Though we already have had our "Tour de Trams" journey this year to Switzerland and Austria, we (that's me and my friend Mr. András Báti) decided to do another one, through Germany (again). We were now accompanied by our mutual friend czzf50 (yes, that's a nickname) instead of my girlfriend, who thought she already had seen enough trams for this year :-)
Out first stop (after a couple of changes) was Mannheim. Since we already visited this place throughtly last year, we took an OEG ("Oberrheinische Eisenbahn-Gesellschaft") train to Heidelberg via Weinheim, to see that part of the OEG network.
We were accompanied by two local tram enthusiasts (Thank You, Guys!), so we also received bits of information about where we were and what we were seeing. Since our schedule was rather tight, we had no time to take photos of the one-track section between Weinheim and Heidelberg, but we decided we would come back (probably) next year. The picture above was taken at the Central Station of Mannheim.
Okay, so we arrived to Heidelberg. We also visited this place last year, but very briefly, so we were still interested in this nice city with its nice tram routes.
While we were there, route 3 was still parted into two. We tried the section between Bergfriedhof and Leimen, which was fully cut off from the rest of the network. It was operated with double-sets of DÜWAG six-axle tramcars from the year 1973.
The interior of one of the coupled cars. The driver's cab on the end (used by the drivers) is separated from the cabin with a wall (seen at the back)...
... while the other one - on the coupled side - has remained open.
From Heidelberg we took the S-Bahn to Ludwigshafen, where we saw (beside a number of things) this quite new Rhein-Neckar Variobahn (NGT6) of local transportation operator VBL.
A 1971 DÜWAG 8-axle car at Berlinerplatz, which got turned into a construction area since last year.
If you ever visiting Ludwigshafen, be sure to see the very tight Friesenheim curve, with a radius of only 15 meters. It's pretty unbelievable!
After some wandering around, we took an RHB ("Rhein-Haardt Bahn" - a vicinal service operated with tram-like vehicles) train to Bad Dürkheim, to see some old "round" DÜWAG cars at the depot. This is DÜWAG-heaven! The car in the middle is a very interesting one: it's a 12-axle articulated car, built in 1967.
At the remise we were told that one of the two remaining 12-axle vehicles is just about to come back from Mannheim, so we rode a bit back, and alighted somewhere, hoping that we would catch that 12-axle "queen of the rails" from the opposite direction. We were lucky, the car did come, so we had a chance to try this predecessor of the multi-articulated cars of today. It was an interesting ride, I believe our top speed must have been around 80 km/h.
Seeing the front of your tramcar from so back behind is common nowadays with modern vehicles, but it was a pretty unbelievable sight from inside a 37-year-old classic tram!
I find it most interesting that the interior of the car was divided into sections with sliding doors. This is a wonderful vehicle, and I can only hope that at least one of them will be preserved after they will be replaced by modern vehicles. Okay, I know that a 38-meter-long tramcar is pretty big for a heritage organisation, but these cars are a treasure!
End of the line: Bad Dürkheim; our tram went right back to the depot, while we headed back to Mannheim to collect our luggages, and continue our journey to Frankfurt am Main.