PRAGUE – Historic trams wind their way through the streets of the Czech capital on weekend afternoons, taking hundreds of passengers on tours of the city center’s main sights, including Prague Castle, the National Theater and Wenceslas Square.
Nine original Ringhoffer trams, with red painted exteriors and wooden interiors, serve the line, with the oldest car dating back to 1908.
“Tram No. 240 is from in 1908, it’s the oldest in our collection and we use it for contractual journeys and for Line 41,” said Martin Frank, the head of operations at the Prague Public Transport Company.
“It is historic, unique and (an example of) very successful car refurbishment from the 1990s,” he added.
The other trams in operation along Line No. 41 are from the 1920s, 30s and 40s.
The trams offer passengers a chance to travel back in time, with the vehicles having witnessed important historic events, such as the Prague Uprising of 1945.
Line No. 41 is just as popular with locals as it is with foreign visitors, with around half of the 500 people who take the mode of transport on average on Saturdays, Sundays or public holidays hailing from the Czech Republic.
The head of operations said the cars alternate regularly “so that every visitor can be satisfied” and the range of trams is “very diverse.”
But the vehicles are not as easy to drive as their modern-day equivalents, as they need longer breaking distances and their cabins are smaller.
The No. 3062 tram, known as “the submarine” because of its aesthetics, was made after the end of World War II in 1945. It was Prague’s first tram that allowed the driver to sit down and boasted the first hydraulic door.
“Line 41 has been operating on the occasion of the General Global Exhibition since 1991 and currently has nine engine vehicles on the line, with the year of manufacturing from 1908 to 1936,” Frank told Epa-Efe.
Tickets can be bought from a conductor on board the vehicle at a cost of 35 CZK ($1.52).
When the trams are not in use they are parked at the Strešovice depot, where they are maintained. The space also doubles up as a museum.
Line No. 41 was until 2017 numbered 91, in homage to the General Global Exhibition of 1891, an economic, cultural and social exhibition organized to celebrate the centenary of Prague’s first industrial exhibition. The number 91 later referred to the 1991 General Czechoslovak Exhibition.
The line’s number changed as part of the reordering of the city’s night lines.
Trams have been operating in Prague since 1875, when the first line served by a horse-drawn tram was inaugurated. The first electric tram developed by Czech inventor Frantisek Krizik came to the city in 1891.
“I prefer to drive this tram, the old one because it’s just a piece of history I admire,” said Frank, who also drives historical trams.