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Szeged, March 3. 2012
New trams on a new line, plus depot visits

Hier geht's zur deutschsprachigen Version / Kattints ide a magyar változathoz

Szeged's new tram line 2 was officially inaugurated on Friday, March 2nd, with scheduled service starting the next day. The new line is a branch-off from the already existing tram line 1, taking trams to a densely built-in areas instead of the somewhat dreary vicinities at tram 1's outer end (Rókus railway station). The new stretch is 2 kilometers long (4.8 kilometers of new track), and ends at Európa liget (the terminus was previously planned to be called Csongrádi sugárút). The bus lines 2, 83 and 83A operating in Rókusi sugárút have been removed in accord with the opening of the tram, and the trolley bus network was also slightly reworked. Tram 2 is now the main public transit operation between Rókus and the inner city (and the main railway station), with route 1 reduced to a supplementing rola. Here's a map of the restructured network in that vicinity.

Linie 2: first day

Three of the four new PESA 120Nb low-floor trams already in Szeged (nos. 100, 101 and 102) have been used on route 3 that day, the fourth one (number 103) was doing driver training. To the left we see nr. 101 at Széchenyi tér, to the right a scene in Kossuth Lajos sugárút with the first ex-Potsdam KT4D of Szeged, number 200 in the foreground, and two PESAs in the back.

Left: the newly built stretch mostly features grassed tracks. To the right: the tram line is crossed by trolley bus lines in Rókusi körút twice, but here's a third crossing, leading to the back entrance of the trolley bus depot via Csáky József utca.

Left: the first part of the new stretch runs in the middle of Rókusi körút. Then it changes to the side, as you can see behind the KT4D (Nr. 205, ex-Potsdam 221) to the right.

A short video of the first day of the new line. By the way, the flickering of the visual informations displays is just a failure of the video, they were operating normally :)

A visit to the tram depot

It's not "just" a new tram line, and not "just" the renewal of existing lines that has been going on for years, but the two main sites of the SzKT (the municipal transit operator), the tram and trolley bus depot were also modernised and extended.

This vehicle is a local "invention": they were bought as unpowered Tatra B6A2 trailers from Rostock, and were converted to powered trailers by the SzKT. This was necessary, because the T6A2H motorcars were not built for towing a trailer, but for multiple unit usage. The resulting B6A2D-M "active trailers" can move on their own, but not in passenger traffic, because they don't have proper driver's cabs, just a lockable control panel in the front.

And here's one such T6A2H + B6A2D-M train.

Since this visit took place on a saturday, there were lots of trams in the depot.

Tatra bogie to the left, Tatra bogie to the right, but they're quite alike. To the left we see the truck of an ex-Berlin KT4D or an ex-Dresden T4D/TB4D (the latter were also modified in Szeged to be used under the ex-Cottbus - originally meter-gauge - KT4D), which has no primary suspension. The to right it's the more recent truck of a T6A2H, with the bogie's frame raised to house spring suspension between the wheelset and the frame. Of course it's recognisable that both trucks are based on the St. Louis B3 PCC truck.

To the left: a replica of the first electric tramcars of Szeged, of which unfortunately none was preserved. It was built in 2008 for the 100th anniversary. To the right: number 1950 is in fact ex-Budapest 1055. It was never used in Szeged - its fleet number reflects the year when tram line 7 - closed in 1977 - to Kiskundorozsma was launched (hence the route number). It's usually being used as a cafe on a piece of abandoned tracks in Somogyi utca once belonging to this line, but now the street will be remodelled, and the tram was brought to the depot for the time being.

Number 03 was built in Budapest in 1953. It was rusting away in the corner of the depot until about two years ago it was resurrected as a diesel-electric shunter. This strange bird is needed for the unelectrified connection to the trolley bus depot, which was built recently (originally there were no tracks there).

One last look at the backyard of the tram depot before we head over to the trolley buses. The "Bengáli" two-room-and-a-bath trams seen here were not needed for scheduled operations, but were retained, because they are the only bidirectional vehicles usable during temporary closures and shortenings. Number 813 even received a fresh paintwork in its original livery.

Treasures in the trolley depot

Szeged has trolley buses only since 1979. First they were housed in the tram depot, but in 1985 they received their own depot near a newly built housing area. The depot itself was much bigger than needed, so during the partially EU-founded public transit project, a new workshop was built here, with a track connection to the terminus of tram line 1 over state railway grounds. This new facility is used by both trams and buses/trolley buses (the SzKT has a number of second-hand diesel buses bought for the time the tram lines were reconstructed).

Articulated trolley buses of two different generations. Number 502 to the left has started its life in 1991 with ZIU-9 electric parts. In 2001 it received 3-phase asynchronous electric equipment from Ganz-Transelektro. Unfortunately it's not flawlesss, so this vehicle is rarely used. To the right: the prototype of the Tr187/TV.EU, a joint venture of SzKT and the bus maker ARC. It should have been turned into a series by now by what has remained of the big-time bus industry player Ikarus, but the tender was legally challanged, and the project came to a halt.

To the left: trolley bus line 5 ends inside the depot. To the right: works car Sz6 (ex-Budapest 1531) and the heritage unidirectional "Bengáli" number 606 (ex-Budapest 1124). Between them a bit of ex-Budapest 5894 can also be seen.

This Budapest trolley bus from 1955 - an Ikarus 60T - has been rusting in Budapest's trolley bus depot for decades. In 2008/2009 the SzKT bought it and started to renovate it. Unfortunately after the local authority elections in 2010 the new city council has fired the director of the company, since then the project rests. (His successor, the new director even wanted to sell all old vehicles including working heritage trams and trolley buses - fortunately he has been told by the municipality not to do that)

The old director also wanted to try other ways to get low-floor onto the tracks: namely by constructing the articulated tram KT8A3-M-LF out of two ex-Rostock B6A2 trailer with a specially designed middle section. This project has been also stopped since his dismissal, and the halfway complete body catches dust in the workshop.

And a bit more of route 2

Most of the day was spent in the depots, so - especially considering the early sunset in winter - there was little time left to photograph trams on the new line...

The photogenic bend at Széchenyi tér with a KT4D and a PESA.

To the left: grassed tracks on Széchenyi tér. To the right: one of the PESAs at Aradi vértanúk tere, where Boldogasszony sugárút "breaks through" a house via the "Gate ofH eroes", a World War 1 memorial built in 1936/37.

Left: the sole KT4D I saw on route 2, this time in the red light of sundown. To the right: The turnout of tram line 1 and 2 is executed as a triangle junction in the crossing of Kossuth Lajos sugárút, Vásárhelyi Pál utca and Rókusi körút. The "straight" tracks seen on this picture are used only by depot runs.

Various public transit scenes in Szeged:
0:03-     Tatra B6A2D-M powered trailer running on its own on a trial run in front of Rókus station
0:19-     Volvo trolley bus of route 5 on Rókusi körút
0:27-     Skoda 21Tr on trolley bus line 8 crossing Boldogasszony sugárút, where tram lines 1 and 2 run
0:36-     Riding a Tatra KT4D in Kossuth Lajos sugárút
1:07-     PESA 120Nb number 103 on a training run
1:20-     An ex-Cottbus KT4D heading for the inner city, probably from the remise
1:28-     The sound of an M41-class diesel-hydraulic locomotive near Rókus station echoing through the neighbourhood
1:39-     Tram 1 under Izabella bridge

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

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