Finland - trams

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This category is for trams in Finland. Currently there is only one tram network in the country, that of the Helsinki city public traffic authority HKL. But there are plans to start new tram networks for example in Tampere and Turku sometime fairly soon. The Helsinki network is metre gauge and with DC 600V currency. First electric trams started in Helsinki in September 1900. This one is the latest tram of Helsinki, model Artic, built by Transtech. Transtech is now part of the Skoda group of Czech republic and Skoda in turn is owned by the Volkswagen group. Picture by the Vallila depot 30.5.2016 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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A typical tram of today's Helsinki is the type NrI or NrII built by Valmet and Strömberg in the 1970s and 1980s. Some of these have fully covering advertisement tapes, such as this one NrII number 115. This one also has an added low-floor middle section that some of these wagons received fairly lately. Picture by the Vallila depot in Helsinki 30.5.2016 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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The series NrI is from the mid 1970s. First ones appeared in traffic 1973. When HKL later ordered more trams, the new series got the name NrII. Seen from the outside, they are very similar. In this picture the no. 103 on the left is an NrII and the no. 54 on the right is of the series NrI. If you look closely, you may notice that a small ventilation grille by the front is in a different place and some of the undercarriage "boxes" are different too. But this picture also shows the difference in length after addition of a low-floor middle section. Most of the NrII and some of the NrI trams received a third low-floor piece beginning from 2006. After such an addition the class of the tram such as the 103 here is MLNRV II which stands for "matalalattiainen nivelraitiovaunu II" or low-floor articulated tram II. Picture by the Vallila depot in Helsinki 30.5.2016 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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Another view of the NrII no. 103. Here you can see clearly the added middle section. These middle pieces were added beginning 2006 and they were made in Germany. Picture 30.5.2016 at Vallila Depot Helsinki by Ilkka Siissalo.

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This is a Bombardier/ADtranz Variotram. HKL bought 1998-2004 altogether 40 of these low-floor trams. From the beginning they were very disappointing. Especially their small wheels and drive motor technology caused so much problems that at one point HKL hired lawyers and threatened to return the trams to their producer. Things became even more complicated as ADtranz ceased to exist and the product rights went over to Bombardier. After a fight they reached an agreement and for a while Bombardier rented space from HKL's depot and took care of the maintenance of these trams with its own personnel. But in 2017 both HKL and Bombardier had to admit that these trams will not last as long as was planned. Ther car bodies are breaking and also electric systems are frequently failing. These trams will be returned to Germany and will vanish from Helsinki. Picture by the Vallila depot 30.5.2016 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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Another Variotram, the no.202 is here waiting on line 3 for the officially announced departure time in Eira. Picture 29.3.2017 at the Eira hospital stop by Kari Wikström.

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Prototype Artic tram no. 401 when it was new 19.10.2013. After the Variotrams when HKL needed even more trams, a public tendering was organised, which became a very complicated matter. After evaluating a lot of existing alternatives, HKL went for planning and designing the new tram itself. The trams were then built by Transtech. Two prototypes ran in normal traffic for almost 3 years before series trams were rolled out in 2016. Picture at Koskela depot 19.10.2013 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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Another view of a prototype Artic tram in traffic. Photo at Runeberginkatu, Helsinki 26.4.2014 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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During 2017 one of the new Artic trams of Helsinki got a fairly stylish special taping in blue and white to celebrate Finland's 100th anniversary of the country's independence. Here the independence tram no. 404 is seen on line 7 running on Hämeentie. Picture 25.1.2018 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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Before designing and buying the Artic trams, HKL evaluated a number of existing models. One of them, a Croatian model called Crotram was even used in normal traffic in Helsinki for several months. Picture of the loaned Crotram at the Sörnäinen metro station 5.2.2008 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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1915 to 1928 there was a private tram company linking the island of Kulosaari (in Swedish Brändö) to Helsinki. Originally there was a steam ferry that took the trams over the small strait to the island. Later when the company, Brändö Spårvagns Ab, was fused with the city tramways, the peculiar looking wooden wagons were for a long time used on the route to Käpylä. Tramway to Kulosaari was closed in 1951. Much, much later the remains of one of the 1915 built Kulosaari/Brändö wagons was found and based on the remains a new replica was built and completed in 2007. This new wagon looks like the old ones, but the technology used, like the motors and bogies, have been taken from a Valmet built 1950s wagon. Picture of the Brändö replica wagon at Kauppatori (Market square) 22.5.2008 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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Stadin Ratikat (trams of the city) is a company which operates some museum trams on the network of Helsinki. This one is a "pikkuruotsalainen" (little Swede) from the year 1909 together with an open summer time coach 233 from the year 1919. During summertime this composition or some other of the Stadin Ratikat's oldies offer tourists a 15 minutes sightseeing run for 5 euros. Picture at Kauppatori (market square) 27.8.2016 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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Work for the day is done and the historic composition of motor wagon no 50 from 1909 and open trailer no. 233 of 1919 are returning empty to depot. Picture at Snellmaninkatu, Helsinki 27.8.2016 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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The newest and the oldest are meeting. The "Little Swede" no.50 in front is from 1909 and the prototype Artic tram no. 402 behind it is from 2013. Picture at Käpylänaukio in October 2016 by Anne Teirisalo.

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Another view of the newest and the oldest meeting in Käpylä. With a more than 100 years age difference, one could imagine they would look more different from one another as they actually do. Picture at Käpylänaukio in October 2016 by Anne Teirisalo.

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Time is out for these eight class NrI (nivelraitiovaunu I = articulated tram I) trams. They entered service 1973-75 and now they have ended at the scrapyard, waiting for someone to cut them into pieces. They have already lost their pantographs. No. 31 back to the right is Finland's first articulated tram and at the same time Europe's first thyristor technology steered tram. Picture at Roihupelto bus depot 17.8.2016 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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There is a pub tram in Helsinki called Spårakoff. When the well known beer brewery Koff had its 175th birthday some years back, a 1950s old tram was converted into a rolling pub. The tram, originally HKL's no. 15, lost its middle pair of doors, a minuscule toilet was built in and tables were fitted in for roughly 30 people. By paying 10 euros, people can now have a nice touristic ride around central Helsinki while simultaneously sipping beer or cider. Originally Spårakoff was intended to be used just for a short time, but it became so popular that it continues to ride year after year. The tram was originally built by Karia in Finland in 1959. Picture at Railway square in Helsinki 22.8.2016 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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Another view of the Spårakoff pub tram. It has also lost its old fashioned headlights, which have been replaced by small and powerful halogens. There are similar tram-pubs in other cities in Europe as well, for example in Krakow, Poland and Zürich, Switzerland. There's also a cafeteria tram in Stockholm, Sweden. Picture at Railway square in Helsinki 22.8.2016 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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Some years back, at a time when Helsinki public traffic authority HKL had a time when they ran into trouble with their public tendering and could not buy newer trams that they wanted, HKL bought as an interim solution very cheaply from Germany used 1960s Düwag trams from Mannheim and Ludwigshafen. The plan was to use them only for a year or so. Some of them have been scrapped and/or sold to Poland (Lodz) by now, but some are exeptionally long-lived. This one, no 166, is a Düwag GT8 from 1962, originally Mannheim's MVV no. 510. In 2010 it was declared a "Culture tram". It received silvery stickers with hologram texture as an overall taping and it also received a - sorry for the comment :-) - sausage-like piece of art (?) on the roof of the driver's cab. Lately it has been used only as a tram that someone can rent for sightseeings, private rides and similar. Right after the silvery hologram tapings appeared, the tram got from the public a nickname "silakka" = "herring" - well, you can figure out why. Then one day it happened that there was a minor fire in the tram. The damages were minor, but the smell remained. Ever since then the naughty boys and girls - like myself - have called it "savusilakka", smoked herring :-D Picture of the savusilakka tram at Snellmaninkatu, Helsinki, 27.8.2016 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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A side view of the "smoked herring" shows clearly the hologram textured silvery tapings. The tram also used to have large texts "Kulttuuriratikka" or "Culture tram" on its sides, but today only faded glue remains show where the text stickers once have been. Photo at Snellmaninkatu 27.9.2016 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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Comparison of 1970s and 1960s design. No.102 on the left is an NrII, which in 2009 got an added third section in the middle. Although built in the 1980s, it shows the typical design of the 1970s. No.150 on the right however is a German Düwag. It was built in 1967 and it used to be the no.150 of Verkehrsbetriebe Stadt Ludwigshafen. It was bought used to Helsinki in 2004. Today it is only used as a charter tram. Many people in Helsinki know it by the nickname "Ludde" due to its origin in Ludwigshafen. Ludde also has in its middle an added third section. HKL bought it originally to test if this long trams could operate in Helsinki or not. Picture in Munkkiniemi by Anne Teirisalo.

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Two rarely seen trams in the same picture: The Spårakoff pub tram and HKL 150 "Ludde". Picture 29.12.2016 by Anne Teirisalo.

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HKL has two modern wagons for technical purposes: grinding and cleaning of the rails etc. made by the company Windhoff. Here we see Windhoff no. 2012 (its year of manufacture) encountering another tram at Sturenkatu. Picture by Anne Teirisalo.

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This is the other Windhoff no.2010 encountering another tram at Mäkelänkatu by construction works. Bricks with holes are being layed and there will be a green grass mat growing through the holes. The Windhoffs have a lot of work to do during autumn season when falling rotten leaves make the tracks slippery and they have to be sprayed or wiped clean time and time again. Mäkelänkatu with its beautiful trees is especially difficult. Picture autumn 2016 by Anne Teirisalo.

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This is the Windhoff no.2010 encountering another tram at Kaisaniemenkatu near the University of Helsinki metro station. Picture 5.1.2017 by Anne Teirisalo.

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Windhoff no.2010 at Aleksanterinkatu in downtown Helsinki. Picture 28.12.2016 by Anne Teirisalo.

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A Helsinki tram professional and her very professional tram cake: Anne Teirisalo.
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