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Mariánské Lázne

The Czech Republic's smallest trolleybus system

The article below was written in 2002 when the small system at Mariánské Lázne was under threat. Fortunately, due to hard work, this threat receded and the system is now back on its feet with new vehicles.

Marianske Lazne 50 - Skoda 14Tr from 1994Tomas Mykl of Spolecnost pro verejnou dopravu, says, "Help to save the last European small trolleybus system".

Only a year ago, there were 3 trolleybus systems in small European towns, but it has changed too rapidly. In June 2001 trolleys finished in the Swiss town of Lugano, at the moment trolleybuses are probably running their last miles serving the Austrian interurban line between Kapfenberg and Bruck a.d.Mur.

Another small trolleybus system is located in Mariánské Lázne (which once was known by the German name Marienbad), a small West Bohemian town, around 40 kilometres from the German border, with a population of circa 15,000.

It was established in 1808 and since the middle of the 19th century this place has become an important spa centre, competing with the much bigger Karlovy Vary (Carlsbad). The most famous guests were H.M.King Edward VII, who visited Mariánské Lázne several times between 1897 and 1909, Austrian emperor Franz Josef, renowned scientists Thomas Alva Edison and Sigmund Freud, composers Antonín Dvorák, Johann Strauss and Gustav Mahler and writers Franz Kafka, Mark Twain and Henrik Ibsen.

No.50 overtakes 47 on route 6 in the town centreThe increasing number of visitors and guests to the spa led to the introduction of the narrow gauge tram line (1000 mm) connecting the railway station with the centre. The tram line was opened on 12 February 1902 and replaced by trolleybuses, another electric transport mode, in 1952.

The first trolleybus line, serving the same destinations, started on 22 April 1952. In the early sixties the network was extended to the residential area of Úšovice, where also a new depot was built. Further extension of the network - a suburban line to Velká Hledsebe - occured during the eighties and in its heyday, trolleybuses covered around 95 per cent of the town traffic.

The peak frequency on the urban lines was between 3 and 7 minutes, with a 10-15 minutes frequency on the suburban service to Hledsebe.

Further extension of the network, connecting Mariánské Lázne with the neighbouring county capital Tachov and another spa, Kynzvart, was under consideration.

The local transport operator was privatised in the early nineties, but the decline of trolleybus operation started later, in 1994. Motorbuses started to be used on trolleybus lines, and electric operation of the short section from the city centre to Lesní pramen was abandoneded (though the disconnected overhead has survived).

During the period 1999-2001 a number of trolleybuses were sold second-hand to operators in Hungary and the former USSR and currently only about one third of services are operated by electric vehicles.

The future of trolleybuses is very uncertain and will depend, among other things, on the results of the local elections in the autumn of 2002. Both the vehicles and the overhead are in poor condition and their refurbishment will require fundamental investment.

One of the steps which could reverse the development will be the events described below.

MARIÁNSKÉ LÁZNE TROLLEYBUS FLEET

Pre-1991 Fleet

1 - 5 Škoda 7 Tr1 1952 - 1970 No 5 acquired second-hand from Teplice.Nos.1,2,4,5 sold to Opava

6 - 10 Škoda 8 Tr (various series) 1957 - 1975 No. 7 - prototype. Nos 7 and 9 sold to Plzen

11, 12 Škoda 9 Tr2 1963 - 1973

13 - 19 Škoda 9 Tr141969 - 1979 Nos. 18 and19 renumbered 1 and 2 after delivery.

20, 21 Škoda 9 Tr19 1973 - 1984

22, 23 Škoda 14 Tr 1974 - 1981 pre-production prototypes

24 - 27 Škoda 9 Tr20 1974 - 1991

28 - 32 Škoda 9 TrHT (various series)1979 - (for withdrawal see post-1991 fleet below.)

Post-1991 Fleet

28 Škoda 9 TrHT 26 1979 - 1996

29 Škoda 9 TrHT 26 1979 - 1993

30 Škoda 9 TrHT 28 1980 - 1994

31 Škoda 9 TrHT 28 1980 - 1993

32 Škoda 9 TrHT 25 1980 - 1992

33 Škoda 14 Tr0 1981 - 1993

34 Škoda 14 Tr0 1981 - 1993

35 Škoda 14 Tr01 1983 - 1995

36 Škoda 14 Tr05 1984 - 1996

37 Škoda 14 Tr02 1984 - 1996

38 Škoda 14 Tr5 1985 - 1996

39 Škoda 14 Tr08/6 1987 - 1996

40 Škoda 14 Tr08/6 1987 - 1997

41 Škoda 14 Tr08/6 1987 - 1997

42 Škoda 14 Tr10/6 1989 - 2001 sold to Kazakhstan

43 Škoda 14 Tr10/6 1989 - 2001 sold to Szeged, Hungary

44 Škoda 14 Tr10/6 1989 - 2001 sold to Kazakhstan

45 Škoda 14 Tr10/6 1991 - in service

46 Škoda 14 Tr10/6 1991 - in service

47 Škoda 14 Tr11/6 1991 - in service

48 Škoda 14 Tr11/6 1991 - in service

49 Škoda 14 Tr11/6 1991 - in service

50 Škoda 14 Tr10/6 1994 - in service

Translation by Jan Spousta

Photographs taken by Bruce Lake in 1999.

Content  Management System - Peter Short

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