Tyto stránky provozuje občanské sdružení Společnost pro veřejnou dopravu a jsou věnovány našemu kamarádovi Jiřímu Hertlovi (1960 - 2002), spoluzakladateli sdružení i jeho internetových stránek.

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80 years of Pilsen trolleybus / Chapter 1

 

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1   Tough Beginnings

 

Trolleybuses have been an integral part of Pilsen’s landscape for generations. They are a positive exception to our heritage from the times of war and occupation. But who should we really thank for bringing trolleybuses into existence? [51]

1.1       Electric Hopes for Doubravka

The Electric Enterprise during the First Republic era

During the First Czechoslovak Republic era (1918–1938), the City of Pilsen was in its heyday as it was morphing into a modern and cultural big city, with prospering industry and sophisticated urban development. The city was expanded in 1924 when the boroughs of Doubravka, Doudlevce, Lobzy and Skvrňany were annexed, creating Greater Pilsen with a population of 108 thousand. The city’s transport system consisted of an ageing network of three tram lines that were built in 1899. The Electric Enterprise of the City of Pilsen (EECP) operated electric lines only, and generated and distributed electric power across the city. In 1928, the City Council decided to re-structure and substantially modernise the EECP. The EECP introduced a bus service in 1929 and during the following years modernised the tram network and technical facilities. As early as 1931, they started to look into the experiences the USA had gained from their trolleybus operations.

Trams, trolleybuses or buses? The first calculations

The first calculations of the operational costs produced in 1936 showed that the running of trolleybuses would be financially disadvantageous. Trams were the preferred choice to serve Doubravka and present-day Americká Avenue. In 1938, these transport options were reviewed, leading to new plans that considered a total of 30 trolleybuses. However, when the Nazi troops seized the vast area of the Czechoslovak borderland on 1 October 1938, a new border line was marked just outside Pilsen. The development of industry resulted in more passengers using public transport, which led to overcrowding in buses. In addition to that, the fuel they used was becoming dated and more expensive. The Director of the EECP, František Mlynařík, requested a new calculation of annual profitability, which was presented to him on 5 November 1938. It showed that trams were still in the lead, unlike buses which were running at the biggest loss.

Trolleybuses come to the fore

The fate of Czechoslovakia was sealed in March 1939 when it was put under military occupation by the German Reich. The EECP investment budget allocated 4 million crowns to be spent in 1939 on improving the transport services to Doubravka. Referring to the poor results that came out from testing buses that ran on town gas, the Enterprise proposed to build a trolleybus line going from the City Spa (Městské lázně) to Doubravka, with an additional branch line to the Central Cemetery (Ústřední hřbitov). This route was to be operated by six three-axle trolleybuses, which would be boosted by extra buses during peak hours. One of the arguments for this was an option to convert the trolleybus route to a tram line at a later stage. The Cukrovarská depot was supposed to be used by trolleybuses, which could get there via a tram line that would have an additional negative conductor wire. In spite of the motorist lobby, the EECP continued to push for a new tram track to be introduced in the city centre, going from the railway station along present-day Americká Avenue to Skvrňany.


(p. 21) A draft of a letter addressed to the Municipal Authority, dated 12 July 1939. Trolleybuses were the preferred choice. [51]

The Doubravka line project gets the green light

On 6 September 1939, the EECP commissioned six trolleybuses to be made in Pilsen’s Škoda works and began the construction of a converter station in Rokycanská Avenue, Letná, in October 1939. The design plans of the trolleybus lines were issued on 21 October 1939 and had already factored in driving on the right side of the road. The vehicles were to turn clockwise at the City Spa, so that they could avoid crossing overhead wires for trolleybuses and trams. ‘The vehicle fleet should consist of six 6-wheel Škoda 539 trolleybuses, similar to the trolleybuses supplied to Prague. The fleet will be used to its maximum capacity on route A during the morning rush hours each working day. On Sundays and national holidays, there will be a service on both routes, and on the days when larger volumes of passengers need to travel to the Central Cemetery, there will be a service on route H. On such days, route A will be operated by a replacement service using the current buses, which will be kept for the third line, additional service for route A during the morning rush hours and as a backup.’ [51]


(p. 23) Letná converter station included three flats built for the families of the staff who were in charge of its operation and maintenance. [52]

(p. 23) A proposed design of the site for the masts that were to be erected on an old stone bridge over the Úslava River. [51]

(p. 23) This drawing from August 1939 was altered in early 1940 to change the street names to German. Out of the two options of where the Doubravka line should terminate, the shorter route with vehicles turning around Habrmannovo Square was selected. [56]

(p. 24) A news article about Pilsen’s project, printed in a German specialist magazine [2], included the design of trolley overhead lines. We can see the location of supply points (Speisepunkte) and the site of Letná converter station (Unterwerk). [61]

The battle for material

Trolley wire could only be supplied when old copper was sold off and permission from the authorities granted. On 2 November 1939, the Reich Protector Office issued a statement announcing that supplying copper ‘is considered utterly undesirable due to the current situation’ and requested a review. The EECP replied that when tests were conducted, during which buses ran on fuel consisting of compressed gases, the timetables were not adhered to, the buses used a lot of fuel and were blocking the traffic when they needed to go up the long ascending road leading to Prague. On top of that, preparatory works to introduce a trolleybus service were at a very advanced stage by that point. The construction of the converter station was well under way, and the EECP had already paid its suppliers 3 million crowns (e.g. for mercury-arc rectifiers and trolleybuses). Nevertheless, the request to procure trolley wire was declined by the Reich Protector Office again in January 1940. Unfortunately, we do not know when and how the Office eventually gave its approval. In the meantime, the EECP was having a hard time procuring armatures for trolley lines. For instance, on 18 June 1940, ČKD refused to supply bronze casts due to a lack of material. The fact that the EECP had them made at a metal arts foundry in Prague in the end is a testimony to the enormous lengths the company went to. The procurement drama was completed with insulators, which were only delivered at the end of the construction work, and some of them had to be loaned by Prague’s Electric Enterprise.

The construction of the line

The planning permission was granted on 18 April 1940. On 1 July 1940, the Ministry of Transport issued a decision concerning the names of the stops, stating that ‘the sites for trains to stop in stations will be determined during technical and police tests’. The Ministry was the authority that approved, for instance, the design solution of the split switch located at Pietas and an electrical equipment box for the trolleybus line. The EECP had to come to an agreement with the Railways Headquarters on fitting four wooden, up to 35-metre-long, protective troughs in the underpass structure near the U Prazdroje stop. The issue of a depot remained unresolved.


(p. 24) In January 1940, the Reich Protector Office requested a calculation for the amount of copper that was needed, but in the end it only allowed the company to buy 5 kilometres of wire for the maintenance of tram overhead lines, provided that the dismounted conductors were sold off immediately. [51]

(p. 25) The overhead wiring in the street with the At the Town Brewery stop (U Měšťanského pivovaru) – present-day U Prazdroje – looks simple enough; however, many overhead line crossings had to be tackled and masts had to be erected in the railway area to build the line. [52]

(p. 26) In order to accommodate a terminus near the Central Cemetery where vehicles would be able to turn around, the EECP had to widen the state road connecting Beroun and Haselbach at their own expense. On 13 July 1940, AUTO ŠKODA Mladá Boleslav determined that the envelopes for the turning radius of the outer front wheel should be approx. 8.5 to 9 metres. [51]

(p. 27) Travelling by trolleybus through a Pilsen street for the first time. [346]

(p. 29) In early March 1941, a trolleybus with registration number 101 on one of its initial test drives going from the City Spa to Doubravka, passing the Brewery. [60]

1.2       Trolleybuses Going on War Shifts

Test drives

Pilsen’s Škoda works supplied the first trolleybus, labelled 3 Tr1 101, and the first test drive took place on Saturday, 8 March 1941. The trolleybus went to Doubravka, even though the converter station at Letná had not been finished yet. The response from both the public and the press was very enthusiastic. On 12 March 1941, an official test of vehicle 101 was conducted, with the attendance of representatives of the Ministry of Transport. The following day, a preliminary technical check was conducted with an unladen trolleybus. The journey from the City Spa to the Cemetery took 11.5 minutes, including the idling time at stops, which then translated into a travel speed of 19.2 km/h. On 14 March, a technical and police test with 80 passengers took place. The maximum speed limit for regular operation was set at 30 km/h, whereas when going through crossings, switch points and into underpasses the prescribed speed limit was set at 15 km/h. The launch of the service could not take place on 30 March 1941 as scheduled due to delayed delivery of vehicles. On Wednesday, 9 April 1941 at noon, a regular service on route A was launched by three vehicles, running at ten-minute intervals.


(p. 30) This scene shows the second supplied trolleybus at the highest point of the trolley lines in Pilsen, in front of St Wenceslaus’s Church in the Central Cemetery. [52]

Wartime operation

When the remaining vehicles were received, route H going to the Central Cemetery was launched. All six trolleybuses were stationed under the open sky at the turning bay near the City Spa (also U Jána). Right in the first weeks of their operation, it was clear that the technical solution of the switch points was flawed, especially at Pietas, a busy junction with a road going uphill. When turning from Rokycanská Avenue to Masarykova Avenue, trolleybuses were forced to go over the allowed speed limit set at 15 km/h, so that they did not get stuck in an isolated section of the road. On 7 June 1941, the EECP asked the Ministry of Transport for permission to drive through the overhead crossing that carried current in one direction. It was proposed that an insulated section should be inserted into a grounded (negative) conductor wire when going downhill, and then in the bend leave the positive conductor conductive, i.e. a solution that later became commonplace. After that, the hand-operated split switch control at Pietas was provided with an additional electromagnetic control system. The switch could then be operated in both manners. The first winter brought the first experience of trolley wires getting frosted, which made it difficult for trolleybuses to drive smoothly, and in extreme cases, made driving impossible. In 1942, a solution was drafted proposing that high currents generated in Letná converter station could be used to heat the trolley wires.


‘When I was a child, I used to go with my family to the cemetery by old 3 Tr trolleybuses. As boys, we loved to stand near the driver. The drivers didn’t mind at all. They had a big lever of sorts in their driving cab, used for opening the front door at trolleybus stops. The trolleybus went to the cemetery up Rokycanská Avenue, and then turned left to Doubravka. There was a switch in the trolley wires permanently set for Doubravka because that was where trolleybuses had to go more often. At the corner near the U Pietasu stop was a mast with an open box, or a shelter roof with a big lever of sorts. When a trolleybus was bound for the cemetery, the driver had to stop at the mast. He sent us, boys, out to pull the lever down, and the trolleybus moved a little forward just beyond the switch. We then put the lever back, jumped aboard and felt very important. You know, for a bunch of ten-year-old boys, that was something special.’ [351]


In the meanwhile, plans for a joint tram and trolleybus garage in Slovany were put into motion. The EECP bought a large area of land in Slovany. To enable trolleybuses to drive in, a shunting line with a construction length of 3.651 km was needed. The existing tram track was used for the line, which had a negative conductor wire added to it. Trolleybuses then used their second trolley pole to attach to the tram trolley wire that had positive polarity. The garage was used by trolleybuses from the 25th probably to 1949. The new hall was also used by four new 3 Tr2 trolleybuses, which were added on 1 October 1943 to boost Pilsen’s transport service. The air raids that were launched by the Allied Forces on the City of Pilsen during the last six months of the war brought on critical moments and paralysed the city’s public transport system.


(p. 31) At first, trolleybuses were parked and maintained in the loop at the City Spa (U Jána) and reportedly in the courtyard of Gambrinus Brewery as well, to which they were pulled by a tractor [71]. The image shows the extra shunting trail that was added. [52]

(p. 31) Trolleybus 106 is passing Pietas driving into Rokycanova Avenue bound for the City Spa. The image also shows the only split switch that the Pilsen trolley wires had back then. [55]

(p. 32) A turning bay at the City Spa, shortly after launching the trolleybus service. [55]

(p. 33) The negative conductor wire leading from Slovany ended at the level of the trolleybus turning bay at the City Spa. When starting off in the morning, the trolleybuses could simply attach their trolley poles to the loop trail. When going to the depot, trolleybuses had to drive through the turning bay in the opposite direction. [54]

(p. 33) A 3 Tr2 110 in the turning bay at the Central Cemetery in 1946. [53]

(p. 34) When going to the cemetery, trolleybuses had to overcome the biggest gradient at 73‰. [55]

(p. 34) The air raid of 20 December 1944 put a halt to the trolleybus service. Several trolleybuses standing in the City Spa turning bay were hit, and so was the overhead wiring in front of the Brewery gate. [52]

(p. 35) In front of the bombed-out houses in Nepomucká (present-day Slovanská) Avenue Nos. 47 and 49, you can see an inserted negative conductor wire used for a trolleybus shunting line. When he was five years old, Karel Gott, who later became a famous singer, was buried under the rubble of house No. 55 for two days. [55]

(p. 35) The evolution of the trolleybus network between 1941 and 1945.

The Father of Pilsen’s Trolleybuses – Ing. František Mlynařík

Early life

Born in Pilsen on 5 January 1901, František Mlynařík graduated from the Czech Technical University in Prague at the age of 23 to become an electrical engineer. He started working in the test room at the Škoda Works in the Pilsen Borough of Doudlevce. In 1926, he changed jobs to work for West Bohemia Power Station, where his organisational skills stood out. That was the reason why Pilsen Council asked him to ‘re-organise the power generation business in the city’s electric enterprise’ [54].

 

(p. 38) The Mlynařík brothers at the wedding of the oldest Václav (in the middle). On the left is the youngest brother, Bohuslav; and on the right, František with the love of his life, Františka. [71]

With the power of a lion, rising like a falcon

He assumed the post of the Chief of the Electric Power Section in the Electric Enterprise of the City of Pilsen (EECP) on 1 October 1928. In 1931, he was appointed chief of the workshops and garages for electric lines and buses. At the same time, he became the General Designer in charge of new central workshops and was entrusted with overseeing their construction. The central workshops, which were successfully completed in 1934, were praised for their generous structure and well thought-out layout. He was appointed Director of the EECP by the Municipal Board on 8 April 1935. František Mlynařík published expert articles and was personally involved in the promotion of the electrification of households. He was elected Chief of the West Bohemia branch of the Czechoslovak Electrotechnical Association (CEA). Between 1936 and 1938, he helped build a hydroelectric power station at the Vydra River, Šumava, and ‘thanks to his contribution, the City of Pilsen became a co-proprietor of this building,’ [345] and in doing so, gained cheap electricity from a stable source for the city’s residents and businesses. He modernised the urban transport system in Pilsen and pressed for introducing a trolleybus service. In the troubled year of 1938, this patriot and a devoted Sokol member became the chairman of Sokol Pilsen V. After the Munich Agreement, he was intensively raising funds for a brick-built Sokol gymnasium.

 

(p. 39) František Mlynařík was a passionate motorist. Here, he is shown posing on a 1926 Harley-Davidson JS motorcycle in the early 1930s. In the Pilsen area, there could only be about ten motorcycles of this type at most; it was a higher class machine. [380] His nephew, Míťa, would remember the rides with his uncle across Pilsen’s environs for a long time. [71]

(p. 39) The 1936 photograph of EECP officials shows the two key players from the First Republic era sitting in the middle: Rudolf Novák, a senior technical executive, is the fourth person from the left; and to his right is František Mlynařík, Director of the entire municipal company. [52]

(p. 40) Director Mlynařík giving a formal speech to the employees in front of the central workshops on the occasion of the 40th anniversary of the EECP. [72]

Occupation

During the occupation period, František Mlynařík continued working on the projects that were already under way, one of which was the introduction of a trolleybus service. The revenues from power generation activities enabled him to build residential houses for the staff in 1940. When the Czech government commissioner, Petr Němejc, was still in power, Mlynařík was granted the historically first permission from the City of Pilsen authority to distribute a part of the company’s profit among the employees. As the Sokol chairman, he wanted to use the saved money on building activities as quickly as possible, as he was afraid that the money would be confiscated. He bought the building material needed for the construction of the Sokol gymnasium basement, under the pretence of building an air-raid shelter. However, construction activities were soon banned.

The trolleybus service was ceremonially launched on Wednesday, 9 April 1941. After the war, it was highlighted that a total of 165 tonnes of steel masts and 15 tonnes of trolleybus wire, etc., were procured for peaceful purposes, ignoring the restrictive regulations and bans to use non-ferrous metals. Three days later, on Holy Saturday, Mlynařík was tipped off that an order issued in Prague by K. H. Frank was going to be delivered, prohibiting the operation of Sokol. Later that day, Mlynařík organised an operation which saw the plumbing material intended for the future Sokol gymnasium hidden away. The gymnasium’s equipment was distributed among people’s households, and flags were sewn under duvet covers. An hour before midnight, the Police delivered the order to František Mlynařík to his flat. It requested that Sokol’s activities were stopped and all the assets handed over. Still, he managed to conceal fifteen wagons of granite and 70 thousand bricks intended for the construction of the Sokol gymnasium and used it on the building of a garage in Slovany. (After the war, the EECP paid Sokol in kind.) In October 1941, Reinhard Heydrich, the acting Reich Protector, dissolved the Czech Sokol Community and had their officials arrested. During the post-Heydrich terror 1,290 metres of piping and 82 metres of copper wire intended for the Sokol gymnasium were walled up in the house of an EECP employee. Only thanks to this, the Gestapo did not find anything.

 

In 1941, František Mlynařík joined the secret resistance movement. He had a cache in his house where he kept a short-wave device, which was a crime punishable by death during the Protectorate period. Together with some loyal EECP employees, he hid non-ferrous metals, which had to be surrendered in favour of the war industry. On 19 and 20 March 1942, they buried 1,362 kg of lead and 430 kg of copper in Cukrovarská Garage. They concealed half of the bronze acquired from ornamental features taken down from trams and cast semifinished products for trolley lines. On 5 July 1942, he was interrogated by Gestapo officers, who suspected him of concealing Sokol’s assets. On 17 May 1943, an anonymous denunciation was received stating that the company was deliberately withholding men who were able to perform forced labour. He managed to defend himself and despite the trend of extending the working hours, he increased the number of EECP employees from 432 to 658 in the course of the war. Another anonymous denunciation received in 1943 led to Schutzpolizei members searching his house. On 14 July 1944, František Mlynařík was arrested. He was held in prison for nine days and interrogated by the Gestapo. He was accused of listening to foreign radio broadcasts, being in contact with resistance fighters and anti-German activities in Sokol and the EECP. He denied all accusations and was later released by a Gestapo commander, who told him: ‘Wir sind nicht überzeugt, dass Sie unschuldigt sind, aber Sie sind zurzeit noch unentbehrlich.

 

As the man in charge of the EECP, he had to face the growing demands made by the Germans and was forced to send his assemblers to bombed-out refineries in the north of Bohemia. According to his contemporaries, he spread optimism around him when the war was coming to its end. Thanks to the practice of shortening the suction pipes in petrol tanks, the EECP managed to hide their fuel reserves. They adapted buses so that they would break down when the Germans were fleeing Pilsen.

Liberation

In the early hours of 5 May 1945, when the Pilsen uprising broke out, Director Mlynařík put up the Czechoslovak flag on the headquarters building. When the US army liberated Pilsen the following day, Mlynařík offered the army commanders to stay in his house. He and his family spent nights at their relatives’ place and came in to the house to cook for the US commanders. The Americans carried their piano down from the first floor of their house, placed it on Slovanská Avenue and danced with Pilseners. Director Mlynařík released the concealed petrol so that it could be used for bringing back prisoners from concentration camps. He renewed Sokol activities.

 

However, events took a turn in 1946. He was forced to get the thriving EECP ready to be divided up and have its most profitable part nationalised. On 23 March 1946, he was accused by a group of EECP employees of collaborating with the Germans, oppression and asocial conduct during the war. His accusers claimed that he had threatened his employees with sending them to perform forced labour, worked against the financial interest of the workers, was eager to please the Germans while, on the other hand, he failed to protect Czech workers. The complainants, witnesses, as well as Mlynařík himself were called in for questioning. The outrageous nature of the accusations prompted him to write a long letter entitled ‘Personal conduct during the occupation’, in which he described his own conduct during the occupation as ‘a national and professional duty one does not talk about. Forced by the circumstances, he is giving the following account of himself.’ [M2, 52] He denied all the accusations against him, going into great detail. The disciplinary and interrogation process was dragging out. However, many of his employees came to his defence. The purge committee did not stop the process until 27 September 1946.

 

On Saturday, 12 April 1947, at 9 p.m., František Mlynařík ended his life by jumping out of a window from the third floor of the headquarters building at No. 12 Denisovo Embankment. He was found by a machine operator who worked in a hydroelectric power station. However, Mlynařík suffered injuries incompatible with life and died on the way to hospital. Dozens of letters of sympathy sent from all parts of Czechoslovakia were received. His contemporaries recalled that before this act, Director Mlynařík was faced with threats made against him by some revolutionary spirited employees. As an educated, successful and wealthy epitome of the interwar Republic, he was not destined to have a future.

 

On Thursday, 17 April at 10.30 a.m., a trolleybus with mourners on board set off towards the cemetery. Crowds of attendees waited in front of the crematorium filled with people. At 11.00 a.m., all traffic on Pilsen’s tracks and lines stopped. All trams, trolleybuses and buses displayed mourning flags. When they were set in motion again after two minutes, they left the lights on. In the wake of February 1948, the Mlynařík family lost its position in society, and the daughters were not allowed to go to university. After the monetary reform, they lost their financial security as well, and had a hard time finding decent jobs. If it were not for the work of archivists, the achievements and tragic fate of the first Director of the EECP would have been forgotten for good, even though we can still see much of his work around us: we admire the beautiful building that housed the central workshops, and trolleybuses still take us on the routes that he established. Slovany Garage was in operation for 77 years, and Vydra Hydroelectric Power Station is still generating power today. We could and should always ask whether our present work would have made him happy. ‘We will remember Director Ing. František Mlynařík as an energetic, assertive and tireless man devoted to his loved ones, family, electricity and Sokol. His demeanour was modest and people-friendly, and he was conciliatory in dealing with others. He was happy to help and give advice where it was needed. The products of his work that he left for us will be a permanent memento of his endeavour.’ [345]

 

(p. 42) František Mlynařík is welcoming American liberators in Pilsen. [72]

(p. 42) The American soldiers who were staying in Mlynařík’s house are in the photograph with their hosts. František Mlynařík is on the upper left side of the picture, and on the right is his wife Františka with their daughters, Vlasta and Miluše. [72]

(p. 43) František Mlynařík encouraged his children to pursue sports and education. In winter, he used to take both his daughters and nephew Míťa skiing in Šumava. [71]

(p. 45) The tragic death of brother Ing. Fr. Mlynařík. [339]

(p. 46) Deserted Number Five (Sokol V). [339]

(p. 46) Death announcement from the EECP administration and company board. [52]

(p. 47) A letter of condolence from JUDr. Karel Křepinský, Mayor of Pilsen, who himself was subjected to pressure and threats from Communist Party members. [52]

 


 

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80 years of Pilsen trolleybus / Chapter 2

 

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2   The Post-War Boom

 

The majority of trolleybus lines in Pilsen were built in the first decade after the war. This was helped by the perfect combination of the EECP’s preparedness and the quality of the local development and production of trolleybuses, as well as the most up-to-date Swiss technology of overhead trolley lines. [57]

2.1       The Expansion of Trolleybuses

The roots of success

Skvrňany and many other areas were destroyed by the bombs dropped by the Allied troops. The production in the Škoda Works ceased, and the city’s transport system found itself practically at ground zero. The EECP Director, F. Mlynařík, presented his vision of the development of the trolleybus network to Pilsen’s Revolutionary National Committee. As soon as 18 June 1945, the city leaders approved the construction of three trolleybus lines and the commission of 25 trolleybuses. The production of the new trolleybuses for Pilsen became one of the first large contracts that saw Pilsen’s Škoda works reorientate from its previous war manufacturing activities back to civil production. The new vehicles, except for the last one, were supposed to be the same as the existing ones in principle, the only difference being that a third door would be added allowing passengers to alight from trolleybuses faster. The new lines were to run along the following routes: 1 Doudlevce – Lochotín – Bolevec, 2 Božkov – Railway Station – Skvrňany and 3 City Spa – Bílá Hora. The EECP concept planned for four trolleybus lines (with two branches), four converter stations (out of which two were intended to be used by trams as well) and three trolleybus garages (Slovany, Cukrovarská, Doubravka). A tram service was to be retained only on the double track between Bory and Slovany. As for the overhead trolley lines, ‘moveable suspension wires of Swiss design would be used instead of fixed suspension wires. The new suspension wires would facilitate speeds of up to 60 km/h and guarantee perfect contact between the pole and trolley wires with no sparking, so people would be able to listen to the radio with no disturbance along the route [32]. Pilsen was set to have the biggest trolleybus network in Czechoslovakia before 1948, with 22.3 km of trolleybus lines and 35 vehicles.

 

These bold plans were made under conditions that were not very easy. For example, on 17 December 1945, tram and trolleybus night services had to be restricted due to an order issued by the government that concerned saving electric power. In 1946, four out of ten trolleybuses had to be laid up and remained unused due to tyre shortages. A command requesting the division of the EECP was yet another blow; on 7 March 1946 the entire profitable power-producing part of the company broke away. Fortunately, none of the above stopped the efforts of what by then was the Public Transport Company of the Statutory City of Pilsen (PTCP), which was led by František Mlynařík until his death.

 

(p. 50) Masarykova Avenue in Doubravka with war vehicles and fixed suspension wires on overhead trolley lines. [62]

(p. 50) Italian elegance meets Czech functionalism in Doubravka. The 1933 villa of Pilsen’s architect Karel Tomášek became a popular backdrop for factory images of Škoda trolleybuses. The 1946 picture shows a Milan OMS-Isotta-TIBB vehicle repurposed for a transport service in Most-Litvínov. [57]

(p. 52) A 3 Tr2 vehicle at the City Spa with passengers boarding on route A going to Doubravka. One of the first Škoda 706 RO buses can be seen lurking in the background. [57]

The new Božkov – Skvrňany line

The Ministry of Transport granted planning permission on 20 March 1947, even though the PTCP had not secured permits from the relevant house owners to use their facades for anchoring cross-wire suspensions. In addition, the final location of stops was to be specified at a later date, and so was the way of how railway flyovers and underpasses would be navigated. Today, we can only dream of the authorities and legislation being as flexible and action-ready as they were then. The construction work progressed fast. The line opening ceremony was held on 28 October 1948, on the occasion of the 30th anniversary of the formation of Czechoslovakia. At this opportunity, a new two-digit numbering system replaced the system which used letters for distinguishing the trolleybus routes:

 

10 City Spa – Doubravka

11 City Spa – Central Cemetery

12 Božkov – Skvrňany.

 

The construction of route 12 was a challenging project in which a range of problematic areas had to be tackled by putting temporary solutions in place. The question remains on whether it would have been possible to get permission and build it in such a short time frame in the years that followed. The roads in the Eastern Suburb were in a bad condition, and the Pilsen – České Budějovice railway line had to be crossed via a wooden flyover that was temporarily adapted for this purpose. It was not possible to establish the route elsewhere, because the roads were impassable and there were high-voltage overhead lines. Nevertheless, the new trolleybus line increased the level of Pilsen public transport by leaps and bounds. Replacing the Božkov bus service and the outdated single track leading to Skvrňany, twenty roomy and comfortable trolleybuses set off to run along one direct and fast route. As expected, others claimed credit for this achievement: ‘The events of the revolution culminated with February 1948, when our working people took over all the power to govern this country. Our transport workers did not stay aloof either and unanimously joined in the efforts to build socialism. They were able to take part directly in the management and leadership of their company.’ [4] The 6.5-km line was divided into several isolated sections, and the only power to run the line was supplied from a rectifier station located in the hydroelectric power station in Denisovo Embankment (Hydro). Despite the use of modern overhead lines, the maximum speed was set at 40 km/h. Still, the journey time was only 22 minutes, including 17 stops. A total of 35 Pilsen trolleybuses waited till spring 1949 to be relocated from Slovany to Cukrovarská Garage.

 

(p. 52) Trolley wires are being fitted in front of the Božkov terminus in late summer 1947. [57]

(p. 52) Coming to Božkov, the line had to negotiate a wooden bridge above railway tracks. [57]

(p. 53) At the beginning of 1948, trolley wires were mounted in U Světovaru Street as well. [57]

(p. 53) The snowy plain looks nothing like the junction of U Světovaru Street and Koterovská Avenue. [57]

(p. 53) Assemblers finishing the line in Koterovská Avenue; the panorama of the Petrohrad quarter can be seen in the background. [57]

(p. 53) On the other side of the city, a trolleybus line runs through Hornická Street, running parallel to a single track that is nearing its lifespan. [57]

(p. 53) Unlike the original tram tracks, trolleybuses continued over the bridge above the railway line to Cheb. [51]

(p. 54) In Skvrňany, the line terminates in a small loop using tubular armatures from the Swiss Kummler & Matter system. [57]

(p. 54) The turning bay in Jiráskovo Square used by extra vehicles to boost services was designed later, on 2 July 1947. [51]

(p. 55) The U Práce junction was the first crossing of trams and trolleybuses in Czechoslovakia using the Kummler & Matter system. [52]

(p. 55) The route 12 opening ceremony held on 28 October 1948. The initial frequency set at 15 minutes was quickly becoming shorter in the years that followed. [51]

(p. 56) Permission to use the Božkov – Skvrňany line permanently. [51]

(p. 56) The trolley line crossing at the Skyscraper (Mrakodrap), an intersection where routes 12 and 13 met, was designed in 1947 as a simple crossing of two trolley lines and one tramway leading to the workshops. The shunting operations of the incoming and outgoing traffic could not do without re-routing trolley poles in the middle of the junction. [51]

(p. 57) The first two-axled 6 Tr2 135 trolleybus in Pilsen’s transport system at the end of 1949 and beginning of 1950. By then, the Skyscraper junction included a new line coming from Anglické Embankment. [57]

(p. 57) The atmosphere of Stalinova (present-day Americká) Avenue in 1950. The Skyscraper junction was named after the tenement shown on the right-hand side of the picture. The double-track line crossing of routes 12 and 13 was newly fitted with bidirectional arcs on the side closer to the railway station. [52]

Celebrating birthday with route thirteen

New route preparations started on 13 February 1946 when the design plans of a new converter station were outlined. The new Doudlevce – Bolevec line, which was to be 6.9 km long and include 20 stops, made allowances for a branch line going up to Košutka; this branch was designed to be 1.4 km long and have 3 stops along the route. Planning permission to build the lines was granted on 26 July 1947. The new line could only use a small part of the equipment from the original Doudlevce – Lochotín electric tracks, such as some suspension wires attached to houses. Two tracks of overhead trolley lines with a flexible suspension system had higher demands. The electric tracks were preserved between Republic Square and the workshops in Cukrovarská Street. It was proposed that a turning bay used by trolleybuses arriving from Košutka would be situated in front of the savings bank.

 

In early 1949, the PTCP was transformed into a communal enterprise. On 1 April 1949, a shunting line was introduced, going to the trolleybus garage from the City Spa, passing through Anglické (at the time called Charkovské) Embankment and Americká (Stalinova) Avenue. From 11 April 1949 onwards, it was used to provide a direct route for workers travelling between Doubravka and Skvrňany in the mornings, afternoons and evenings. Route 13, operating between Doudlevce and Bolevec, was launched on Wednesday, 29 June 1949, replacing not only trams but also the Lochotín – Bolevec shuttle bus service.

 

(p. 57) The last 3 Tr3 134 trolleybus launching the route 13 service on the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Pilsen tram service. [51]

(p. 58) The functionalist building of a nationalised insurance company became the seat of the Communist Party after the February 1948 coup. A 7 Tr4 156 trolleybus with a trailer is pulling into a garage. The first use of articulated trolleybuses, operating on route 12, dates back to 23 October 1949. [58]

(p. 58) The standard length of cantilevers used in Kummler & Matter design plans was 6.55 metres. To allow a wider clearance between the road and masts, a solution proposing to extend the cantilevers to 7.8 metres was designed. [51]

(p. 59) A new Škoda 7 Tr3 trolleybus is driving up Lidická Avenue towards Bolevec, passing a villa quarter. [57]

(p. 59) To build a line going over Roosevelt Bridge, atypically high masts were erected from the ground under the bridge structure. A 3 Tr3 trolleybus leaving Roudná is heading towards the city centre. [63]

(p. 60) Thanks to the good-quality architecture of the First Republic era, the section of Lidická Avenue between Procháska’s Institute and Higher Economic School became a gratifying motif of presentation pictures featuring new types of trolleybuses. This particular picture shows a 7 Tr3 made for an unspecified customer in 1952. [57]

The Košutka route is launched

The main reason why there were delays in the building of the line was a shortage of Mannesmann masts (seamless steel traction masts). In 1949, 26 tonnes were used on the building of shunting lines on the Embankment and in the garage. A further 8 tonnes were not delivered to Pilsen at all, because decisions regarding the distribution of steel were made by the state raw material committee. The construction work was completed in the end, and voltage was supplied to the wires on 6 November 1950. On 14 November, a technical and police test was conducted using trolleybus No. 107, and trolleybuses operating on route 14 set off the following day. They were running at 20-minute intervals on the Košutka – Kopeckého Gardens route, and the vehicles designated for commuting workers continued further to Doudlevce.

The longest route to Černice

Back in 1949, plans were in place to extend the tram tracks from Slovany to Černice. Preparatory works to introduce trolleybuses started in 1950. Large volumes of trolley armatures were ordered from Kummler & Matter. The design plans of the Slovany – Černice and Doudlevce – Slovany trolleybus lines were approved by the Ministry of Transport on 27 March 1951, although the Doudlevce – Slovany route was originally intended to operate as a workers’ service only. The most critical point on the route was Malostranská Street, which had a gradient of up to 10.5‰ and the width of the road was only 4.5 metres in certain parts. The police issued a requirement for the speed limit to be at 15 km/h, and at times when the road was covered with black ice, the traffic had to be stopped altogether. However, the new trolleybus line shortened the journey time to the Doudlevce division of the Škoda Works by up to 30 minutes. Because there were not enough masts in Malostranská Street, reinforced concrete was used instead. The PTCP started to produce many new features themselves, such as cantilevers, mast clamps and machined armatures. The conditions were made yet more difficult in 1953 when a monetary reform was carried out. The uprising of Pilsen’s residents was violently crushed. It was only thanks to the PTCP that the construction of the line, which was 4.6 km long, could be completed. On 12 October 1953, a test was conducted using a fully laden vehicle No. 112. Special instructions were issued for the operation of the new Doudlevce – Slovany line: ‘Because it is not allowed for two trolleybuses to meet in the ascending Malostranská Street, traffic control signals have been fitted in both directions. Lamps have been placed in the middle of the arm of the overhead trolley lines. Both lights are turned on and off at the same time. If the signal lamp is off, a trolleybus can drive into the area, and in doing so, it goes over a contact point. This automatically turns on the lights at both ends, so no other trolleybuses can enter the risk area, whether they are oncoming or following behind. When the trolleybus leaves the area, both signals are turned off automatically.’ [51] To cope with the amount of new switch points and crossings, a principle was established where driving into or from a branch line was done with live wires, whereas when going in the other directions the vehicle did not draw current from the trolley wires. On 18 October 1953, route 13 became Pilsen’s longest line, stretching 10.8 km and providing a trolleybus service between Bolevec and Černice.

 

(p. 62) ‘The mystery’ of the 25th vehicle ordered in 1945 was solved by a two-axle Škoda 5 Tr vehicle drawing. However, there was no mention of any vision to build a Černice line in the official documents at the time. [57]

(p. 63) Černice residents are offering their help with digging the holes for the foundations of masts to serve route 13. [51]

Bringing trolleybuses to Nová Hospoda

By 1954, Pilsen was served by as many as 63 trolleybuses and 16 trailers. For the first and last time in the entire history, the number of trolleybus passengers reached that of tram passengers. Trolleybuses transported 22.9 million passengers per year and covered the most kilometres out of the three modes of transport. Stretching along the state road leading to Domažlice was the largest compound of Pilsen’s Škoda works. In addition, more production plants were being built, which led to plans to extend route 12 from Skvrňany through Zátiší to Nová Hospoda. Local surveys had to be conducted repeatedly to determine the site where a turning bay in Nová Hospoda would be built. Other discussions were held regarding the level crossing on the Pilsen – Domažlice railway line. The PTCP had to cover the building costs of swapping the existing full-length barriers for two half-barriers which could be lifted under trolley wires. The entire trolleybus line was then designed to run along the completely straight, 6-metre wide, I/26 state road. Masts were erected directly between the trees along the avenue to ensure they would not damage the treetops and would not stand in the way of any future plans to widen the road. Due to the overall shortage of steel masts, reinforced concrete masts were used instead. Finally, on 16 December 1954, the overhead trolley lines were finished and received voltage. Two days before Christmas, a fully laden vehicle No. 108 drove along the line. The oldest Škoda 3 Tr trolleybuses were providing a trusted service throughout the entire decade after the war. To supply power for the line, a new converter station was built in the Zátiší settlement. ‘Trolley wires are attached to masts and wall hooks along the whole length, using support cables and wires in a flexible manner, in accordance with the time-tested Kummler-Matter system. The power lines crossing the body of the line at kilometre 0.467 are secured by a double support net, and the overhead lines are situated 6.2 metres above the rail head, in compliance with the regulations and an agreement with Czechoslovak State Railways.’ [51]. The Skvrňany loop was preserved. New overhead lines were attached to it using a switch point and crossing. The new section was 2.88 km long, making the total length of route 12, including the extension, 9.5 km. The passenger service started on 2 January 1955. Initially, only every other trolleybus went to Nová Hospoda, at 15-minute intervals.

 

(p. 64) A 3Tr3 121 trolleybus in Heldova Street is ready to depart. [74]

2.2       Limits and Boundaries

The vision of the city’s modern transport system based on the cooperation between high-performance tram and trolleybus transport was fulfilled before 1955. Today, we stand in awe that both means of electric public transport, which was already eco-friendly back then, covered 90% of all transport operations.

Overcrowded garages

Rapid growth was soon met with a wealth of limitations. The construction of new lines was faced with raw material rations. Expensive armatures made in Switzerland were no longer supplied. The capacity of Cukrovarská Garage was exceeded twofold. New bus garages were housing trolleybuses as well. Many vehicles were stationed under the open sky, such as in the area below the central workshops, while trailers were parked outside the garage in Černická Street in front of an old hall. In order to re-establish Slovany Trolleybus Garage, the PTCP even resorted to starting construction work to build a shunting line in Slovanská alej Street.

Bold plans to be shelved

An increased level of interest in expanding tram tracks was emerging in response to both the intensive building of flats and the volumes of employees commuting to the Škoda Works. Still, trolleybuses were favoured as the key player in the overall transport service across the city, so plans were made to extend some of the trolleybus lines to Bílá Hora and Újezd. There were talks about building intercity trolleybus lines that would run to Starý Plzenec and Ejpovice. A two-kilometre extension to Újezd seemed like the most realistic option, for which the Ministry of Local Economy approved an investment on 25 April 1955, intended for the expansion of the converter station in Letná. However, the streets of Újezd were in need of repair, and there was no suitable site to build a turning bay in the area. The line to Bílá Hora, which was designed to be a three-kilometre route operated by eight trolleybuses, was to be powered by a new converter station at Bílá Hora from 1956. However, the Ministry later raised doubts about the necessity of the whole line, and none was built in the end. The Ministry also declined the proposed plan for a tangential trolleybus route that would operate between Doubravka and Doudlevce via Slovany, arguing that the route would only be used at peak times.

 

(p. 65) The plan to build lines to Bílá Hora and Újezd was approved by the Minister of Local Economy on 31 August 1954. [51]

(p. 66) In the first half of the 1950s, a 3 Tr 128 in Hornická (present-day Domažlická) Street is passing a vehicle carrying an oil transformer of the V. I. Lenin Works (Škoda). [63]

(p. 66) A route map from December 1955.

(p. 67) The evolution of the trolleybus network between 1946 and 1955.


 

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85 years of Škoda trolleybus production / Chapter 1

 

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80 years of Pilsen trolleybus / Chapter 3

 

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3   The Backbone of Pilsen’s Transport System

 

By 1964, the performance of Pilsen’s trolleybuses increased tenfold. In spite of this, the second densest trolleybus network in Czechoslovakia was in fact one of the first networks to be hit by stagnation. Efforts were focused on renovations, line relocations and purchases of vehicles. For the first time, the number of trolleybuses exceeded a hundred. They completed the ambience of most traffic junctions, including Republic Square. [57]

3.1      Under a Big Copper-Web

Musical notes for a symphony of trams and trolleybuses

By the 1950s, the city began to bid farewell to the contours shaped by the centuries of development. At the time, farmers were still ploughing their fields right up to Masarykova Avenue, and Karlovarská Street ran along greenhouses and vegetable patches. The ends of trolleybus lines carried the scent of fruit tree avenues and wagons filled with hay. However, the second five-year plan set the goal for Pilsen to become the centre of engineering with a population of 210 thousand. In 1957, the PTCP had 75 trams including trailers, 56 trolleybuses with 20 trailers and 25 buses with 4 trailers. Trolleybuses going from Doubravka carried 2010 people per hour at 3.3-minute intervals before 6 a.m. The route 12 trolleybuses carried even more, i.e. 2930 people per hour. The creators of the local plan were well aware of the dangers the unrestrained development of automobile transport could bring, but nevertheless carried on proposing roads cutting through the centre of the city. The plan factored in the dominant role of public transport. For the most part, the transport system was set to consist of a new overlay network of tram and trolleybus lines avoiding needless convergences. Pilsen’s ‘trolleybus cross’ was to be moved from the Skyscraper to Republic Square, which was expected to lose its trams. The target set for 1980 was to introduce four trolleybus routes covering 38 km, almost half of which were supposed to be new-builds. It was estimated that 101 trolleybuses would be needed for this. In addition to Cukrovarská Depot, Slovany Garages would house 30 extra trolleybuses and Na Jíkalce a further 35. Attention was drawn to the fact that new shunting loops and connecting junctions for redirections and traffic closures would have to be built as well.

 

(p. 71) Spring 1960: Marie Braunová, the first woman to drive trolleybuses in Pilsen, is checking carbon in the second 9 Tr prototype in Bolevec. Reportedly, her feet had a good feel for driving, and she soon gained respect: ‘This is the only occupation I’ve ever wanted to do. It is my life, and I would not wish to change anything. I have always got on well with people. I used to drive a passenger car as well and took the bosses to various meetings. I should have been a boy.’ [303]. By 1964, there were 14 female trolleybus drivers. [57]

A trolleybus station

The plans to rebuild the road networks reduced the PTCP plan for an overall redesign of the most important interchange public transport hub at the City Spa to only a temporary solution. In 1958, the hub was separated from car and tram traffic, and the direction in which trolleybuses turned around was reversed.

 

(p. 72) The U Jána turning bay (the City Spa) on the boundary of the historic centre. [52]

(p. 72) On Sunday, 23 February 1958, passengers are boarding a 6 Tr2 trolleybus bound for Doubravka. [75]

(p. 73) An 8 Tr8 175 is driving along Anglické Embankment under the supervision of the Joseph V. Stalin statue. The neo-renaissance Museum of West Bohemia can be seen in the background. [75]

(p. 73) The 1967 design plan of the construction of a light shelter over a boarding stop for trolleybus routes 10 and 11, and bus route 20. The 45-metre-long shelter complete with laminate benches was to be illuminated by a continuous neon tube. The design respects the landmark poplar of Luděk Pik. [101]

The tangled-up Skyscraper

The Skyscraper junction was a critical intersection of the trolleybus network. When a vehicle needed to turn, its trolley poles had to be pulled down and held on the rear bumper by employees, all the while the vehicle was moving, which was very risky considering how busy the main road leading to the railway station and to České Budějovice was. Still in 1961, the PTCP was defending the practice of moving the trolley poles manually by hand when going to Skvrňany, arguing that any additional switch points and crossings would distract the attention of drivers even when just ordinarily passing through the junction. Some people were also counting on re-routing the line, or building a new garage. However, in the end, the last missing arc was attached in 1964 as part of a general overhaul of the trolley junction.

 

(p. 74) A 7 Tr4 trolleybus converted to an 8 Tr is negotiating the Skyscraper junction, followed by a Škoda 706 RTO bus from 1970. [74]

‘Driving a trolleybus with a trailer attached was a bummer. When I left the garage, it was raining. I had to turn right at the Skyscraper junction. Some earthwork was in progress near a guardrail, so I slowed down a little around the bend. Then I heard some banging and clanking noise. I looked around but could not see anything. So, I carried on driving since we could not spare any time. When I drove past the Skyscraper again, the controller said to me: “Hey, Andula, when you’re done here, you’re expected in the police booth, where they want you to pick up the fender you left pinned to the guardrail.” What happened was that the trailer slipped when I was negotiating the bend, and its fender got stuck onto the severed guardrail. Obviously, I didn’t go to the booth. But after I had driven past a few more times, a policeman was already waiting for me and brought me the fender. Thanks to this, we became friends.’ [352]

3.2      Relocation, Relocation

The twists and turns of route twelve

The Eastern Suburb was becoming cramped with trolleybuses as soon as 1954. To facilitate road repair works in Houškova Street, a temporary line in Radyňská Street was established. Because of the construction of the Slovany housing development, the line was permanently relocated from Koterovská Avenue to Lobezská Street in 1958. A loop going through Guldenerova Street was introduced. The re-routing of line 12 brought a trolleybus service to new locations, so tram route 2 could be built and put into operation. Due to the construction of route 2, trolleybuses had to be diverted a number of times. It was not until 15 September 1962 that route 12 was established to provide a permanent service between Božkov and Nová Hospoda.

 

(p. 75) A sample of the design plan outlining the route 12 relocation: the dotted line denotes the double-track line to be demolished, which was used as a temporary feeder line during the building work. The dot-and-dash line marks out an arch of the tram tracks to be built. [51]

(p. 76) The route serving Jiráskovo Square was re-established in 1967 as a separate branch line to be used by extra vehicles to boost services. This part of the route was then winning the hearts of many contemporary witnesses for nearly three decades. On Thursday, 5 August 1971, a 7 Tr 142 is ready to set off for Zátiší. [76]

Trolley wires lining Husova Street

Tylova Street, the busiest section of the route due to extra vehicles for commuting workers, was also in need of repair. That was the reason why the PTCP moved the overhead trolley lines to Husova (called Leninova at the time) Avenue in 1956. Back then, the PTCP was pushing for the building of a permanent parallel line running from Husova Avenue down to Anglické (Charkovské) Embankment and avoiding the overloaded junction at the Skyscraper. The City Council was resisting the idea but eventually gave permission to further extend the temporarily relocated lines around the theatre down to Jungmannova Street. This extension was used in 1957 and again in 1958 during road repair works in Klatovská Avenue. The overhead trolley lines going around the theatre were kept in place against the will of the City Council for many years. The reasoning behind this was that the routing of trolleybuses across the centre was still unclear. Additionally, references were made to a situation in Prague where the public transport company did not dismount the trolley wires after it cancelled the trolleybus service to Zbraslav. Despite the intentions of the PTCP, trolleybuses have remained firmly anchored to the Americká Avenue and Tylova Street axis to this day.

 

(p. 77) The proposed design of lines relocated to Smetanovy Gardens and Husova Avenue in November 1956. [51]

(p. 77) Trolleybuses could be spotted in front of J. K. Tyl Theatre only in 1957 and 1958. [76]

(p. 78) In 1960, the second 9 Tr prototype is returning from Bolevec via an avenue lined with cherry trees in blossom. The vehicle was a forerunner of the legendary ‘number nine’. The characteristic silhouette of Pilsen – St Bartholomew’s Cathedral in Republic Square – can be seen in the distance. [57]

The Malostranská Street palaver

The building work to move a large section of the line to Malostranská Street was postponed several times. To keep the service running on the Černice – Slovany route, proposals to temporarily reopen the former trolleybus garage in Slovany were considered. In the end, all construction work was carried out while keeping the trolleybus services fully operational.

To the amphitheatre by trolleybus (almost)

A statement from 1957: ‘This year, the City of Pilsen is set to complete the building of an open air theatre in Lochotín, which will have an approved capacity of 13 thousand spectators. The PTCP was tasked with providing public transport links to the site.’ [51] As well as tram line proposals, a trolleybus option was also on the table. The 350-metre-long branch diverting from the Košutka line was supposed to end in a double-track loop for 16 trolleybuses. The plan was abandoned, and to this day the amphitheatre and the present-day zoological gardens do not have satisfactory links to the public transport system. Instead, a narrow-gauge Pioneer railway was built, providing a connection between the zoo and the Pod Záhorskem trolleybus stop between 1959 and 1976. Its full electrification operating at a voltage of 600 V fed from a trolleybus converter station in Lochotín was unique across the world. When cultural events were held, trolleybuses with trailers operated on route 13; however, visitors had to walk to the amphitheatre.

 

(p. 80) The first 9 Tr prototype in Karlovarská Avenue; in the background are the remains of a passing loop on the tram tracks and a newly installed trolley loop over the Pod Záhorskem stop. [57]

(p. 80) A brand new 8 Tr for Prague is turning from Lidická Street into Karlovarská Avenue in early spring 1960. [57]

3.3      Congested Turning Bays

Workers in Hornická Street

The Nová Hospoda trolleybus line was the least used extension with unevenly distributed busy times on Pilsen’s trolleybus network. The introduction of a turning bay in Zátiší on 22 August 1960 contributed towards a more effective service that was able to serve the Domažlická Street section at more regular intervals. The original small loop behind a bridge in Skvrňany remained in operation and was used for turning extra trolleybuses that were needed to boost services. In 1967, 41 trolleybuses operated during the morning rush hours, 21 trolleybuses during the afternoon rush hours and seven more around 10 p.m. Trolleybuses with attached trailers waiting for commuting workers were slowing down the traffic on the state road leading to Domažlice. In August 1968, the PTCP built a balloon loop, although this was a temporary solution due to plans to shift some railway tracks.


‘During peak traffic times, trolleybuses operating in the Škoda area were running at one- or two-minute intervals. Despite this, converter stations were coping well with the increased frequency of trolleybuses. When trolleybus drivers arrived at the Škoda building, before they knew it, their vehicles were “fully laden”.’ [352]

 

(p. 82) A refurbished 7 Tr4 is negotiating a level crossing on the road to Zátiší. To overcome a 57-metre-long field between pairs of traction masts, it was necessary to use a trolley catenary. [76]

(p. 82) A 8 Tr6 trolleybus, the 12th vehicle on route 12, is pulling out of the Zátiší turning bay to go to Božkov on 5 August 1971. [76]

(p. 82) The design plans of a loop in Skvrňany intended to use residential houses for anchoring. [51]

Trolleybuses galore

The growing number of vehicles (111 in 1968) and more transport links created the need for more turning bay solutions. The Bolevec loop was widened, and a temporary turning bay was built at Pietas. The garage situation was still critical. The introduction of the second exit leading to Presslova Street at least prevented the risk of traffic gridlock when driving off in the mornings.

 

(p. 83) A 9 Tr12 trolleybus is making use of the new layby area at the Bolevec loop. [76]

(p. 84) The oldest Pilsen 8 Tr3 vehicle is turning around in a temporary turning bay at Pietas in August 1971. [76]

(p. 84) To build a new loop at Pietas, a third direction had to be added to the oldest trolley crossing. [76]

(p. 85) The north half of a bus depot temporarily provides spaces for trolleybuses. [76]

(p. 85) On a summer working day in 1971, the rows of ‘eights’ and ‘nines’ in front of a garage in Černická Street have thinned out for a while, only to be filled again to the very last place in the evening. [76]

3.4      A Dream of an Alternating Trolleybus

On 25 June 1964, a meeting between the PTCP and Škoda Ostrov took place regarding ‘a possibility to open a trolleybus line using alternating current. It would provide a service on the Pilsen – Slovany – Starý Plzenec route. The objective was to set a timetable for the construction work, the necessary costs and the number of vehicles from the T11-S testing series for this line’. [51]. The Škoda Works wanted the development of an alternating-current Škoda T11-S trolleybus to be included in the government’s commitment plan. It was not possible to test the new type of vehicle in any of the existing trolleybus facilities, so the PTCP saw the plan as an opportunity to build a trolleybus line to Starý Plzenec. To ensure that the alternating-current line did not disturb the operation of route 13 in the shared section going from Slovany, Nepomucká Avenue was supposed to have a single line running between both existing lines. In 1968, the power for the six-kilometre line was to be supplied from two transformer stations, and it was thought that a new depot housing alternating-current trolleybuses would be built in Slovany. Unfortunately, this noteworthy project emerged in the worst possible time, since the Czechoslovak Government had just approved the Principles of the Concept of Urban Mass Transport Development for the period of 1964–1970, whose objective was to reduce trolleybus and even tram transport systems throughout the whole country. [9]


(p. 87) A T11 working sample is passing through Tylova Street near Škoda Works Gate 1 in 1964. [76]

(p. 88) The spring thaw of 1961 made Božkovská Street and its temporary trolleybus route impassable, so trolleybuses, with passengers on board, had to be hitched to tractors that diverted them to other streets. [63]


 

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