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  • Writer's pictureJohn Woodman

Wonderful Copenhagen - Trams I have known

John Woodman

A school trip long ago allowed me to experience firsthand the once prolific tram system in Denmark's capital. This was before the operator invested in a fleet of Duwag articulated trams to that company' standard design. One hundred models were imported - all with trolleypoles - transforming the city's services which hitherto had relied on domestic designs, peculiar to Copenhagen, The peak hour turnout when we arrived from Blackpool for a ten day stay in the city involved varied types from the early two axle cars with trailers to the latest (1950) bogie design of which just eight examples were built. A mix of centre entrance bogie cars with matching trailers from the 1930s echoed Blackpool's passenger flow style (but not its streamline design).

Even with the later advent of the Duwag cars Copenhagen opted to convert the still extensive tram network to bus operation and became the first north European system (of any size) to rely on buses. Hamburg was to follow in later years whilst maintaining and expanding subway and elevated trains. The Copenhagen Duwag fleet was sold to Cairo and Alexandria where most soldiered on for service in Egypt but with reduced maintenance and upkeep than they had received in Denmark. Fortunately the Danish enthusiast body funded the return of an example from Egypt and its restoration to its Copenhagen condirion. It can be seen and ridden on in the excellent national tram museum - Denmark's equivalent of Crich.

Following my introduction to Copenhagen courtesy Blackpool Grammar School with coach to London then train from Liverpool Street to Harwich and overnight ferry to Esjberg with another rail journey to Copenhagen. I was to make four further visits to Copenhagen in subsequent years having gained a 'pen pal' whose family lived in Bronshoj where their apartment building was located in close proximity to the terminus and its turning loop of tram service 2. There is on and off talk of the city introducing second generation tram/light rail but so far no tangible development has taken place. In any event a new operation would entirely lack the unique character and infornality of 'Kobenhavn Sporveje' which I greatly enjoyed in those now distant days. The flavour of those wonderful memories can be seen below:

Above : a typical Copenhagen early two axle trailer set approaching in the city centre on paved reservation. The proliferation of bikes, motorbikes and scooters was a feature of the city. Below : Peak hour operation in the centre with streams of trams dominating traffic - usually motor unit and trailer being the usual format. In this case a centre entrance bogie car and matching bogie trailer bring up the rear of a moving convoy of cars on different routes.

Below : One of the postwar bogie cars unique to Copenhagen built in their workshops and a pre-war bogie trailer on a centre reservation heading to Bronshoj on Service 2. Copenhagen's trams were all fitted with long handled point irons which drivers could manually operate from their cabs.

Below : a typical terminus scene with turning circle. A passenger flow bogie car in bright yellow and white window edging awaits its next trip to 'Formosavej'. All trams were fitted with very large metal route number signs on the nearside front of the lead car - with different colours for each route.

All images taken by John Woodman


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