Cross-Border Tram Lines

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Throughout the world, there are four examples of cross-border tram lines bridging the divide between communities of different countries.

To the best of my knowledge, the tram networks listed below are the only cross-border tram routes in existence. If you know of any more, anywhere in the world, please contact me.

Basel Tramway Network in Switzerland

Trams on The Basel Tramway Network (Basler Strassenbahn-Netz) are operated by two companies, Baselland Transport AG (BLT) and Basler Verkehrs-Betriebe (BVB).

An unusual feature of the network is that two lines terminate in towns outside Switzerland. Line No. 8 terminates at Weil am Rhein Bahnhof in Germany, and Line No. 3 terminates at Saint-Louis Gare in France. Line No. 10 crosses the Swiss-French border and has one stop in Leymen, France. The line then crosses back into Switzerland and terminates at Rodersdorf.

As far as I know, the Basel Tramway Network is the world’s only tri-national tramway system.

A Basel tram at Weil am Rhein Station in Germany

A Basel tram at Weil am Rhein Station in Germany
A Basel tram at Weil am Rhein Station in Germany

Basel tram image derivative work. Attribution: Niederkasseler, CC BY-SA 3.0. You can view a higher resolution image on the Wikipedia website.

Map attribution: Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa), CC BY-SA 2.5. View a higher resolution map on the Wikipedia website.

Map of the Basel Tramway Network showing international crossing points

Basel Tramway Network showing cross-border tram lines
Basel Tramway Network showing cross-border tram lines

Geneva Tramway Network in Switzerland

The cross-border link to Annemasse in France opened in December 2019. Line No. 17 leaves Switzerland after Moillesulaz Station and continues into France, terminating at Annemasse-Parc-Montessuit Station.

Geneva network tram in Annemasse-Parc-Montessuit, France

Geneva network tram in Annemasse-Parc-Montessuit
Geneva network tram in Annemasse-Parc-Montessuit

Tram image attribution: Nicolas Ettlin, CC BY 4.0

Map of the Geneva Tramway Network

Geneva Tramway Network

Map attribution: Strikous, CC BY-SA 3.0
You can view a higher resolution map on the Wikipedia website.

Strasbourg Tramway Network in France

Line D of the Strasbourg Tramway Network crosses into Germany after leaving the French town of Port du Rhin. The line terminates at Kehl Rathous Station in Kehl town centre.

A Strasbourg tram at Kehl in Germany

A Basel tram at Weil am Rhein Station in Germany
A Strasbourg tram at Kehl in Germany

Tram in Kehl attribution: Smiley.toerist, CC BY-SA 4.0

Map of the Strasbourg Tramway Network

Strasbourg Tram Network
Strasbourg Tram Network

Map attribution: Maximilian Dörrbecker (Chumwa) CC BY-SA 2.5. You can view a higher resolution map on the Wikipedia website.

The Saarbahn Tramway System in Germany

The Saarbahn in Germany is a light railway system, often described as a tram-train, that extends to Sarreguemines in France.

A Saarbahn tram at Sarreguemines in France

A Saarbahn tram at Sarreguemines
A Saarbahn tram at Sarreguemines

Tram in Sarreguemines. Derivative work. Attribution: Smiley.toerist, CC BY-SA 4.0. View original photo in Wikipedia.

Map of Saarbahn tram line S1: © South Coast View

Map of the Saarbahn Tramway Line S1

Map of the Saarbahn Tramway Line S1
Map of the Saarbahn Tramway Line S1

Cross-border tram between Belgium and the Netherlands – This tram never arrived

A tram connection between Hasselt in Belgium to Maastricht in the Netherlands had been a project under discussion for over 20 years. However, in 2022, the Flemish government cancelled the scheme.

Possible future cross-border tram line – San Diego to Tijuana

Blue Line trolley at San Ysidro
Blue Line trolley at San Ysidro
San Diego trolley network map
San Diego trolley network map

Attribution for Blue Line trolley. Roman Eugeniusz, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons. Cropped from the original.

Attribution for San Diego trolley network map. San Diego trolley network map

Note: In the USA, trams are called trolleys.

Since 2022 there have been news reports that the Blue Line trolley route from San Diego, USA, could be extended to connect directly with Tijuana in Mexico. Currently, the Blue Line from San Diego terminates at San Ysidro on the USA side of the border with Mexico. From San Ysidro, it is a 1 mile (approx 1.7 km) walk to Tijuana.

Sources

Cross-Border Trolley Plans. Fox 5 YouTube Channel. 7 July 2022.

Plan for trolley connecting San Diego to Tijuana moves forward. 10 News San Diego. 11 October 2022.

Cross-border tram lines in Europe that no longer exist

1. Find out about the history of pre World War II cross-border tram lines and transit trams in the Upper Silesia areas of Germany and Poland. (Internal link).

2. Find out about the tramway system in Teschen, Austria-Hungary, which opened in 1911. The service continued to run on a cross-border basis between Cieszyn, Poland and Těšín, Czechoslovakia, until 1921. (Internal link).

Cross Border Tram Lines – Opening-up International Borders

The above examples of existing cross-border tram lines perfectly demonstrate the will to open up international borders, as opposed to building barriers between communities.

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