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Cottbus, a city of "extended Tatras"

During my visit to Berlin in September 2011 I decided to visit another tram city in the state of Brandenburg. At the end it were two cities, but let's start with the first one, Cottbus.

Cottbus, located close to the border with Poland, currently has about 100,000 inhabitants - that's 30,000 less then 25 years ago. This fact, together with the bad state of finances has led to suggestions that the tramway should be closed. It seems that the system will remain after all, but I wanted to see how this "endangered" tram operation looks like. The network with about 23 kilometers length normally features 5 lines, but route 1 was supplemented by buses at the time.

The historic city center has a few nicely renovated streets, with trams winding past.

The rest is pretty much like most ex-GDR cities: delapidated and renovatd modern and old buildings alternating. On the two pictures above we see the stop Stadthalle, which is the centerpoint of the tram network with a grand union junction, and where the routes meet/divert.

Here's a video of these trams. You might notice they sometimes have a sort of "snaky" way of moving forward. This is probably due to the fact that they are heavily modified vehicles: the type KTNF6 was built out of Tatra KT4 trams by extending them with a low-floor middle part running on two axle-less wheelsets. To reduce weight, this middle section is built out of fibre-reinforced plastic - this solution was developed by Schindler-Waggon and FIAT/SIG of Switzerland, so these vehicles are related to Basel's BVB Be 4/6S trams.

Tram 4 at Stadtpromenade (left) and the interior of the vehicle. This is the low-floor midle section - you can see the stairs leading up to the "normal" floor height in the middle of the picture.

Since all trams are of the same type, the only way to make different pictures are to walk along the tracks and try to catch them with different backgrounds and from different angles.

These pictures were taken in Strasse der Jugend, near a railway underpass.

The all-over ("shrink-wrap") ads make the rolling stock more photogenic.

Some trackwork for those who are interested in such things (like me): a three-way turnout in front of a grand union junction, executed with two interlaced points resulting in a short piece of triple gauntleted tracks to the left, and a bit of an old and currently unused stretch over the railways to the right. Both photos were taken near the main station (Hauptbahnhof).

A two-way track-cleaning vehicle. I quite liked it; it was running up and down on the lines all day.

At the end of the page, here's a video of this machine. Budapest could use a couple of these, of course in normal gauge! :)

© Ákos Endre VARGA, unless stated otherwise. All rights reserved.

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