Thursday, 13 February 2014

When trams break down

There's no ideal, 100% foolproof way of getting around town, other than walking. This, however, requires lots of time to cover kilometres. Cars and buses grind to a halt in traffic jams, and bicycles can get punctures. Urban rail - whether underground trains or trams - is much more reliable than road-bound public transport (though bus lanes make a huge difference). London's underground strikes show what chaos ensues when the Tube ceases to run normally. Other than crashes, the greatest fear of tram users is a tram jam - when one breaks down, and a whole parade of trams thereafter grinds to a complete halt, remaining paralysed until the offending tram is fixed. And  until that happens, more and more trams are joining the back of the queue. The most I've ever seen is 12, stretching from Rondo de Palma all the way back across Most Poniatowskiego to Rondo Wosh.

Today I got caught in a developing tram jam. A northbound 18 arrived at Pl. Zbawiciela tram stop so full of passengers that only a hardy few could squeeze on; fortunately there was a 35 right behind,which I boarded. Scarcely had this tram got going, when, a little north of Pl. Konstytucji, the driver opened the doors and ordered everyone off. He'd done so because the 18 up ahead of him had broken down, disgorging scores of disgruntled passengers into the rush-hour roadway.

(Below) the driver made no announcement (I'm sure the modern Swing trams have public address systems fitted). No 'please leave the tram in an orderly fashion', or 'beware of the traffic'.

Below: the next tram also lets the passengers out. At the Pl. Konstytucji tram stop beyond, yet another tram awaits. Soon, ul. Marszałkowska will grow a long stationary queue of trams going nowhere.

Mercifully, it's all quickly cleared up this time. The broken down 18 is soon fixed, without external assistance. One hour later, Marszałkowska's tram lines are working normally again (below).

Now that the teething troubles of the new, low-floor PESA Swing trams have been sorted, it tends to be the older 1980s vintage Konstal 105Na trams that break down the most often. With the Ikarus bus and the 13N tram having now left Warsaw's streets for good, the 105N trams are currently the last form of public transport that are not low-floor, where access and egress is via three steep steps from the platform to the interior.

This time last year:
Capax Dei - the first of the Tischner-Żakowski discussions

This time two years ago:
Who are the thickies of Europe?

This time three years ago:
Oldschool Photochallenge: Response No. 2

This time four years ago:
Oligocene water from Jeziorki

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