Product Features and Details
Model: This exquisite set consists of two Roco Swiss "Wascosa" weathered flat cars transporting the Swiss Berner Steam Tram. Cars are hand weathered and come fitted with NEM coupler sockets. The Berner Steam Tram and coach is a nice static model. This set is very limited so add one to your collection today.
Prototype: The Berner tramway company was founded in 1887. On the 18th of July 1889, the Confederate Office of Transport granted the Berner Tramway Company an 80-year concession for the operation of tramways in Bern. Construction of a tramway began immediately, and the first line was opened on October 1st, 1890. Services were operated by compressed air-powered vehicles, known colloquially as Lufttrams (air trams), according to the system developed by the Parisian engineer Louis Mékarski. The first line, designated as line I, ran from the Bärengraben, which was also the location of the depot, to the Bremgartenfriedhof, via Bern railway station. At each terminus, there was a turntable to turn the vehicles. During the winter months, the compressed air pipes often froze, and this would lead to several days of service interruptions.
In light of the problems the BTG was experiencing with operating the pneumatic trams, and also Bern's challenging topography, the residents of the city voted in favour of using steam trams to operate line II. This line, opened in 1894, ran from Länggasse to Wabern, via the railway station, the Mattenhofquartier (Eigerplatz) and Weissenbühl. The depot for the steam trams was in the Mattenhofquartier. Bern's main tram depot is still located there. The new steam tram line ousted Bern's horse buses from the city centre; from then onwards, the horse buses operated a new connection from Wabern to Belp-Steinbach. Meanwhile, plans were developed to extend the steam tramway to Kehrsatz and Belp. A coalition of political and economic interests in various neighbouring communities then vehemently campaigned for the construction of a steam-driven interurban tramway from Bern to Worb. Such a tramway would allow connections at Gümligen with the standard gauge railways to Bern, Thun and Emmental. The BTG assisted with planning and cost calculations, and applied on behalf of the coalition for the required concession, which was issued by the EAV on 23 December 1896. The opening of the 9.7 km (6.0 mi) long Bern to Worb tramway took place on October 21st 1898. From then until 31 March 1904, the Bern-Worb-Bahn (BWB) was operated by the BTG.
The development of urban tramway networks in Switzerland and abroad at around the turn of the 20th century did not go unnoticed in Bern. A third line was planned for the Bern tramway network at that time, and it was intended to operate that line by electricity from the outset. Electrification of the two existing lines was planned to follow. There was opposition to the construction of overhead catenary, mainly from the residents of Kirchenfeld on the other side of the Aare. But at the ballot box, the electrification plans received the go ahead. Equally as unsuccessful as the opposition to electrification was a simultaneous popular initiative for the retention of the Lufttrams on line I.
On July 1st 1901, services commenced on line III. This led from Breitenrain to Burgernziel via the Zytglogge. For four and a half months, Bern had three types of tram traction at the same time. The opening of the Gürbetalbahn enabled the replacement of the city's horse bus services. On the other hand, plans for the extension of line II were abandoned. The last day of operation of the pneumatic trams was 15 November 1901. None of the pneumatically powered vehicles has been preserved, but the old Depot and a bus shelter at the Bärengraben continue to remind Bernese residents today of the Lufttram era. The Bärengraben depot was abandoned and sold three years later.
In time for the winter of 1901-1902, the Burgernziel depot, which also still exists today, was able to be completed. Electric operations on line II were taken up on the 29th of January 1902. For that purpose, 24 two-axle and seven Maximum-bogied motor tramcars, as well as the twelve former steam tram trailers, were available. The SSB remained the only Swiss tram company that bought the Maximum-bogied tramcars. In the course of 1902, the SSB also retrained the horse tram drivers from the city of Biel/Bienne as electric tram drivers, so that in the new year of 1903 a smooth transition could be made to the new form of traction.
In the summer of 1904, eight short open tram trailer cars were added to the fleet. They rapidly came to enjoy great popularity. Unexpectedly, damage to the chassis frame occurred on two of the motor tramcars used to haul the open trailers, which operated mostly on line I. The damage was obviously caused by the Demerbe rails used on that line, and the SSB was forced to replace the two tramcars much earlier than planned. At the end of 1905 came the first six axle enclosed tram trailer. Between 1906 and 1914, 29 two-axle motor tramcars were commissioned in a number of separate deliveries. These new tramcars were stronger than their predecessors and were also no longer asymmetrical.
Bern's fourth tramway, line IV, was the first radial route in the Bern tramway network. It ran from the railway station to Brückfeld. Scheduled services on line IV commenced on 27 June 1908. To cater for the Eidgenössische Schützenfest 1910, line III had been extended during the preceding winter months to Papiermühlestrasse. In addition, four new two-axle tram trailers had been purchased. In 1909, more than ten million passengers travelled on Bern's trams for the first time.
In 1911, the SSB changed the routing of lines II, III and IV. The station was now the central interchange point. The line II trams ran from Weissenbühl to Papiermühlestrasse, those of line III from Länggasse to Burgernziel, and the trams on line IV from Wabern to Länggasse. With the opening of the Hirschengraben to Friedheim section through the Monbijou Quartier in 1912, the line IV trams could now run directly to Wabern without going through the Mattenhofquartier and Weissenbühl. Since then, the Weissenbühl Friedheim section has been a non-revenue track. At the same time, a new network came into operation. The lines were now given Arabic designators
In 1913, the tramway sections in the Länggasse and to Brückfeld were converted into double track lines, in preparation for the Swiss National Exposition that was to be held in Bern the following year. During the Exposition, the SSB was responsible for the operation of the Rundbahn (circle of track) running through the exhibition grounds. To cope with the task of carrying Exposition visitors to and from the Exposition, the SSB also procured more two-axle trailers. These were the last two-axle vehicles to be acquired by the SSB, and for nearly two decades were also the SSB's newest trailers. Upon their entry into service, the size of the SSB's fleet was increased to a total of 60 motor cars and 54 trailer cars. The Berner Tram Company still operates today, steam trams are still running today between May and December.