ⓘ Trams in Kraków

Trams in Krakow

ⓘ Trams in Krakow

The Krakow tram system is a tram system in Krakow, Poland. The tramway has been in operation since 1882, and is currently operated by Miejskie Przedsiebiorstwo Komunikacyjne w Krakowie. There are 22 ordinary, 2 fast, and 3 night tram lines with a total line length of 347 kilometres. As of 2013, the total route length of the tramway was 90 kilometres, including a 1.4-kilometre tram tunnel with two underground stops.


1.1. History Origins

The first horse tram, 2.8 kilometres 1.7 mi line was opened in 1882. It used narrow gauge tracks 900 mm and ran from the railway station to Podgorski bridge. It was financed, constructed and operated by National Bank of Belgium. In 1901 the tram network was electrified and the formal opening of the first line took place on 16 March. The new SW1 class cars were produced by Sanocka Fabryka Wagonow. At the end of 1902, the system consisted of five electrified, narrow gauge lines. However, the network owners were primarily interested in the income generated by the existing lines, not in building new ones, which caused conflicts between them and the city council. The electrification and network extension was forced thanks to the Austro-Hungarian law changes favourable to the city. It stated that a railroad or a tram line could be operated only by a local company, registered in Austria. The private owners from Belgium were forced to create such a company, named Krakowska Spolka Tramwajowa, and transferred the agreement with the city to it. This took place in 1898.

Eventually, Krakow managed to buy 95% of shares of Krakowska Spolka Tramwajowa in 1910. In the same year, the city greatly increased in size by including several neighbouring villages and former military areas. New districts were created and it became clear that the narrow gauge network was not able to cope with the increasing transport needs. It was decided that a new network with standard gauge tracks will be constructed from scratch. In January 1913 the first standard gauge line number 6 was opened, which ran from Zwierzyniecka Street, through Starowislna to Trzeci Most. It operated SN1 class cars, also produced in Sanok. Before the world war, the new network replaced some of the narrow gauge tracks in the city centre.


1.2. History Interwar and World War II period

In 1918, Poland gained independence from Germany, Austria and Russia. Krakow became one of the major cities of the newly formed country. One of the remnants from the Austrian regime was left-hand traffic. In the tram network, it was eventually abandoned in 1925. In addition to that, the supply limitations in the war period and the lack of qualified engineers caused great damage to the rolling stock quality. Unstable country economy made almost impossible to improve the situation in the first years of Polish independence. Eventually, the city government managed to establish a new tram company, Krakowska Miejska Kolej Elektryczna between 1924 and 1929.

The successful transformation allowed to repair the entire rolling stock and extend the network to the new districts, including Os. Oficerskie, Bronowice and Rakowice. The increasing number of cars created a need to build a new tram depot, since the old buildings in Kazimierz district turned out to be too small. In 1928, the city council offered a terrain for the new depot in Podgorze district. The construction began in 1937 and finished a year later. The further plans to extend the network were stopped by the war.

In the late 1920s it became clear that the construction of the new tracks to many districts would take several years. As a temporary solution, KMKE opened a bus communication. The buses were not supposed to compete with trams, and operated only on routes where the trams were expected to be introduced in the future.

Krakow survived the Nazi Invasion in 1939 relatively undamaged. Due to the confiscation of all the buses and private cars by the army, the tram became the only means of transport in the occupied city. The new German government noticed the problem and imported 10 second-hand MAN Tw cars from Nuremberg and four others from the liquidated network in Eberswalde. Another movement was the introduction of lines for Germans only.


1.3. History Post-war period

After the war, Krakow tram network suffered from the lack of tram cars. Furthermore, due to destruction of bridges on Vistula river, the network was split in two parts between 1945 and 1946. In 1950 and 1952 the tram tracks reached Borek Falecki and the new city district, Nowa Huta, founded four years later together with a steel mill to the east from the city centre. In 1953, a tram ring around the Old Town was finished. It allowed to close down the old, narrow gauge network on 1 January 1954 and remove tracks from the Marketsquare. In the next years, the new tracks were opened mostly in Nowa Huta and Podgorze. In 1969, a new tram depot in Nowa Huta was finished, after four years of construction. The old depot in Kazimierz was abandoned and adapted for other purposes.

After the nationalisation of Polish industry, the new communist government began construction of the national tram cars in Konstal factory, Chorzow. The first Konstal N cars appeared in Krakow in the late 1940s. SN1 and even old Tw cars from Nuremberg known as SN3 in Krakow remained in service to the late 60s.

In the 1970s, the local authorities began an ambitious project of reorganizing the entire public transport in the city. Some of the goals were:

  • Building a Metro rapid transit line from Bronowice to Nowa Huta.
  • Rebuilding the main railway station to Krakow Communication Centre with integrated railway, bus, metro and tram services.
  • Closing some tram tracks in the city centre.
  • Building new tram tracks to the outer districts and a new tram depot.

Due to the lack of funding, very little was actually achieved. Between 1974 and 1990, only a single metro station was finished under the railway station. In 1984, the first network extension to the north took place - the tracks reached the new XXX-Lecia district currently Krowodrza Gorka. Despite the crisis, the authorities decided to close down the tracks to Dworzec Glowny Wschod Railway Station East as a preparation for the next part of the metro construction. The new balloon loop in Krowodrza Gorka was also prepared for the further network extensions, but the actual works never started.


1.4. History Present times

The government and economy changes caused the old plans to be abandoned. In 1994, the new authorities decided not to continue the metro line construction in favour of a fast tram. The first line was accepted to connect Krowodrza Gorka in the north, with Kurdwanow in the south of the city, and use the existing tunnel under the railway station. The first stage of the tram tunnel construction took place between 1996 and 1999, from the railway station to Rondo Mogilskie. At the same time, the tram network operator, MPK Krakow, began a process of replacing the old and unreliable Konstal cars. In 1989 it began to buy second-hand T4 cars with B4 trailers from Nuremberg, and later - GT6. In 1999, it managed to buy the first twelve low-floor Bombardier NGT6 cars.

In 1999 the first network extension since 1984 took place. The tracks reached Kurdwanow district, forming the first part of the Krakow Fast Tram network. The local authorities began a huge programme of tram infrastructure modernization. Between 2000 and 2010, nearly a quarter of the network went under a general reconstruction. In 2006 and 2007, Dworzec Towarowy was connected with an existing network through a new link on Pawia Street and the total network length reached 84 kilometres 52 mi. On 11 December 2008, the 1.4-kilometre 0.87 mi-long tram tunnel was eventually opened after 34 years of construction. Next day, the first fast tram line 50 began to operate.


1.5. History Future

Tramway is the primary form of public transport in Krakow. Many further network extensions are planned for the future. In 2010, the construction of the new link to Plaszow district began, and another one to Ruczaj was opened in 2012. Other existing tracks are going to be updated to the fast tram standards.


2. Infrastructure

Today, the tram network consists of 90 kilometres 56 mi of double track. Since the network is designed to be operated by single-ended trams, it has balloon loops at nearly all termini. There are currently 24 balloon loops in Krakow.

  • - moved to the current location in 1954.

2.1. Infrastructure Other termini

On Dworcowa street, there is located a double track wye which is occasionally used as an emergency terminus usually when tracks to Kurdwanow and Biezanow Nowy are blocked or they are cut off from the rest of the network for a longer time. A junction to Sw. Wawrzynca depot on Dajwor street sometimes serves as a wye, too.

In the past, Krakow network had some termini with simple stub-ends operated by double-ended cars i.e. a narrow gauge terminus near the main railway station. After the war, they have been abandoned in favour of balloon loops, as the deliveries of single-ended trams proceeded. However, MPK bought recently a small fleet of second-hand double-ended cars from Nuremberg and Dusseldorf which are used during reconstructions and partial openings of unfinished network extensions. The first temporary stub-end appeared in 2006 on Politechnika stop, when the new tracks on Pawia street had not been connected yet to Dworzec Towarowy loop.

Small stub-end also exists on Krowodrza Gorka, Bronowice Male and Salwator end stops but they are used as a track for defected and replacement cars, while double-ended trams use the balloon loop.


2.2. Infrastructure Tram depots

There are three tram depots in Krakow:

  • Zajezdnia Sw. Wawrzynca opened in 1882, reopened in 2009
  • Zajezdnia Podgorze opened in 1938
  • Zajezdnia Nowa Huta opened in 1969

The last tram depot was reconstructed in 2008 and serves as a tram museum.


2.3. Infrastructure Krakow Fast Tram

Krakow Fast Tram pl. Krakowski Szybki Tramwaj is a light rail network being developed in Krakow.

It consists of several modernized or purpose-built tram tracks with radio-controlled absolute priority on crossings, an underground, 1.4 kilometres 4.600 ft long tunnel under Krakow Glowny railway station with two underground stops and a 0.6 kilometres 2.000 ft long overpass over Krakow Plaszow rail station. Contrary to many light rail systems, Krakow Fast Tram is not separate from regular tramway lines - the tracks are a part of the wider "classic" tramway network and are used by ordinary lines, which benefit from moving through a fast tram corridor. The stops at the fast tram tracks are equipped with an electronic passenger information system showing estimated departure times live. As of 2017, the system is installed on classic tram lines, too.

In addition to the ordinary lines, there are two fast tram lines that run at up to 5 minute intervals on the fast tram tracks:

  • 52 - Czerwone Maki - Osiedle Piastow.
  • 50 - Krowodrza Gorka - Kurdwanow

The first fast tram line was opened on December 12, 2008, more than 30 years since construction start, however due to the missing tracks through Plaszow, it temporarily used the link through Kazimierz and Podgorze districts, where short pieces of track were not in its own right-of-way but connected to the traffic light control system and passenger information system. That gap was eliminated when the light rail overpass over the rail station in Plaszow opened on August 30, 2015. The construction costs amounted to 164 million zloty, of which 67 million was covered by the EU funds. It incorporates a tram stop with stairways and elevators to the rail platforms underneath and can be used by both pedestrians and cyclists, in addition to trams and emergency vehicles.


3. Rolling stock

Since 1994, MPK Krakow replaces the Polish rolling stock produced by Konstal with new, modern low floor cars and second-hand trams imported from Germany and Austria. The fleet consists of 292 motored cars and 59 trailer cars.


3.1. Rolling stock Konstal 105Na

The fleet of 70 Konstal 105 was built between 1979 and 1992. It is 13.5-metre 44 ft-long and can form longer trains theoretically up to five cars, in practice the two-car and three-car trains are operated. Due to the unreliability and the poor technical design, they are slowly replaced by second-hand trams from Germany.


3.2. Rolling stock Protram 405N-Kr

The Protram 405N-Kr, manufactured between 2011 and 2012, was rebuilt from three Konstal 105Na cars which have been connected with two new low-floor sections forming a single unit. The reconstruction was performed by Protram located in Wroclaw. The tram is 40.5-metre 133 ft long and has five sections with a total percentage of low-floor area of 25%. The tram is equipped with a complete electronic passenger information system, air conditioning, and two ticket machines. It has a capacity of 364 passengers, including 64 on seats. The tram entered service on April 20, 2012. There were plans to build more trams of this type, but due to the high cost for this rebuild up to €400.000, MPK Krakow decided to procure new 2014N trams from Newag. In 2016 the tram was repainted to match other MPK vehicles.


3.3. Rolling stock Bombardier NGT8

The NGT8 trams were ordered in June 2010. 24 Bombardier NGT8 were built between 2012 and 2014. MPK Krakow received its first NGT8 in October 2012.


3.4. Rolling stock Pesa 2014N

Pesa built 36 2014N "Krakowiak" trams between 2014 and 2015. The first unit was delivered on June 28, 2015. With a length of 42.8 m 140 ft 5 in the Pesa 2014N "Krakowiak" is the longest tram in Poland. They are equipped with air conditioning, passenger information system, ticket machines and bike stands. The first "Krakowiak" entered service on August 30, 2015.


3.5. Rolling stock Newag 126N

The sole Newag 126N was built in 2012 and entered trial operation in 2013.

It was then given back to the manufacturer, and returned to Krakow on November 27, 2016.


3.6. Rolling stock Duwag GT8S

14 Duwag GT8S were built between 1973 and 1976, and were formerly in service in Dusseldorf, Germany.

In September 2009 MPK Krakow bought one of the cars for testing, and decided to import a further 27 cars of this class. During the modernization, they were equipped with an electronic passenger information system. They are retrofitted with low-floor sections. Two units have been modified, and are referred to as GT8C. It is worth noting that the cars retained their own rolling stock numbers from Dusseldorf, which was later unified to Krakows standard in 2015.


3.7. Rolling stock Type GT8N

Also formerly in service in Dusseldorf were the 12 GT8N trams, built between 1973 and 1976. They were refurbished by MPK Krakow and received chopper control and a low-floor section.


3.8. Rolling stock Type E1

The fleet of 70 E1 trams and 59 C3 trailers was built by SGP and Lohner between 1966 and 1976. They were formerly in service in Vienna. Some cars are fitted with a partial electronic passenger information system.


3.9. Rolling stock Type N8

The four ex-Nuremberg N8S-NF trams were built by MAN and Duwag in 1976 and 1977, and were retrofitted with low-floor sections in 1992 and 1993. Seven ex-Nuremberg N8C-NF trams were built by MAN and Duwag in 1976 and 1977, and were retrofitted with low-floor sections in 1992 and 1993. They were refurbished by MPK Krakow and received chopper control. One ex-Essen N8S-NF tram was built in 1975. It was refurbished by Protram and retrofitted with a low-floor section. The ex-Essen unit is a former meter-gauge M8S, bought initially for replacement parts, but later adapted to standard gauge. During the modernization, they received an electronic passenger information system.


3.10. Rolling stock Type EU8N

A total of 40 Type EU8N trams were rebuilt from E6 trams and C6 trailers formerly in service in Vienna. Reusing the bogies from C6 trailers, Autosan produced a new low-floor module which was inserted between the two sections of the E6 tram. The assembly took place at the workshop of MPK Krakow. The first rebuilt unit was rolled out in 2010. The trams also received air-conditioning and a passenger information system.


3.11. Rolling stock Stadler Lajkonik

The first of 50 "Lajkonik" low-floor trams built by Stadler was delivered on December 12, 2019. The initial order of 35 trams was signed in January 2018, with a further 15 trams ordered in January 2019.


3.12. Rolling stock Former types

In addition to the cars in regular service, Krakow has a tram museum which is a part of the Muzeum Inzynierii Miejskiej Museum of Urban Engineering and it is located in the Sw. Wawrzynca Depot in Kazimierz district.

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