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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

English Electric Trams In Poland (and Trolleybuses in Moscow)

John Woodman

The formation of an independent Polish State following the Versailles Treaty found the new country seeking infrastuctural investment. Formerly under Russian control the territory of the new Poland sought assistance from western governments with electric power generation and distribution in the capital, Warsaw area being an immediate priority. Understandably supported through its political influencers at Westminster the English Electric company in Preston seized on the chance to open up a new market in Europe, gaining sizeable contracts for power generation and tramway infrastructure upgrade. Waning orders for new trams from the domestic market during the 1920s pressured EE in Preston to pursue overseas clients with new designs, Calcutta being one success.

In addition to the Warsaw contracts which saw new Preston built trams supplied for two suburban lines running into the capital from outlying communities, English Electric also supplied similar four axle single deck trams and matching trailers for a mining district in the Silesian coalfield region at Dombrowa. The mining company required a reliable transport link with the neighbouring town of Sosnowicz - and its tram terminus in the Kattowicz network (a system shared with German operations).

The English Electric design for Poland was adapted to the hard winter conditions of central Europe with small saloon windows and the Preston square ended style adapted from 1920. A total of 14 motor cars and 16 trailers were delivered to the Dombrowa Coalfields Electric Tramway in 1929 - operating during the years of German occupation and up to 1966 withdrawal. One example of the Warsaw suburban service from the same period has been preserved and now a part of that city's excellent tram collection, fully restored in as delivered condition.

Regrettably these two instances of Preston built trams being placed in service in Poland (or indeed any other central and east european system) were not repeated elsewhere. However English Electric had a surprising success in Moscow in the 1930s when it delivered examples of single deck and double deck trolleybus models for service in the Russian capital. The Russians took benefit of cloning the design to build almost virtually same copies of the double deck model for use on a prestige trolleybus route. A unique example of British double deck trolleybuses operating in Russia.


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