We arrived from Düsseldorf, had a quick diner at a typical "kölsch" (Cologne-ish) brasserie, then went to the Youth Hostel right after that. This of course had a reason: I wanted to get up early in the morning next day to see route 6, which is a rush-hour service, and the last place (or at least one of the last places) nowadays to ride the big 8-axle DÜWAG trams, that were so typical to the city when I was a child visiting Cologne regularily around 1989-90.
The other guys of course didn't understand me first. What's the hurry? I explained, that these old beauties only run in the morning and evening, so if we want to see them, and we also want to see the neighbouring city of Bonn, we should leave the photographing/travelling for the "early shift".
No, this is not an old DÜWAG yet, but a Bombardier K5000 class LRT car with folding steps allowing the usage of low and high platforms along the lines.
Nope, this is still not an old DÜWAG, but a 2-car "Stadtbahn B" train arriving from Bonn via the so-called "Rheinuferbahn", the interurban service running along the river Rhine.
Yes, this is it! A wonderful "round" DÜWAG articulated tram featuring the classic Stadtbahn-livery of Cologne with some ads. They were bought between 1963 and 71, are 30 meters long and 2.5 meters wide. They're huge, and I love them!
Earlier they were used in coupled sets on many lines, resulting in a 60-meter-long "train" like this one. Now there's only one regular course a day with a double-set, a "school course" on route 15.
The tram networks of Cologne and Bonn are connected to each other by route 16 (or "Rheinuferbahn", which we've already seen), and route 18, which runs at the feet of the mountains, and is therefore called "Vorgebirgsbahn". On these routes you can see vehicles of both city's transportation operators: for example, this is a coupled set consisting of two "Stadtbahn B" cars from Bonn.
Because those early morning shifts were hardly photographable due to the weak sunlight, we decided to go to the crossing of Aachener Strasse and Gürtel, where there's a depot serving some of the old cars. And voila, there's one!
A Bombardier K4000 class partly-low-floor-car in the new livery of the KVB.
Another round DÜWAG...
... leaving the tracks coming out of the depot.
A little later we returned to Neumarkt, which is probably the busiest place in the city. I "cought" this K4000 there, while reversing in the loop around the middle of the square without passengers.
The lines 1, 7, 8 and 9 normally feature low-floor cars, but there's not enough of them for the evening rush hours, so then you can also see many "Stadtbahn" cars, like to "Stadtbahn B" to the right...
... or a K5000 .
Two different different models (batches) of the B class. Note the differenct front side and doors! The route designation "E" shows that this is a special train, heading for the "Rheinenergie" Stadium.
Routes 8 and 9 diverge southwards after Neumarkt, the other two head straight to west.
And just look at this! Remember when I said that there's only one daily course with an "old" DÜWAG double-set? Well, during special events, you can see more! And - like that B class car we just saw - it's also heading...
... for the Stadium...
... where there's a reversing loop and some reserve tracks, nicely arranged around a reserve storage yard (a.k.a. "the star remise" - an open-air tram depot).
After this I took a long walk through the city looking for my childhood memories from the times when my mother worked and lived here, and when the city felt like my second home. I have to admit, I still love this place! And as I got back to Neumarkt, I saw that "old" double-set again, this time parking at the northern side of the reversing loop.
While the lighting conditions were far
from perfect, I felt I must take a photograph of this new K5000 class train
next to its predecessor. It was great to be here, I'm already looking out
for my next visit!
We also went over to Bonn to see what's going on there, but the lights were even more unfavorable!
The main station with a bidirectional DUEWAG R1.1 partly-low-floor tramcar in front of it.
Bertha von Suttner Platz - a stop without a platform. Looks strange with these B class cars - one has to climb up a lot!
The same stop with an R1.1.
The once-existing suburban service to Siegburg is now called route 66, and is sponsored by "Deutsche Telekom", so it also has a name: "Telekom Express".
Another DUEWAG, at last in a sane color ;-)