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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Trams and BAOR (days)

Good fortune during my years in the Army brought me to West Germany and a posting in the small Westphalian town of Paderborn. Not too far away was the more industrial centre of Bielefeld, the home of Dr Oetker - a renowned German

pudding manufacturer or so I was told at the time. Paderborn was in the final

throes of closing its once extensive and meandering interurban tramway which linked equally small Westphalian towns and 'dorfs' with Paderborn. The local operator was PESAG which also sourced power to the various communities.

Its tram fleet, never large, consisted of diminutive two axle cars and equally small trailers complete with trolleypoles, as opposed to the more common garden pantographs.


Below : the old order giveth way to the new in Bielefeld 1965. Withdrawn pre-war two axle cars (some rebuilt) on the scrap lines at a new depot under construction.

The traditional trailercoupling (or uncoupling) at the terminus soon to be a thing of the past. Blackpool didn't get close to trailer operation with this flexibility when it started trailer service in the early 1960s. All Images Copyright John Woodman

Only a handful of the tram fleet were left in the Paderborn depot then being

steadily converted to house replacing Mercedes buses. The buses came in a smart cream and mid-green fleet livery almost the same as Blackpool Corporation Transport colours. I managed quite a number of trips along the remaining truncated line which ran from just outside the main (and only) railway station in

Paderborn as far as Schloss Neuhaus - a distance of about 5 miles. Originally the line continued further north to Sennelager, a spot on the map familiar to several generations of german soldiery from the Kaiser's time, and subsequently to

British 'squaddies' who were garrisoned in the vicinity, myself included.

Whilst Paderborn was divesting itself of its antique trams the town of Bielefeld

was acquiring a brand new fleet of the latest German articulated models built by

Duewag. These also came in pale cream with a thin grey or green band and were

becoming a ubiquitous part of German urban landscape in the 1960s as towns and cities rid themselves of the pre-war motor and trailer units in favour of large capacity 'grossraumwagen'sometimes with a seated conductor and sometimes with driver only operation. Bielefeld has since the 1960s gone on to upgrade its

tram system to a high platform light rail format similar to Manchester's (and

Hannover). Quite a number of extensions as well as subway and central reser- vation development has transformed the traditional street running layout I observed on my infrequent visits in the mid 1960s. My time in uniform in BAOR facilitated travel to a great many German tram systems, from Kassel to Hamburg and Munich, as well as the sprawling dense network in and around the Ruhr. Fascinating times then and many colourful impressions remain from those times .

The new order - almost new Duewag articulated grossraumwagen lined up at the

new depot. Note two axle trailers in tow for peak hour operation (for a while).

Cobbled roads and sight of a Deutsche Bundesbahn commuter train with a new articulated car pulling a bogie trailer descending under the railway bridge on Line 1

to Sieker. Below : the other end of the line - negotiating tight corners no problem !

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