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Japanese & European Delights

Martin Eady, 19th June 2018

Martin's presentation took the subjects in his title in the reverse order so we started in Europe and finished in Japan. Firstly we visited Vienna a system that Martin had explored only three weeks earlier. Starting in the splendid Tramway Museum we looked at the very comprehensive collection of around 40 vehicles that are displayed in a former depot with plenty of light and space for photography. The collection covers the horse and steam eras as well as the many different varieties of electric cars that have served the city through the years. A look at the current scene covered several parts of the network but its large size meant it was only possible see a small part of it. As well as the city system proper Martin also ventured out on the lengthy interurban line to Baden which is partly on high speed right of way in the countryside as well as featuring street running at each end.

After the break it was the turn of the much smaller city of Linz where the 900mm gauge system has expanded considerably in recent years. A notable change has been the re-gauging of the very steep Pöstlingberbahn from metre gauge to match the city gauge and allow through running into the city centre. Pictures from a 1977 visit showed this line when it was a separate operation with a special rail profile and stub points to permit the use of track brakes gripping the side of the railhead. As well as newly-built modern bogie cars some of the older tow-axle stock had been re-equipped to allow them to run into the city at busy times.

Bratislava in Slovakia was the final European system on Martin's recent trip. This is a large metre-gauge system with various types of Tatra car from the communist era as well as modern low floor cars all being in excellent condition.

A family holiday in Japan in November 2017 provided an opportunity to see two different tramway systems. Firstly the small 3'6" network at Toyama where a variety of car types are in use on three separate services, time had not permitted a visit city's other light rail line which is a recent conversion from a former JNR railway.

Our final destination was Kyoto where the standard gauge Arashiyama Line or "Randen" serves the western suburbs from a terminal a little way out of the city centre. This line is mostly on private track with just a short section of street running and service is provided by one or two car sets of high floor cars; the stops have platforms for level boarding.

All in all it was a most interesting evening with some excellent pictures of a variety of trams and just a few other modes of transport where appropriate.

Geoffrey Tribe

London Area - 19th June 2018

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