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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Rotterdamsche Electrische Tramways (RET) 1949

John Woodman

While Blackpool Corporation Transport were in the throes of improving the riding qualities of the 1939 built 'Sun Saloon' class 10-13 utilising new resilient wheel bogies and 'VAMBAC' controls as the most economic means of upgrading the all street running tram service to Marton - a parallel exercise was underway in the port city of Rotterdam in 1949. The city had undergone a massive air attack at the onset of the German invasion in 1940 destroying a large part of the central district. This resulted in a massive movement of people away from the centre to new accommodation elsewhere and consequent need for strengthened tram services. German requisition of Rotterdam (and other systems) tramcars during the later phase of the war years to replace damaged and destroyed rolling stock on German systems caused further shortfall in fleet capacity only partly assuaged with return of some of the cars at war's end - of which many were in damaged condition.

Dutch affinity with bicycles is a notable feature in urban centres but in the immediate postwar period the lack of new and replacement tyres saw far greater reliance on public transport - in particular the trams. An order for seventy new bogie cars of which half were trailers was placed in 1946. Trailers were a priority as they did not require motors or control equipment which was in short supply. Metropolitan Vickers were called on to provide the necessary 35 sets of electrical equipment including 108 traction motors in order to facilitate delivery of the new cars.

Rotterdam had a preference for centre entrance cars and much of its pre-war fleet were solidly built by 'Talbot' to this design. Rather than change passenger habits the new motor units and trailers were also built to centre entrance design - and allowed for large standing capacity. Following the 1949 delivery further cars were built to similar style in the following decade. The RET fleet had adopted an unusual and distictive mustard yellow and black fleet livery with red roundels marking the operator's identity. In fact all three surviving Dutch tram systems in postwar years went their own ways as far as new tram procurement was concerned, with Den Haag opting for Americanised 'PCC Car' design and passenger flow styling, while Amsterdam preferred its own blunt ended profile bogie car design - initially. The Arnhem tramway system did not survive the war with much of its equipment and depot destroyed during the Battle for Arnhem Bridge in 1944.

The RET Prototype 1949 Motor Unit and Trailer set

Material from Metropolitan Vickers Brochure 'New Tramcars for Rotterdam' -Courtesy Rob de Kruijs


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