Plzen, Czech Republic

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Tatra KT8 tram 293 on Rt. 2 in Plzen. Photo by Tim Deakin, January 2007.


Plzen, the largest city in Bohemia, is notable for a handful of things. First and foremost, it's renowned for the quality of it beer, which - as Pilsner Urquell - has been brewed in the city since 1295. Secondly, as a highly-industrialised conurbation it's the home of the Skoda manufacturing company. Whilst Skoda's cars have long been the butt of many jokes, it has also manufactured electric railway locomotives, trolleybuses, Metro-type trains and trams alongside other non-transport-related products. Plzen also has a very attractive city centre, with many buildings of archetectural interest and - in the normal East European style - a large central square, which in Plzen's case surrounds an attractive cathedral.

The tram network is a small, three-line affair extending to 26km, with route numbers 1,2 and 4 in use. Lines 1 and 2 run from terminals in the south-east of the city, pass the railway station (Hlavni Nadrazi), then proceed via a one-way system through the old town centre before splitting again. Line 1 continues north, sharing a section of track with line 4, whilst line 2 runs west before terminating at Skvrnany. Line 4 runs on a north-south axis, sharing a small amount of track with line 1 to the north of the city centre and a tiny section with line 2 in one direction, as part of the city centre's one-way layout.

As would be expected in the Czech Republic, Tatra cars dominate the tram fleet, which is painted in a pleasant yellow-based scheme. The ubiquitous T3 car forms the backbone of the service, operated in both one- and two-car formations. Very unusually - and maybe uniquely - some T3 cars have been 'diced and spliced' to produce an articulated set with a low-floor section. The method would appear to be to remove the rear portion from one car and the front portion from another, then sandwich the two remaining sections around a newly-constructed low-floor piece. This highly ingenious practice not only provides disabled access but would also appear to benefit capacity, too - an important consideration as Plzen's trams appear to be well-used.

The other mainstream type in use is the Tatra KT8 three-section articulated unit, very similar to a batch of these cars in service in Prague. In contrast to the other types of tram in Plzen the KT8s are double-ended units, although they are operated alongside the other single-ended cars on all three lines. The most modern type of tram in use is a batch of ten double-articulated Skoda Astras, which are low-floor and identical to those in use in a few cities in the United States. These cars were built in Skoda's factory in Plzen, and apparently Skoda have in the past used the system's tracks for the testing of trams built for other cities prior to delivery. Ten are in operation.

Plzen is easily accessible by train as a day trip from Prague, with frequent services connecting the two cities more or less every hour. Several trains also continue to/commence from Germany, and the city's busy train station will occupy a couple of hours for those also interested in heavy rail.

Photo Gallery

Five Random Images

Image 61775

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Location: U Gery

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Photo by: Bernard Chatreau
Location: Pod Záhorskem

More Images: 1-50 51-87


Plzen Official Transit Site

Page Credits

By Tim Deakin.

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