of Samara (formerly the Kuibyshev Mechanical Plant No. 1). The boom and pivot units are the same design as the Сокол-80 railway crane.

And here is the Сокол 80.01 railway crane variant.

Universal railway crane “Сокол 80.01” has a lifting capacity of 80 tons for the laying of РШР track panels and turnouts without the removal of the contact wire, and the construction of bridges. The boom and pivot units are the same design as the Сокол-80M tracked crane.

Seen at work in a similarly snow covered railway yard.

Further reading

Lego fan ‘Superkoala’ built a working model of a Сокол-80M crane using Lego Technic.

You can read more about the model as well as the prototype at SuperK’s Technic Center and the Eurobricks forum.

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‘Do Re Mi’ music as the train powers out of the station

It’s normal for electric locomotives to make some kind of ‘buzzing’ noise as their accelerate, due to the way that power is applied to their traction motors. But the Siemens EuroSprinter family of electric locomotives make an unexpected sound – a ‘Do Re Mi’ musical scale as they power away from the station.

Pacing ÖBB 1216 class electric locomotive 1216 005

You can listen to it yourself in this video of a ÖBB Class 1116 ‘Taurus’ locomotive departing Zürich HBF on a Railjet service.

And the freight version of the EuroSprinter also playing a similar tune.

Over on Reddit user ‘alltheacro’ explains the phenomenon.

The source is due to the variable frequency drive. You can’t apply full power to the motors suddenly because it would damage components, and the wheels would spin as well, causing damage to the wheels and track. So the power is switched on and off very quickly at different ratios (duty cycle) and different points on the motor’s rotation. Because there are hundreds of amps at high voltages involved, the magnetic fields are strong and anything carrying current – cables, the coils in the motors, etc), and other metal components near them, vibrate. There is also traction control on each individual bogie (ie set of wheels.) If one starts to slip, the train’s control system throttles it back, but the others can keep going. So we get a chorus of different musical notes.

But that isn’t all the train can do:

The same locomotive has an operator’s panel with Easter eggs for amusing sound effects, playing MIDI files, and a music keyboard mode

Those engineers at Siemens must have a lot of time on their hands. 😛

And another Easter egg

Turns out the Deutsche Bahn ICE3 train can play the German national anthem when placed into service mode.

You will definitely not find that anywhere else: Listen to how the power converters of the ICE3 hum the German national anthem !!! Note: In planning mode, this is not possible, but only with special Siemens software!

Which sounds like:

Further reading

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Transporting railway track by train

You can transport many things by train – but what about the railway tracks themselves?

Photo by Falk2, via Wikimedia Commons

Used to deliver pre-assembled pointwork or crossovers directly to the work site, the tilt mechanism ensures that the bulky sections of track won’t strike platforms, lineside signals, or trains on parallel tracks.

The German name for these wagons is “Weichentransportwagen” – in English they’re called “transport wagons” or “switch tilters“.

Swiss firm Matisa is one manufacturer.

And German firm Kirow is another.

With their wagons making an impressive sight as they roll past.

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Rerailing a tram with a front end loader

Derailed trams aren’t an uncommon occurrence, but using a front end loader to get it back onto the tracks is – an activity captured by Вечерний Краснотурьинск in the Russian city of Krasnoturinsk.

They provide the backstory here (via Google Translate):

Today, March 13, at noon a small incident occurred. On Popov Street, in the area between Furmanov and Chapaev streets, the tram went off the rails.

At this moment, the tram was driven by a driver Natalia Chudinova, who has been working for almost 24 years.

“I was not scared, it was a normal working situation,” says Natalia. “This has happened more than once before. Today there were no passengers. The tram just went to run-in after repairs.”

The tram went off the rails at once due to two factors – it is ice and dirt formed on the rails and in the track between the rails. As Nataliya says, in cold weather, a lot of snow accumulates on the tracks too, but it can be successfully pushed through with tram wheels. The situation with ice is more complicated: there are no rails under it and it is not always forced through. This is what happened today.

An emergency recovery team arrived at the scene quickly. The tram was brought back on the road with the help of an excavator and the work of five people. After the vehicle was returned on the way, workers began to clear the rails in order to avoid another derailment.

That’s some quick thinking.

How about a crane

This blog post shows how from the Ukrainian city of Kharkiv rerails their trams – a truck mounted crane is used to pick up one end of the tram, and lower it back onto the tracks.

Or just a big truck and steel plates

Here we see a derailed tram in Melbourne, Australia.

Z3.229 skewed across the tracks on Elizabeth Street, just north of La Trobe Street

Steel plates are put beneath the derailed wheels.

Getting out the steel rerailing ramps beneath the derailed bogie

Then the tramway recovery truck is coupled up to the derailed tram via a towbar.

Attaching the towbar between recovery vehicle R10 and tram Z3.229

Then pulls the tram forwards.

Recovery vehicle R10 ready to pull tram Z3.229 back onto the rails

As the steel ramps direct the wheels back towards the rails.

Pulling the tram forwards, the ramps directing the wheels back towards the rails

Until the tram is back on the tracks.

Dropping the pantograph of Z3.229

The only evidence left behind – gouge marks in the asphalt.

Gouge marks in the asphalt from the derailed bogie

Further reading

More on the Krasnoturinsk tramway network by Yury Maller.

And a housekeeping announcement

I’ve just launched my page on Patreon! In case you’re wondering, Patreon is a simple way for you to contribute to this blog every month, and you get a sneak peek at what’s coming up in return!

Head over to to find out more.

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Why did the train stop to close the bridge?

On Facebook I recently came across a video of a train coming to a halt, so that a man could swing a piece of track into place before it could then proceed. So what is the story behind it?

The original poster didn’t have any idea – it was a Facebook Page called “Emmanuella Mark Angel Comedy Video (fk Comedy)” that stole the video from YouTube.

The comments from other Facebook users didn’t help either:

Waste of precious time, why cant they automate the whole thing

This so called track bridge doesn’t make sense. They could have fixed a gates on either side of the road.

What is the point? Why don’t they just leave it in position?

But some people were switched on:

The train crosses a canal on the turntable bridge then crosses the road. They close the canal then close the road

Too funny all these people here acting like we Dutchies are still stuck in medieval times …jumping to conclusions based on one video without bothering to investigate what this really is (a museum line).

Veendam it is

With those leads and plenty of digging around on Wikipedia, I found the Stadskanaal–Zuidbroek railway:

The Stadskanaal–Zuidbroek railway is a railway line in the Netherlands running from Stadskanaal to Zuidbroek, passing through Veendam. The line was opened in 1910 and closed in 1953. The Veendam-Zuidbroek part of the line was reopened in 2011 by STAR and used as a museum line, run with mostly steam trains.

The operator – Stichting Stadskanaal Rail:

The Stichting Stadskanaal Rail, known as Museum Railway STAR, was established on 26 June 1992 with the aim of maintaining the historic Veendam – Stadskanaal – Musselkanaal railway line and operating a tourist railway on this route.

And the train – a Nederlandse Spoorwegen DM 90, nicknamed ‘Buffel’.

The NS Class 3400 was a series of diesel multiple unit built by Duewag, Talbot and SIG between 1996 and 1998. The class is referred to as DM’90 meaning diesel rolling stock (Diesel Materieel in Dutch) of the 1990s or Buffel, which means Buffalo. Class 3400 were the last DMUs in service with NS, the older DE3 (“Plan U”) and DH1/2 (“Wadloper”) series having been replaced by the diesel electric Stadler GTW which are still in use with other operators in the Netherlands. Since January 2018, all units are now stored out of service and most have been sold to Romania.

Which eventually led me to the original video on YouTube.

Last Ride of NS DM 90 passes a railway bridge in Veendam.

The farewell ride stops in front of the swing bridge (honking a lot) and the train stops so that the swing bridge can be closed and the HBKI level crossing can be switched on, after which he whistles off to Veendam museum station where a short stop took place.

Date: 10/14/2017

Media attention too

Local television station RTV1 covered the trip to Stadskanaal.

Via Google Translate:

Exactly at 8 minutes past three, he arrives at a quiet pace on Saturday afternoon, October 14, at the Musselkanaal station: the DM ’90 diesel train, better known by its nickname “Buffalo”. The train was first used by the Dutch Railways in the mid-90s. However, due to electrification of the track, it was used less and less. Currently, the train set only commutes from Zwolle to Enschede and to Kampen, the so-called “Kamperlijntje”. But since this line has now been electrified, we will say goodbye to the “Buffalo” at the end of this year.

As a farewell ride, the train made an extra long ride on 14 October for train lovers from Zwolle to Stadskanaal and back. After first stopping at the STAR in Stadskanaal, the station of Musselkanaal also received a visit from the “Buffalo” at three o’clock on Saturday afternoon. And just like on a number of other platforms, train enthusiasts were able to take extensive photos of the train here.

It is not yet clear what will happen to the “Buffalo”, but it is clear that the end of this year will be over for the diesel train.

Report: Boelo Lutgert

As did broadcaster RTV Noord:

More than two hundred train enthusiasts want to make the best shot, so there is a strong call to the people in the way.

Train hobbyists Mart van der Wijk and Enrico Schreurs have been following the train route all day by car to take pictures. For Schreurs, Stadskanaal was the best photo opportunity of the day. “The train sets have never been there before and it is a recognisable point for me,” says the train hobbyist.

Finding the bridge

Following the railway via the eye in the sky that is Google Maps, I found the bridge in question.

And Google Street View provided a better look at the canal that lead to the swing bridge being provided.

From this angle the need for a swing bridge is obvious – with only a metre of clearance between the waterline and the rails, it would be impossible for a boat to pass under without it!


Turns out there are plenty of other manually operated swing bridges on the Stadskanaal–Zuidbroek railway – this is just one.

And the copyright infringement never ends

I’ve just come across the same video on Facebook a second time, but stolen by a different page – ‘OMG Videos’. Their useless caption:

This isn’t what i thought

Welcome to the cesspit that is Facebook.

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