Switzerland Trip Report Part II - Zürich Trams ~ Friday, December 07, 2007
Our first stop in Switzerland was in Zürich. We stayed with a high-school friend of my wife and her family, who live in an apartment overlooking an intersection where three tram lines meet up in front of the lower station of a rack railway.
Our hosts were concerned we would have trouble sleeping because of the noise. That wasn't a problem, but I did have trouble putting away my camera.
The flat-roofed trams are the backbone of the current fleet; the round-roofed ones are an older model, slightly less common, but still easy to find. Both types usually operate in trains, either of two complete articulated trams of the same type coupled together, or of one articulated tram followed by a similarly-styled single-section car with no cab (I'm not sure if they're MU'ed or trailers).
Most cars are in the blue and white scheme (the colors of the Canton of Zürich), but a few have been ad-wrapped.
The newest members of the fleet are five-segment articulated, low-floor trams called "cobras".
They are popular with moms who use strollers!
The rack railway is called the Dolderbahn. It operates as part of the Zürich transit network. At the top of the mountain is an outdoor ice rink. We went at night and froze (it was probably below freezing) but there was a nice cafe and fortified by Irish Coffee we could brave the cold--somehow I started skating better, too!
The Dolderbahn was originally constructed as a funicular, and still has a funicular style of operation, with two cars operating in opposite directions and getting around each other with a passing track in the middle. The current cars are like boxy trams. They are probably somewhat vintage, judging by the diamond pantographs.
One last bit of notable Zürcher transit, which was just beginning it's seasonal run as we finished up our trip, is the Märlitram--which only accepts passengers up to the age of 10!
I also got a quick glimpse of another vintage single trucker, but had no time to take a picture. Next time we'll visit during the summer, when the Tram Museum Zürich runs vintage cars on a "museum line" through the city.
One interesting discovery about Zürich trams--for backup moves in the yard, there is a button on the floor in the rear which rings a bell--and nothing to stop passengers from ringing it!
I should have made more movies, but here's a quick one.