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105N Type car on Chebzie loop
110 year old tramway viaduct in Gliwice
Silesian Interurbans - one of the largest tram (streetcar) systems in the world has been in existence since 1894. The system is spread over more than 50 kilometres (east-west axis) and covers thirteen towns in the Upper Silesia metropolitan area (Southern Polandmarker) and their suburbs (Katowicemarker, the capital town of the region, Będzinmarker, Bytommarker, Chorzówmarker, Czeladźmarker, Dąbrowa Górniczamarker, Gliwicemarker, Mysłowicemarker, Ruda Śląskamarker, Siemianowice Śląskiemarker, Sosnowiecmarker, Świętochłowicemarker, and Zabrzemarker), which is densely industrialised (coal, coke, steel and other industries; though decreasing since 1990s) and inhabited by more than 2 million people.

Basic information

Silesian Interurbans network
  • Total system length: 342 km
  • Number of routes: 33
  • Number of revenue vehicles: 371
  • Number of vehicles on-duty daily (Mon-Fri): ca. 300
  • Number of depots: 5 (Będzin, Chorzów-Batory, Bytom-Stroszek, Gliwice, Katowice-Zawodzie)
  • Longest route length: 22.45 km (Route 21)
  • Shortest route length: 1.34 km (Route 38)
(March 2006) [170427]

History

A passing loop on a narrow street in Lipiny
Another passing loop, Chebzie Tlenownia
Part of the unfinished LRT line Bytom - Katowice
The system was established in 1894 as a narrow gauge (unique 785 mm gauge) steam interurban railway. The first line was 36.5 km long and connected Gliwice with Piekary Śląskie through Zabrze, Chebzie, Chorzów and Bytom. After four years (in 1898) the system was electrified. In 1912 the first short standard gauge (1435 mm) line was built in Katowice. In 1913 a separate system (standard gauge) connecting Bytom with suburbs and villages west of the town was opened. After World War I and the Silesian Uprisings the region (and the tram network) was divided between Polandmarker and Germanymarker - international services appeared (the last one ran until 1937). In 1928 another standard gauge system was established in Sosnowiec, Będzin and Dąbrowa Górnicza (the so-called Dabrowa Coal Basin - a region adjoining the Upper Silesian Coal Basin). Between 1928 and 1936 most of the original narrow gauge network was re-gauged to standard gauge (although the last narrow gauge line, Siemianowice Śląskiemarker-Chorzówmarker, remained till 1952), which allowed a connection with the new system in Sosnowiec (a service between Chorzow and Sosnowiec through Katowice was established in 1931).

During World War II the German authorities decided to merge all the systems, and they have remained as one united network to the present day (though the old boundaries are still easily traceable). The new route numeration system introduced in 1940 to integrate the systems is still used. In 1951 the system was taken over by a state-company (WPK Katowice) and until the 1970s it was widely extended and partly modernised, reaching its maximum length at the end of 1970s (ca. 235 km). Since the late 1960s the classic rolling stock has been replaced by modern cars based on Americanmarker PCC technology. In 1980s some of the non-modernised, rural lines were abandoned (the longest one from Bytom to Wieszowa with a branch to Stolarzowice).

The end of the 1980s brought changes in Poland (the Round Table talks and the fall of communism), but unfortunately that did not improve the tramway service in the region - on the contrary, the condition of the tram company (Tramwaje Śląskie S.A.) has been deteriorating every year since the middle of the 1990s. The last new line was built in 1980–1982 (between Sosnowiec and Zagórze). At the end of the 1990s the Bytom - Chorzów - Katowice line was to be upgraded to light-rail standards. Due to a lack of funds, the investment was carried out only partially (including the purchase of 17 Citadis Type new low-floor cars produced by Alstom) and the journey time on a highly overcrowded line did not change.

Present day

N Type car, Piekarska Str., Bytom
105Na Type car in front of an iron blast furnace
105Na car squeezing through a narrow 'tunnel'
Articulated 102Na Type car, Chropaczów
Today, the chronic lack of funds is visible on every step. Only most urgent repairs are being conducted and the condition of the rolling stock (mostly 15-35 years old) and the infrastructure is bad. In 2006 two lines (8 Bytom-Dąbrowka Wielka and 25 Będzin-Wojkowice) were closed, but their current replacement with buses is very unsuccessful. Even though the tramway speeds are not high and some relations tend to lose competition with buses, they reach central areas of towns and cities closed to road traffic and avoid most traffic jams. However, the great potential of the system that was and still should be a backbone of the regional transit seems to lie wasted.

On the other hand the Silesian Interurbans are the last such system in Europe - rural and suburban single track routes with passing loops often leading to deserted places, interesting types of signal system (also old signals hand-operated by the drivers), some old rolling stock and most picturesque rural and industrial sights. Thanks to these 'features' the Silesian Interurbans are very often visited by tram-fans, not only from Poland. The brightest star of the system is Route 38 in Bytom (along Piekarska Street) still serviced with classic, four-wheel N Type cars with wooden seats and hand operated slide doors. Besides, lines 1, 3, 5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 17, 18, 26 and 27 guarantee exceptionally scenic views and are definitely worth visiting.

Routes

List of tram routes operated by Tramwaje Śląskie S.A. as of February 2009:

Peak frequencies and hours of service are for Mon-Fri only

|----- bgcolor="#E0E0FF"
| 
No.

| 
Route

| 
Length [km]

| 
Freq.
 
[min]

| 
Hours of service

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
1

| Wójtowa Wieś - Gliwicemarker - Zabrzemarker - Zaborze - Ruda Południowa - Chebzie
| 
20.4

| 
20

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
3

| Mikulczyce - Zabrzemarker - Makoszowy
| 
8.7

| 
20

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
4

| Wójtowa Wieś - Gliwicemarker - Zabrzemarker - Zaborze
| 
15.7

| 
20

| 
5:00–20:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
5

| Zaborze - Zabrzemarker - Biskupice - Bobrek - Bytommarker
| 
16.3

| 
8/12

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
6

| Bytommarker - Pogoda - Łagiewniki - Chorzówmarker - Dąb - Katowicemarker - Brynów
| 
18.4

| 
14

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
7

| Bytommarker - Łagiewniki - Piaśniki - Świętochłowicemarker - Chorzówmarker Batory - Załęże - Katowicemarker - Zawodzie
| 
18.7

| 
14

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
9

| Bytommarker - Szombierki - Godula - Chebzie - Wirek - Świętochłowicemarker - Chorzówmarker
| 
17.9

| 
20

| 
4:00–0:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
10

| Siemianowice Śląskiemarker - Wełnowiec - Katowicemarker - Załęże - Chorzówmarker Batory - Świętochłowicemarker - Wirek - Chebzie
| 
21.1

| 
60–140

| 
0:00–5:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
11

| Katowicemarker - Dąb - Chorzówmarker - Piaśniki - Lipiny - Chebzie
| 
14.2

| 
14

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
13

| Chorzówmarker - Chorzówmarker Batory - Załęże - Katowicemarker - Wełnowiec - Alfred - Siemianowice Śląskiemarker
| 
14.2

| 
14

| 
5:00–0:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
14

| Alfred - Wełnowiec - Katowicemarker - Zawodzie - Szopienice - Mysłowicemarker
| 
15.2

| 
14

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
15

| Katowicemarker - Zawodzie - Szopienice - Sosnowiecmarker - Zagórze
| 
15.4

| 
14

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
16

| Katowicemarker (Słoneczna) - Park Kościuszki - Brynów
| 
5.9

| 
6/8

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
17

| Chorzówmarker - Świętochłowicemarker - Piaśniki - Łagiewniki - Lipiny - Chebzie
| 
11.6

| 
28

| 
5:00–23:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
18

| Chebzie - Ruda Południowa - Ruda - Bobrek - Bytommarker
| 
12.5

| 
20

| 
4:00–23:30

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
19

| Bytommarker - Stroszek
| 
7.5

| 
6–8

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
20

| Katowicemarker - Zawodzie
| 
4.3

| 
14

| 
5:30–18:30

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
21

| Milowice - Sosnowiecmarker - Pogoń - Będzinmarker - Kopalnia 'Paryż' - Dąbrowa Górniczamarker - Gołonóg - Huta 'Katowice'
| 
22.4

| 
20

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
22

| Czeladźmarker - Będzinmarker - Kopalnia 'Paryż' - Dąbrowa Górniczamarker - Gołonog - Huta 'Katowice'
see also: Route 32
|
15.6

| 
10

| 
4:00–8:00
12:30–15:30
19:00–0:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
23

| Stadion Śląski - Dąb - Katowicemarker - Zawodzie - Szopienice
| 
12.8

| 
14

| 
5:00–19:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
24

| Okrzei - Sosnowiecmarker - Pogoń - Będzinmarker - Kopalnia 'Paryż'
| 
13.9

| 
20

| 
5:00–23:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
26

| Milowice - Sosnowiecmarker - Dańdówka - Niwka - Modrzejów - Mysłowicemarker
| 
13.6

| 
10

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
27

| Będzinmarker (depot) - Pogoń - Sosnowiecmarker - Dańdówka - Klimontów - Kazimierz Górniczy
| 
18.3

| 
20

| 
24h

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
28

| Będzinmarker (depot) - Kopalnia 'Paryż' - Dąbrowa Górniczamarker - Gołonóg
| 
10.8

| 
20–40

| 
4:00–17:30

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
30

| Bytommarker - Bobrek - Biskupice
| 
7.4

| 
20–40

| 
7:00–17:30

|-
|----- bgcolor="FFFFFF"
| 
31

| Bytommarker Plac Sikorskiego - Bytommarker Politechnika Śląska
| 
?

| 
30–40

| 
5:30–23:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
32

| Czeladźmarker - Będzinmarker - Kopalnia 'Paryż' - Dąbrowa Górniczamarker - Gołonóg
one-way shortened version of Route 22 (cars going opposite way carry number 22)
|
13.1

| 
10

| 
7:30–13:00
15:00–20:30

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
33

| Stadion Śląski - Dąb - Katowicemarker (Słoneczna)
| 
6.5

| 
56

| 
6:30–15:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
35

| Biskupice - [[Zabrze] - Zaborze
| 
8.9

| 
20–60

| 
5:00–16:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
36

| Chorzówmarker - Chorzówmarker Batory - Załęże - Katowicemarker - Zawodzie
| 
12.2

| 
28

| 
4:00–19:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#F0F0FF"
| 
38

| Bytommarker (Piekarska Street)
| 
1.3

| 
15-30

| 
6:00–18:00

|-
|----- bgcolor="#FFFFFF"
| 
41

| Bytommarker (Wrocławska) - Pogoda - Łagiewniki - Chorzówmarker - Dąb - Katowicemarker (Miarki Square)
| 
17.5

| 
14

| 
5:00–23:00

|}


116Nd Type (aka Citadis 100) car as Route 6 in Bytom


Rolling stock

Revenue cars(brackets: number of units in working order (April 2008) / dates of production):
  • N Type - classic four-wheel car (2 / 1949, 1951)
  • 102Na Type - articulated car, body based on Polish PCC - 13N Type (3 / 1970–1973)
  • 105N/Na Type - short car, with electrical system based on PCC technology (314 / 1973–1992)
  • 111N Type - bi-directional version of 105Na Type (6 / 1993)
  • 116Nd Type - low-floor articulated Citadis LRT car (17 / 2000–2001)
N Type based snow plough
Non-revenue cars: ca. 50 cars, mostly of Nand 4NTypes, though many other interesting units are in the working order (including driver education cars, general works cars, overhead wiresmaintenance cars, snow ploughs, platform trailers and one tamping machine).

Museum cars: a set of classic N Typemotor car with a 4NDType passive trailerproduced in 1950s, renovated in 2000–2001.
Museum N+4ND set in Katowice


See also

External links




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