Things about the tram (3)

Berlin two-rooms-and-a-bath 2

‘Two rooms and a bath’

These days the shape and form of tram cars is defined by modernity and in most cases articulated to transport travellers as much as possible. An art of snake on steel wheels on rail sneaking through the streets equipped with a low floor or flooring on standard height and build up with modules, every company his own choice. Five ore more is no longer an exception.
The development from once a single motor car with trailer and for the ones in nostalgia: more tram. The invention of the two-rooms-and-a-bath type comes from America. The first of its kind was running in Cleveland (Ohio) with the exclusive rights already registered in 1892 far before anything in Europe would move. The name of the inventors: Brewer and Krehbiel and the local producer Kuhlman Car Company made an experimental tram one year later.
This first articulated tramcar was far much ahead of the requests of the time and the rather costly conversion of the four-wheel trams to articulated ones was not worth the investment.
It was not before the W.W.I this would change and more articulated tramcars were produced, by that time the streetcar business in America was still blossoming though the upcoming automobile would change the scene but not before another remarkable tram type would see daylight; the PCC car – normally as single motor car but also articulated, however, without a bath. The three section tramcars appeared also in the European countries, though before World War II in several cases only as a prototype.
In Göteborg (Sweden) e.g. such a type was followed by a batch of ten cars in 1922-23. These cars were assembled from ASEA-built trams made in 1908 and remained in service until 1949. Their construction was far from being satisfying, like their followers. The motor-less axles didn’t coop with the hilly landscapes, the cars kept derailing.
Germany built the first articulated trams in 1928-29, Dresden and Leipzig each had one prototype and in Berlin there were two. It was not before the fifties this type became a common sight on German streets. Articulated motor car 6211 as seen above is constructed out of type TG 29/3c originally built in 1929, twice being reconstructed (1938 and 1951) put out of service in West Berlin in 1966 and nowadays part of a heritage fleet.
Two-rooms-and-a-bath, nicknamed after the floating middle part without axles and boy oh boy it must have been a warm bath riding this way through the streets of West-Berlin after the segregation caused by loosing the more than devastating W.W.II.
It was not before October 1967 the last tram runs in the West sector, six years before I would make it to my second home, not being able riding with them remains an omission in life but irreversible though a small stretch of tram track was re-laid after the fall of the Wall and reunification. In the East sector the trams under supervision of the BVB – Berliner Verkehrsbetriebe never ceased operation, on the contrary even new lines were build to provide access to the suburbs and the new housing estates. The articulated trams are still there, modular ones with a low floor and even floating middle sections though the construction by far is more profound. The feeling of riding in a bath still can be experienced. East is East and West is West but in this case the twain definitely met.


About Robert von Hirschhorn

Author / Performer or in Dutch: schrijver / dichter
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