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Light Rail for better public transport
John Swallow and Chris Barker gave a video presentation entitled “World on Video”. John started out by pointing out that the material to be shown had originally been shot for their personal pleasure and considerable time had been taken to edit a programme suitable for the audience.
Our world tour started with Melbourne filmed on the Timeline Tour in 2001. Privatisation was in progress and revised liveries were appearing, and the first of the new Citadis cars was on a demonstration run. This was followed by Lisbon in 1992, at a time when the system was somewhat larger than today, and when the early bogie cars were still much in evidence. We were reminded of the narrow streets of the Graca Circle and the unusual street funiculars.
Next we went to the seemingly timeless Milan in 1998, with Peter Witts still much in evidence and rush hour scenes with a continuous procession of trams. The scene then switched to Lodz in Poland in 2002. Lack of money meant that some of the track was in poor condition, which led to a derailment. However a new Cityrunner car was seen in service on one of the busier routes where the track was of a better standard.
Our next port of call was East Berlin filmed in 1990 soon after the Wall began to come down. Trams were in the orange and cream livery and comprised 3 car Gotha and Tatra sets. We were also treated to shots of the now withdrawn pre-war S-bahn cars. The isolated Woltersdorf tramway with its single 2-axle Gotha cars was featured including the attractive Woltersdorf lock and lake. The final system in the first half was Iasi in Romania where West German GT4’s were operating alongside Romanian built trams.
After the break we saw some of the highlights of the Timeline Japanese Tour of 2004. The group travelled from the South West of the country to the North West using the Shinkansen high-speed trains and Japan Railpasses. We saw the 3 foot 6 inch gauge Kyushu Railway and visited tramways in Nagasaki and Hiroshima where 3 section articulated cars were much in evidence. The last Japanese system was the 2-route system at Kochi.
The programme concluded with a visit to Romania in 1997 for the Centenary of trams in Timisoara. A long and varied procession of trams led by a horse car travelled through the city accompanied by a band playing on board a works car. The final scenes were of Arad including its charming Lokalbahn with its historic rolling stock.
John Laker, 15/9/04
London Area – 14th September 2004
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