2013 in review


The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2013 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 27,000 times in 2013. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 10 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.

Click here to see the complete report.

Double Deck trams in Alexandria/Egypt




Only Hong Kong and Alexandria use double deck trams every day / round the year. There are other operators (i.e. Blackpool) that use d/d cars on certain days of the year and a number of tourist or museum lines (i.e. Victor Harbor, National Tramway Museum Crich) that have operational d/d cars.

Hong Kong of course has the largest fleet of d/d trams. Alexandria only has 6 cars. These look like control trailers (i.e. they have a cab at one end but no pantographs) but are actually powered cars where the power is passed through from the attached middle car (they operate motor + motor without cabs + double deck motor). No doubt they have left out the pantographs because of the height of the cars (avoiding having to have to wires higher as well).

Here are some pics taken during a visit in February 2010:


100-010-000215-01a #215

100-010-000218-07 #218

100-010-000221-01 #221

100-010-000224-01 #224

Alexandria has two two tram systems that are inter-linked (and since 1973 both owned by one single company). One is the “yellow” city trams that operate with trolley poles. The other one is the “blue” Ramlh interurban that uses pantographs (originally also trolley poles). There are two lines in the system that run over both sections and these are (renumbered) ex city cars equipped with both pantographs and trolley poles – they change from one to the other system at the Ramlh line city terminus. The interurbans used to go into town (as far as the fire station) but now all seem to terminate at the interurban city terminus.

The six double deck tramcars #209, #212, #215, #218, #221 and #224 were built by Kinki Sharyo in Japan. They arrived as late as 1995 (ordered in 1986 – the delivery of the matching single deck cars commenced in 1975). At the time of our visit all the d/d cars ran facing the city terminus. This means that going into town they are the front car of a three-car train and thus they are reserved for women! On the interurban this is true for all “trains”. So men can only travel on the d/d cars going out. APTA Alexandria has started to replace the oldest cars: The original set #113, #114 & #115 was seen without bogies in the interurban depot ready for scrapping. A replacement set built by SEMAF(ARE) around 2009 (using the electric equipment of the donor cars carrying the same numbers plus their bogies) was seen in service at the same time sporting a new livery. As the d/d cars are much younger there seems no need to replace them yet. The Kinky Sharyo cars are numbered: #101-226. The numbers clash with the Kinky Sharyo yellow city cars of 1982!

100-010-000116-01b #116

No old d/d cars survive on the APTA property. A couple of cars (probably bodies only) seem to exist somewhere but we did not try to find them during our visit. Here are some pics of these previous d/d cars that ran on the Ramlh interurban until the late 1980s. According to our good friend Brian Patton (author of the 2002 publication “Double-Deck Trams of the World Beyond the British Isles” – ISBN 9781874422396) 32 two axle d/d cars from the early days of the last century – some converted to control trailers – had mostly disappeared by the 1920s (#301 and #402 survived as workscars probably until the 1970s). 14 four axle d/d trams from 1908-14 (later rebuilt with enclosed platforms and then from 1952 converted to control trailers) plus 15 similar cars rebuilt from single deck trams of the same batch survived in steadily dwindling numbers until 1987. These cars originally where numbered in the #40-89 series (including s/d cars) but when they were rebuilt into control trailers (to run with one s/d motor car) they were renumbered into #514-539 series. Some d/d cars did loose their upper deck again in later life and photos of d/d cars with other 5xx numbers exist (e.g. #502).

100-010-000501-03 a “toy” size model of an old d/d car exists at the interurban depot

100-010-000051-01 #51 (in a line of retired cars – note the rebuilding of the lower end to accomodated a cab for the driver)

100-010-000535-02 #535

100-010-000400-03 #400 (workscar trailer, note the old tram body in the middle of the car)

100-010-000525-02 #525

100-010-000601-02 #601 (the only surviving active old type car)

The other tramcars used in Alexandria:

#117-130 Kinky Sharyo (Japan) cars from 1982 – city network

100-010-000125-01 #125

100-010-000126-03 #125

#801-840/842-900 Duewag built cars ex Copenhagen (Denmark) from 1960-66 – city network

100-010-000827-07 #827 (this and all the sister cars of this rather delightful type are extremely worn out and the company had plans to refurbish them in 2010 – nothing has been heard since)

100-010-000810-08 #810

100-010-000806-06 #806

#1101-1116 Kinky Sharyo (Japan) cars from 1982 – interurban & city network (ex #101-116 city network)

100-010-001109-03 #1109

100-010-001101-03 #1101

#1201-1230 Ganz (Hungary) built cars from 1985-86 – city network

100-010-001228-03 #1228

100-010-001227-02 #1227

To give you a better overview of the tramlines in Alexandria we have amended the Wikipedia Creative Commons map drawn by Maximilian Dörrbecker in 1996. During our visit in February 2010 the blue and yellow lines operated. Because of major trackwork the line to El Wardian and the tracks between the main railway station and Moharam Bek depot were termporarily closed (plus a short stretch of line near the Western Harbour). These lines are shown in grey. The short red line indicates a track connection that has gone permanently (no tracks remain between St. Catherine Square and Oraby Square – a valuable connection lost between the main city network and the Ramlh interurban station). Due to the trackwork many lines did not operate but all the tracks shown in yellow and blue did see service. On the city lines many cars did not carry any route numbers but some had very difficult to read (at least for us) chalk markings on the front dash. We were told that all tracks were coming back in the future. (except for the portion shown in red). Depots are located in Karmouz & Moharam Bek (city lines) and Moustafa Kamel (interurban). Spelling of the station names (and indeed street names) varies from period to period and from language to language. We have mostly used the spelling found on out-of-date route maps at tram stops.

SrassenbahnNetzplanAlexandria1996click map to enlarge image

On the interurbans the following routes operated: 1 = Ramlh station to El Nasr via Sidi Gaber El Sheikh & Fleming, 2 = Ramlh station to El Nasr via Sidi Gaber El Mahata & Ramsis, 25 = Ras El Tin to Sidi Gaber El Sheikh, 36 = Ras El Tin to El Estefano via Sidi Gaber El Mahata & Fleming. Line 25 was shown on the maps we saw to terminate at the fire station (El Matafi – we think this is actually El Mansheya) but we only saw those cars running all the way to Ras El Tin like the 36. On the city lines we saw trams carrying route numbers for lines: 1 (Rly Stn. – El Metras), 2 (Rly Stn. – Karmouz), 3 (St. Catherine Sq.- El Metras), 4 (Rly Stn. – Abi El Dardaa – St. Catherine Sq.), 6 (Rly. Stn. – Ras El Tin), 9 (St. Catherine Sq. – El Max), 10 (Rly Stn. – Al Sabaa Banat – El Shaik Ali Shalaby = St. Catherine Sq.), 15 Ramlh Stn. – Ras El Tin (but some labelled as 25), 16 (St. Catherine Sq. – Karmouz), 19 (Rly Stn. – El Max). Two shuttles served the line towards El Nozha (both not numbered). They ran as follows: Moharam Bek depot to Tomourt/Al Mustashfa Al Itali (this is just short of Nareman) and Nareman triangle to El Nozha using only Ganz cars (none were stationed at Karmouz depot and thus could not be found on the main network). Line 15 needed Kinki cars because there is no loop at Ramlh station, lines 25 & 36 use the same cars that were converted to run on both networks and all the other lines we saw used those delightful old Duewag trams.

A more detailed track map from 2004 can be found here. It shows the new layout at St. Catherine Square, the tracks at the fire station (Mansheia = El Mansheya) and also the triangle used by the Nozha shuttle services described above. The top shed at Karmouz depot is the central workshops for the city fleet.

Past and Surviving Heritage 電車今昔


Black-and-white tell us the story – It is rarely to see coloured version of the Hong Kong trams in 1950s, whilst another shot captured the modified trams in “black-and-white” version!

HKT 159: Dave Glass Photo (HKT 100 Ann., 1986, Eastern Street)

I have no chance to ride on the past double-deckers as they had been gone, yet by luck and painstaking, resulted in such a superb shot!!

Photo: Joseph Tse (27-FEB-2011, Causeway Bay Terminus Loop)

While I was happy as a clam, the millennium car follows, they are all in the same loop and ascending order!!!

Photo: Joseph Tse (27-FEB-2011, Causeway Bay Terminus Loop)

Topics on the earlier generation trams will come soon.

Birkenhead Tramways cars 69 and 70 香港系列 Birkenhead 69/70號


A Birkenhead car under construction at Hong Kong Whitty Street Depot in 1992. (TVR)

Before going into service in Birkenhead at the end of 1994, the two HKT-built trams went to Blackpool.  They rarely ventured out into the network except on private charters, partly because of a propensity to derail on Blackpool’s sleeper track.

Birkenhead’s short tramway is normally open only on Saturdays and Sundays. It runs west from the Woodside Ferry Terminal to Egerton Bridge, where it turns south to terminate by Taylor Street Depot.  The total line length is approximately one mile (1.6 km). Woodside Ferry Terminal is served by the solitary serviceable Mersey Ferry: the Mersey ferries once bore comparison with the ‘Star’ Ferry in Hong Kong, but the remaining ferry service is expensive, infrequent and aimed at tourists. As for the tramway, until recently there had been plans to expand the initial line into a functioning network, but this idea has not been pursued.  The tramway operates under the auspices of the Merseyside Tramway Preservation Society.

A strange face to face shot of the two Birkenhead HK cars in the museum(Sunset Dan Photo)

BT 70 leaving Blackpool’s Rigby Road Depot en route to Birkenhead.

Photo: Tony Armitage (JUN-1994)

Photo: B. J. Cross (Ash Street, Fleetwood, 17-JUL-1994)

BT 69 in contemporary blue livery inside the depot. (Sincere thanks to Chris)

Today tram 69 sports this modern Birkenhead livery.  The original trams in Birkenhead had long ceased operation before this splendid livery was introduced on the town’s buses.

Photo: John Harrison (Woodside Ferry terminus, Birkenhead, 19-MAY-2007)

Birkenhead 70 waits for its trolley pole to be reversed

Special thanks to calflier001

An interesting view of a Hong Kong tram, which had been based on British technology and practice, operating in its ‘spiritual motherland’.

BT 69: David Flett Photo (7-MAR-2009, Birkenhead East, UK)

This good monochrome shot of Birkenhead 69 resembles old photographs of Hong Kong trams.

In this picture Birkenhead 70 has been decorated to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Birkenhead’s original trams in 2010.  In the background is single-deck Lisbon tram 730.

BT 69&70: David Photo (3-OCT-2010, Birkenhead East)

A relatively rare photograph of Birkenhead 70 at Fleetwood Ferry terminus, north of Blackpool.

Photo: Tony Armitage (18-JUL-1993)

BT 70 approaching Shore Road Gate, Birkenhead.

Photo: Lars F. Richter (13-MAY-1995)

This view shows Birkenhead 70 displayed in Taylor Street Depot, with former Liverpool Corporation ‘Baby Grand’ 245 behind. (Special thanks to Alexander Cunningham)

Tramway (HKT) Fleet List 香港電車車隊列表














During the history of the HKT tramcar fleet new bodies were often built onto old underframes. Today the regular fleet (excluding the special cars 28, 120, 128, 200, 300 and the three surviving millennium type bodies 169, 170, 171 – the latter now stored) comprises of cars with Full Arts or Leeway Engineering bodies on completely new underframes. The newest cars 168 and 172 are slightly more advanced and feature components also found on the millennium cars (mostly the side of the tram).

We have prepared a list of the current fleet.  Included are details like type of controllers & trolley poles, body and fleet number swaps, last overhaul date etc. and most importantly the type of truck used. Today, only the trucks are a reminder from the past.

Click the following link to open a pdf file containing details of the current fleet and those from the early days to today:


以下的車隊列表,載有包括電車用的控制器款式、集電弓(拖里)、已停用的號碼、大修日期等,更重要的還有底盤款式 — 這是唯一可以追溯過去的標記。


Truck types

Peckham truck – old history, majority of trams got this type




















M&T truck – Maley & Taunton

HKT truck – made by Hong Kong Tramways

Motion types

There are three types of motion on Hong Kong trams, of which 120, tour-28 & 128 are using Dick Kerr controllers. The remaining are with joysticks, 77 trams (a pair of speed reading) with “voltage divider” and 50 (single speed reading) with IGBT.



















Trolley types

Single spring trolley

     Double spring trolley

Double spring with a bit higher base, currently exist in #39 and #133

Banners, Signs & More


In this column we show you signs, banners and advertising, most are visible to the public…


The old tram stop signs are gradually phased out – important stops now have these new big signs to help with passenger information (Lars F. Richter Photo)


Whitty Street Depot (Lars F. Richter Photo)

Work Safely & Silence! Whitty Street Depot (Lars F. Richter Photo)

An old spot (should be the only one) inside the depot


(Photo: Joseph Tse)

Destinations display board at Happy Valley Terminus


(Joseph Tse Photos)

as seen on many crossing in Tuen Mun (Lars F. Richter Photo)