Early Low Floors and Other Musings

As I’m writing this, it is already almost 10 pm here in Oslo and I’m getting ready for an early trip to the airport tomorrow. Unfortunately, I am west of the city in Asker and there is no train service between here and Skøyen (just west of the city) until 8 am. Replacement buses will be in service. Strangely, after spending this past week using the commuter rail service, I was beginning to think we could learn a lot. Imagine GO running all its services at least every 20-30 minutes all day, and your GO fare got you on local public transit in the zones it applied to for no additional fare!

Then this line closure made me rethink about who should learn from whom. While they are better at running rail service, they could learn a lot about providing information on alerts. After checking NSB’s website, there was no alert. To make matters worse, if I use the site to see when the next train will be, it tells me as if it were actually running. I thought that if I check the website of the Airport Express service (a private company), there might be more information. Again, no alerts but if I entered the time I want to leave in the morning (5 am!), I find out about the shuttle buses. At least our transit agencies have alerts on their websites, even if there are not always as accurate and up to date as we believe they should be.

1917 Low Floor TramI added the first update to the Oslo page with photos from earlier in the week. I just began to assemble Friday’s new photos and spent today taking a whole lot more, so with nearly 100 new photos to work with (only the first 21 are there now!), I’ve got something to do on the flights home. I managed to check out the transportation (mostly trams) museum that is located in a building that was once part of a five-building car house complex. I found out that low floor trams are not such a new idea. Low Floor InteriorOn the Ekeberganen line (now the south-east line to Ljabru), they had a small fleet of trams built in 1917 that had an entry area that was only 35 cm above the rails. I don’t suspect they built many platforms back then to match them! These trams earned the nickname “Viking Ships” as their design had curved ends for clearance reasons, and this game them a look that suggested that name.

It was rather interesting seeing some old photos and newspaper articles. One of the trams in the museum had an interesting background that struck me as odd since what happened to it would be the last thing that one would think would happen to perhaps a TTC streetcar or subway car. The tram had been taken by the Germans during the second world was because they needed them back home. It was used in more than one German city before it eventually was returned to Oslo.

Ski RackWhile we are only beginning to see the appearance of bike racks on our buses, take a look at this photo. They actually had a ski rack on the back of trams for awhile!

Toronto TramOne last note. Some of Oslo’s single-ended tram fleet have a name of a city that also has trams. Three guesses as to who’s name is tram 139? First two don’t count.

2 Responses to “Early Low Floors and Other Musings”

  1. Dennis Rankin Says:

    Hi Calvin:-

    As Oslo did, North American streetcar systems flirted with low floor entrance in the teens but rejected as impractical since none could be anything but two-man, an expensive proposition to retain.

    I’ve sent photos of these styles, one NYC nicknamed ‘Hobble Skirt’ cars as they were developed to counter that ladies wear fad. There was a similar style used in Fresno, California and the Orange Empire Museum has one of those bodies preserved.

    The Los Angeles Railways had a small fleet of cars they called sow bellies and these cars ran on 3′-6″ gauge track.

    Incidentally, you may already be aware that the LARy ran PCC cars with wider bodies than Toronto’s, also on the narrow gauge. These cars ran extremely smoothly.

    Something in my memory banks says that the Pittsburgh Railways, a vast trolley system centred on the steel city, had a few low entry cars too, most notably their small fleet of double deckers, but I think single deckers too. These double deckers had a large capacity, quite a design for the USA!




    Dennis Rankin

    Cal’s Comment: Thanks for the links. There was a third link in your message, but it somehow got messed up when the message was approved.

  2. Dennis Rankin Says:

    Hi Calvin:-

    In retrospect, I’m not sure if the entry floor on the Pittsburgh double deckers was low, probably stepped, since the doors are close to the trucks. Their Jones fleet of cars had a lower overall floor height, less than the typical streetcar, although not low floor by any definition. These definitely made up for the high floors, which were indeed high.

    Here’s the link:-

    http://davesrailpix.com/pitts/jpg/bvp058.jpg . This is a Jones car. This view shows how, relatively speaking, low each of the steps was.

    http://davesrailpix.com/pitts/jpg/wvp402.jpg . This is the double decker.

    http://davesrailpix.com/pitts/htm/wvp061.htm . A typical Pittsburgh high floor.


    Dennis Rankin

    Cal’s comment: Thanks for the links.