Tram Route 38 in Bytom Poland

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Header image above. Derivative work. Original: Adrian Tync CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

You can read this article in German and Polish via Google Translate.

Bytom City Square and town hall before WWII
 Bytom City Square and town hall before WWII

Derivative work. Original: aququ, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Tram Route 38 in Bytom

Tram route 38 in Bytom is part of the Upper Silesian Interurban tramway network in southern Poland. Currently it is the shortest tram route in Poland and possibly the shortest in the world.

The route runs daily north to south (and back) along Piekarska Street from Silesian Insurgents Bytom tram stop. Polish Bytom Powstańców Śląskich. The route has five stops with a track length of 1,350 metres. The track gauge is standard at 1,435 mm. 

At its southern end it terminates at tram stop Bytom Holy Trinity Church. Polish Bytom Kościół św. Trójcy. It joins the rest of the Upper Silesian interurban tramway network via a short walk to Bytomcourt tram stop. Polish Bytom Sąd.

Map of tram route 38 in Bytom
Map of tram route 38 in Bytom

Derivative work. Original: ES64U4, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

History of tram route 38

The first trams on Piekarska Street (German Piekarerstrasse) started operating in 1913. Source: Book Tramwaje górnośląskie (Upper Silesian Tramways) published by Eurosprinter, Poland.

This was before Poland’s independence, which was to follow after WWI. Before independence, Bytom was in the Kingdom of Prussia and known by its German name Beuthen.

The postcard shown here is archived at the Silesian Digital Library, which dates between 1910 and 1914.

Piekarerstrasse in Beuthen with the main post office to the left
Piekarerstrasse in Beuthen with the main post office to the left

The tram track can be seen clearly and on close inspection you may be able to see the overhead power line supporting wires, which are attached to the left-hand side brickwork of the first bay windows of the post office.

Since we know that the first trams on Piekarska Street commenced operation in 1913, a more accurate date for this postcard could be 1913.

You can see a photograph of Piekarska Street, from contemporary times, in the Attractions Near Tram Route 38 in Bytom photo gallery, further down in this article.

Tram Route 38 in Bytom – A scheduled passenger route

This daily scheduled tram route is one of the iconic visiting points of Bytom. Passengers and tourists can use the route at regular tramway prices.

In March 2020 tram route 38 in Bytom was suspended because the historical Konstal Type N vintage tram cars used on the route could not be adapted to meet COVID secure health requirements.

The route was reinstated on 9th July 2020 with new Moderus type low-floor tram cars that meet new health requirements. The Moderus tram cars isolate the tram driver from passengers as the driver is separated by being in a cab. The new tram cars are partially disabled friendly, having a low floor just short of 50% of the tram car length.

Konstal Tram N working route 38 in Bytom
Konstal Tram N working route 38 in Bytom

Derivative work. Original: MephiR, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Operational note. The first-morning tram leaves the Stroszek tram depot in Bytom on route to Piekarska Street. Afterwards, the tram only continues working up and down Piekarska Street. Once the last scheduled tram finishes working at the end of the day, it heads back to the Stroszek tram depot.

A pledge to reinstate the vintage tram cars by the tramway operator and Bytom city authority

Both the tramway operator (Silesian Tramways) and Bytom City authority have pledged to reinstate the vintage tram cars once the pandemic restrictions are eased. The plan is to have the Moderus low-floor trams and the historic Konstal N trams running alternately.

Source: Silesian Tramways press release dated 10.07.2020. In Polish. In Google English machine translation.

Note: It appears that the vintage tram cars have not been reinstated. The official timetable states that the trams on route 38 are serviced by trams as follows: “Line served by a low-floor vehicle.” Source: ZTM (Metropolitan Transport Authority). Accessed 26 April 2022. In Polish.

Tram route 38 in Bytom – Photo Gallery

Konstal N trams – Historical details

The Konstal N tram is a bi-directional tram. Therefore, it does not need a loop for turning around. The Piekarska Street tramline is single-track and does not have a loop at either end.

Following World War II, there was an acute shortage of tramway stock in Poland. Post-war tramway operators needed a way of producing tramcars as quickly and as simply as possible.

The tramway operators decided to construct a modernised version of a German tram car previously manufactured during the war. The German Kriegsstraßenbahnwagen (KSW for short) started production in Germany in 1943. The KSW was of simple construction yet ideally suited for passenger use during wartime due to four wide one-piece manually operated doors. This meant that during a time of danger, such as an air raid, passengers could be speedily evacuated.

Photo attribution: Bundesarchiv, B 145 Bild-F011897-0005 / Kalesky, Dr. / CC-BY-SA 3.0

A Kriegsstraßenbahnwagen wartime tramcar in Karlsruhe Germany after the war
A Kriegsstraßenbahnwagen wartime tramcar in Karlsruhe Germany, photographed in 1961

Production of the first Konstal N trams

The first copies of the KSW were produced in 1948, thus beginning the era of the Konstal N type tramcar and future Konstal tramcar development. The Konstal N 954 type was produced in 1949 and the Konstal N 1118 type started production in 1951. Bytom has two Konstal N type tramcars, one from 1949 and the other from 1951. Both models feature in the photo gallery above.

Normally the tram driver operates these trams while standing. However, it seems that at times drivers like to bring along their office chairs, as illustrated in the photograph. I would do exactly the same.

Driver seated on his office chair
Driver seated on his office chair

Attribution: Smiley.toerist, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Konstal N Tram Specifications

Konstal N Tram – Specifications
Car length10,400 mm (34 ft 1 in)
Width2,160 mm (7 ft 1 in)
Height3,300 mm (10 ft 10 in)
Doors4
Engine typeLT-31
Traction motors2
Power output2×60 kW
Electric system(s)600 V DC
Current collection methodpantograph
Wheels driven1
Coupling systemAlbert
Track gauge1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in), 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 3⁄8 in)
Source: Wikipedia
Tram on Piekarska Street in Bytom
Tram on Piekarska Street in Bytom

Attribution: Tram on Piekarska Street in Bytom by Michał Kasprzak 2.0 Generic (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0) via flickr

Konstal N Tram – How it works

Wrocławska Komunikacja (Wrocław Communications) have a detailed web page explaining exactly how the Konstal N tram works.

Interestingly, their page indicates that they have previously modified the driver’s cab to include a door to isolate the driver from passengers.

You can find out more in Polish and in English using a Google machine translation.

Watch videos of the Konstal N vintage tram cars working route 38

Driver’s view from the Konstal N 1118 vintage tram

Konstal N 1118 tram working route 38 in Bytom

Konstal N 1118 tram on the way from the Stroczek tram depot to Piekarska Street in Bytom

Watch the driver operating the Konstal N 1118 tram.

Attractions Near Tram Route 38 in Bytom

Images – Attributions

First Photo gallery (Tram Route 38)

1. Derivative work. Original: Adrian Tync CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
2. Derivative work. Original: Piotr Herba CC-BY-SA 3.0 via fotopolska.eu.
3. Derivative work. Original: Smiley.toerist, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
4. Derivative work. Original: Smiley.toerist, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
5. Derivative work. Original: Nemo5576, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
6. Piotr Brzezina: CC-BY-NC-ND 3.0 via fotopolska.eu
7, 8 and 9: Smiley.toerist, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

Second Photo gallery (Attractions in Bytom)

1 & 2 Silesian Opera & Post Office: Adrian Tync, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
3: Bytom Town Square: Kazimierz Mendlik, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
4: City Park: Adrian Tync, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
5: Holy Trinity Church: Lestat (Jan Mehlich), CC BY-SA 3.0, via Wikimedia Commons
6: Upper Silesian Museum: Michał Bulsa, CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons
5: Agora Shopping Centre: Paweł Marynowski, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons
6: Stroszek tram depot. Therud, CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons

If you notice any errors in this article, please contact me. You can write to me in English or Polish.

Please note that words on this page are copyright © South Coast View.

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