Innsbruck Steam tram

Innsbruck, Steam tram in Maria-Theresienstrasse

Our postcard from an unknown publisher shows the Maria-Theresienstrasse in Innsbruck, Austria in 1902, although the postcard itself dates from a little later. There is a steam tram locomotive and a number of trailers of the "Lokalbahn Innsbruck-Hall in Tirol" (LTIHiT) turning out of Maria-Theresienstrasse into Marktgraben on a short working to Mühlau.

Hall in Tirol is a port on the river Inn about 8km downstream of Innsbruck, the section of the river between there and the city being unnavigable. On 1st June 1891 the 12 km metre gauge steam tramway began operation between Hall, through Innsbruck to Berg Isel where the depot was located.

The service was operated by four (later eight) 0-4-0 steam tram locos with enclosed wheels from Krauss of Linz. At first it was thought that horses would have to be used in the city, so the trams were tiny cars built by Weitzer of Graz to horse tram standards and were formed up into trains as in our postcard view. By 1900 there were 29 of these little cars, four of which had open sides for summer working and were fitted with three roll-down blinds per side for bad weather. The trams had four side windows, open platforms and were two-axle. They seated fourteen on bench seats in the saloon and two on each platform. There was room for six standing inside and seven on each platform, bringing the total number of passengers to thirty-eight. Some of these cars continued in regular service until the 1980s and a number have been preserved in Innsbruck and elsewhere.

On 27th June 1900 a metre gauge light railway, administered by LTIHiT but under a separate company Innsbrucker Mittelgebirgsbahn (IMB), was opened the 8km from Berg Isel to Igls. Due to steeper gradients it used two (later 3) larger Krauss 0-6-2 locomotives without enclosed wheels. The twelve trams were to a similar design at the Hall line. On 31st July 1904 a third line, the Stubaitalbahn (Stb) opened from Berg Isel to Fulpmes 18km along the Stubai valley, this railway being operated by electric cars on 2.5 kV 42.5 Hz alternating current. On 15th July under LTIHiT control a town tram service began working on 550 volt DC (later 600 volt). In 1909 the Hall line was electrified on the same voltage as the town tramway as far as Mühlau, which opened on 28th August and then at 1,000 volts DC (later 1200) on the country section to Hall which opened four months later when steam was withdrawn.

LTIHiT took full control of IMB in 1927 and in 1936 the line was converted to electric traction with the short in-town section on 600 volts DC and the rest on 1200 volt DC. The Hall line became tram route 4 and the Igls line tram route 6. In October 1941 the Innsbrucker Verkehrsbetriebe AG brought the LTIHiT tramways and the Stb under one management, which still runs Innsbruck's services today. The Hall line was closed in 1974 and the Stb was converted to 850 volt DC operation in 1983. In addition to the tramways IVB also operates the Hungerburgbahn funicular. Trolleybuses have been used in Innsbruck on two occasions, 1944-1976 and again 1988-2007.

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