The Danish trams in Alexandria
A story that began in the fifties took a strange new turn in 2001 when two tramcars were unloaded from the Polish ship The Zeranon on June 26th in the Free Port of Copenhagen.
They had left Copenhagen in 1969 and 1972 respectively as the municipality of Copenhagen gradually ceased tramway operations and sold 100 trams to the tramways in Alexandria in Egypt.
Many years later the Danish tramway society - Sporveishistorisk Selskab - managed to bring two of the cars - number 815 and 890 - back for the tramway museum.
The Uerdingen design had been tested in Copenhagen in 1957 and 1958, as the tramways borrowed a tram from Rheinische Bahngesellschaft in Düsseldorf.
The Copenhagen City Council decided on 17th December 1959 to buy 100 trams. 69 of them were delivered directly from Uerdingen. The rest were built at the workshops of the Copenhagen tramways from parts made by Uerdingen.
The first car - number 801 - ran on line 5 on 19th September 1960. The last one - number 900 - was put in service on 27th February 1968. By that time several important tramlines were already being converted to buses. The city council decided on 24th April 1969 to close down the tramways completely by 1972, and to sell the 100 Uerdingen-trams to Alexandria.
On 3rd November 28 were shipped. On 23rd December 22 were shipped. From May to August 1971 further 25 were shipped.
The last trams ran in Copenhagen on 22nd April 1972, and the rest were shipped soon afterwards. One - number 841 - never went: It burned out due to a short circuit in Sundby Shed in Southern Copenhagen in 1969 and was scrapped.
Shipping was from the free port of Copenhagen. There was a connection between the railways and the tramways at København L station (a small terminal for a suburban railway line) in Northern Copenhagen. The trams from Germany had been unloaded from flatcars there.
Now they were dragged on their own wheels in small groups by a shunting engine directly from København L to the free port. As tram wheels and railway tracks don't fit too well together, when both are worn, there were some minor derailments but no big trouble. The Japanese vessel Ohyama Maru, and the Spanish vessel Benisalem were both used at least once.
In Alexandria the remaining trams - there are about 90 left - are running under the same numbers as in Copenhagen. They are heavily worn and partially rebuilt, but according to the Danish magazine Bytrafik the Egyptians will possibly let them soldier on until 2020.
The pictures above were all taken by Heidi Levine for a story in a Danish newspaper in 1998. You may want to click on them to see a bigger version.
Below we find ex-Alexandria, and ex-Copenhagen 815 photographed by myself standing in the museum back in Denmark in August 2002. The tram on the left is ex-Düsseldorf 2412 - the tram which was tested in Copenhagen in 1957 and 1958. It was bought by the museum during the summer 2002 and immidiately put to use.
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