The Luxury Eilzug Trams of Upper Silesia

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The header image above dates from approximately 1933 and shows a Bremen-type tram on Route 4 in the foreground to the right of the hotel Haus Oberschlesien. To the right of the DEFAKA and F.W. Woolworth stores, there is an Eilzug tram. The location is Wilhelmstraße in Gleiwitz. Today Zwycięstwa Street in Gliwice. If you are viewing on a mobile phone, you may need to switch to a horizontal view to see the whole image. This photograph is from the private collection of South Coast View.

The Luxury Eilzug Trams of Upper Silesia

This article is about the express Eilzug interurban tram service that used to run between Gleiwitz, Hindenburg and Beuthen in German Upper Silesia.

The Eilzug route served the towns between March 1931 and October 1941.

Following the defeat of Nazi Germany and subsequent post-war border changes of 1945, these towns came within the new Polish borders and are known as Gliwice, Zabrze and Bytom.

Photograph of an Eilzug tram from Oberschlesien im Bild
Newspaper photograph of an Eilzug tram from Oberschlesien im Bild

The photograph above is of an Eilzug tram from the newspaper Oberschlesien im Bild (Upper Silesia in Photographs), issue 13 February 1931 No. 7. Archived at the Silesian Digital Library. In German. The publication contains an editorial describing the planned introduction of the Eilzug trams later in 1931.

More about the above Eilzug tram photograph. The photograph shows an Eilzug LHB tram (numbered 101) in trial operation. The photograph was originally published by AEG (Allgemeine Elektricitäts-Gesellschaft AG) in their 1931 technical yearbook entitled AEG Technischer Jahresbericht 1931. AEG supplied some of the electrical installations for the tram. The newspaper photograph shown is a cropped copy of the original and it could be presumed that the newspaper received a copy from AEG. The top heading board at the front of the tram shows the word EILZUG. Underneath, there is an enclosed destination display board with wording that translates into English to Company Coach. Do not enter.

Terminology note: The German word Eilzug means a fast or semi-fast tram or train.

Tramcar order and commencement of operations

In January 1931, the Gleiwitz tramway operator VBO (Verkehrsbetriebe Oberschlesien AG) took delivery of 10 motor tram units from LHB (Linke-Hoffmann-Busch) of Breslau, today Wrocław in Poland. The tram units were numbered 101 to 110 by the tramway operator, and the interurban Eilzug service started on 5th March 1931.

A meeting with the luxury Eilzug trams of Upper Silesia

Your comfort in the trams had been carefully thought out

There was modern interior lighting, luxury upholstered seats finished in leather, luggage racks and pull-down window blinds.

These were very powerful trams that drew power through two pantographs. We do not have documentary evidence of the top speed of these trams. However, there is anecdotal evidence from tram drivers of the time, stating that during emergency stops at a speed of 60 km per hour, the tram was able to come to a halt in 15 metres. This would appear to have been an exaggeration, but we do know from the tram description that the brakes were indeed very efficient.

This was a very modern-looking tram. There were two passenger entry doors, located in the middle of the tram, one on each side. These were two-part sliding doors leading to a vestibule. From the vestibule, there were two further two-part sliding doors leading to two passenger compartments on either side of the vestibule. In the passenger compartments, there was a corridor with double seats on one side and single seats on the other side.

The driver entered the tram into the sectioned-off cab through one narrow single-part sliding door on the right hand side of the tram (looking in the direction of travel).

Book: Tramwaje górnośląskie. Tom 1. (Upper Silesian Tramways. Volume 1.

You can find more information, together with exterior and interior photographs of these LHB tram units in the excellent book Tramwaje górnośląskie. Tom 1. Tramways of Upper Silesia. Volume 1. (In Polish). This is not an affiliate link.

The beautifully illustrated book covers the history of trams in German and Polish Upper Silesia, including the post-1939 WWII period when the two tramway systems merged into a single network within Germany.

Tramways of Upper Silesia. Volume 1
Tramways of Upper Silesia. Volume 1

LHB (Linke-Hofmann-Busch) – Motorised Bidirectional Tramcar Specifications

LHB Tramcar ExteriorSpecification
Motors4 x 45 KW type USL-311a manufactured by Christoph & Unmack in Niesky, Germany
Wheel diameter600 mm
Track gauge1435 mm standard gauge
Braking systemRailway brake
Overall length with couplings13,560 mm
Length of car12,500 mm
Width of car2,159 mm
Height3,200 mm without raised pantographs
LHB Tramcar Interior / ExteriorSpecification
Passengers32 seated 50 standing
SeatingUpholstered leather covered seating with hand grips to corridor side.
Double seat to one side of corridor. Single seat to other side of corridor.
StorageLuggage racks
Window furniturePull-down blinds and opening windows
Passenger doors2 x two-part sliding passenger doors each side in centre leading to vestibule
Compartments2 passenger compartments reached from vestibule, each separated by a two-part sliding door
Driver’s door2 x narrow one part sliding door at entry to each cab (tram was bi-directional)
Method of operationDriver stood while operating

New timetabling of the tram route between Gleiwitz and Beuthen

The faster service was achieved by new timetabling that took account of existing slower routes on the same tracks. This timetabling was combined with passing loops, enabling the Eilzug to overtake slower trams that served all stops on the route.

The Eilzug tram route between Gleiwitz and Beuthen was numbered “E” (short for Eilzug) and shown on the destination board as E EILZUG, in red lettering.

Eilzug express trams also served shorter routes between Beuthen and Hindenburg and Hindenburg and Gleiwitz.

The associated tramway map shows German Upper Silesia to the left and Polish Upper Silesia to the right.

Mid 1939 tramway map of German and Polish Upper Silesia
Mid 1939 tramway map of German and Polish Upper Silesia

Tramway map attribution: MacQtosh, CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Geographical map note of town names prior to the end of WWII: Gliwice was Gleiwitz, Zabrze was Hindenburg and Bytom was Beuthen.

Complete list of Eilzug tramway routes until 1945

Route NumberRoute
EGleiwitz – Hindenburg – Beuthen and return. Route withdrawn in 1941.
5Hindenburg – Beuthen and return
4Gleiwitz – Hindenburg and return

The photograph of an Eilzug LHB tram is from the newspaper Der Oberschlesische Wanderer (The Upper Silesian Wanderer). In German. Archived at the Silesian Digital Library.

Eilzug LHB tram in Beuthen
Eilzug LHB tram in Beuthen

The tram has the tramway operator’s number of 110

Withdrawal of the Eilzug route between Gleiwitz and Beuthen

In October 1941 Route E between Gleiwitz and Beuthen was withdrawn due to cost-saving measures, and the tram cars were then used on stopping routes.

Post-war reinstatement of some express trams

In 1946 the new post-war Polish tramway operator in Upper Silesia reintroduced an express tram service between Gliwice, Zabrze, Piaśniki, Chorzów Batory and Katowice, only to withdraw the service in 1948.

The Linke-Hofmann-Busch tramway cars were still used on various stopping routes in the area until the early sixties, when the decision was taken to scrap all of them.

To the best of my knowledge, there are no surviving examples of these LHB trams in any museums.

Eilzug Trams of Upper Silesia – Links and Resources

Tramwaje górnośląskie. Tom 1 (Tramways of Upper Silesia Volume 1) Published by Eurosprinter, Poland. In Polish.

Wojna tramwajowo-autobusowa (The tram and bus war) Gazeta Wyborcza (Wyborcza Newspaper 28 March 2021). In Polish.

Oberschlesien im Bild (Upper Silesia Though Photographs) issue 13 February 1931 No. 7. Archived at The Silesian Digital Library. In German.

Der Oberschlesische Wanderer (The Upper Silesian Wanderer). Archived at The Silesian Digital Library. In German

AEG Technischer Jahresbericht 1931. (AEG Technical Yearbook 1931) published by AEG. In German,

If you notice any errors in this article, I would be grateful if you could contact me. You can write to me in English or Polish.

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