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:
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!
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).
a “toy” size model of an old d/d car exists at the interurban depot
#51 (in a line of retired cars – note the rebuilding of the lower end to accomodated a cab for the driver)
#400 (workscar trailer, note the old tram body in the middle of the car)
#601 (the only surviving active old type car)
The other tramcars used in Alexandria:
#117-130 Kinky Sharyo (Japan) cars from 1982 – city network
#801-840/842-900 Duewag built cars ex Copenhagen (Denmark) from 1960-66 – city network
#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)
#1101-1116 Kinky Sharyo (Japan) cars from 1982 – interurban & city network (ex #101-116 city network)
#1201-1230 Ganz (Hungary) built cars from 1985-86 – city network
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.
click 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.