Lookalike Melbourne trams in Lisboa

I recently found a familiar looking trams in an unexpected location, when reading about about a new tram order for the Portuguese capital of Lisboa.

Railway Gazette has the back story:

CAF wins Lisboa tram tender
19 December 2019

Portugal: CAF has won a competition to supply 15 trams to Lisboa bus and tram operator Carris. CAF’s proposal was selected ahead of a bid from Stadler, whose offer was around €1·5m more.

The €45m procurement was launched in April 2018 and includes €5m for maintenance activity. The tender specifications stipulated that the trams needed to be ‘bigger and have more capacity’ then the current Carris fleet.

The first of the 15 vehicles is expected to enter service in 2021 with the remaining cars arriving over the course of 2022-23. The tram procurement is the first to be undertaken by Carris since 1995, when it ordered 10 articulated LRVs from Siemens.

This is that comes to mind when I think of a Lisboa tram.

But the tram in the mockup looks just like those that run in my home city of Melbourne, Australia.

E.6018 on a shakedown run heads west along La Trobe Street

The tram in question being a Melbourne E-class – a three-section, four-bogie articulated tram built by Bombardier’s Dandenong factory, based on the Flexity Swift design.

Given Bombardier didn’t appear to tender for the contract in Lisboa, how did a Melbourne tram end up in as a mockup?

I’m guessing that the tram operator or local government did the mockups themselves, without the involvement of a tram manufacturer, and their designer just picked whatever modern looking tram they liked as the base.


Believe it or now, but two Portuguese trams have visited Melbourne before – a Bombardier Eurotram from the Porto Metro in 2003, and the Siemens Combino Plus from Metro Transportes Sul do Tejo in 2007. Both were sent over by the manufactures, on promotional tours to win future tram orders.

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Bizzare narrow platforms on the Bucharest Metro

The Bucharest Metro is a rail network with an interesting history, with the bizarrely narrow platforms at Piața Romană station being one example.

The bulk of the platform being less than a metre wide.

With passengers having to wait in the cross passages that lead to it.

The reason for the bizarre configuration – the station was built in secret against the wishes of Elena Ceaușescu, wife of Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceaușescu – as Romanian magazine Historia explains.

The peril of narrow and curved platforms has made Piața Romană unique among the subway stations in Bucharest. It’s strange appearance we owe to Elena Ceausescu, who removed it from the map of the subway designers in 1985, for a bizarre reason.

“There are too many stations, stop them!” – this was the order of Elena Ceaușescu when she saw the project for the Berceni – Pipera subway section 2, one of the three designers of the station, Sorin Călinescu, told us. He argues, however, that this subway stop was built in secret, in violation of the comrade’s order, which was unwavering in her decision.

The problem raised by Elena Ceausescu was that both the working class and the youth “started to get fat” and needed to walk more, recall those who worked on the construction of the subway.

“We received an order from the Communist Party to exclude at least one station from the scheme, which was almost impossible because we were few and they gave us plans. We decided to eliminate, only on paper, the most important station, so that afterwards we would be obliged to replace it.” explained Călinescu, the current head of the consulting department Metroul SA.

Călinescu tells that when the works began on the Berceni-Pipera section, in 1986, the people who officially worked on the section of the University Square – Victoriei Square prepared the land in the area around Piața Romană. In a record time of three months, the builders made some tunnels behind the thick walls we see today, with the thought of being transformed into platforms later.

The line M2 tracks through Piața Romană station opened on 24 October 1987, as part of the 8.72 km long five station extension from Piata Unirii 2 – Pipera.

Passengers all onboard, the hoards are trying to leave the platform

Initially trains passed through the incomplete station without stopping, but following pressure from the Bucharest residents the go ahead was given to complete the station. The remainder of the station was excavated, and the walls to the tunnel broken through, with Piața Romană station opened a year later on 28 November 1988.

Further reading

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Moscow Metro stations inside train depots

Another entry in the list of oddball Moscow Metro stations is Pervomayskaya (Первомайская) and Kaluzhskaya (Калужская) – both were constructed inside a train depot!

Pervomayskaya station

The story starts in 1950 when the Arbatsko-Pokrovskaya Line was extended 1.5 kilometres to a new ground level depot at Izmailovo on the eastern edge of Moscow. The Izmaylovo District next to the depot was unserved by the metro, so the decision was made to convert roads 21-23 of the depot shed into a station, with an island platform built over the centre track.

On completion in 1954 Pervomayskaya was the first Moscow Metro station to be located at ground level, and the only one to have a wooden roof. Architect Nikolai Ivanovich Demchinsky designed the station with marble walls and platform, whitewashed ceiling, and lobby building facing the street.

Photo via PastVu

Pervomayskaya station remained in service until 1961 when the line was extended further east to a ‘new’ Pervomayskaya station, with the old station replaced by Izmaylovskaya station a short distance to the south.

Today the station still exists, the platform having been demolished but the tiled walls and decorative reliefs intact.

The station vestibule also remains, hidden beside inside the depot yard.

Kaluzhskaya station

In 1962 Kaluzhskaya Depot opened at the southern end of the Kaluzhsko-Rizhskaya line.

Soon after it was decided to extend passenger services a short distance inside the depot, so a temporary station was constructed inside the depot shed, opening to passengers in 1964.

Photo via metro-photo.ru

With public access from the tail end of the depot shed.

Following the extension of the line further south to Belyayevo (Беля́ево) in 1974 the temporary station inside the depot was closed, replaced by a new underground station a short distance to the west, also called Kaluzhskaya.

Today the station platform and tracks remain in place, with the lobby used as a staff lounge, but the street entrance is hidden by a neighbouring office building.

Sources – Pervomayskaya station

Sources – Kaluzhskaya station

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Russian language railfan magazines

If you only speak English then the language barrier gets in the way of exploring the wide world of railways – railfans usually stick to their own language when discussing their hobby! The railfans of Russia are no different, with at least two Russian language railway enthusiast and modelling magazines currently being published.

The first is «Железнодорожное Дело» (“Railway Business”) which has been published since 1991:

The Anthology for Railway Fans and Railway Modelists

The other is «Локотранс» (“Lokotrans”) founded in 1993:

The work of the almanac is carried out in the field of popularization and preservation of the history of railway transport, the provision of information to support the activities of historians, collectors, modellers and manufacturers of large-scale copy models, which are an important component of this movement; assistance in the conduct and development of amateur retro-rail tourism; Restorations of monuments of history of technology, the establishment and development of partnerships with similar organizations and the media.

I stumbled upon both magazines in a Moscow model railway shop, and picked up a few back issues to flick through the photos, and get utterly confused given I can’t read the language!

And a tram footnote

The publishers of «Железнодорожное Дело» once published a tram magazine called «Бугель» (“Bow Collector”) but it no longer seems to be in print.

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Suvorovskaya – another underground station retrofitting adventure

I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole leading to underground stations built on operating railways, and I’ve found another one – Suvorovskaya (Суворовская) station on the Moscow Metro’s Koltsevaya Line – better known as the Circle Line.

Some history

The story starts in the 1950s when work started on the Koltsevaya Line that would eventually encircle central Moscow, with interchange stations along the way providing passengers a shorter journey between different sides of the city. The decision was made to safeguard the development of a future station beneath Suvorov Square, located between Novoslobodskaya and Prospekt Mira stations, so the tunnels were constructed straight and level, with enough space between them for a central hall and side platforms.

However a use for the future station didn’t emerge until until the 1980s, when planning for the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya line (Line 10) commenced. Work started on an interchange station between the two lines, but the 1990s economic slowdown intervened, and it wasn’t until 2010 that the two lines finally crossed paths with the completion of Dostoevskaya (Достоевская) station on the Lyublinsko-Dmitrovskaya Line – but without a matching station on the Koltsevaya Line.

Work on Suvorovskaya station started via two underground shafts in 2011, but was halted 2013 due to difficult ground conditions and high cost, and formally abandoned in 2017. However in 2019 the project was restarted, with a 2023 completion date given.

And building it

During the 1990s five different construction methods were proposed to complete the new station at Suvorovskaya – all of which involved opening out the running tunnels like Tverskaya station elsewhere on the Moscow Metro.

But by the time that the project was restarted in 2011, plans had changed – a pair of 700 metre long bypass tunnels would be constructed around the station site, allowing trains to keep running – similar but not the same as the retrofitting of Teatralna station to the Kiev Metro.

And now the 2019 planners have a third option – close each tunnel of the Koltsevaya Line in turn, with passengers diverted to the recently completed Moscow Central Circle, which also links metro lines outside central Mowcow.


More photos and diagrams

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Building an underground station while trains pass by

This is the story of Tverskaya station on the Moscow Metro – retrofitted to the existing Zamoskvoretskaya line during the 1970s, while trains continued to pass through the neighbouring tunnels.

Early history

Originally called Gorkovskaya, Tverskaya station featured in the initial 1932 plans for the Moscow Metro, located between Teatralnaya (Театральная) and Mayakovskaya (Маяковская) stations on the the Gorkovsko–Zamoskvoretskaya line (Line 2), but was dropped in 1935 to save money and speed up construction. Completion of the station was included in 1957 “fifth stage” plan, but no real progress was made.

In the 1970s interest in completing the station re-emerged, when the the extension of the Tagansko-Krasnopresnenskaya line (Line 7) to Pushkinskaya Square was floated. To provide a transfer from it to the Gorky-Zamoskvoretskaya line, and the proposed Serpukhovsko–Timiryazevskaya line (Line 9), it was necessary to build a station on the existing Mayakovskaya – Teatralnaya line, resulting in a three station complex.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

The first stage of the project to be completed was Pushkinskaya station on Line 7, opened to passengers in 1975. The initial plans for Tverskaya station required the construction through a new surface shaft, with trains bypassing the construction site via temporary tunnels.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

Allowing the construction of a conventional deep pylon station.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

However dense development at ground level prevented the creation of a new shaft, and adverse geological conditions made the construction of bypass tunnels difficult . As a result, it was decided to expand the existing Zamoskvoretskaya line tunnels to include a platform.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

Expanding the existing 3.00 metre radius tunnels to 4.75 metre radius.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

With construction access provided to Tverskaya (bottom) by the existing shaft at Pushkinskaya station (top).

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

Widening a tunnel while trains are still running

We start with two parallel tunnels.

First the middle station tunnel was constructed, which will later become the central hall of the station.

Adits were excavated beneath the arches of the side station tunnels.

They are then filled in with concrete.

The side tunnels are then excavated down to the heel of the arches.

The new tunnels are then tied back to the original running tunnels.

Connections between the track and station tunnels are then excavated, and platforms installed.

Allowing the original tunnel linings to be removed, and completion of the platforms.

And finally, the finishing touches.

With Tverskaya station opening on July 20, 1979.

Digging around existing tunnels, then pulling it down

Two special pieces of equipment were needed to complete the Tverskaya station project – a travelling scaffold that would pass between the new and old tunnel linings.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

To enable excavation work to be completed in the confined space.

And a rail mounted travelling crane.

Magazine «Метрострой» – issue 4, 1979

Which could pass through the new station.

And disassemble the redundant tunnel linings once the wider tunnels were complete.


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Retrofitting an underground station to the Kiev Metro

How does one go about retrofitting a station to an existing underground railway? It was was problem that Ukrainian engineers solved in the 1970s, when Teatralna (Театральна) was added to the Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska Line of the Kiev Metro system.

Some history

The first section of the Sviatoshynsko–Brovarska line opened in 1960, running between Vokzalna and Dnipro stations. Early plans included a station serving the National Opera, but it was dropped, leaving a gap of more than 1.5 kilometres between Universytet and Khreshchatyk stations.

Photo via mirmetro.net

In the years that followed the Kiev Metro was further expanded, and by the 1970s a third line was being planned – the Syretsko-Pecherska line.

An interchange between the new and old lines was required, but since the new route didn’t pass through any existing stations, the decision was made to retrofit a new station to the existing Sviatoshynsko-Brovarska line – to be named Teatralna.

Work started on 23 February 1983 with a projected completion date in 1986, but was delayed due to the economic state of the Soviet Union.

Building it

To avoid disrupting metro services, construction of the new interchange station was broken up into three stages:

Diagram via mirmetro.net

  1. Just two single track tunnels.
  2. Teatralna station and tunnels built south of the existing tunnels.
  3. Old tunnels blocked up and new tunnels connected, Teatralna station opened.
  4. Zoloti Vorota station opened on new Syretsko-Pecherska Line.

The changeover between old and new tunnel was completed between April 1 to October 1 1987, with the metro line between Universytet and Khreshchatyk stations closed to passengers. At each tie-in point, 580 meters of the existing tunnel was filled in, allowing the replacement tunnel to be excavated on the new alignment, without risk of ground subsidence or tunnel collapse.

Photo via mirmetro.net

While the work was being completed, trains ran in two sections: Lisova to Khreshchatyk and from Sviatoshyn to Vokzalna, along with a shuttle train running between Vokzalna to Universytet via a single track. The disrupted metro line normally carried 400,000 people per day, so four new bus and three new trolleybus routes were opened bridging the closed section; five bus and two tram routes received additional rolling stock; and four trolleybus routes were temporarily rerouted.

The job was originally planned to take 700 people nine months, but with additional staff working around the clock, the changeover was completed in six months. Metro services on the line resumed on October 1, and the new station at Teatralna opened a month later on November 6 – the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Great October Revolution.

Once the new tunnels were in use, part of the old tunnels needed to be dismantled to make room for the station vault at Zoloti Vorota station on the Syretsko-Pecherska line. This station was located 90 degrees to the existing line with the upper level of the station vault passing through the disused tunnels, so a short section was filled with concrete, leaving just a narrow walkway through them.

Diagram via mirmetro.net

Work could then continue on Zoloti Vorota station and the Syretsko-Pecherska line in the normal way, with the line opening on December 31, 1989.


The track and rail has since been removed from the redundant section of tunnel, but they are still maintained, forming part of the ventilation system for the metro system.

Photo via mirmetro.net

But in 2014 Kiev urban explorer Олег Тоцкий suggested turning the tunnels into a metro museum.

How many of you have been to the Kiev metro museum? And how many of those who were not in it know where it is and how to get into it? Unfortunately, visiting the current museum of the Kiev metro is not so simple. Due to a number of organizational issues, this can be done only on weekdays and only by appointment. But there is something to see and listen to in the museum. Once upon a time there were ideas in the air about moving the museum to the building of the former depot near the Dnipro metro station, but they still remained unrealized, and the depot building was already gone.

But this is not about that at all. In Kiev, there is a place that asks for a metro museum. Why is there a museum: the place itself is very unusual and could become one of the most interesting tourist points in Kiev. Some of the readers have probably already guessed that the place in question is the old tunnels of the Universytet-Khreshchatyk section, which were later replaced by the Teatralna station.

These tunnels were built back in the 50s and were part of the very first section of the Kiev metro. If you put the tunnels in order and organize a civilized entrance in them, they can become a very cool tourist feature of Kiev. Well, the idea of ​​a metro museum somehow asks itself for this place.

Here you can place a unique and interesting exhibition dedicated to the Kiev metro; virtually the same project”Metro, which is not” , but created on a whole new level. The exposition can be significantly expanded compared to the current museum, in which space is now extremely limited. You can install mock-ups and samples of various metro equipment that is not available to passengers in everyday life.

The practical implementation of this idea has only one uncertain point: how to organize a safe and convenient entrance to the tunnels for visitors. Now access to the waste tunnels is possible from five points. Three of them are operating tunnels along which trains run, one more is the office premises of the Golden Gate station, and the fifth point is wentshacht No. 5. That is, there are very few options and it is possible that you will have to build a separate entrance. And this is a significant investment.

The idea was picked up by local media, including DreamKyiv and Segodnya, but unfortunately the idea never led to anything.


On Wikipedia:

Photo essays by Олег Тоцкий:

And a piece at the Metroworld website.

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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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