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The LM-49 (Russian ЛМ-49) is the Sovietmarker motor four-axle tramcar. First prototype of this vehicle was built in 1949 (hence the 49 in the name) at the Leningrad Wagon Repair Plant (VARZ, ВАРЗ, Ленинградский Вагоноремонтный Завод - Russian abbreviature and full name). "LM" means Leningrad Motor tramcar. These tramcars were utilized in Leningradmarker itself and some other Soviet cities such as Minskmarker, Gorkymarker] (now Nizhny Novgorodmarker), Novokuznetskmarker and Magnitogorskmarker. VARZ produced in total 287 LM-49s for Leningrad and 113 for other cities.

Inhabitants of Leningrad nicknamed LM-49 as "Elephant". Usually LM-49 worked in pair with unmotored trailed wagon LP-49 (ЛП-49). The mass production of LM-49 ceased in 1960 when they were replaced by next model of VARZ, LM-57. The last LM-49s were withdrawn from city service in 1982-83. In general, Soviet tram drivers and repairmen regarded the LM-49 as a very durable and reliable tramcar. The withdrawal was carried out due to centralized pressure to renew Soviet trams rather than failures from old age. Many LM-49s were still operable when scrapped.

Museum Nizhny Novgorod LM-49 tramcar interior
Museum Nizhny Novgorod LM-49 controller unit
Museum Nizhny Novgorod LM-49 driver's cabin

Technical details

The LM-49 is a broad gauge (1524 mm or 60 inch) high-floor, four-axle tramcar. Its full-metal hull is mounted on a massive steel carriage with two double-axle boggies. The hull has three wide doors, which have pneumatic gears for opening and closing. The main brake system is also pneumatic. The LM-49 is equipped with four 55 kW electric motors and is able to reach a top speed of 55 km/h. It utilizes a direct, mechanical control of electric current to motors. Initially LM-49s did not have a low-voltage subsystem, but this was added later for external brakes and turn light signals. The vehicle has 35 seats and is able to transport nearly 200 passengers at full capacity. The three main dimensions of LM-49 is 15000 mm length, 2550 mm width and 3085 mm height, overall weight without passengers is 19.5 metric tons.

Operation in USSR cities

The majority of the LM/LP-49 worked in Leningrad, however this is first type of Leningrad-produced tramcars which was manufactured also for another cities. Starting with the year of 1958, LM/LP-49 were supplied in Gorky, Novokuznetsk, and Magnitogorsk. ONe LM-49 motor car was gifted to the residents of Minsk in the year of 1959. IN 1965 all the LM/LP-49 from Novokuznetsk were transferred to Gorky.

1970s, the start of extinction

BY the end of 1970s and early 1980s, the LM/LP-49 started to be drawn out of exploitation, yet their working condition allowed more operations. However the management of Minsk Residential community of USSR insisted of rolling stock modifications up to moder modern units. It was the main reason why LM/LP-49, the most durable trams during Stalin Era were retired.

1980s, the extinction

As a result, in March 1983 the last LM/LP-49 tram was removed from passenger service; the newer LP-49 worked some time as trains, where LM-68 and LM-68M were motor cars. (interesting, but LM68/M trams were not encountered to work in this role). By the middle of 1984 the last LP-49 in Leningrad was removed from passenger service. In Gorky, LM/LP-49 cars were removed from passenger service, even earlier, that is between 1975 and 1980. According to the memories of Gorsky Tram-Trolleybus property leaders it was done in order to allow more Czech made Tatra T3 trams in the city. The longest was the passenger service of LM/LP-49 работали in Magnitogorsk — the last couple of this brand left the tram lines in 1987.

After the end of the passenger service a minor part of Leningrad LM/LP-49 was rebuilt into service trams — tower trams for serving the catenary, towing units for track polishing machines VPRS-500. Neither in Magnitogorsk, nor in Gorky there were no service trams made out of LM/LP-1949. However both in Leningradmarker, Minsk and Gorky one LM/LP-49 train was left for a city for museum purposes. (Refer to the survivors section) The rest of trams, which were neigher rebuilt into service trams, not transferred to the musueum service, was simply cut into metal parts. In Leningrad a fraction of trams was moved into a so-called "tram cemetery", and in Magnitogorsk the bodies of two LM49 trams with all the equipment removed and welded windows were rebuilt in just a barn.

Totally in Leningrad 287 motor cars and 268 trailers cars of this make were listed, in Gorsky City — 67 motors и 46 trailers (after the transfer to Novokuznetsk), 1 motor car in Minsk. The rest of such trams belonged to Magnitogorsk. As of now, that time there was a practice to keep a few trams under the same number. It was done to conceal the loss of trams by fires, accidents, and other damages. All of these obscured the exact picture of LM/LP-49 trams.


Three LM-49 survive to this day. One LM-49 train and LP-49 trailer is an operational piece of St Petersburg tram collection. The Nizhny Novgorod tram & trolley Museum has another single operational LM-49. These LM-49 tramcars can be hired by foreign tourists for city excursions. A group of tramway enthusiasts from many cities in Russiamarker, with guests from Estoniamarker and United Statesmarker, hired the Nizhny Novgorod Museum LM-49 for their meeting in 2004. The third non-operable LM-49 is kept in Minsk, Belarusmarker, as a memorial for city tramworkers.

See also

  • Tram
  • Soviet Tramcar MTV-82 (concurrent vehicle of LM-49)
  • Soviet Tramcar LM-57 (successor of LM-49 in mass production)

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