"Powellite" Bagnall 3ft gauge locomotive at Black Sands, Victoria - 1938. Photograph: P.G. Dow

09 August, 2010

Trondheim trams - not to be missed ...

It it is complete mistake to think of a Trondheim tram as just a tram. If you ever find yourself in Trondheim, and you have any interest in narrow-gauge railways, then you must travel on Trondheim tram!

There is only one route, and it is 8.8km long. The trams are fairly modern two-unit articulateds, and quite wide for the gauge, which is one metre. When you see them in the streets of Trondheim they give few clues as to what is to come. The tracks are set in stone blocks, and tend to be on the sides of the streets rather than the centre, otherwise all is normal.

Once outside the city grid though, which is pretty soon, it becomes a fully fledged narrow-gauge railway, on it's own right-of-way, winding its way steadily up the side of a hill, with excellent long range views of Trondheim below. There are station buildings with their own platforms and name boards, passing loops, colour light signals, and steel bridges. In some parts the trees are so close that the tram seems to be passing through a tunnel of trees. The tramway reaches an elevation of over 200 metres. The Sunday service is half-hourly, and with this frequency there is one crossing during the journey.

About two-thirds of the way along there is a tram museum, which has a number of old trams in it, by far the most interesting being the oldest, a four-wheeler of pre first world-war vintage.

I was so struck with this that at the terminus - Lian - I asked the driver if he spoke English, he did - fluently - so I told him him how good I thought that trip was and that I would recommend it to any visiting Australians. He was very pleased, and said he had had some other favourable comments from foreign visitors.

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