Switzerland - trams, BLT Basellandtrafik, WB Waldenburgerbahn

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Trams of Basellandtrafik BLT


BLT or Basellandtrafik is a company owned by the Baselland Kanton. It is the fusion product of Birseckbahn BEB (a line from Basel up via the river Birs valley to Arlesheim, Baselland, and Dornach, in Kanton Solothurn), the Trambahngesellschaft Basel-Aesch, which operated on the other side of the Birs valley from Basel to Aesch and the Birsigthalbahn, originally a real train line with narrow gauge steam trains, designed to be built all the way from Basel via the Birsig river valley to Porrentruy, but which was never built further than Rodersdorf. The combination of all this led to the construction of line 10 Dornach-Arlesheim-Basel-Flüh-Rodersdorf, which is today one of Europe´s longest tram lines where one stop in the middle (the old Leymen station) actually is in France and also line 11, Aesch-Basel-St. Louis border, another remarkably long line, with train-like fast service at the end close to Aesch. It takes more than an hour for a tram to run through the line no. 10 and most of the line is clearly built for trains, not trams. The old stations look pretty funny with today´s low-floor trams.

Basel is a city of only about 200 000 inhabitants but still an impressive tram network, with two service companies BLT and BVB operating on the same network. Lines are long and so are the trams.
BLT low-floor unit 265 on line 10 with an older 100-series carriage as a trailer. Picture is from Arlesheim Dorf, Baselland, January 1999. Photo by Ilkka Siissalo.


The tram lines in Basel are long, and so are the trams. Two companies, the Basel City BVB and the Baselland BLT operate on the same network. The longest lines take well over an hour to drive from end to end and the lines are extended a long way to the countryside. Here BLT low floor articulated tram no. 219 with two joints together with a similar but non-low floor, one joint wagon as a trailer at Wolfgottesacker in May 1999.
Photo by Ilkka Siissalo.


These are the so far newest trams of BLT Basellandtrafik. This Be 6/10 no.153 is of the type "Tango" built by Stadler since 2008. It is 45 metres long and has place for 94 sitting and 182 standing passengers. 75% of the tram is low-floor.
Picture from Marktgasse near Marktplatz in Basel 12.7.2019 by Ilkka Siissalo.


One of the Stadler Tango trams Be 6/10 no.183 negociating the S-shaped curves by the tramstop Schifflände in Basel.
Picture from Schifflände tramstop in Basel 12.7.2019 by Ilkka Siissalo.


The same Stadler Tango tram Be 6/10 no.183 as shown above, but seen here from behind. With 45 metres it is a remarkably long tram.
Picture from Marktplatz tramstop in Basel 12.7.2019 by Ilkka Siissalo.


These trams were built by Schindler Waggon AG in Pratteln 1978-81 and some of them like for example this one no.239 were elongated 1986-1999 by adding an extra low-floor section in the middle of the tram. Here we see a long train which consists of one elongated and one non-elongated Schindler wagon.
Picture from Marktgasse near Marktplatz in Basel 12.7.2019 by Ilkka Siissalo.


This Schindler tram Be 4/6 no.247 was never elongated with a low-floor piece and it is now mainly used as a trailer.
Picture from Marktgasse near Marktplatz in Basel 12.7.2019 by Ilkka Siissalo.


A similar composition like the one shown above, here we have a combination of one elongated Schindler tram of the type Be 4/8 plus one non-elongated of the type Be 4/6 here on line 17 by the tram stop Schifflände. This type of combinations were the standard BLT trams around the year 2000 on BLT's main tram lines 10 and 11, but nowadays they are only seen on the rush-hour additional line 17. New Stader Tango trams have replaced them on the main lines.
Picture by Schifflände in Basel 12.7.2019 by Ilkka Siissalo.


Partly low floor articulated tram Basellandtrafik BLT no. 211 on its way to Dornach on line 10 at Elektra Birseck, Münchenstein, Kanton Baselland. As a trailer coach is an unidentified 100 series articulated tram. This is one of the longest combinations seen in Basel. Line 10 takes over an hour to ride end to end, and the line runs on the terrains of three Swiss Kantons (Basel Stadt, Baselland and Solothurn) and two countries (one stop is in France).
Photo May 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo.


Baselland BLT 211 and unidentified tram of the 100 series as a combination on line 10, halting to a stop at Elektra Birseck, Münchenstein.
Photo from May 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo.


An unidentified Baselland BLT partly low floor tram of the 200 series, with a 1960´s 100 series tram 106 as a trailer wagon on line 10 in Münchenstein, Baselland. The picture is taken from far away to show the remarkable length of a typical BLT tram combination.
Photo May 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo.


This is a Basel BVB Düwag Be 4/6 tram, which had been sold to the Baselland Kanton tram company BLT and repainted in BLT´s yellow and red colours. When BVB started using its first brand new Siemens Combino trams in 2001 and 2002, many the old Düwags were put out of service. Some were donated to ex-Yugoslavia, but some - like this one - were sold to the "neighbors", the neighboring company Basellandtrafik BLT, operating on the same tracks. BLT replaced older trailers with the Düwags. The old Düwag actually looks a lot better in its new painting. It is 19,735 m long, weighs 23 tons and has 40 places to sit and place for 113 standing passengers.
Photo from the tram stop St.Louis Grenze in Basel 21.6.2002 by Ilkka Siissalo.


Another view of the extremely long combination at the line 11. "St Louis Grenze" end station by the French Alsace border in Basel. First wagon is a Be 4/8 and the trailer is a Düwag Be 4/6. The first wagon was originally built as Be 4/6 between 1978 and -81 by Siemens. BLT had 66 of these wagons. Many of them - like this one - were later retrofitted with an extra middle part in the low floor style to become a Be 4/8 wagon, 26,2 meters long, but the lengthening was done nicely in the same style, not spoiling the wagons as Basel BVB did. The trailer wagon, Düwag Be 4/6 was built some time between 1967 and -72 by German Düwag, Siemens and BBC. It is 19,7 meters long. It is a huge combination as a tram.
Photo from the tram stop St.Louis Grenze in Basel 21.6.2002 by Ilkka Siissalo.

Waldenburgerbahn WB


Switzerland is full of strange small private railroads. One of the smallest ones is WB or Waldenburgerbahn, which operates a really narrow gauge railroad with only 750 mm rail track gauge - the only one in the country with just a 75 cm gauge width. It runs from Liestal, the small capital town of Kanton Baselland, some 20 minutes, only 13 km, uphill along a river valley, sometimes in full countryside, but also serving small suburban style villages, ending at the village of Waldenburg. Waldenburgerbahn was opened for traffic in 1880. It brought workers to work at the Liestal area factories and it also connected the small villages of the river Frenke valley to the "real" railroad at Liestal station. Since the 1990s WB has had six modern two coach EMUs, running on 1500V DC. It looks like an odd crossing between a tram and a real train.

During 2019 it was announced that the two companies BLT and WB will be fusioned. The whole railways system of WB will be regauged from 750 mm to metre gauge and WB's trains will be replaced by new trams painted in the yellow and red colours of BLT. This will mean that for quite long time all of WB's traffic will be replaced by BLT's buses while the regauging takes place.

Photo of WB BDe 4/4 no. 12 with matching coach no. 112 at Liestal station, 4th June 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo.


Waldenburgerbahn BDe 4/4 no. 12 with matching coach no. 112 at Liestal station. WB bought these trains, which look like a cross between trams and trains in 1985-86 and they have six pairs of this kind in operation. The motor wagons can also be used alone, without the trailer, since the motor wagon has a cockpit at both ends.
Photo from Liestal station 4th June 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo.


Waldenburgerbahn WB BDe 4/4 no. 14 with its trailer coach no. 114 stopping at the old Bad Bubendorf station. Note the motor wagon´s special cargo department for transporting cycles - many people continue with bike from Liestal station to their work. The old station is also fascinating - unfortunately it is here behind the train - it even has a water outlet to fill the tanks of the old steam engine.
Photo from Bad Bubendorf 4th of June 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo.


There it goes. The Waldenburgerbahn BDe 4/4 is much like a tram and has actually been built with many components from trams of the Swiss "Tram 2000" design concept.
Photo from Bad Bubendorf 4th of June 1999 by Ilkka Siissalo.

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