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Showdown for Stuttgart's metre gauge

filed on: 14.09.2007 (14th Sep 2007)

GT4 EugensplatzStuttgart, which must once have counted among the world's premier metre gauge tram systems, has over the last decades undergone a major reconstruction programme, with the old metre gauge tram lines being phased out in favour of a standard gauge Stadtbahn system. This massive programme is now finally drawing to a close.

The last metre gauge tram, route 15, connecting Ruhbank (Fernsehturm) — Eugensplatz — Hauptbahnhof — Nordbahnhof — Zuffenhausen — Stammheim, has only three months to go. This line is worked by a handful of the iconic GT4 trams (built 1959-65) of which 350 once graced the streets of Stuttgart.

GT4 HauptbahnhofOver the past months, the sections of line between Olgaeck and Ruhbank and Pragfriedhof and Nordbahnhof have been reconstructed with mixed gauge track. This has permitted trams to continue to serve the route during the difficult changeover. The work is now largely concluded, leaving Kelterplatz — Stammheim as the only all metre gauge section. On 8th December, metre gauge tram route 15 will run for the last time, being replaced by Stadtbahn U15 between Kelterplatz and Ruhbank. With the disappearance of the last metre gauge tram line, the Kelterplatz to Stammheim section will close. This closure will only be of temporary nature though, as there are plans to build a Stadtbahn line to Stammheim re-using much of the tram's alignment. However, Zuffenhausen's bustling shopping street will loose its trams for good as the new line will run in a subway here.

GT4 StelleThe change also affects Stuttgart's tram museum. As the museum's current base in Zuffenhausen depot will be cut off by the closure of the Stammheim line, the museum will relocate to Bad Cannstatt, where it is hoped to open a new museum next year. To mark the closure of the current museum, a major event with heritage trams is planned for 28th and 29th October. Until then, the museum continues to open to visitors on the second Sunday of every month from 13:00 to 17:00 and on the last Saturday from 13:00 to 18:00. On opening Sundays, museum route 19 is operated in the form of round trips from the museum via Kelterplatz and Stammheim. On opening Saturdays, museum route 19 connects the museum to Hauptbahnhof.

GT4 StuttgartThe final day of GT4 operation in Stuttgart (8th December) will see a ceremonial changeover around midday with some parallel or mixed running being likely. However, no museum cars will be out on this day. From about 11:00 the next day (9th December), however, a large number of them will work a shuttle service between Stammheim and Kelterplatz, so paying their last respect to this line in style. These will probably be the last ever tram movements on this line before it is dismantled.

Mixed gauge track is being retained on the Ruhbank leg of U15 for the purpose of museum tram operation. This will commence next year. For information on Stuttgart's tram museum, see www.shb-ev.info. Besides this museum operation, metre gauge will continue to be represented in Stuttgart by line 10, a cog railway from Degerloch to Marienplatz.

This news item is from the 2007 newslog.


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