Another Jack May European Tour

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  • Member since
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Another Jack May European Tour
Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, February 15, 2018 10:47 AM

01 - Vienna, Bratislava and Ukraine - Introduction and Arrival in Vienna


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In 2014 Clare and I traveled to northern Africa with a group of mostly German traction enthusiasts to visit the tramways and sights of Tunisia and Algeria.  It was under the leadership of Thomas Fischer of Berlin, and we enjoyed it very much.  So when the opportunity to sign up for a similar tour, specifically to Ukraine, we jumped at the opportunity.  With all the troubles Ukraine has had, specifically with Russia, we thought we'd rather be part of a group than travel to some of the more remote areas on our own.  I had been to some of the cities in the western part of Ukraine in 2008, traveling with Alan Fishel en route from Moscow to Romania, stopping at Konotop, Zhitomir, Vinnytsia and Lviv,* and Clare and I visited Kiev* in 1997, when we took in many of the museums and other places of interest, including the metro and large tramway network.

* Lviv, prior to the First World War, was part of Austria-Hungary, and since has been ruled by Poland, Russia and Ukraine, all with different languages and even two different alphabets, so as a result, in the past 100 years has been known as Lemberg, Lwow, Lvov and Lviv (respectively).  Similarly Kiev, (Russian spelling), is now the capital of Ukraine, whose government prefers to Romanize the Cyrillic spelling as Kyiv.  So, all of that notwithstanding, I feel most comfortable using the Lviv and Kiev spellings for this report.

The 12-city, 14-day tour, to take place in June 2017, would include the 5 cities I had already visited, all concentrated at its beginning, but then continue on to 7 others, which all have substantial streetcar networks.  And since I was happy to return to the ones I had previously toured, as each has unique highlights, I signed on.

Because there are no non-stop flights from here to Lviv, the first city on the tour, or Odessa, its final stopr, and the air fares were very high to those relatively out-of-the-way places, we decided to try to use frequent flyer miles and also sandwich the tour between two other cities we wanted to visit again, Vienna and Paris.  Without going into United Airlines complex frequent flyer rules and regulations, the result was an expenditure of 75,000 miles* each for a three-week trip.  The itinerary is attached.

* 30,000 miles North America-Europe each way, plus 15,000 more for the second of our two stopovers.

As it turned out it was a great trip while it lasted, but it was cut short in Kiev, as you will discover if you read through all the report's installments.

I quickly found convenient affordable hotels and accomplished the travel arrangements for all of our flights.  Much of the work I usually have to do when planning such a trip was not necessary as Thomas Fischer's Intra-Express company took care of everything for the Ukraine portion of the trip.

Monday, June 12.  Our daughter-in-law drove us to Newark Airport for the first leg of our overnight journey to Vienna, United flight 134 to Zurich.  We arrived at security at 17:00 and had no trouble passing through.  Our Boeing 767, in a 2-3-2 coach configuration awaited us, and despite what I would call organized chaotic boarding, was ready to depart on time.  We were back in row 32, seats K and L on the starboard side of the jumbo jet that was about 80 percent full.  We pushed off at 18:28 (25) and hit the Friendly Skies at 18:38.  It was a good flight in that there were just a few instances of turbulence, all mild, the chicken I was served for dinner tasted very good and there were no crying babies aboard.  It was a bit cold in the cabin, so we just kept our jackets on for the entire flight.

The golden rays of a setting sun shining on the island of Manhattan from our United Boeing 767 en route from Newark to Zurich.  Especially noticeable is the United Nations building along the East River, the slanted, triangular roof of Citicorp Center, Worldwide Plaza between 49th and 50th Streets, and 8th and 9th Avenue, and of course, Central Park.

Tuesday, June 13.  We touched down at Kloten Airport under cloudy skies at 7:44, arrived at the gate at 7:49 (8:30) and were happy we were early.  Getting through immigration was easy, especially when compared to our last time in Zurich when there were very long lines.  We made it to the gate for our connecting flight to Vienna before 9 and waited for the boarding announcement for our Austrian Airlines Airbus 320 that came soon afterward.  We had seats 21B and C in the 3-and-3 narrow body aircraft, which was about 85 percent full, but it was quite stuffy until the air conditioning was turned on--only a minute before we pushed away from the gate.  While we waited we were entertained by the playing of a series of Strauss waltzes over the public address system, perfectly timed to end with the Blue Danube just before the beginning of the officiously-required safety announcements.

We pulled away from the gate at 10:00 (precisely) and lifted off at 10:14 for the 75-minute flight.  Before we could finish our complimentary snacks and drinks we began our decent into Flughafen Wien.  And as soon as we hit the tarmac at 11:09 we were serenaded again by the Blue Danube waltz.  We reached the gate at 11:15, ten minutes early.

I had checked the internet for transportation from the airport into the city and saw that fastest rail service to the central area is provided by the privately-operated City Airport Train (CAT), which runs every half hour over OBB (federal railway) tracks and takes just 16 minutes to reach Wien Mitte station.  But there were three things against our use of it, its price (12 Euros), its lack of fare integration into the Wiener Linien local transit tariff, and the fact that we were staying at the Azimut Hotel, a block away from Vienna's new Hauptbahnhof.  I knew there was rail service that ran directly to the main railway station and so I bought 72-hour transit passes for the two of us at the tourist information booth.  I was warned that we would have to pay small supplements, because the airport is just outside the city zone.  But when I tried to buy them at a vending machine, I couldn't figure out which buttons to press, as everything was displayed in German.  See for a map of Vienna's rail system.

We went down to the inbound platform of the underground station and observed the 11:39 CAT train, followed by an S7 MU that was running to Floridsdorf via Mitte station at 11:48, and finally our 12:03 train arrived.  It was a through Railjet service crossing the entire country to Salzburg and Innsbruck from the Airport, via the main railway station, our destination.  Fortunately our tickets were not examined on the 15-minute non-stop run, and we arrived at the beautiful new Hauptbahnhof on time at 12:18 under sunny skies.  By 12:45 we were in our room.  Clare decided to fight her jet-lag by resting, but I had to take advantage of the fine weather, and was back on the street by 13:30.

The following consists of a quick superficial view of Vienna, just some thoughts that come to my mind when I think of that glorious city.  In no way should my description be considered comprehensive, as there is a great deal more that can be recorded--and indeed many have written books on the subject.

In addition to being a traction paradise, Vienna, or Wien in German, is one of the most beautiful cities in the world.  It was high on my list of places to visit on my first trip to Europe--in 1960.  My next journey was in 1967, and I followed up with many more in the 50 years since.  The city's beauty is both natural (lying below the Vienna woods and its charming vineyards and along the Danube River) and architectural.  It was the seat of the Hapsburg empire until its demise in 1918, and thus was endowed with beautiful palaces, churches, theaters, concert halls, art museums, monuments and parks--virtually all preserved and functioning today as tourist venues, with many serving the local populace in the manner originally intended.  Many of these institutions are located on the Ring, a wide, tree-lined, circular boulevard that is also famous for its busy streetcar lines.  The Ring surrounds the old city (Innere Stadt), the historic center of Austria's capital, which is anchored by St. Stephen's Cathedral.  Trams were removed from the Innere Stadt as early as 1942 (route 58), and even the radial tram routes whose terminals were on the inner side the Ring had their loops relocated to the outside by 1971 (the last was route 71).  Now you can get to the heart of the Innere Stadt by metro from four directions, with lines U1 and U3 crossing at the Stephensplatz station.

The city was extensively bombed by the allies during World War II, but the damage to its iconic buildings has been repaired.  The motion picture, The Third Man, produced in 1949, takes place in immediate postwar Vienna, and provides a good look at the area from those desolate days, while also highlighting two of the city's iconic features:  the huge Ferris wheel at the Prater amusement park and the zither, a stringed musical instrument to be ever associated with Austria.  Another essence of the city that makes it such an inviting place is its food and wine--think Wiener Schnitzel and Sacher Torte (the Cafe Sacher is in the Innere Stadt).

Vienna, with a population of 1.8 million, has one of the largest tramway systems in the world, falling just barely behind Melbourne, Moscow, St. Petersburg, Koln and Berlin (also the Upper Silesia interurban network) for that honor.  In addition to its 100+ miles of tramway, the city-owned Wiener Linien operates a growing network of metro (U-bahn) lines (now 53 miles), while another city-owned subsidiary, Wiener Lokalbahn (WLB), operates a 20-mile long interurban route to the town of Baden.  This is all supplemented by a suburban and cross-city S-bahn system operated by the Austrian Federal Railways (OBB). 

The tramway network consists of 28 routes, mostly radiating from the Ring, but also circling along the Ring, and operating through the part of the city located on the "left bank" of the Danube, to the east.  Of special interest is the remaining tram subway (a second was converted into a part of a Metro line) and the former operation of 42 American streetcars obtained from the Third Avenue Railway System in New York City.  These "Z class" cars were limited to lines with wide clearances and operated in Vienna from 1949 to 1969.  Fortunately, many were saved for historic tram establishments in Europe and others were shipped back to the U. S. A., where they now operate at trolley museums in Maryland, Connecticut and Maine.

On my first visit to the city the streetcar system was supplemented by the Stadtbahn, a grade separated rapid transit system using trains of ancient 4-wheeled streetcar-like rolling stock.  This system's infrastructure has been incorporated into the 5-line U-bahn network.  U-bahn lines 1, 2, 3 and 4 are typical high-platform metro lines, while the U6 retains some of its former Stadtbahn flavor with loading from low-level platforms.  Many of the beautiful station buildings of the original Stadtbahn have been restored, and were renovated for use as entrances to the heavy rapid transit lines.  The U-bahn network consists of 109 stations over 53 route miles.

On my first visit the rolling stock on the tramway system consisted almost entirely of clunky 4-wheelers (beautiful in a way that only railfans appreciate), but since has evolved through European Duewag-style articulated cars to a mix of 100-percent low-floor units and the newest of the system's remaining high-floor two-section articulated cars.  The low-floor units, some 330, were constructed by Siemens, which took over Austrian carbuilder SGP, which also built part of the fleet of high-floor articulated cars.  The other high-floor articulateds came from Lohner-Rotax, another Austrian carbuilder, which was absorbed by Bombardier, and will soon be delivering some 119 cars (with options for 37 more) to replace all of the remaining high-floor units.

The Siemens ULF (Ultra Low Floor) cars come in two sizes, 5-unit and 7-unit.  Up until their delivery began  (in 1998), the Vienna tramway was known for the bright red color of its rolling stock;  as you will see in the photos below these cars are instead painted silver and have red trim.  However the tramway's livery will revert back to red with the delivery of the new Flexities, although color scheme will not be exactly the same as
the E1 and E2 high-floor cars, which are painted white through the windows; instead the new Bombardier trams will be black above the belt rail.
With three full days in the area, I planned to spend one entire day on the Wiener Linien, another in Bratislava (an hour away), and the third with Clare visiting museums and other points of interest.  The extra half-day ended up being very useful, as it allowed me to ride and photograph additional rail transit.

I first walked back to the Hauptbahnhof, now the city's focal point of long-distance and intercity rail.  The Sudtirolerplatz station of metro line U1 is adjacent, along with two similarly named stops for trams, in a trolley subway and on the surface.  The new Hbf, on the site of the old Sudbahnhof and Ostbhanhof, is both modern and attractive. 
The 12-track, 6-platform facility fully opened in 2015 and contains all the amenities needed for a transportation hub and entryway to a major world city (in other words, nothing like Amtrak's Penn Station).

Note the mention of a trolley subway.  The Gurtel U Strab was opened in 1969; it contains 6 stations and has 4 portals, serving 4 local lines and the WLB (Badner Bahn) interurban.  I started my afternoon activities at Sudtirolerplatz photographing trams at the surface station and rolling through the portal to the subway stop.

Above and below:  Two views of the tramway at Sudtirolerplatz, showing Vienna's Siemens-built ULF, or Ultra Low Floor, cars, which began appearing on the property in 1993.  Wiener Linien's roster has about 330 of these 100-percent low-floor units, which come in two sizes.  The upper view, of the Sudtirolerplatz stop, is of a 5-section unit, about 16 feet long, while the lower photo, taken virtually from the same spot, shows a 7-section car, 24 feet long.  The next group of low-floor cars, which will be arriving soon, are Bombardier Flexities, all to be about 21 feet long.  In the background of the upper photo, an E2 can be seen exiting the ramp from the underground level. 

I then rode the U1 subway 2 stops to the Karlsplatz station on the Ring, which extends under the Oper (Opera) surface terminal of tram route 62 and the WLB.  The U2 and U4 lines also have underground stations here, while streetcar routes 1, 2, 71 and D run along the iconic boulevard.  A busy place indeed.  The 1, 62 and WLB turn off to head for the tram subway and I grabbed some photos before boarding a WLB car.

An outbound E2 motor pulling a matching C5 trailer on the 1 line has turned off the Ring and is shown entering Wiedner Hauptstrasse as it approaches its Resselgasse station.  An inbound ULF has just left that stop and a WLB train is close behind.  No. 4317 was built by Lohner, but clearly Duewag licensed its design to SGP as well, as both carbuilders constructed almost identical looking E2 rolling stock.

The WLB was running every 15 minutes and I decided to ride out to Vosendorf-Siebenhirten
, about halfway along the line to Baden and the end of the city zone in which my day pass was valid.  This gave me the opportunity to ride through the tram subway and over some trackage unique to the interurban that will soon be surplus.  The WLB and 62 basically run over the same tracks as far as an area called Meidling, but just after the subway portal split up onto different alignments for a short distance (4 stops on the 62), as the WLB turns off to serve its carhouse.  I took a stopover at that point for photos and had some excellent luck when I was able to photograph a heritage car.  The WLB is building a new carhouse and shop at Inzersdorf, further out on the line, and when that is completed the existing facility at Wolfganggasse will be abandoned.  Thus at that time the "detour" will no longer be needed and the WLB will run directly over route 62 track for the whole distance to Meidling.  At Meidling (Philadelphiabrucke*) the WLB leaves the city tramway network, and follows its own right-of-way to Baden.  The WLB's roster consists of 40 cars, 26 high-floor units built by SGP (now a part of Siemens) from 1979 to 1993 and 14 low-floor cars built by Bombardier starting in 2000.  In general the two types are MUed together to create two-car accessible trains for the 62-minute run between Oper and Baden.  The WLB has called for bids of 18 to 24 units to begin replacing the Duewag-like older cars.

* It is said that the bridge over the mainline railroad to Graz at that point was named after the city in which the railroad's first locomotive was built--at the Norris Locomotive Works plant in Philadelphia in 1838 (see  The WLB and U6 Philadelphiabrucke stations were renamed Meidling in 2014.

The yard outside the WLB's Wolfganggasse carhouse, showing mostly high-floor cars ready to go out on the road for the afternoon rush hour, which will cut the headway in half to every 7.5 minutes
between Oper and Wiener Neudorf (37 minutes), along the innermost portion of the line.  The two-section high-floor articulated cars usually run as single units . A newer low-floor car snuck into the scene at the far right.

Old-timer No. 1 deadheads back to the Wiener Tramwaymuseum after having dropped a group of railfans at the WLB's Wolfganggasse carhouse.  The four-wheeler is a KSW car built for Vienna in 1944 by Fuchs in Heidelberg.  KSW stands for Krieg Strassebahn Wagen, with krieg translating to war.  These were very simple spartan cars whose construction used little materiel, and were manufactured to replace equipment destroyed by allied bombing.  Their production lasted until 1950, with just under 600 motors and trailers built.  Oddly enough, after the war, the design was adopted by Konstal, the Polish carbuilder, and some 1,700 units were constructed between 1956 and 1962 for use in that country;  two Type N cars still operate in regular passenger service on route 38 in Bytom, which is part of Poland's Upper Silesia interurban system.

It turned out that a railfan group from Wales had chartered the car for a tour of Vienna's tramway, and their trip serendipitously ended at the time and place that coincided with my visit.  A few of them joined me as I continued my journey to Vosendorf, where I took some additional photos.

A typical consist for WLB trains covering the entire route from Vienna to Baden, shown at the Vosendorf-Siebenhirten station, at the end of the city fare zone.  The combination of the two different types of cars allows floor-height accessibility on all base service trains.  No. 407 is one of 16 low-floor cars manufactured by Bombardier starting in 2000.  In addition to being stepless, the 400-series are a little wider and longer than the older 100-series high-floor units.

It was a relatively short walk from the WLB at that point to the U6 line at its Siebenhirten
terminal, where the next chapter of my exploits on this first day in Europe will resume.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, February 18, 2018 1:54 AM
Before continuing I must that the readers who pointed out an error in the caption of the first tram photo in part 1 with respect to the length of Vienna's ULF cars.  In computing the length of these low-floor cars I used the conversion factor of kilometers to miles instead of meters to feet.  The five-section ULFs are 24+ meters long (80 feet), the length of the seven-section cars is 35+ meters (116 feet), and the new Bombardier cars (of which the first is now undergoing tests) will be 34 meters long (112 feet). I clearly do not deserve my advanced degree in Mathematics!  Sorry.

Tuesday, June 13
.  It was a relatively short ride on the 207 bus from the Vosendorf-Siebenhirten stop of the Badner Bahn to the Siebenhirten terminal of Vienna's U6 line.  At an earlier time in my life I would have walked it, but it was rather hot in the bright sun, and I had been up for at least 24 hours by then.  

Vienna's U-bahn system consists of 5 lines.  Four are traditional rapid transit lines (U1 to U4) in that they are served by heavy metro cars taking power from third rails and stopping at stations with high-level platforms.  The U6 however, is different, as the equipment is lighter, gets its power from overhead wire and its stations have low-level platforms, just like the trolley subways of Boston and Philadelphia.  Originally the G-Gurtel line of Vienna's Stadtbahn, a former steam railway that was electrified in 1925, it operated trains of single-truck streetcar-like cars (up to 9 units) along a grade-separated right-of-way.*   Most of the G line ran over an elevated structure and rather than tear it down and replace it with a subway, the operators decided to restore it, but update its electrical system and signalling, while preserving the stations' original Otto Wagner architecture (although changing from left hand operation to right hand).  [The alignment of line U4 follows the other Stadbahn line, while the inner portion of the U2 was formerly a trolley subway.]  It became what could be best described as a Light Metro and continues to use overhead power.  It also was extended at both ends, and the southern portion, which I was about to ride and photograph, literally took over the right-of-way of former tram route 64, which had been built as an express line in 1979.

* Three of the Stadtbahn cars, which operated into the 1980s, are preserved at the San Diego Electric Railway Association's museum in National City, California.
The U6 reached Siebenhurten in 1989.  At that time single-ended articulated cars, similar in design to Wiener Linien's E-class motors and C-class trailers, but with doors on both sides, were operated back-to-back on the totally segregated line.  They were gradually replaced by 70-percent low-floor T and T1 units starting in 1992.  Once delivered service began to be provided by a combination of high-floor Es and low-floor Ts coupled together, to make at least a portion of each train wheelchair accessible.  The Es were retired at the end of 2008 and the line has been an all low-floor operation since.

I photographed the U6 at Siebenhirten and then rode it to Tschertteg (5 stops), where I walked to the WLB at its almost adjacent Shopfwerk station for more photos.

Above and below:  Two views of the southern terminal of the U6 at Siebenhirten.  With the retirement of the E6/C6 high-floor cars all service on the 11-mile line is now provided by the T and T1 class.  78 T cars, painted in white, began being delivered in 1992, while the last batch of equipment, 66 T1s in a light grey livery, started to arrive in 2007.  In addition to the slight color difference, the T1s have air-conditioning.  The upper photo shows a train of T1s reversing on the tail tracks beyond the terminal.  Before the U6 was extended here in 1989, this area was part of the turnaround loop for the single-ended cars of Vienna's route 64 rapid tramway.  The lower photo shows a train of T-cars in the Siebenhirten station boarding passengers for its northbound run. 

Above and below:  Two views at the Badner Bahn's Shopfwerk station.  The upper photo shows the rear of a two-car interurban train running from Oper to Baden, while below an inbound single-car rush-hour unit is shown in tripper service from Wiener Neudorf to Oper.  Note the similarity between the rear car in the upper photo and the equipment running on the U6 (shown in the two preceding views).  Both low-floor models were built by Bombardier in roughly the same time period (the U6 cars are single ended and must run back-to-back in pairs, while the WLB units are double ended).  The 100-series high-floor articulated cars (lower photo) were constructed by SGP starting in 1979 under license from Siemens-Duewag.

That accomplished, I rode the interurban back to its Oper (Opera) terminal, where I changed to a D car to take me back to the hotel--but of course, not before I used my camera again.  The D and the O are the only two lettered routes left on Vienna's tramway network.  When I first came to Vienna in 1960 there were a large number of lettered routes, 
as originally the routes that traveled along the Ring were identified by letter, while numbers were used for the radial and outer lines.  The A and B, for example, each traversed the entire Ring before turning off to separate terminals.  But that system is gone now and the O line no longer even touches the inner boulevards. 

The D line leaves the Ring and joins the 71 along Schwarzenbergplatz.  The equestrian monument to the right of E2-class car 4012 commemorates the victorious commander of the 1813 Battle of Leipzig. 

The D continues past the grounds of the Belvedere, home to some of Vienna's finest palaces and museums 
(which Clare visited on Wednesday), and then cuts under the OBB tracks at the eastern entrance of the Hauptbahnhof.  After stopping at the railway station it continues for one more stop along Karl-Popper-Strasse, and then loops at Alfred-Adler-Strasse.  Interestingly, Vienna now pays homage to both Popper and Adler, who both converted to Christianity from Judaism, but saw the writing on the wall anyway, and emigrated to Britain prior to the 1938 Anschluss.  Not so good for Popper's relatives who stayed behind, as they all perished.  Popper was a leading philosopher who once worked for Adler, a famous psychotherapist and one of Sigmund Freud's collaborators.  The late National Public Radio correspondent, Margot Adler, was his granddaughter.

Above and below:  The loop at the lower end of the D line.  The traffic light is at the intersection of Karl-Popper-Strasse and Alfred-Adler-Strasse.  It looks like the middle of nowhere, but I suspect not for long, due to its proximity to the new Hauptbahnhof.  A 7-section Type B1 ULF car is shown in the upper view, while the lower photo features a 6-axle E2 pulling a 4-axle C5 trailer.

Upon arriving back at the hotel, I found Clare had rested and was ready to go out to eat.  I was pretty tired, but knew the faster we ate the faster I could succumb to a good night's sleep.  We had passed a local restaurant while rolling our luggage to the hotel, and we headed back there--and had delicious dinners of Austria's version of Nouvelle cuisine.  I was asleep a nanosecond after I closed my eyes.

Day 2 follows in part 03.


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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, February 21, 2018 3:30 AM
Wednesday, June 14.  Today Clare would visit the Belvedere and other museum venues while I would be accompanied by a local railway enthusiast for a few hours of riding, inspection and photography of Vienna's transit system.  Klaus Matzka, who I first met in New York City, arrived at the hotel a few minutes before 9:30 and we created a game plan for the day.  We had two major items to accomplish: ride and photograph the section of tram route 67 that would soon be abandoned in favor of an extension of the U-bahn; and look at a relatively new extension of tram route 26 on the other side of the Danube, which has a section of left-hand running.

We walked a couple of blocks to the U-Bahn station at Keplerplatz, and rode one station southward on the U1, to what was its terminal at that time, Reumannplatz.  We transferred to the 67 tram route at that point (
after a couple of photos), and continued southward on Favoritenstr to the end of the line at Alaudagasse.  This portion of the line would be abandoned when the U1 was extended to Oberlaa, beyond this point, less than two months later, on September 2.

E2 high-floor motor 4079 and its matching trailer are about to stop adjacent to the Reumannplatz terminal of the U1 line.  A few months later the U-bahn line was extended southward and the tram line now loops here through adjacent streets.

Above and below:  The 67 line had been cut back to Alaudagasse to enable construction of the U1 extension easier.  Two views of ULF B1 cars are shown near the loop, with the upper photo also including a mobile substation for providing power.

After some photos we continued by bus along the route of the U1's further extension, and I saw that a good par of the extension would be above ground.  We took another bus over a different route back to the U1, and then rode the rapid transit line to Kagraner Platz, on the eastern (northern) side of the Danube.  This is its transfer point to tram route 26, which had been rerouted and extended in 2013 in conjunction with a reorganization of transit on this side of the Danube that had been driven by line U2 being pushed further east to a new terminal. 

As mentioned earlier, I wanted to ride and photograph the section of left-handed operation on the 26, which was employed as an inventive method to cut costs.  The extension required a long viaduct over both a freeway and railroad line, with a station in the center to serve a new business park and megamall.  Since Vienna's trams are single ended, with doors only on the right side, under normal conditions
the Gewerbepark station would have to be equipped with two side platforms, meaning two sets of elevators and escalators would be required.  But if the cars could run left handed on the viaduct, costs could be cut dramatically, as only one elevator and pair of escalators to serve a center platform would be needed.  And that's exactly what was done, with two simple crossovers at each end of the structure.  We left our tram at the Sussenbrunner Strasse stop, just past the bridge's outer end.

Above and below:  Simple scissors crossovers reverse the relative positions of inbound and outbound route 26 trams just short of the Sussenbrunner Strasse stop at the foot of the viaduct's outer end.  An outbound ULF B1 car built in 2010 is shown in the upper view, while the lower one features the back end of a C4 trailer being pulled by an E2 motor constructed about 30 years earlier.

Once back aboard we continued to the end of the line at Hausfeldstrasse, where the U2 extension and an OBB rail line use an overpass to cross over the 26 just prior to its loop.  We then rode the U2 to its outer end at Seestadt (2 stops) and paused in between at Aspern Nord for photos.

A route 26 ULF B1 on its side-of-the-street trackage
alongside Hausfeldstrasse approaches its outer terminal, where passengers can connect with the U2 rapid transit line.

Above and below:  Two photos looking west from the
station access overpass at Aspern Nord on the U2 line.  The newest type of subway train, the V-class dating from the first decade of the 21st century, is pictured in the upper view, while the lower photo shows a train of the more common U-class, which had inaugurated service on the U-bahn in the 1970s.

Once we completed our work we rode the U2 back toward the city center, but first stopped at the Donaumarina station, just across the attractive new Donaustadt bridge.  With the sun gradually shifting from one side to the other, we were able to get well-lit photos of subway trains crossing the bridge from both platforms.  The architecturally stunning cable-stayed structure originally opened in 1998 to carry road traffic during the period when another bridge was undergoing reconstruction, but having been planned for U-bahn trains all along, it finally met that goal in 2010.

Above and below:  Two photos from the Donaumarina station of the U2 line, showing the striking Donaustadt bridge that carries the rapid transit line across the Donau (Danube).  The 1998-built structure, which was temporarily used for motor traffic, was converted for U-bahn service when the U2 was extended eastward in 2010.  The line continues to Karlsplatz, eventually using tunnels that had been constructed as an interim tram subway in 1966 and converted for high-platform trains in 1979.

One last photo of the Donaustadt bridge, this time
of a train of V-class cars from the westbound platform of the Donaumarina station.

Continuing toward downtown we stopped for a bite and some coffee before splitting up, with Klaus heading off to meet his wife before attending a performance.  There was still plenty of light so I decided to do some more riding and get additional photos.  The balance of my Vienna photos (and narrative) will be featured in part 4 of the report.


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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, February 22, 2018 2:33 AM
Wednesday, June 14 (continued).  After completing our refreshments adjacent to the Messe Prater station of the U2, where Klaus treated me to a delicious ice cream concoction (while he had his favorite coffee and pastry), we continued on the U2 to Schottentor, and then went our separate ways.  The complex at Schottentor is a tram enthusiast's paradise, serving a total of 10 streetcar lines.  Three of them traverse the Ring (1, 71 and D), while the others terminate in an underground mall at its side, with the 43 and 44 looping on the surface and the 37, 38, 40, 41 and 42 one story below.  It's a busy place indeed and I took some photos in the vicinity.

A 7-section ULF operating counter-clockwise on route 2 pauses at the Stadiongasse stop on Doktor-Karl-Renner-Ring, just past a group of Japanese tourists protecting themselves from the sun while a tourguide tells them about the Burgtheater, which they are facing from their position in front of Austria's Parliament building.

Above and below:  Two scenes showing route 43 cars on Universitatsstr shortly after picking up passengers at the Schottentor terminal.  The upper photo of an E1 with trailer also shows a turnoff to allow route 43 or 44 cars that may be out of sequence to circle back to the loop.  The lower view, of a long ULF, is a little further northwest along the line, at Rooseveltplatz alongside Votivpark and illustrates the use of paved side-of-the-street private right-of-way protected by hedges.

I then rode a 43 car out to the elevated Alser Strasse station of the U6, a perfect location for photos. 

Looking toward a 7-section ULF running along Joergerstr from the Alser Strasse station of the U6 elevated line.

I continued my sojourn by riding a train of low-floor LRVs on the U6 northward and back across the Danube to Floridsdorf, a major transit hub that serves the S-bahn as well as tram routes 25, 26 and 31.  After a photo I transferred to the 26, which allowed me to ride the upper end of the line, covering the part I had missed earlier in the day.  I accomplished that, first riding out to the Strebersdorf terminal in the north and then back to Kagraner Platz, where Klaus and I started our visit to this side of the Danube quite a few hours ago.  I then transferred back to the U1 and rode to Sudtiroler Platz and walked to the hotel. 
I took very few photos of the upper part of the 26, which is almost all street running, as the shadows had gotten a bit long by that time.

A southbound E1 car on route 26 has just passed under the viaduct that carries the OBB's S-bahn at Floridsdorf.  On my first visit to Vienna in 1960, this was the station where Richard Solomon and I transferred to the former Third Avenue Railway cars that had begun operating here some 10 years earlier.  (See for an excellent report on how these cars were obtained and utilized.)

Richard and I rode to Strebersdorf, now the upper terminal of route 26, ironically where I rode today.  The motorman stood by in amusement as we affixed the authentic-looking dashboard plate sign for the X-167th Street Crosstown line to the former Third Avenue Railway car.  The late Ronald Schliessman fabricated the canvas for us and the motorman kindly took this photo.  The 167th Street Crosstown was "our line," operating only a short walk from "our" apartments in the beautiful Bronx.  



A 7-section ULF car, operating westbound on route 26, pauses at a traffic light prior to reaching the far-side stop at Kagranerplatz, where the line exchanges passengers with the U1.

Clare and I walked toward the
Keplerplatz stop of the U1 on the wide pedestrianized Favoritenstr, and found an Italian restaurant with outdoor seating for dinner.  Clare had an excellent day as well, and we retired after walking off our desserts.

Based on the weather forecast of clouds, wind and drizzle for Friday, I took my planned day-trip to the tramway in Bratislava, Slovakia on the next day, Thursday.  So to keep all of Vienna together, Friday and Saturday will be the subject of part 5 of the report, and I will save Thursday in Bratislava for part 6.

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, February 25, 2018 2:21 AM
Part 4 related the completion of our second day in Vienna on Wednesday, June 14.  But this report is not about the following day, as on Thursday I took a day-trip to Bratislava while Clare continued her exploration of museums.  To keep the narrative about Vienna contnuous, I'll relegate Bratislava to parts 6 and 7.

As the weatherman had predicted, Friday, June 16 dawned dank and drizzly.  After another good hotel breakfast  we were off to the museum quarter, which is served by the Museumsquartier station of the U2, to which we transferred from the U1 at Karlsplatz.  From its name I suspect you can figure out that the area has a number of cultural institutions, which include theaters and a major library; as well as a fine arts museum; a museum of mathematics; the Kunstalle, a museum of photography and videography; and best of all, the Leopold Museum, which is devoted to Art Nouveau and Modernism, dating from just before and after the turn of the 20th century.

At the beginning of our trip Clare had made a list of museums she wanted to visit, and as I had planned to spend one day accompanying her to some of these institutions, I selected the Leopold as my first choice.  I've often been exposed to the work of Gustav Klimt and Egon Schiele, as they are the mainstays of the Neue Gallerie in New York City (although its Cafe Sabarsky in the basement, with its wonderful German and Viennese food and pastries, might just attract me to the gallery as much as the art).  Anyway, we dodged the raindrops crossing the street from the U-bahn station and spent several hours enjoying the paintings, ancient photographs and sculpture.


Above: two photographs displayed together at the museum.  They were taken by Arthur Roessler, a major sponsor and benefactor of Egon Schiele.  The photo on the left is of Schiele himself, while the one to its right shows him with Wallly Neuzil, his muse and lover.  Shiele's self-portrait and a depiction of his lover are shown below.
Image result for schiele Self PortraitFramed Portrait Of Wally, 1912 Print

It was hunger that finally prompted us to leave, and we ended up having an excellent lunch at the Saigon, a Vietnamese restaurant on Gerreidemarkt on our way toward the Secession building (1897), which houses a museum
containing a Klimt mural and is especially noted for its dome of gilded laurels.  It fit right in with our day's agenda, as the Secession School was home to rebel artists of the time like Klimt and Schiele, and currently their followers.

We were now very close to Karlsplatz and decided to visit various points of interest in that area, including the restored facade of the Otto Wagner-designed Stadtbahn station from 1899 (which is now part of today's U-bahn complex), and the adjacent Karlskirche, a Vienna landmark.  By now the clouds had vanished.  The baroque St. Charles Church dates from 1737 and its architecture is stunning.  A live concert of Vivaldi's Four Seasons was scheduled for the evening and we purchased tickets.  We had paid 2½ euros for admission to the beautiful church and it was well worth it, but we also paid an additional 3½ for a ride up the "Panoramalift" to see the city from above.  That was a major rip-off.  First you had to climb 12 flights of stairs after being carried to the top of the elevator to get up in the dome (Clare could not) and then all views of the skyline were blocked off by mesh (see;geo=190454&detail=245772&aggregationId=101).  And the field of vision for the frescoes painted on the ceilings in the dome could also have been better.  On an earlier visit to Vienna we climbed to the top of St. Stephen's (located inside the Ring) and had spectacular view of the city.

Above and below:  Two views of the tramway at Karlsplatz.  The upper photo shows a 5-section route 62 car operating outbound along the west side of the square, on tracks shared with route 1 and the Wiener Lokalbahn.  The track joining the right-of-way from the right carries inbound cars past the stop illustrated in the lower photo.  One of Vienna's iconic car stop signs is located in front of the rear of a subway entrance that dates from 1899.

At left is the front facade of the Otto Wagner-designed Karlsplatz station, which now serves the U1, U2 and U4 subway lines.  It was an appropriate structure for us to visit, for it linked the highlights of the day together, as like Schiele and Klimt, Wagner was a member of the Secession movement (see  [When in Vienna the Hietzing station of the U4 line, close by the Schoenbrunn Palace, is also well worth a visit, as it is adjacent to the Court Pavilion, Wagner's private Stadtbahn station for Kaiser Franz Josef, which contains an Art Nouveau interior (see]  At right is another of Vienna's treasures, the Karlskirche (see below).


The 18th century Karlskirche (Church of St. Charles) rests beside a well-kept pond.  Although you cannot see it from this photo, the dome of the beautiful baroque structure is elliptical rather than round.  A picture is worth a thousand words, but If you need more words, see

After returning to the ground level, I took a number of photos in the area, and then we walked back to the Ring (Opernring), where, of all things, a heritage tram serendipitously appeared.  The car carried the letters VEF on its route number sign, indicating the 4-wheeler was one of the cars owned and operated by the Verband der Eisenbahn Freunde, or Friends of the Railway Association. These vintage cars frequently can be found operating on the Wiener Linien system, in competition with the equipment of the transit company's own Tramway Museum.  Both charge the same rates, just below 300 euros per hour.  How many cities have two sources for old-time trams vying for prominence and tourist dollars, not to mention weddings, parties, etc., on their streets?  Buses yes, but streetcars?  See and  In addition to its fantastic museum, Wiener Linien operates a scheduled tour tram, painted yellow, that circles the Ring hourly at a fare of 8 euros.  I saw No. 4867, an E1 car, several times, but never was in position to photograph it.

Wiener Linien Class M No. 4023 was built by Graz in 1927 as one of 150 such cars ordered from this carbuilder (and also Lohner and Simmering).  This particular unit operated in regular passenger service on the network until 1978 and then continued as a work car until 1981.

A 5-section ULF car is waiting for time at its Oper terminal, shared with the interurban line from Vienna to Baden.  As soon as it departs the 100-series car of the WLB in the background will pull up and begin loading the remaining passengers waiting at the stop.  The platform is directly accessible from the Oper/Karlsplatz station of the U-bahn.

We then rode back to the hotel, and after resting, traveled back to Karlsplatz, arriving early for the 20:15 concert.  As a result we had a choice of seats (first come, first served open seating).  Why was the music of Antonio Vivaldi specifically being performed?  Because he was buried a few yards from the church in 1741.  We enjoyed the 90-minute violin and choral performance, although at certain times it sounded like the principal soloist was lip-synching.  By the time we left it was drizzling again and we decided that our pho and pork chops (plus a snack of pastries) were sufficient to hold us over until breakfast, so we just rode the U1 back to our hotel.

Saturday, June 17.  Today was getaway day, but after breakfast we still had a modest amount of time before our 13:00 flight.  Our plan was to take the 11:12 Railjet for the 15-minute ride, and I had already purchased the extra zone step-up tickets for it the previous evening.  (Our 72-hour tickets lasted from Tuesday noon to Friday noon and I had purchased 24-hour ones for us after we left the museums on the previous day.)

So with about two hours in hand before our departure, Clare decided to sleep in and pack after breakfast, and I went for a quick excursion.  With the O tram nearby I continued southward from Columbusplatz to its terminal at Raxstrasse.  It is joined by the 67 and I continued further, but then noticed that the next stop, Sahulkastrasse, was a good location for a photo and so I alit for a picture.  Luckily I looked at my watch, as by then it was getting late and I figured I had a choice, wait for another outbound 67 and ride to its final stop at Otto-Probst-Platz, or head back right now, stopping for one more photo when I transferred back to the O line, as I had no time to accomplish both (map at  I chose the latter, and two of my photos are displayed below.

A 7-section ULF is shown operating toward the city approaching the Sahulkastrasse station.  I stopped here to record the ballasted track on private right-of-way in the center of the road (Neilreichgasse), which is unusual for Vienna's system, which is dominated by street running shared with motor traffic.

A high-floor E2 car pulling a trailer on an outbound run of route 62 along Troststrasse.  The shadows are still long in this early morning photo.

I was back at 10:45 and we quickly checked out of the hotel and rolled our carry-ons to the Hauptbahnhof, arriving about 10 minutes before our train's 11:12 scheduled departure.  I explained the service pattern for airport travel in part 1 of the report so I will not go into it again, other than to say service frequency on this route is half hourly.  When our locomotive-hauled push-pull Railjet pulled in from Bregenz (virtually the Swiss border), Innsbruck, Salzburg and Linz, almost all of the passengers detrained and our coach was mostly empty for the non-stop run to the airport; we
left at 11:12 (12) and arrived 15 minutes later on time.  Our tickets were not inspected.

Our routing to Lviv was via Warsaw and a change of planes.  We checked our carry-on bags and quickly reached the gate for our bus to Austrian Airlines flight 623, an Embraer 195 with 2-and-2 seating, which loaded through both front and rear door stairways from the tarmac.  I'd say it was about 70 percent full and because we ended up departing a little bit late, we were subjected to the Blue Danube Waltz for a little longer than expected (fortunately pleasant).  The aircraft began taxiing at 13:15 (13:00) and left the ground 8 minutes later.  We were served soft drinks and crackers, and soon were descending.  We hit the ground in cloudy Warsaw at 14:20 and reached the gate 4 minutes later, so we were only 9 minutes late.  Our continuation flight on LOT to Lviv also involved riding a bus to reach the aircraft, this time an Embraer 170.  It was a bit smaller than the 195, but had similar seating.  The bus left the gate on time at 15:35 and the plane began to move at 15:59, taking flight at 16:03.  We were served a chocolate wafer with a choice of coffee, tea or water.  We landed at 17:47 and reached the gate only two minutes later, so we were off the mark by only 14 minutes.

Lviv Danylo Halytskyi Airport was crowded with kids, but it was still easy to get through immigration and retrieve our luggage.  We used an ATM to buy Hryvnia, Ukraine's currency, and even though the number 9 trolleybus would get us very close to our hotel, took a taxi for the 4-mile ride.  Despite the fact that the most of the tourmembers, who were traveling together from Germany via Kiev, had not yet arrived,
the hotel was expecting us and we were checked in quickly--and taken to our room by an old-fashioned bellhop.  After unpacking and freshening up we went back to the lobby to greet and be greeted by those other members of the group who reached Lviv on their own, some via the 9 trolleybus.  The group's flight was not due to arrive in Lviv until 21:00, and fortunately it was not delayed.  A chartered bus brought the throng to the hotel, where room keys were distributed, and finally we sat down for our orientation dinner.

The food was decent and the ambiance proved to be very pleasant.  Clare and I drifted over to our friends Dick Aaron and John Wilkins, as well as to Alan Murray from Britain, a regular attendee of E. R. A. conventions, plus some Europeans whom we knew from our participation in the organization's journey to North Africa three years earlier. 

Part 8 will start the description of our activities in Ukraine, but parts 6 and 7, about my day trip to Bratislava, will come first.


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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, February 28, 2018 2:08 AM
Before continuing the narrative, I want to mention that Klaus Matzka has suggested some corrections and additions.  My biggest mistake was describing Vienna's short ULF cars as having 5 sections with the long ones containing 7 in various captions.  They are actually 3- and 5-section units respectively, as what looks like separations near their front and rear do not contain articulation joints.  Klaus also commented that he understands my attraction to the works of Egon Schiele, as it turns out he was born in the railroad station at Tulln, having been the son of its station master.  Lastly, when I indicated I was impressed by the enormity of having two organizations vying with each other to charter historic streetcars, it turns out there are three entities involved with renting out trams: Wiener Linien, whose museum is a major tourist attraction (and who operates the ring tourist tram as well as the bus and tram network); and the two that charter heritage cars: the VEF, a railfan group; and the Wiener Tramwaymuseum, a privately-owned operation.  Wiener Linien will charter only modern cars, like the ULFs and the E-types.

sday, June 15.  I was looking forward to visiting Bratislava, the capital of Slovakia, as although I briefly visited the city before, I hadn't gotten a good feel for the meter-gauge tramway network nor the urban area itself, but was impressed enough to try again.  In 1999 I spent half a day there, at the end of Mike Glikin's fine E. R. A. tour of Hungary, but all I was able to accomplish was a ride on a crowded fantrip.  That whetted my appetite and I planned a visit in 2007, between stops in Brno (Czech Republic) and Zagreb (Croatia).  It was my first trip to Brno and I was so enthralled with its tramway that I stayed there an extra day, and as a result, ended up skipping Bratislava.  (I couldn't push everything back a day, as I was picking up my 10-year old granddaughter in Dubrovnik and we had air tickets to the U. S. that were not changeable, except by paying a huge penalty.  (I did get back to Brno in 2016.)  So this was my next opportunity.

Bratislava, close by Slovakia's border with Austria, is a mere 50 miles from Vienna, and is reachable by rail in roughly an hour.  When I saw Klaus on the previous day he explained the various transportation alternatives.  Most importantly, there are two routes that each have hourly service, one north of the Danube and the other south.  Both run to and from Vienna's Hauptbahnhof, but the one south of the river ends at Petrzalka, a small station in a neighborhood a short bus ride from the newest extension of the tramway network, while the other runs to Bratislava's main station, Hlavna Stanica (hl st), which is served by two streetcar lines.  That information, of course, you can obtain from the internet, but the devil is in the details.

Klaus was a lifesaver, as he told me that if you go to Petrzalka, be sure to have coins as the transit ticket vending machines do not take bills or credit cards.  And he continued, if you use hl st, you'll find that the trains' OBB cars are not air conditioned, but there is usually one
Slovakian Railways coach with A/C, so if it's warm, make sure to ride in that one.  Complicating things further was the fact that today was a holiday in Austria (Corpus Christie Day) and the hourly service on each line would run only bi-hourly.

I decided to ride to Petrzalka and return from hl st, and so, after having breakfast with Clare, arrived at the Hauptbahnhof at 8:30.  A special round trip excursion fare to Bratislava for only 16 euros was available, which also could be used as a day ticket for the Bratislava transit system, and so I purchased it and went to platform 9 for the 8:45 train.  The eMU  was a through train from a place called Deutschkreutz, about 55 miles south of Vienna, and arrived late, disgorging a large number of passengers after it came to a halt.  I found a seat in a now-sparsely occupied coach and we pulled out at 8:52, 7 minutes late.  It was a pleasant ride, first through an industrial area and then farmland.  There were about 8 intermediate stops, which all had some ons and offs, and we finally pulled into Petrzalka on a stub-ended track at 9:45, only one minute off the mark.  I took a photo of the train, and interestingly, when I checked the internet (and with Klaus) to find the equipment type, I discovered it was dual-powered, which made sense because the Austrian Railways (OBB) uses 15,000 volts AC 16 2/3 Hz, while Slovakia's electrification, which is newer, is at 25,000 volts and 50 Hz.  But also of interest, the MUs also exercise their dual-voltage capability on the other end of their route, as Deutschkreutz, while in Austria, is very close to the border of Hungary, and the rail line, built in the days of the Hapsburg Empire when it was all one country, runs through a section of today's Hungary and switches to 25kV when it crosses that border (at the city of Sopron*).  That may explain why the two lines are through-routed--very clever.

*  The German name for Sopron was Odenburg, but the city was awarded to Hungary after a plebiscite in 1921.  At that time Deutschkreutz remained in Austria.

The dual-voltage eMU that brought me from Vienna to Bratislava at a bumper block in Petzralka station.  The Bombardier Talent eMU is already signed up for its return trip to Deutschkreutz via Vienna.

Bratislava is the capital of Slovakia, but prior to the end of the First World War it was called Pressburg, and was the leading city of the province of Slovakia, officially in the Hungarian portion of the Austria-Hungary.  After the breakup of the empire the province of Slovakia was combined with Bohemia, Moravia, Silesia and
part of Ruthenia into the Republic of Czechoslovakia, with Prague as its capital.  In 1948, three years after the end of World War II, with the overwhelming support of the Soviet Union, the Communist Party took complete control of the government and it became a satellite under the thumb of Russia until the Iron Curtain disintegrated in 1989, and a democratic state was created.  Later, in 1993, after a vote, Slovakia became independent with the remainder of Czechoslovakia becoming the Czech Republic (or Czechia, a name used by most English-speaking Europeans that is catching on).

The entire country occupies about 19,000 square miles of land, which makes its size somewhere between that of Maryland and West Virginia.  Its population of about 5
½ million puts it just below Maryland.  The capital city's population is about 420,000, so it is smaller than Baltimore, but larger than any other city in those two states.

Once an electric interurban also plied the rails to Bratislava from Vienna.  The standard-gauge Pressburger Bahn operated through passenger service between the centers of the two cities from 1914 to 1938.  The railway utilized Austrian Railways electrification system of of 15 kV AC between the cities, but its dual-powered motor cars operated on 600 volts DC within Vienna and 550 in Bratislava.  Being standard gauge, dual-gauge track was used on common sections of route with the Bratislava tramway.  Too bad I couldn't ride that line on this Thursday.

Bratislava has 7 meter-gauge tram lines covering about 25 route miles (plus another two rush hour-only lines). 
Its rolling stock consists of 60 new 5-section Skoda-built CityPlus 100-percent low-floor articulated units (30 class 30T double-enders and 30 29T single-enders), plus a variety of Tatra cars built in Prague during the communist period.

In fact, I also saw a very large number of Tatra cars in Ukraine, so now may be a good time for me to identify the different types of vehicles (in a simplistic manner, since I am neither a technical expert nor do I care about patents, licenses and royalty payments).  Most Tatra trams are considered to be PCCs, mainly because of their trucks and electric equipment, with their construction having been based on the research and development performed in the U. S. that created the American PCC.  Thus I'm not surprised that over the years I found they have a similar feel and ride quality as our PCC cars.

Most were single ended high-floor units (although there are some noted exceptions described below).

Double-truck cars

T3    The iconic eastern European version of the PCC car.  Some 17,600 (including T4s) were turned out on Tatra's production lines from 1963 to 1989.  Many have been renovated in varying degrees, even to the extent of being rebodied, and those are represented using alphabetic suffices after the T3. 
Some were even rebuilt with small center low-floor sections.  I tend to ignore the specific classification of the different versions as I cannot remember what each suffix means.  The T3 was an evolution of earlier T1 and T2 cars, which were significantly fewer in number.  A narrower version of this type of car, built mainly for systems with tighter clearances is called the . . .

T4    and was especially popular in [East] Germany (T4D) and the Soviet Union (T4SU).  As far as I know its width is the only major difference between the T3 and T4 designations.

T6    A modernized version of the T3/T4 with a major change in body styling, where the aesthetically pleasing curved lines of the PCC were replaced by angular shapes.  Because these cars were newer models, they have updated electric and electronic components, but then that is also true for later versions of the T3.  Still based on the PCC, one could say their body style is a copy of the KT4's (see below).  Some 1,832 were built from 1985 to 1998, with a single unit in the last year of production sent to New Orleans for testing (it now runs in Strausberg, Germany).  Again there is confusion in nomenclature, as the T6 cars built for the Soviet Union are called T3M in those countries (I'll call them T6s).  Prior to the T6 there was the . . .

T5    for Budapest, which introduced the styling for double-truck cars.  A substantial number, 322, were built (and are still running); they paved the way for the successful T6, which has the same body styling.

Articulated cars

K2    This is a 2-section, articulated version of the T3.  K2 bodies look very much like T3s, but they are obviously longer.  Some 567 were built for 12 cities between 1966 and 1983.  Another 200 similar cars, but double-ended, were built for Cairo.

KT4  The successor to the K2 is narrow, like the T4, but its body style introduced the angular look later found on the T6 cars.  Between 1973 and 1991 a total of 1,751 of these two-section articulated PCCs were constructed by Tatra, while another 50 were built in China with exported parts for Pyongyang, North Korea.  An order of 20 for Belgrade was built as late as 1997.  Some of these cars have been modernized with low-floor center sections added to become 3-section, accessible units.

KT8    Tatra's last production model was a long, 3-section double-ended PCC built to handle large crowds.  Some 199 of these cars were constructed from 1984 to 1993, including 45 for Pyongyang.  A number of their high-floor center sections have been replaced with low-floor ones.

In summary, because of the timeline, the T6 could be considered a newer, updated version of the T3/T4, while the same would be true for the evolution
of articulated cars from the T2 to the KT4.  One could also say the KT8 was the final chapter in the progression of Tatra-built PCC cars.  Surely the T3 should be represented in the collection of an American trolley museum that wants to depict the history of PCC cars.

In Bratislava I rode K2, T4 and T6 cars (in addition to the new Skoda low-floor units).  Here are photos of each of these types of PCCs.

Coming off the Tatra assembly line in 1975, K2 No. 7101 was extensively rebuilt in 1999, and is shown operating on Krizna just north of the Legionarska stop of lines 2, 4, 8 and 9.  The building in the background is one of the oldest in Bratislava, and originally served as the station of the city's first railway, powered by horses, to the suburb of Svaty Jur, about 9 miles away.

Tatra T3 PCC 7841 was built in 1989 and is shown operating inbound along Karloveska just after stopping at Jurigovo nam, which is served by routes 4, 5 and 9 (plus 6 in rush hours).

Tatra T6 PCC 7921 was built in 1991 and is shown operating inbound just beyond Karlova Ves, its first stop after leaving its terminal loop and rejoining routes 4 and 5.

After leaving the Petrzalka station with my railroad/day ticket in hand, I saw the transit ticket vending machine at a bus stop along the curb and helped some other tourists purchase tickets (a senior day pass cost Euro 3.45).  A few minutes later a route 99 bus pulled up and I boarded for what turned out to be a short, four-stop ride to a point (Farskeho) where the street crosses the tracks of Bratislava's newest tram line. 
The sky was solid blue and after a couple of photos, I rode one stop out to what is the temporary end of the line, Jungmannova.  The company is building a 6-stop extension to run further south for another 2¼ miles.  The Petrzalka neighborhood began to be served by routes 1 and 3, which run on a combined 4-minute headway, in December, 2015, after a new truss bridge (called the old bridge*) was constructed for trams, bicycles and pedestrians.  Apparently there is a desire in Bratislava to convert its tramway to standard gauge some time in the future, so this section of route is constructed for dual gauge operation, with each track equipped with four rails, two set at meter gauge within two at standard gauge.  I suspect the outer rails will stay rusty for some time.
* The name of the bridge is Stary Most (old bridge) and it is located on the footprint of a bridge that had been built for railroad trains and motor traffic in 1891, which closed for rail (1983), vehicles (2010), and finally pedestrians (2013).  The new bridge, or Novy Most, was built in 1972.

After some photos I rode the two stops to the outer end of the bridge.  My photos of the extension, which is operated exclusively with Bratislava's newest, double-ended Skoda 30T cars, follow.

Looking north toward the Stary Most, a double-ended Skoda 30T tram slows for the Farskeho stop.  The roadway, with a matching automobile, leads to parkland, an industrial park and a freeway interchange.

Above and below:  Two views at the end of lines 1 and 3 at Jungmannova in Petrzalka.  The line will be extended a further six stops.  Most passengers use the previous station, Farskeho, where there are connections with several bus lines.  The two gauges are quite prominent in the photos.

Above and below:  Views from the trackway on the Stary Most girder bridge, which was opened in 2015.


As you can see, from the photo above right, the city is dominated by the huge Bratislava Castle, and as soon as I reached the other side of the bridge, I transferred to a route 4 car and rode along the Danube to reach that point.  The 4 uses modern 100-percent low-floor Skoda 29T single-ended equipment.

The castle on the Carpathian hill, Bratislavsky hrad, was constructed in the middle of the 16th century as the principal palace of Hungarian kings.  Originally known as Pressburg Castle, it was a summer residence of the emperors of Austria-Hungary.  But toward the end of the 18th century the city was demoted, with the Hungarian government moving to Budapest and the crown jewels to Vienna.  The castle became a fort, which Napoleon bombarded in 1809.  It burned spectacularly in 1811 and little attempt at restoration was made until 1957, when the communist government went to work on it.  It was reopened in 1968 and has since been further improved.  In 2005 the Bush-Putin summit was held there.  The outbound route 4 car is a single-ended Skoda 29T and the photo was taken from the approach to the 1972-built Novy Most. 

A ½-mile tramway tunnel cuts under the castle, and as I continued riding outbound on the 4 I saw that it would be best if I come back later to photograph at the portal, as the sun was shifting in that direction.  Thus I first rode out further toward the end of route 4 at Dubrovka.
Photos along this line and of the rest of my explorations in Bratislava continue in segment 7 of this report.


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Bratislava 29T from Stary Most with Castle.jpg











Klaus Matzka has come through again--this time on Bratislava.  He indicates that the construction of the dual gauge track over the Stary Most (Old Bridge) was left over from an early European Union funding requirement that the bridge be able to support a future standard-gauge rail line, even though the Bratislava system had already scrapped its plans to convert their meter-gauge system.  Once the rails were in place, and before the bridge was opened, its outer rails were tested--with borrowed trucks from Kocise placed under a Bratislava tram.  So the rust was briefly disturbed.

Klaus also sent a photo of the old, Old Bridge he took in September, 1992--with an Ikarus bus on the roadway and the railroad tracks leading nowhere.  Photos of the new, Old Bridge appear in part 6.


Thursday, June 15
continued.  It was getting warmer on this sunny day as I continued riding and photographing cars on lines 4 and 5 toward Dubravka (and 9 to the short turn Karlova Ves loop) in the western part of Bratislava.  The tracks are entirely on reservation and with the frequent service I took the opportunity to take photos from both ground level and pedestrian and street overpasses.  Two pictures along this section of route appeared in part 1 to illustrate the appearance of T3 and T6 cars, but here are a two more taken on the way back.  See for a map of the network.

Above and below:  Two views of single-ended 100-percent low-floor 7400-series Skoda 29T cars along the arteries that carry routes 4, 5, 6 and 9 westward from the city center.  Service is fast and frequent, and ridership is high.  In the upper photo an inbound route 9 car slows to a stop at Jurigovo nam.  The lower view shows an outbound route 9 car stopping at Lafranconi.

Eventually I reached the Chatam Sofer stop, where the 5 and 9 lines take the shortcut route under Bratislava Castle to reach downtown.  While photographing at the tunnel portal I was approached by man who began speaking German to me, but changed to English when I told him I was an American.  It turned out he was Dutch and was looking for a Jewish cemetery in the area.  Apparently there are still plenty of people that are searching for the graves of relatives who lived (and died) during World War II and the Holocaust.  After returning to the U. S. I searched the internet for the Jewish cemetery and found that Chatam Sofer is a modern spelling/pronunciation for Chasam Sofer, which in reality was Moshe Sofer, an 18th century rabbi, and short for the memorial built at this location.  See and,_Bnei_Brak.  Anyway, the stranger was correct and I hope he found what he was looking for.

Above and below:  The tunnel under Bratislava Castle is used by routes 5 and 9 to reach the city center, while routes 4 and 6 circumscribe the downtown area by staying parallel to the Danube.  Construction of the tunnel was started in 1943 and it was opened to general traffic (including trams) in 1949, but limited to rail after 1983, when it was rebuilt.  It was closed and renovated again two years ago.  In the top view a two-car train of T6s turns away from routes 4 and 6, and crosses the road to approach the tunnel.  The lower photo shows a similar train, but in a different livery, exiting through the portal.

Back downtown I took some photos along a pedestrianized shopping street and rode a few other lines, taking additional photos. 

Two Tatra K2 PCC cars pass on Obchadna, a pedestrianized shopping street in downtown Bratislava.

Attractive churches reign over the tramway in various parts of Bratislava.

Routes 1, 8 and 9 operate on Namestie Slovenskeho Narodneho Povstania
, which separates Bratislava's modern city from the old town.  A train of T6 cars, advertising the city, is shown operating outbound on route 9 in front of the Church of the Visitation of Virgin Mary.  The baroque church, and its adjoining monastery, date from the 17th and 18th centuries.  Abbreviated as SNP, the name translates to Slovak National Uprising, which took place against the German Wehrmacht in 1944.

A westbound Skoda 29T passes St. Ladislava on Spitalska, which is used by route 3, 4 and 9 through downtown Bratislava.  The 19th century baroque church was built on the same foundation as two previous ones, the earliest dating back to the year 1390.

A K2 car on route 8 passes the 19th century Blumental church (Church of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary), on Radlinskeho.  The track at left carries route 2 to the main railroad station.

And here are some photos of museum equipment that operates in tourist service.

Museum car 31 was built in 1938 as No. 101 by BMEZ, the Bratislava Municipal Tramway Co.  Called a "Patokenak," which roughly translates to "five windows," the double-trucker was renumbered 31 in 1943.  In 1974 it was sent to the technical museum in Brno for preservation, but it was returned to Bratislava 28 years later, where it was beautifully restored for operation.  It is shown turning from Sturova onto Jesenskeho in the heart of downtown, following the route of inbound route 8 cars.

Many of Bratislava's sightseeing buses were manufactured with bodies that look like old motor coaches, unlike the American practice of trying (and failing) to make their versions look like cable cars.  I caught this realistic model along the tram tracks
on SNP in front of the Church of the Visitation of Virgin Mary.

As the afternoon wore on it got quite hot, especially during my walk through the attractive and tourist-filled "old town" (Stare Mesto).  I stopped for
a large Coca Cola at McDonalds (which was giving away free cans of Coke Zero--I took one taste and tossed it into a trash container).  Finally, I rode out to the Hlavna stanica railroad station (which is represented by a steam locomotive on the destination signs of tram routes 1 and 2).

The loop at
Hlavna stanica, Bratislava's main railroad station, which serves routes 1 and 2.  This view shows a high-floor Tatra K2 car sandwiched by two low-floor Skoda 30Ts.

I caught the 17:37 train back to Vienna.  With the temperature still uncomfortably high at that time, I remembered Klaus's advice about the one air-conditioned Slovakian Railways coach operating on the train.  It was the first to fill up, but I was already ensconced in my forward-facing window seat by then.  The train, which was pulled by a diesel locomotive, made few stops, zipping past a number of stations, but because of its lengthier route
via the north (east) side of the Danube, was scheduled for a 7-minute longer trip than the trains serving Petrzalka.  There are also hydrofoils and catamarans that run between the two cities, but they charge higher fares, and take from 75 to 100 minutes each way.  However, a water journey is a pleasant low-key way to see the sights along the river, but that was not my plan for the day.

I noticed we passed the Aspern Nord and Hausfeldstrasse stations of the U-bahn that I had visited two days earlier, and it appeared the line was in the process of having its tracks doubled and electrified for a future extension of S-bahn service.  Arrival at the Hauptbahnhof was at 18:44 (43), and I scurried back to the hotel.

I found Clare reading in our room, and after I freshened up, we walked back to the railroad station and rode the S-bahn to Praterstern, which is adjacent to the Prater, a very large park housing Vienna's iconic Ferris wheel (see  As most of you know it became world-famous from the movie, The Third Man.  When I had earlier asked Klaus to recommend a restaurant for authentic traditional Viennese food and ambience, he suggested the Schweizerhaus in the park and we took his advice.  We had to pay an admission fee to get into the amusement section, which was crowded with couples and families, as was the large restaurant.  Clare had goulash while I had a schnitzel (we tasted each other's main courses), and we were very pleased with both the food and service--as well as the reasonable price.

We were too late to take a ride on the Liliputbahn, a 15-inch gauge railway that conveys passengers in open cars along a 2½-mile loop through the park.  Now normally operated with diesel locomotives, there are at least two original steam engines on the property and the 1928-built Pacifics are often in service during the summer high season.  We were able to get a glimpse of a diesel and some coaches (see and, but nothing more.

We could have returned to the hotel via the S-bahn or even the U2 and U1 subway lines via Karlsplatz, but instead chose a one-seat ride on the O streetcar line, which took a little longer, but was the perfect conclusion to our long, busy day.  The short ULF took us to Columbusplatz, one station after Sudtiroler Platz, and only a block and a half from our accommodations.  We fell asleep very quickly.

Part 8 relates the start of our traction tour of Ukraine in Lviv on Sunday, June 18.


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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, March 07, 2018 2:05 AM
Sunday, June 18 continued.  As mentioned in part 8, after transferring to our pair of modernized Tatra KT4s, we headed out to the newest trackage in the network,  the 3.3-mile extension of route 8.  But once we arrived at the Akademiya Mistetstv loop, which  was the line's former outer terminal, it was discovered that car 1100 was not performing properly.  As a result the entire group piled into the other car, No. 1088 to cover the line.  Once we obtained our photos and arrived back at the loop, the 1100 had been repaired and was ready for us again, and so the fantrip proceeded again with two cars.  I rode the 8 for a second time later in the afternoon.  Some of the photos of the line are directly below.

Members of our group abandoning car 1100 after the announcement that only No. 1088 would continue to the end of route 8.  At left is Heike Fischer, wife of tour organizer Thomas Fischer, and at right are the three Lviv tram operators that were guiding our fantrip.  After our round trip to Vernadskogo half the group boarded this car again as its repair had been completed.

Above and below:  Two scenes adjacent to Dobzhenko Park on the southern extension of route 8.  The Ukrainian Catholic Church of the Nativity of the Theotokos (Eastern Rite) was visited and blessed by Pope John Paul II in 2001 (see the proudly displayed screen at far right).  The complex remains under construction (as seen at left).  An Electron-built low-floor articulated passes through the center-of-the-road right-of-way directly across from the parish church. For the most part, the rails are embedded in concrete even when surrounded by grass.

There is plenty of room for cars to be laid up at the end of the extension of route 8.  The Vernadskogo loop circumscribes the side tracks, and the stops are located before and after the cars turn.  One of our chartered cars, No. 1088, is a Tatra KT4 from 1988 that was rebuilt by Electron within the last decade.

Also, as mentioned in the previous portion, once the charter reached Pidvalna Street downtown (a block away from the Rynok, or central marketplace),  some of us left and continued riding and photographing in the city center (and along route 8) before returning to the hotel.  On Monday, June 19 the schedule called for our bus to carry the group to Vinnytsia (where we would inspect and ride the tramway on Tuesday) with stops to be made at Ternopil and Chmelnyzkyj to photograph the local trolleybus systems.  Some 8 of us, who knew there was a fast train to Vinnytsia in the afternoon, opted to stay in Lviv for most of the day and then catch up with the group in the evening.  We were quite pleased that our Ukrainian guide, Kostj, volunteered to buy us the tickets on the internet, and we paid him 240 Hryvnia (a little under $9.00) for each reserved seat First Class fare.  And we wouldn't have to worry about our luggage, as we were able to place the pieces in the bus's baggage compartment just before the group's 7:30 departure.  Thus we had most of the day free to ride and photograph the tram system.  Clare would spend the day visiting churches and museums.  She'd get around using taxis, just as she did on Sunday. 

Karl Heinz and I walked down to the tram stop at Holovna Poshta, a covered station which serves as a major transfer point between trams, buses and minibuses.  We then took a route 2 car to the Rynock, where we changed to a 4, which we rode to the end of the line at Tofiana (follow us on the map at  We worked our way back to Teatr Lialok and then made a quick round trip on the 7 to Pohulianka before returning to the Rynok, where we grabbed some snacks from various kiosks.  While enjoying our repast on a bench (I had an ice cream cone), Clare happened to walk by, which was a nice coincidence, and we confirmed our meeting place at the railroad station for later in the afternoon.  Soon we were out riding again and took the 5 to Akvapark.  On our return we transferred to a route 1 car at Sakharova, which we rode to Pryvokzalnyi, the closest we could get to the station because of the trackwork reroute.

All in all, we'd have to say that operations are relatively slow, as the trams have to compete with automobiles on narrow streets and must pause at traffic lights (although the new extensions have reserved track built to high standards).  Service seems to be decent, with headways running in the 12 to 15-minute frequency range, although I did witness occasional bunching.

Above and below:  These two
photos were taken on the previous afternoon.  An unmotored replica tram serves as a library and tourist information center in front of the Church of the Holy Communion adjacent to Muzeina (Market) Square in the center of Lviv.  The church, originally founded by Dominicans, now serves the Greek Catholic community (Eastern Rite) after being used as the Museum of Religion and Atheism during the Soviet era.  Much of its facade dates from the 19th century.  "Just Lviv It" is the slogan of the city's tourist bureau.  The square hosts a flea market that features used books.  The lower view shows No. 1137 from 1988 at the Ploshcha Soborna turning loop of routes 3 and 8.  An appendage of the Bernadine church and monastery are in the background.

Holovna Poshta, one of the few tram stops where passengers are entirely protected from the elements, is a major transfer point between tram routes 1, 2, 9 and 10 and a large number of bus lines and jitneys.  (Lviv also has a small trolleybus system, with route 9 running out to the airport.)  KT4 No. 1045 was built by Tatra in 1984.

Some of Lviv's worst track is traversed by routes 4 and 5 along Zamarstynivska Street in the northern section of the city.  This view of 1987-built KT4 No. 1111 just below its Torfiana terminal loop may reveal what could be a secret new United Airlines cockpit simulator.  Is dealing with turbulence or just poor track?

No. 1129 is shown operating southward on route 5 along Volodymyra Vynnychenka Street in the center of Lviv.  Like almost all of its compatriots, this KT4 car is wrapped in advertising.  The articulated PCC was built by Tatra for Lviv in 1988.

No. 006 is a Tatra-built T3 PCC car from 1977 now operating in work service.  Note the billboard with the word, "America" printed in the Cyrillic alphabet, advertising real estate.

A route 3 car running southward along Akademika Sakharova Street just after passing through the junction of routes 1,3, 5, 7 and 9.  Articulated KT4 No. 1155 from 1981 looks like it would be quite at home operating on Boston's Green Line during the Boeing era.

We met at the station at 14:30 for our 15:26 train.  No. 748 had 5 cars, with our singular first class coach having 2-and-1 seating.  One of the other 4 was outfitted with a snack bar.  For those who did not want to walk to the counter, an attendant roamed the coaches pushing a cart, selling drinks, pastries and sandwiches.  The train was comfortably air-conditioned (the outside temperature was in the 80s).  We left on time, made two stops at way stations, and arrived in Vinnytsia three minutes early at 20:20.  We took a few taxis to the hotel and met up with the group in the midst of their dinner.  We were served as soon as we sat down, after a fruitful day.

Part 10 will cover our activities in Vinnytsia.

But there will be a delay in completing part 10, as Clare and I leave for a short vacation in New Orleans early tomorrow morning.  So I will have to take a hiatus of sorts, as I plan to be off line for the entire week, and thus will not be able to move ahead with the remaining portions of this report until I return from the Crescent city--on the Crescent.  Stay tuned.



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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, March 13, 2018 4:04 AM
Tuesday, June 20.  After having completed breakfast by 8 a.m. bright and early the following morning, we boarded our chartered bus for the short distance to the main carhouse and workshops of the tramway system.  I had been to this pleasant city of some 375,000 souls in 2008, when operations over its meter-gauge tramway were mainly provided by Tatra KT4s.  At the timesome second-hand cars from Zurich had already arrived and the older Swiss units were starting to be mixed in with the PCCs.  I looked forward to touring the system again, starting with our chartered pair of historic vehicles.

In the decade since that visit, many more cars from Zurich were added, and they gradually began to
dominate the roster, and now provided virtually all regular service on the 6-line, 12½-mile long system.  Also during that period, about a mile of additional track had been laid linking the ends of two lines, thereby permitting the operation of various full and partial loop services.  And now there is a major initiative, called the VinWay program, to rebuild and renovate older rolling stock.

My report on our visit to Vinnytsia is divided into two parts, the first covering the time we spent at the carhouse and on the fantrip, and the second recording normal public operation.

Our group was given the run of the carhouse area and were able to see some equipment undergoing modernization.  We also noted that a few of the "VinWay" cars were being operated in regular service; they a
re shown in part 2.

Above and below.  Red and cream were the "official colors" of streetcars in the days of the Soviet Union.  Vinnytsia's work cars remain in that livery, as shown by these views of Sweeper SU-1 and Tower Car EP-2, the latter fabricated from a Tatra T3 PCC.

Tatra-built PCC 143 from 1979 has been retained in good working order and can be chartered.  Sister car 135 (1977) was converted into the Tower Car shown previously.  It should be pointed out that narrower, meter-gauge T3 PCCs exported from Czechoslovakia to the Soviet Union were officially classified as T4 cars (as were narrower cars of any gauge, such as those built for East Germany and other Eastern European countries), but they were and remain the functional equivalent of wider T3s.  In my opinion this equipment constitutes a very important portion of the story of PCC cars (over 15,000 were built), and I wish one of the standard-gauge units would be imported by an American trolley museum.  We do have PCCs from The Hague and Brussels in the U. S., why not an example of the much more pervasive Tatra T3?

A lineup of three modern cars.  A Tatra KT4 is sandwiched by two ex-Zurich "Mirage" articulated cars.  When Vinnytsia imported the Swiss cars and found they were perfectly suitable for their tram operations they adopted the Zurich color scheme for all their vehicles, including trolleybuses, matching these cars.  No. 219 was built in 1988, just before the communist regime fell, while 299 and 305 were constructed in 1966 and 1967, respectively.  A handful of KT4s are still operable for the public in Vinnytsia, but I didn't see any on the streets.

This mural, near the entrance of the carhouse, which shows a progression of car types, must have been painted recently, as it features one of the VinWay cars at the far right.  Shown are car 1 and car 100, both used for our fantrip, followed by a KT4, a Swiss Mirage car and a VinWay streamlined unit.

This inoperable replica was built in 2003 and reposes in front of the carhouse's administrative building, greeting visitors.  It was constructed in the style of one of the city's original MAN-built trams of 1912, the year tramway service in the city was inaugurated.  A mini museum depicting the history of Vinnytsia's trams is inside the car.

Above and below:  Our fantrip cars were small four-wheelers built by Gotha in East Germany in 1958.  A large number of these T57 cars pulled trailers (B57s) through the streets of Vinnytsia until the centralized production of trams was moved to Czechoslovakia in the early 1970s--making way for the introduction of T3 PCCs (quite an improvement). 
Car No. 1, shown above, had its original body extensively modified, and its number obviously, was repeated on the replica car shown previously.  

Our two fantrip cars, posed together at one of our photo stops. 

Continued in segment 11.


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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, March 18, 2018 8:27 AM
Tuesday, June 20 in Vinnytsia continued.

We covered the entire loop (see with the four-wheelers, returned to the carhouse, and then took out a pair of ex-Zurich Mirage cars to run across the Pivdennyi Buh River and into the city center, operating to the end of the line at the railway station.  The second car of our set was a blind motor, in other words a unit without controls, only usable as the second car of a multiple unit train.  In Zurich these cars were called blinde kuh (blind cows), and they did not have headlights (clearly because they were not needed).  Vinnytsia began purchasing surplus Zurich cars in 2006, gradually replacing its Tatra fleet with a combination of Swiss Karpfen 4-axle cars and two-section high-floor articulated Mirage units.  The name Mirage really has nothing to do with trams, but was the moniker applied to them in 1968 when these cars were fabricated at the time as the Swiss Army received French-built Mirage fighter jets.  I'd say it is amazing how well these 50-year old cars have held up, but I suspect it's not a chance phenomenon, but rather a testament to Swiss carbuilding and a scrupulous effort in Vinnytsia to maintain them to high standards.

As we were running a bit late, I decided to bail out from the tour so I could ride some regular service; I was also hopeful I'd be able to photograph one or two of the modern VinWay cars.  I stationed myself at the Vasylia Stusa stop of routes 2, 4 and 5, and took pictures of whatever came by.  Our chartered bus was supposed to leave for Zhitomir from the junction of routes 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 at Rynok Urozhai/Medychnyi University at 13:45, and I arrived there well in time, also meeting Clare, who spent the day visiting cultural venues.

A few words about the on-going VinWay program.  Very little has been written about the modernization project, but it appears to have been started in 2015 and calls for the creation of a fleet of modern low-floor cars by substantially rebuilding single-unit Tatra T4 PCCs (just using the trucks and frame) and converting 2-section KT4s into modern 3-section units.

Above and below:  Views of two Mirage cars obtained from Zurich.  No. 308 was originally numbered 1653 and was built in 1967.  No. 315, which is shown on a side track at the railroad station loop, had been 1629 and was produced a year earlier.  Both came to Vinnytsia in 2010. 

Yes, there are some advertising wraps in Vinnytsia, but fortunately, very few.  Mirage 339 (former 1676 from 1968) is shown departing the Vasylia Stusa stop, which serves routes 2, 4 and 5, in the outbound direction.

Above and below:  The blind and door sides of the only two VinWay single-unit cars on the roster at the time of our visit.  They were commissioned in December of 2016 and April, 2017 respectively.  Since then No. 136 has joined the ranks, having been released for service in July, 2017.  They are classified as type T4UA.  The upper photo was taken at the Vasylia Stusa stop, while the lower one was captured while the unit reposing at the carhouse.

Above and below
:  The blind and door sides of the three-section low-floor VinWay units created from Tatra KT4 cars, photographed in the same locations as the pair above.  Classified as type KT4UA, they appear to be retaining the numbers they carried when coming off the production floor of CKD-Tatra in Prague--in 1990.  There are three such units on the roster (226 being the other one), but there is also an earlier prototype, No. 224, which had been built in 1988.  They began serving the public in 2015 and 2016. 

Former Zurich Karpfen car 1416 was built in 1959, and was among the original group of 14 motors (and 15 trailers) sent to Vinnytsia in 2007.  Both the 4-axle Karpfen and two-section Mirage cars began to be removed from service in Switzerland's largest city when the production run of Cobra cars came online in 2005.  It was just shortly afterward that the massive transfer of cars from Zurich to Vinnytsia began.

One last view, along the one branch I didn't ride on this trip, routes 1, 3 and 5 to Elektromerezha.  The location is Rynok Uroszhai, where the branch joins the loop.  Mirage 310 was built for Zurich in 1967 as car 1662 and came to Vinnytsia in 2010. 


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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 4:06 AM

The following would have been posted with the previous posting if I had had the edit button, and the are several more waiting.

Tuesday, June 20 continued.  The bus ride from Vinnytsia to Zhitomir consumed about two hours, and we arrived at the meter-gauge tramway's carhouse/shops/offices around 16:00.  It was still bright and sunny, and because it was June 20, it was one of the longest days of the year.  We would not need too much time here, as there is only one line in this city of slightly under 300,000 people (see for a map).  With a route length of a little over 4 miles, it would be easy to make a full round-trip and even have a few photo stops before shadows would become too long.  And with an 18:30 departure for the 85-mile long trip to Kiev, it would still be light even at our 20:30 arrival time.

We spent some time freshening up and visiting the carhouse, inspecting many work cars before our charter with two special trams left.

This Gotha T57 four-wheeler, built in East Germany in 1959, was converted for work service in 1978.

Above and below:  Our two chartered trams.  The upper view shows T4 No. 6, a PCC built by Tatra in Prague for Zhitomir in 1978.  The four-wheeler in the lower photo was rebuilt
in Zhitomir's shops from a Gotha T59 car in 1989.  The deck roof car with its bow collector is shown near the Peremohy Square loop on the western end of the system.

Our two charter cars pause for photos on the street.  Almost all of Zhitomir's tramway operates in pavement.

Above and below:  Regular service for the public in Zhitomir is provided by Tatra single-ended KT4 cars, which turn on loops at both ends of the system (and at intermediate points if needed).  Although many of these PCCs sport advertising wraps I was able to capture two pristine units near the turnoff for the carhouse.  No. 169 was built for Vinnytsia in 1982 and came to Zhitomir in 2010, while No. 31 was built new for the property in 1987.

Our bus dropped us off right in front of the Ibis Hotel before 21:00, and we were soon checked in.  Dinner was served in the restaurant and we rushed off to bed, as tomorrow would be another bright and sunny day, and we wanted to get an early start.


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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, March 21, 2018 9:12 AM
Wednesday, June 21.  As mentioned in an earlier segment, Ukraine uses the Cyrillic alphabet, and as a result, its principal city and capital, Kiev, has been transliterated in several ways, depending on who holds power.  The common Russian spelling is Kiev, which seems to be recognized worldwide, while Kyiv is the Ukrainian spelling.*  Kiev has a population of just under 3 million, and is spread out along the Dnieper River, with large concentration of activities on both sides, although the classic "downtown" is on the west.

* Lviv (Ukrainian) is even more complicated.  The Russians translate it to Lvov and the Polish to Lwow.  Many German speakers still call it Lemberg.

The city has a very large tramway network of about 90 miles served by some 20 lines, a 3-line metro system with 52 stations covering a good 43 miles, plus a circular "S-bahn" line, translated to "Metropolitan Railway" or "Urban Electric Railway," which is operated by Ukrainian Railways, the national railroad company.  All of the rail lines are 5-foot Russian gauge (1524 mm).  T
wo days of activities were scheduled for the group to cover this system.  I decided to spend those days railfanning on my own, as I wanted to be sure I would get to the essentials of the operation, and also to experience it as a regular passenger, while not limiting myself to group photo stops.

Clare and I had visited Kiev in 1997, at the time our daughter-in-law was pregnant with our older granddaughter, and had stopped to meet our son's in-laws in the relatively nearby city of Bryansk in Russia, after seeing Paul and Irina in St. Petersburg and Novgorod.  (Kiev is an overnight train ride from Bryansk, which is 300 miles to the northeast, with Moscow being 250 more miles in the same direction.)  At that time the streetcar network was larger, as the Metro had not yet taken its full toll on the tramway system.  Since then the connecting tram tracks over a bridge spanning the Dnieper were abandoned and now there are two networks on either side of the river isolated from each other.

But a great deal has stayed the same over the last 20 years--more than has changed.  Tatra T3 and T6 PCCs still provide the bulk of the service, although new low-floor cars keep trickling in and some PCCs now are wheelchair accessible due to modifications (as well as being combined into articulated units).  Major parts of the 6-mile long "express tramway" from the main railroad station have been upgraded with newly-built stations and station fare collection, and another 4-mile long express tramway (or light rail line) has been created on the east side of the Dneiper.  Maintenance also looks like it is better now than it was in the first years after the end of communism.

After breakfast, and while the charter bus was being loaded with tourmembers heading for a carhouse visit and fantrip on the western side of the river, I walked the
¾-mile or so to the main railroad station on Vokzalna Square, where I would be beginning my activities.  I was hoping to find a source of day tickets, but alas there aren't any and I had to buy individual ride paper forms from news kiosks.  But they were not expensive--only about 15 cents per ride--so I bought them in bulk.

After my hunt through the station for a day ticket, I went out on the plaza and asked directions to the tram stop.  I knew it was a bit of a walk from my experience 20 years earlier, but I wasn't sure of the direction.  I would come upon a sign, but then after following it there would be a fork in the path (and all I could think of was Yogi Berra's instructions, which were definitely not very practical).  With the help of strangers (I have always depended on the kindness of strangers--an old Tennessee saying) I was directed up some stairs and through a covered market, and finally reached the loop.  En route I passed the Vokzalna station of the Metropolitan Railway and (of course) stopped for photos from the overpass.  As it turned out (and something I took advantage of on the following day) the walk from the hotel directly to this point was quite a bit shorter.

The main railroad station, called Kiev-Pasazhyrskyi, in a view from Symona Petlyury Street.  The enormous structure was completed in 1932.  The name translates to Kiev-Passenger.  The Cyrillic words on the facade transliterates to Vokzal, and Vokzal and Vokzalna translate to Railway Station. [You will see that I used the term "Vokzalna station" in this section of the report, which is actually redundant, as it literally means "railway station station."  Sorry, but I can't think of an alternative.]

The Vokzalna station of Metro Line 1 is part of the railroad station complex.  Although most references to the beauty of Soviet Metro stations usually refers to their lavish ornate interiors, in a large number of cases the architecture of many entrance buildings (specifically their attractive and prominent pillars) also comprise a quintessential indication of the period in which they were built.

A three-car train of the Metropolitan Railway approaches its Vokzalna station, close to Kiev's main railroad terminal and stations served by Metro Line 1, the express tramway and local streetcar lines.  It is a major transfer point, but not particularly user-friendly because of the long walks between the different lines.  Service over the 15-station 33-mile long circular loop began in 2010, and interestingly enough, operates only during weekday peak periods
where frequencies range from 15 to 30 minutes.  There are no trains between 10:30 and 16:30.  The electric MU train pictured is one of several types of Electrichka, the common term used throughout the former Soviet Union for an electric local train, and such cars can still be found operating throughout the length and breadth of Russia and the territories it controlled.  This particular train is made up of model ER9M 25kV AC eMUs that were built between 1976 and 1983, part of a series (ER9) of some 648 cars built in Riga that were introduced in 1962 and refined through the years until the end of production in 2002.  They are also used in suburban commuter service in Kiev.  [The fact that I didn't know that service on this line is limited to rush hours led me to an error on the following day (see a forthcoming segment).]

The Starovokzalna terminal is really two loops in one, as the express tramway's stop (routes 1 and 3) has station fare control and regular streetcars (routes 15 and 18) stop at platforms that have unrestricted access.  As a result the layout is rather interesting, with the loop tracks splitting, crossing and then joining each other.

Starovoklzalna loop (old railroad station loop).  A train of Tatra T3 cars on route 3 pauses at the express tramway station.  Another train of T3s on route 18, led by No. 5835 in the center, has already stopped at a different platform further back, and is about to cut in front of the 6008, which is still loading passengers.  A Pesa Fokstrot car is out of service on the right side of the photo.

I spent the next hour or two on the 1, 2 and 3 lines (see map at riding and photographing.  The combined 1 and 3 to Hnata Yury (which is where the lines split with the 2 running on the third leg of the wye to connect the outer stops), has been upgraded to "light rail" standards with a substantial amount of infrastructure; station fare collection is employed and the right-of-way is fenced in.  This applies also to the 3 all the way to its Kiltseva Doroha terminal, but line 1, from the junction to Mykhailivska Borschahivka, still looks like a typical center-of-the-road streetcar line, something like Beacon Street or Commonwealth Avenue in Boston (while the 3 is now more like the Newark City subway).  I hope the following photos give you a sense of the line.

Tatra T6 No. 317 at the head of an inbound two-car train entering the Heroiv Sevastopolia stop of the express tramway.  The infrastructure is rather substantial.

Above and below:  The junction of the 1, 2 and 3 lines just beyond the Hnata Yury station of the express tramway showing an inbound route 3 train of Tatra T3s.  The section of the wye directly below the overpass in the lower photo is used by route 2, which is a lower-frequency crosstown service connecting the outer ends of the 1 and 3.  The 1's trackage turning to the left is shown in the foreground.

One last view of the manicured and fenced right-of-way of the express tramway, showing an inbound train of Tatra T3s approaching the Lepse stop.

And here is an assortment of new and rebuilt cars operating over express tram routes 1, 2 and 3 at various stops on the west side of the Dneiper.

Above and below:  Two views near the Hryhorovycha station at the outer end of route 1.  The upper photo illustrates Kiev's KT3UA trams, which consist two rebuilt Tatra PCCs sandwiching a low-floor center section.  The 14-strong fleet was fabricated about 10 years ago.  Also in keeping with the need to service mobility-challenged riders, the lower photo shows one of five Electron-built (in Lviv) 5-section 100-percent low-floor cars.  [Note: the 3-section version was shown in the Lviv report earlier.]     

One of up to 50 three-section 100-percent low-floor cars that
are being built by PESA in Poland, shown at the Starovokzalna terminal of the express tramway.  These modern Fokstrot Twist cars may become the mainstay of Kiev's future modernization plans.  It also should be noted that from 90 to 120 of these Polish-built cars are being delivered to Moscow .

In Kiev Part 2 we will continue the day's survey of Kiev's tramway and see more of Kiev's attempt at modernizing its fleet.


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Posted by daveklepper on Thursday, March 22, 2018 4:57 AM
Wednesday, June 21 continued.  I planned to work my way back to Lepse, in order to ride regular routes 14 and 15 from where they cross over the express tramway, but before I could accomplish that I encountered an interval where nothing was running inbound, perhaps for as long as 20 minutes.  I found out later from the group that during their visit to the carhouse at the end of route 1, a 750-series car suffered a broken pantograph and blocked everything!  Glad I missed most of that, but it put the group behind schedule, which, as you will see below, worked out for me.

There is some attractive right-of-way on the joint 14/15 line and I stopped alongside a park for a few photos before continuing to the inner terminal of the 14 at Kontraktova Ploscha.  At that point, on a one-way loop along two parallel streets shared by routes 11, 12, 14, 18 and 19
on the outskirts of the city center (where connection is made with Metro line 2), I transferred to a route 12 car.

A T3 operating outbound along some verdant side-of-the-road trackage on Mykoly Vasylenka Street.  The line continues on reserved track along a boulevard as it approaches the express tramway.

A parade of Tatra T3 PCCs serving 5 routes operates along Kostiantynivska Street near the Kontrktova stop of Metro Line 2 just north of the city center.

Route 12 is my favorite of all the streetcar lines in Kiev, as major parts of its long outer end is extremely bucolic and wooded.  Riding it the first time reminded me of PCC operation over some long-gone streetcar lines like Cabin John and Branchville in Washington, D. C. (Maryland), and Willow Grove in suburban Philadelphia, and it was not a disappointment the second time.  It literally runs through a forest and then through a very upscale-looking and picturesque town, Pushcha-Voditsa, a location I'm told where the politically chosen used to have their dachas.  Further, the operators are not bashful about stepping hard on the right-most pedal.  The line is almost 5 miles long and service operates every 12 to 15 minutes. 

Above and below:  After leaving the forest I alit at the first stop in Pushcha-Voditsa for the upper photo and then walked back, along the prw for my second exposure below.  There was plenty of audible warning before a T3 would come and it was easy to avoid an accident by walking into the underbrush.  The biggest problem was shadows.

I then walked back to the stop and continued outward along the center reservation, eventually finding this tree-lined segment of Mykoly Yunkerova Street (which roughly translates to Rhode Island Avenue).

My traveling companion wasn't sure riding a PCC was really a treat.

After I finished my photography I headed back, but while looking out the front of my T3 I saw the tour group having a photostop on their [running late] fantrip.  I asked the operator of my car to stop here in the middle of nowhere (I think actually near where Peter met the Wolf), and she complied!  Thus I was able to join the trip and ended up riding to the Pushcha Vodista terminal again (but this time in a T6 cafe car).

Stop the car!  And she did.  The tour group had already scurried aboard their chartered cars when I grabbed this photo in the forest, and then waved down the operator of the T6 to pick me up.

Tatra T6 001 was built in 1985 and recently was turned into a party car (or a cafe car), to be chartered for special occasions, which clearly included visits of tramway enthusiasts from Germany and other countries.  It is shown at a photo stop along
Mykoly Yunkerova Street near the end of line 12 in Pushcha-Vodtsya.

While the charter was waiting at the loop Karl-Heinz joined me and we abandoned it and left on a regular car, which took us to the junction with the 11, 16 and 19 at Skliarenka.  From there we rode outbound on the 16 aboard another T3 to its Heroiv Dnipra loop, where we changed to Metro line 2 (after more photos).  Finally we rode the underground line back to Maydan Nezalezhnosti downtown, changed to the 1 for one stop to Universytet and then walked to the Ibis. 

My last photo, toward the end of the day, features route 16's loop near the entrance to the
Heroiv Dnipra terminal station of Metro line 2.  Many of these passengers waiting to board the Tatra T3 PCC came from feeder bus lines.  I tried to speculate on why there were so many used tires littering the landscape at this spot.

Clare was already back from her day visiting museums, and we joined the group for dinner in the hotel at 20:00.

Thursday's activities will be covered in part 3.


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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, March 26, 2018 8:43 AM
Before starting this chapter I'd like to relate the gist of correspondence I received from three readers (Klaus Matzka, Andrew Beech and Richard Horne) regarding the origin of the Russian word, "Voksal," which means railway station (see part 13).  Essentially the story is that the derivation of the word is based on events that occurred during the first half of the 19th century, when the Russian Tsar decided to develop a railroad system for his empire.  Apparently he sent a delegation in 1840 (or visited himself in 1844) to London to study Britain's railways.  At that time, the terminal of London & South Western Railway was Vauxhall, as listed in the 1841 issue of the Bradshaw timetable (the line was later extended to Waterloo).  Thus many rail historians say that Voksal is a direct transliteration of Vauxhall.  However, there is no consensus about whether this is correct or just coincidental conjecture.  Vauxhall remains the first station beyond Waterloo and is also a stop on London Underground's Victoria line.

Thursday, June 22. 
Another day in Kiev with time to cover the Metro and the streetcar lines operating on the east side of the Dneiper. 
Routes 4 and 5 are the rapid tramline routes over there, but I found out much to my dismay that you can't get past the penultimate station, Henerala Vatutina, in off-peak hours, as the line only runs to the final station, Troeshina-2, in rush hours.  As I mentioned in episode 13 (part 1), the Metropolitan Railway runs only during peak periods, which also coincides with the operation of the 4, whose route is confined specifically to the express tramway; the 5, which runs beyond the northern end of the fenced-in express line, operates all day.  So, as a note of caution, if you are interested in seeing the whole line make it the first or last part of a weekday.  I reached it by first riding Metro line 1 to its terminal at Lisova, where I transferred to tram route 28 via a long walk through a bustling market.  Then, near its northern end, I transferred from the 28 to the 5 (which can be accomplished at any stop between Saurova and Miloslavska).  Again, see for a route map.  I should also mention that while I was covering the express line, a two-car train of T3s carrying the tour group passed me in both directions.

Above and below:  Two views of Tatra T3 PCCs operating over the rapid tramway on the east side of the Dnieper served by routes 4 and 5.  I don't know which came first, the line or the high-rise residential development, but I can guess.  The upper photo was taken at Oleksandra Saburova while the lower is one station to the north, Maryny Tsvietaievoi.

The lines on the east side of the river are characterized by a great deal of modern center reservation and side-of-the-street trackage, with very little operation in pavement.  I didn't have the time to ride every line, but rather than trying, I preferred to get decent photos when the sun cooperated.  During this period I rode and photographed some other unusual cars on Kiev's roster as well as those I had seen on routes 1, 2 and 3.

Oleksandra Saburova loop, less than a mile to the east of the station of the same name on the rapid tramway that appeared in two photos above.  Routes 5 and 33, running end to end, terminate at this location, while the 28 continues, duplicating the 5 until Miloslavska, the beginning of the express line.

Above and below:  Zakrevskoho Street is a long north-south arterial with tracks shared by the 28 and 33 lines running on reserved track along its side.  The upper view features car 353, which looks like a Tatra T6 PCC, but it is actually a K1M streetcar produced by Tatra-Yug (Tatra-South), a Ukrainian company in Dnipro set up by aerospace manufacturer Yuzhmash, which acquired Tatra technology when the Czechoslovakian company went out of the tram business.  Without a low-floor offering until a recent test car, it got a boost from a sale of 15 two-section high-floor units to Alexandria, Egypt about a year ago.  No. 600 below is a Tatra T3 car rebuilt with a new low floor body.  These units have been given the name, "Kashtan," which, according to Google, translates from the Russian as "Chestnut" and from the Ukrainian as "I'm crazy."

The last of the modern-day trams I saw in Kiev was No. 701, a one-of-a-kind low-floor unit built in 2012 by Bogdan Motors, a Ukrainian bus and trolleybus manufacturer.  I was lucky to come upon it, as I was told later that it had been used on part of the group's charter activities.  I guess it went into regular service after the fantrip was over.

Above and below
An unnamed alley near the Karelski Provalok stop of the 8, 23 and 28 lines in an area whose immediate surroundings seem untouched by time.  The upper photo shows a Tatra T6 PCC passing a T3, while the lower view is of another T3.

This busy section of track along the median of Myropilska Street hosts lines 22, 23, 28 and 33.  A pair of Tatra T3s is operating southward approaching the Andriya Malyshka Street stop.

Finally here are some photos of Metro Line 1 at Dnipro station.  I stopped there in the morning when en route to the rapid tramway, and then again in the afternoon when returning to the hotel.  All of the 5 stations east of Dneiper are on the surface, but the stations are covered so well-lit photos can be taken only from the platform ends.  However, since the line goes through a park, if one wants to pass through fare control and walk along various paths, some overpasses that are well-situated for photos can be found.

Most of the Metro Line 1's rolling stock consists of Type E subway cars built by
Vagonmash (St. Petersburg) and similar 81-717 cars built by Metrovagonmash (Moscow) between 1965 and 1980.  Many have been renovated to various degrees, with this view showing a train with modernized ends about to pass a traditional looking train at the Dnipro station.  This stop is at the eastern portal of the underground portion of the line, which remains outdoors for its crossing of the Dnieper River and the remainder of its route.

Above and below:  Two views looking eastward at the Dnipro station.  The upper photo shows the rear of a train of modernized E cars about to pass a westbound train while crossing the Dnieper river with Hydropark, a major recreational complex in the background.  The lower photo shows the station itself with a statue of a boy releasing a model of the original Sputnik satellite.  Another statue, on the westbound platform shows a girl releasing pigeons.  Note the stylized end of this train of 81-717 cars, a slightly newer version of the E cars.

Now, the rest of the story.  Just a warning, there is nothing from here on in that has anything to do with trams or any other form of electric traction.

After riding Metro line 1 back to University and walking to the Ibis, I found Clare in the room resting.  But it was not contented relaxation.  She told me she slipped and fell after finishing her tour of the Lavra Monastary with its Scythian Museum of Gold, and a good samaritan had helped her into a taxi.  She was in pain, but indicated that maybe we should wait for an hour or two before doing anything about it, as it might get better.

It didn't.  The desk clerk indicated that there was an "American Hospital" not too far away and got us a taxi and gave instructions to the driver.  When we arrived at the address the building was mostly dark, but there was a bench outside the entrance along the driveway, and that's where I deposited Clare.  I went into what appeared to be a deserted building, but there were elevators, and they seemed to be working.  I pressed the button and in a few minutes, when the elevator arrived, a nurse stepped out, but she spoke only Ukrainian.  However, with the aid of hand signals, and the words, "American Hospital," I gathered that the place we wanted was down the block.  So I left Clare on the bench and found the real destination on foot, the taxi having left immediately after we paid the driver.

Indeed it was the American Hospital and the nurse on duty told me that it shares the exact same address with a veterans hospital!  She quickly got an employee to chauffeur me back and pick up Clare.  Once in the "right" place we filled out forms (clearly an "American" hospital) and saw the doctor on duty, a youngish woman who seemed extremely capable and spoke excellent English.  She said Clare had to be X-rayed, but that they don't have a machine.  So the
chauffeur took Clare, me and a nurse over to the nearby Children's Hospital, where the pictures were taken.  After we returned, the doctor looked at the photos and informed us that Clare had fractured three ribs.  She indicated the best cure would be rest (as opposed to any therapy), and said that in two or three months Clare would be back to normal.  She injected pain killers and prescribed strong pain pills to be used after the effects of the shot wore off, which occurred two days later and turned out to be nothing more than a high-dose form of Ibuprofen.  Then she had a bill prepared for the entire session (examination, injection, drugs and x-ray), and gave me a statement (in Ukrainian) for the insurance company.  I paid what amounted to be about $285 by credit card.

We taxied back to the hotel.  It was clear we had to go home asap, so now I called United Airlines to have my tickets modified. I won't provide a play-by-play explanation of the six hours (until after 2 a.m.) it took me to get it done correctly and inexpensively, but I spoke to clerks of various degrees of competency, all located in the Philippines, four times and had to use the hotel's business center's PCs several times as well.  United wanted to sell me business class and indicated there were no transatlantic flights available for coach travel on the following day.  But when I went onto the PC downstairs I found they were lying, as there were multiple flights on the United site that were available for a minimal number of frequent flyer points (we had used such points for this trip).  In fact, if we were starting a new ticket we would have a choice of flying via Vienna, Zurich, Munich or Warsaw, but would have to stay overnight in one of those places, as the transatlantic portion to Newark would have to be on Saturday.

After checking the price of airport accommodations in all 4 cities I chose Warsaw, and booked us into a Holiday Inn Express.  As far as the cost of changing the tickets was concerned, United ended up charging us a mere $4.64 each for additional taxes, and credited us both with 15,000 frequent flyer miles, as we no longer had to pay for our cancelled Paris stopover.  The actual $300 change fee was refunded after we supplied United with a scanned copy of the documentation from the Ukrainian doctor proving it was an emergency.  The total story is more complicated than that, but is also long and tedious--suffice to say that I ended up buying unneeded tickets (with a 24-hour cancellation provision), just to prove to United that the seats I wanted were available.

We would not have to get to the airport in Kiev until the early afternoon, so we took it easy the next morning (the Ibis letting us stay in our room after check-out time) and then taxied out to Boryspil, some 18 miles and 40 minutes away.  We were flying LOT to Warsaw and it turned out the plane was full and our seats were in the last row (31) of the B-737.  I think we were lucky to get out of Kiev so quickly.

Check in was slow, but we didn't have any security problems.  Since the plane was parked quite a distance from the terminal we boarded a bus at the gate at 14:05 and then had to walk up the outside portable stairway (painful for Clare) to board the aircraft.  We found our seats at 14:36 and began taxiing at 15:05 (14:45).  We had a choice of coffee, tea or water, plus we were both given small wafers to satisfy our appetites.  The plane bounced around but we finally landed at 15:26 and deplaned at 15:32, only 20 minutes late.  Of course we had to walk down the stairs again, but fortunately a wheelchair was waiting on the ground.  So we avoided the bus and were accommodated in a van to take us to the terminal.  We found a taxi easily and it cost a mere 5 euros to get to the hotel.  The Holiday Inn's dinner was not something to write home about, but the bed was comfortable and breakfast the next morning was excellent.

Friday, June 23.  Immediately after breakfast it was back to the airport by courtesy van and an unexpected wait for our Lufthansa flight to Frankfurt, as the incoming A-321 was late in arrival.  At least Clare had a wheelchair.  I was totally unhappy with the officious security at Chopin Airport, as they fried my film twice, the second time because it had been inside my carry-on the first time around!  I had never heard of that one before, but there was no point in arguing.  Our plane pushed back at 10:47 (30) and left the tarmac at 11:02.  This flight was full too.  We had a choice of a sandwich or danish pastry as well as soft drinks.  We touched down in Frankfurt at 12:22, but didn't get to the gate until 12:37, 22 minutes off the advertised.

Then the fun began.  Our flight to Newark was due to depart at 13:20, so one would think there would be no problem boarding, even with our late arrival.  But that was not the case, as it turned out the gate was miles away.  We were happy we had checked our carry-on bags, but I still had to lug my "personal item," a soft bag which contained my camera and lenses (and exposed film).  Fortunately we were met by a young, agile, blazer-and-tie-attired attendant with a wheelchair.  As soon as Clare was settled he began racing down corridor after corridor with me struggling to keep up.  Up and down elevators with more corridors in between and after.  We didn't reach the gate until 13:10, with me in a total sweat (and it takes a lot to make me perspire), only to find that the plane was only at the beginning of the loading "process" (uh-oh I hate to use the airline term, process--why not just say "beginning to load").  Because of the wheelchair we were immediately allowed to board, and for the most part missed the onerous and vigorous additional security for flights to the U. S., other than a second look at our passports.

The Boeing 747's coach section was configured for 3-4-3 seating, but back in row 48, where we had seats D and E in the middle section, it was 0-4-3.  The Lufthansa flight was far from full, and an announcement on board indicated that there were "premium economy" seats available (at additional cost), with "15 percent more space."  I doubt anyone took the offer.  The doors were not closed until 13:38 and we finally pushed off at 13:50, 30 minutes late.  We didn't leave the ground until 14:12.  The service was attentive with pleasant flight attendants coming around a large number of times with soft drinks and other beverages.  For lunch we had a choice of chicken or meatballs.  I had the chicken and it was quite decent.  The entertainment system, controlled through a touch screen, was difficult to work, as I had to press hard, and multiple times, for it to react.  We hit the tarmac at Newark at 16:20 and it took us only 9 minutes to reach the gate, so we ended up 44 minutes late.  A wheelchair was waiting and once I retrieved all of our luggage, we found our son waiting in his car very close to the door through which we exited.  We got home at 17:30, and faced the usual deluge of mail waiting for us.  We skipped dinner, but we consumed a lot of take-out in the next few days.

Clare visited her doctor on the following morning, and she confirmed the Ukrainian diagnosis:  the cracked ribs would heal by themselves, with pain killers to be used when needed.  For the next few weeks Clare rested a lot, eventually becoming stir-crazy, but gradually resumed her usual activities--with just a modicum of pain (only when she laughed?*).  She even began cooking again.  Two months later she indicated that she was back to pre-accident condition.  We decided we would try to get back to Ukraine, especially Odessa, some time in the future.

*  Actually true.  Her ribs were very sensitive and laughter (or coughing) irritated them more than anything else.

As a postscript we now have reservations for a trip to the cities we missed in Ukraine, which we hope will take place in September.  We completed a trip to New Orleans earlier this month and plan to tour Scotland by rail in May.

This is the final chapter of this report.  After a brief pause (8 inches of snow yesterday) I will deliberate on whether to follow this series of e-mails with a trip report describing a subsequent visit to Europe, specifically to Britain and the Baltic states. 



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   Kiev Rapid Tram T3 Oleksandra Saburova.jpg
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   Kiev Routes 28 and 33 T3 Kashtan along Mykoly Zakrevskoho Str.jpg
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   Kiev Routes 8, 22, 23 Bogdan alley near Karelski Provulok.jpg
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   Kiev Routes 22, 23, 28, 33 T3s along Myropilska Str.jpg
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   Kiev Metro Line 1 Dnieper looking west.jpg
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