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PCC Guy

Transit in the Czech Republic

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Besides Slovakia, the other place in Europe where I plan to do a bit of fanning this summer is the Czech Republic!

...I think it's the summer, anyway. You wouldn't know it from the weather we've been having. As I type this, it's 20 Celsius in Prague! It figures, really.

Anyways, I've already been to Prague (and will come again) and also plan on visiting Brno and Plzeñ. But here's what I've seen of Prague so far! Probably post 1 of 2.

The first time I went was on July 12, but visiting Prague wasn't originally in the cards. However, my mom and cousin went to a shopping centre near Černý Most (the eastern terminus of Metro line B ) and I saw that, two stations down, at Hloubětín, there was a tram platform just over the station. The 16 and 25 stopped there, and both had some highly interesting vehicles in service that day, so we parted ways at the shopping centre and I rode to Hloubětín, where I trolled around for the next two hours. Here is what I got.

Almost immediately, I found something which was of some annoyance to me - routes 16 and 25 have awful combined schedules. First it's the 25 that leaves, then the 16 follows three minutes later, and then there is no service for 9 minutes. Not an optimal arrangement, but oh well! 

I first sighted two T3R.P trains. This is one of the most numerous types of trams in Prague - I believe there is 315 of them. 

35494383120_cdd9a8cc80.jpgDPHMP 8329 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35494382600_92429d3a29.jpgDPHMP 8364 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Shortly after, a rebuilt KT8D5 came down on route 25.
35073398943_90afd70f47.jpgDPHMP 9095 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Both routes 16 and 25 had a varied dispatch. For non-accessible runs, you could run into a T3R.P or T3M2-DVC. On accessible runs, you could sight the rebuilt KT8D5s or one of the new Škoda 15T trams.
35713467332_97e9ef87f4.jpgDPHMP 9237 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

The newest ones (the 15T4) come with some design differences, as well as new liveries.
35841795796_b1ffb743fd.jpgDPHMP 9326 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

35073393173_326df86670.jpgDPHMP 8328 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35494654300_98dbbed62f.jpgDPHMP 8364 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35494653920_4711973709.jpgDPHMP 9329 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35713464442_5621c43e37.jpgDPHMP 8371 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Just down the street was the Starý Hloubětín loop, terminus of the 8, so I walked down there and took some photos there as well.

This is a T3M2-DVC. In the late 1990s, some of the city's oldest T3M trams (distinguished by the large cabinet of braking resistors on the roof) were in bad shape, but their electrical units were still fairly well off, so 18 cars got new bodies. Besides two pairs of T3Ms the company has kept for use on a historical, tourist-oriented tram route downtown (I haven't seen these as of yet) these are the only T3Ms you'll run into.
35494651580_c7716c24ed.jpgDPHMP 8089 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35494650880_ae41c035df.jpgDPHMP 8051 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35494650330_705e922847.jpgDPHMP 8051 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Another set of T3M2-DVCs leaving the loop with a number 8 service.
35494648790_d661862454.jpgDPHMP 8080 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35713460962_1b701c6c34.jpgDPHMP 8063 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr

KT8D5 rebuild #9066 waiting in the loop.
35713459832_fc101f79a0.jpgDPHMP 9066 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

I also ran into one of the oldest trams in Prague - this car was built in 1962. I'm not sure how exactly it was decided which cars would be rebuilt, because the bulk of the T3R.P fleet is made up of cars dating back to the 1960s, whereas, in 2008, they sent 20 year old cars to North Korea. I know that the build quality of some of the later T3s dropped off a bit, but it still seems really strange to me.
35494647080_f11b1d6c8b.jpgDPHMP 8359 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

#9066 pulling out of the loop...
35494646610_49a13c11be.jpgDPHMP 9066 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

...and replaced by #9098. This car did not run in Prague originally; it was originally built for Košice, Slovakia, and then sold off to Strausberg in Germany because they had a surplus of cars. In 2015, Strausberg ceased to find a fair few KT8D5s useful so Prague picked them up. Currently, #9098 is the only car that has been finished... cars 9099-9105 are also planned and they're a long, LONG way from completion. Here is what 9101 looked like this past April.
35494646170_558ec024a6.jpgDPHMP 9098 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

And #8089 came the other way. Note its doors as compared to the ones on the tail car (8051).
35494645900_1e2d0964b8.jpgDPHMP 8089 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Some ominous storm clouds were on the horizon, so I went back up to the Hloubětín stop, because, in the event of inclement weather conditions, I could run down into the metro, or into one of the shelters at the stop.
35494645130_935f809504.jpgDPHMP 8015 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Well the rain came down, and hard. I hid under the shelter and was fairly well off for the entire 5 minutes of rain. <_<
35494643460_3e9cfea14f.jpgDPHMP 8359 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35494642670_8f9dd2a5b8.jpgDPHMP 9096 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35494641190_7f11d351ed.jpgDPHMP 8076 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Before long, the sun was shining again!
35494638970_0f41320f26.jpgDPHMP 8015 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35751275551_12cd69bbd5.jpgDPHMP 8009 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35073359263_1606e54652.jpgDPHMP 9303 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35882571125_4286717ab4.jpgDPHMP 9060 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Along came Škoda 15T #9355, which is one of the few trams in Prague with a name. It's named František Kardaus, in honour of the designer of the T3 tram.
35882567965_25203caa09.jpgDPHMP 9355 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

#9409 is the latest 15T to be delivered.
35841773176_575b8e01c7.jpgDPHMP 9409 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35882566275_7a58fe26bb.jpgDPHMP 9409 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr

35882560325_3111a3c6fe.jpgDPHMP 9093 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35882557195_709b790060.jpgDPHMP 8072 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35043194284_f0de7d2b4d.jpgDPHMP 9093 - 03 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35043189224_cfd54055d4.jpgDPHMP 9076 - 03 by Andrew P., on Flickr

To complete the outing, along came KT8D5 #9054. This car was equipped with an experimental pantograph in March 2016, and I wanted to get a photo of it. When I initially arrived, I found I had just missed it due to roadworks on the way to the metro, but everything came through in the end.
35882550845_de8a917a7c.jpgDPHMP 9054 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35043193094_390479b2ef.jpgDPHMP 9054 - 03 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35841759786_af981930b2.jpgDPHMP 9054 - 03 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35043187374_5d9a699702.jpgDPHMP 9054 - 04 by Andrew P., on Flickr

That's it for now, thanks for viewing! 

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Another batch of photos.

The next time I visited Prague, I took the train from the suburb in which my family lives straight to the city centre. Coming out of the station, I was immediately treated to a host of trams.

35512319900_cc50c3f5b1.jpgDPHMP 9059 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35512314740_fe15dd69b4.jpgDPHMP 8265 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35512309690_d4ff76f2db.jpgDPHMP 9078 - 03 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35091004083_7992e5d81d.jpgDPHMP 8251 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35091003143_501934a035.jpgDPHMP 8518 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35730762172_2ae8f3c188.jpgDPHMP 8225 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35768816201_69f3392776.jpgDPHMP 9241 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

I had to catch a tram on route 15 to get across the Vltava river, where my journey would continue. It arrived in the form of T3R.P units 8538+8539.

35090981353_88b63043c5.jpgDPHMP 8538 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
 

Once I arrived at Malostranské náměstí, I found I had just missed a route 23 run and had a nice 30 minute wait for the next one (the 23 is the aforementioned historical route) so I settled down to wait.
35512282880_fed3a6286e.jpgDPHMP 8310 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35730747802_c274985897.jpgDPHMP 8180 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35512279110_a08c92a4cd.jpgDPHMP 8181 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

A 23 came by in the opposite direction.
35730744732_33a5a2c7b8.jpgDPHMP 7142 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35090966183_53b90de847.jpgDPHMP 7144 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35090965583_e641e03510.jpgDPHMP 7144 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr

35730741502_4ee82e7377.jpgDPHMP 8182 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Along also came (finally) some T6A5s.
35512272260_430d190669.jpgDPHMP 8645 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35060512294_72108351f1.jpgDPHMP 8646 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Notice the different couplers on cars 8645 and 8646. Originally, all T6A5s came with automatic couplers (as on car 8646) that could join all electric circuits in a two car train (both 600 V and 24 V); practically speaking, what this means is that a two car T6A5 train can operate with power from just one car's pantograph. While the majority of Prague's automatic couplers remain, there is a considerable portion of the fleet that has lost one of its couplers and had it replaced with a simpler, so-called "Prague coupler" (being that it was invented in their workshops), that only allows a mechanical connection. Some cars have lost their front coupler (as in 8645); others their rear coupler. While it would make sense to remove the front and rear couplers on the ends of trains in a city like Bratislava, which runs their T6A5s in permanently joined two car trains, it seems odd for Prague to do so, as trains are put together and dismantled based on the needs of the car-house on any given day.

Along came another T6A5 train, this time on the 15.
35859462026_b2254948ab.jpgDPHMP 8741 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35730724572_8ae94aa212.jpgDPHMP 8730 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

35512268560_df025701b5.jpgDPHMP 8273 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35060509264_b60d2751bd.jpgDPHMP 8573 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35859459596_f1a0d1f66c.jpgDPHMP 9409 - 03 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35730723252_6b29e75477.jpgDPHMP 2033 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Finally, the 23 came. I recorded a video too, but I have yet to upload it to Youtube so it's just photos for now.
35060504754_576ea5b7f4.jpgDPHMP 7205 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
 

Once off at the Prague castle, I took another photo.
35060503874_8cb4bf9a37.jpgDPHMP 7205 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr

After I was done touristing, I arrived at Malostranské náměstí again.
35730740422_912382211c.jpgDPHMP 9389 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35060514914_399f8626a7.jpgDPHMP 2033 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Until next time!
 

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The answer to that question depends on a number of factors - what exactly are you considering when asking that question? Build quality? Technical reliability? Driver experience? Amenities for passengers?

The T3 is a fairly reliable vehicle, but it uses PCC technology from the 1930s so it's massively inefficient. The various rebuilds (T3M, T3G, T3R.P, T3R.PLF) have remedied this problem, however.

Build quality was fairly good on cars built until 1982, but afterwards Tatra stopped giving a f*ck so the post-1982 cars are not nearly as well built. I believe the same is true for the T6A5, which was built from 1991-1997.

I myself am partial to the T3, but I realize that, like with any other vehicle, it has it's positives and negatives. The oldest T3R.Ps use the frames of T3s built in the 1960s, and in a survey of the tram system several years back, it was found that the standard PCC T3 had a really low breakdown rate, so it doesn't seem to be a particularly bad tram, all things considered.

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I am amazed how ČKD was able to fit a low-floor section into their T3s without eliminating their characteristic American-inspired look. Wonder how odd it would be to ride in one, or if Brookville Equipment Corp could do such a thing one day with our own PCCs.

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The low floor T3 was not ČKD's idea, it was the product of Czech rail engineering firm Pragoimex, who also designed the low floor section on the KT8D5 rebuilds.It's quite a good design IMHO, if they pulled through and added an air conditioning unit they would be perfect cars, just as fit for modern service as any modern tram.

I do like ČKD's designs a whole lot, and I can't deny the reliability of the T3, but as a company they didn't really believe in a lot of innovation. The USSR demanded accelerator controlled cars as they were the simplest to maintain in their conditions, and if the rest of the Comecon members didn't share their enthusiasm, that was too bad. The aforementioned T3Ms came with upgraded electric units, but they didn't come from the factory in that way - ČKD supplied the electrics, and it was up to the individual operator to install them in place of the old PCC technology. Technological advancements such as the KT8 and T6 series were put on the backburner - when the first T6A5 prototypes rolled out (in 1991) the design was about 20 years out of date. Conceptually they derived from the T6B5, which was in production since 1983.

I don't exactly know how the T6B5 and KT8D5 came to be, but the former was marketed to the Soviets as type T3M -some type of skullduggery, perhaps? In any case, until 1989 their biggest product was T3s witb 1930s technology. I think the modernized rebuilds (T3M, T3G, T3R.P) are fine enough cars but they REALLY should have arrived from the factory as such, never mind the KT8s and T6s: if GM could keep the Fishbowl design going for 30 years, the use of the original T3 carbody design was not a problem.

Once capitalism settled down, the huge T3 orders for the USSR fell through. They couldn't compete in the market and went bankrupt in the late 1990s.

Good cars, miserable manufacturer!

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Next time I visited Prague, I went in search of Tatra T6A5 #8739, which had an irregular paint scheme: its roof was white instead of grey. Here are the photos from that visit:

35573390580_50fbd1f5c0.jpgDPHMP 9088 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35152492233_8c8ce6ef88.jpgDPHMP 8178 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

I took a tram across the river to Strossmayerovo náměstí, where I assumed it would be a better photo angle than at Náměstí Republiky. I was wrong.

While I waited, I photographed T6A5 #8734, which, for a change, has a simpler rear coupler. it was a Sunday, and so there were no two car trains in operation on route 6, it was all solo units. This is utter nonsense as the trams were rammed and they could have easily justified two car trains, but in the interest of saving money...
35152490953_6b20621408.jpgDPHMP 8734 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35573382420_f4261e3956.jpgDPHMP 8734 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35152485563_165a38ea02.jpgDPHMP 8352 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

An ad wrapped Škoda 14 T. 
35152484463_b98fbcb920.jpgDPHMP 9141 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Along came #8739, also on the 6.
35152483663_7326744be4.jpgDPHMP 8739 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

I took a short ride and got off again.
35152483193_27c21e583c.jpgDPHMP 8739 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35152482533_0166a02ec5.jpgDPHMP 8739 - 03 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Until next time!

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Here's my final batch of photos - for now.

Some trams in the vicinity of the train station.
35254020823_29ac06d683.jpgDPP 8079 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
36021515356_2a5c6c2395.jpgDPP 8516 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
36021514966_65c7098651.jpgDPP 8517 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

A KT8D5 on Namesti Republiky.
35253987023_6a9a469ebb.jpgDPP 9070 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Some trams in the vicinity of Andel metro station.
35930170901_66322ca8b0.jpgDPP 9342 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35892511132_b34f3f7780.jpgDPP 9393 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35253981273_c4896c2b3c.jpgDPP 9078 - 04 by Andrew P., on Flickr
36021499496_2f4322cd85.jpgDPP 8635 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
36062726005_b4aa2b3a6a.jpgDPP 9350 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

A couple of days later I was in Prague again, and managed to photograph a few interesting vehicles within 10 minutes. T6A5 #8664+8666. 8664 is one of the only T6A5s I've seen where the upper cab window is a sliding one instead of a tip in one, and 8666... well, it's 8666. :lol:
35225509744_40e08fab7b.jpgDPP 8664 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35256989413_b715160a2e.jpgDPP 8666 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

A few minutes later came #8694+8748. I saw 8748 the same day I photographed #8739 - in fact, in the photo labelled "8739 - 02", it was at that same stop when I got there. I had to decide whether I would run after it or get another shot of 8739. I made the correct decision in the end, because the first photo I got of 8739 isn't the best, and on this next trip, I would see the car no less than 4 times during the span of the day.
35256985173_9f5530d6ea.jpgDPP 8694 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35895421442_1173515f81.jpgDPP 8748 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
36065293825_ab7c5ee26c.jpgDPP 8748 - 03 by Andrew P., on Flickr

A T3R.PLF and KT8D5R.N2P.
35225506114_f15fe906c3.jpgDPP 8257 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35225505084_6ee9a76261.jpgDPP 9098 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Some time later I decided to visit Vyšehrad, an old fortress right by the river. When I got off at the nearby stop, I photographed #5519, a T3M that is a driver schooling car. This car lost its middle doorway when it was rebuilt.
36025140416_ec58ef19df.jpgDPP 5519 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35225406494_cca2b94115.jpgDPP 5519 - 03 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Oh look, it's 8694+8748 again!!!
36025119716_9fc9bf58d6.jpgDPP 8694 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Later, after I was touristing, I was at Palackeho nam. and making my way across the river (back to Andel) to buy some food. As I travelled, I saw a bunch of trams:
35676063240_7615565236.jpgDPP 9157 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35256616093_e50aecee8b.jpgDPP 8652 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35676050490_b1a41eae2c.jpgDPP 9067 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35676046490_5b676aa524.jpgDPP 8695 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35932609541_812e10f2c2.jpgDPP 9051 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35256753113_e94aa07022.jpgDPP 8260 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

After I got my food, I went to the Prague castle, via the 15 and 22.
35225268414_4820e18cf0.jpgDPP 8160 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35225145614_f96962884f.jpgDPP 8271 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr

This was my tram, #9317. The A/C wasn't working and the tip in windows provide such piss poor ventilation that it's worse than one of the non-air conditioned old cars with sliding windows.
36065128545_4e219d6533.jpgDPP 9317 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

After more touristing, I came down to Malostranská and waited for a number 15 back to the station.
36065127355_c89f470da4.jpgDPP 9379 - 03 by Andrew P., on Flickr
36065125805_e4e099e16f.jpgDPP 8385 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35256713433_79496a43c4.jpgDPP 7282 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35895142962_bd500e5334.jpgDPP 9202 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35256684443_7763f1de12.jpgDPP 8341 - 02 by Andrew P., on Flickr
36024945176_5be54e75d5.jpgDPP 7290 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

At the station, I walked up to Senovazne Nam to wait for a work car that I had the schedule for.
While waiting, I got these snaps..
35256664843_af81299bdd.jpgDPP 8704 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35675928570_93e82036ab.jpgDPP 9075 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
36024918006_5c604b0ca5.jpgDPP 8277 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35894995292_b20b253afe.jpgDPP 9218 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr
35675891210_7fe015d5d5.jpgDPP 8257 - 03 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Look who it is... again!!!
35894973642_06e099006a.jpgDPP 8748 - 04 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Here's the work car, T3M #5572. This car, since 2015, has been used as a track lubrication car. It's become something of a phenomenon within the city, to the extent that its daily schedule is published for anyone to see. I knew the car was supposed to be here, and it was very much of interest, so I hunted it down.
36065023245_6196b1bd8e.jpgDPP 5572 - 01 by Andrew P., on Flickr

Until next time!

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