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Chisinau Tram in XIX-XX Centuries

REF NR: 8433
  • 1619
Кишинёвский трамвай в XIX—XX веках

In April 1888 the Chisinau Municipal Council (Town Duma) decided to build a horse-drawn railway. According to the initial project the length of two lines had to be about 7 km, and the first line route should run from the train station, on the street Columna to its crossing with Pushkin Street, and then lay further to the State University, that is situated at the corner of Pushkin and Kogalniceanu streets. The second line also began from the train station, ran on through Stefan cel Mare Avenue and had its terminal station at the City Hospital on the Toma Ciorba Street. Supposed, that such kind of horse-drawn railways would also appear on the suburbs of Chisinau.

In accordance with the Decree of the City Council, railway building would begin after the streets renovation through which is planned to run the horse-drawn tram. The main goal of the streets reconstruction consisted in paving with a granite stone.

Entrepreneurs Rogazinskii, Romanovich and Switalski signed out the Contract of Construction. In 1888 the shipping of materials started: rails and sleepers from Bryansk railway factory, open wagons from Warsaw, and covered wagons from Odessa. Construction proceeded slowly due to the fast that City Council delayed streets paving. As a result of delaying work of the streets reconstruction, building company began to acquire sizeable losses, and Rogazinskii, Romanovich and Switalski had to see if selling their business was viable. In January 1895, the tram line was sold to the Chisinau merchant Bacalu as well as to the engineers Lozinski and Sirbu. Thus in 1895 the original construction plans were finally begun to be implemented. In addition to the tracks there were pavilions, stations, barns for storing forage and stables built. Two harnessed horses hauled wagons on rails.

The works carried on very slowly, and the quality of work was really not really at the needed level. Entrepreneurs decided to draw the attention of the city authorities to the poor quality of work, but the City Council did not respond to their complaints. In order to continue the process of tram building and give life to the new type of transportation in June 1895, Bakalu, Sirbu and Lozinski set up "Joint Stock Company of a horse-drawn railway in Chisinau." In this connection, a petition was sent to the Economic Department of Internal Affairs. At the same time "Anonymous Society of Chisinau horse-drawn railway" was created in Belgium. For some reason, the Ministry of Finance of the Russian Empire preferred Belgian organisation instead of the local Chisinau branch. Thus the Chisinau entrepreneurs Bacalu, Lozinski and Sirbu had nothing but to sell this tram line to Belgian anonymous society.
Кишинёвский трамвай в XIX—XX веках

Almost immediately after the "Anonymous society" became full owner of tram railway, a dispute started between the city government and this society of non-compliance with the regulations by the parties. Non-fulfilment included such arguments as slow construction of new lines, no timetable and no any solutions in order to resolve situations related to the consequences of accidents and compensation to the victims. In 1902, the City Council made an effort to outbid horse tramway to the city property, but it failed, that is why the city authorities decide to abandon any further attempts by recognizing such kind of purchase as is not profitable for the city. All of which resulted in the Town Council reaching and additional contract with the "anonymous society" some extra conditions requiring owners to provide "as relatively a good traffic, horse-drawn railway and railway vehicles maintenance in good quality up keeping, as well as nice attitude of the tram workers to the public ... "

In 1905, city authorities asked tram owners to set up new lines, Belgian "Anonymous Society" in response to mayor's office proposal put forward a new offer of tram modernisation and its transition from horse traction into electric one. But City Hall saw in this a try by the "Anonymous society" to play for a time. As a result, in 1907 the town council again raised the question of tram line selling but again lost the argument. As a result, City Government obliges «Anonymous Society" to build more stations and pave the second line with white stone. By 1910, the length of horse-drawn railway lines in Chisinau was 12.5 kilometres.

Yet the proposal of tram modernisation and its transition from horse traction into electric realised. On the 2nd of April in1911 a new concession contract for 40 years between the City Authorities and the Belgian "Anonymous society» was signed. The agreement stated that: the transition to electric has to be carried out within 18 months, rolling stock must be refilled with 30 new motor wagons and 20 existing ones should be re-equipped. The "Anonymous Society» must pay electricity bills and it also should take the full responsibility for all accidents in the tram sector; whole modernisation project should be carried out in accordance with all specifications and requirements.

Кишинёвский трамвай в XIX—XX веках

Trams started to run on electrical traction from 1913. A new tram line was built - it linked the Pushkin Street with Sculeni district. In general by 1913 there operated 4 tram lines in Chisinau, their total length was about 14 kilometres.

All the time from 1918 up to 1940, while Bessarabia was a part of Romania, Chisinau tram continued to be owned by the Belgian "anonymous society", but since joining Bessarabia into the USSR in 1940 tram became the state property.

In 1944, the retreating Nazi army blew up all the tram sheds and repairing shops, destroying a great amount of the rolling stock, and that which remained was exported from Chisinau to Romania.

Due to the fact that tram track in Chisinau was of narrow gauge the railway reconstruction was slow. The fact is that there was not any factory producing narrow-gauge cars in the USSR that is why by 1952 the employees of Chisinau tram repaired by them owns and returned to use only around 17 railcars. In 1956 the tram depot was further joined by 7 motor and 5 trailer cars, which arrived in Chisinau from Germany. Tram track in Chisinau was 1000 millimetres and up to the end of its existence was not replaced by the wider variant.

Normal tram street railway traffic in Chisinau was reopened in 1946. The length of all tram routes was more than 17 kilometres, but the line via Pushkin Street was never restored. The number of passengers increased each year and trams could not cope with the increasing workload. In October 1949 first trolleybus came into the streets of Chisinau. From this moment the tram services decreased, and then tram lines were removed and replaced by trolleybus routes. In 1961 was removed the last tram rail. City lost the most comfortable, environmentally friendly and cheap public type of transportation.

Today, only the tram depot building on the Columna Street, old tram poles and exhibited tram carriage in the Chisinau Museum of Rail Transportation remind us about this nice event in our city life – “trams”. Another old tram is used nowadays as a children's hall in the restaurant "McDonald's" in Botanica sector. It was brought to Chisinau from Romanian city of Iasi.

Кишинёвский трамвай в XIX—XX веках

Project of tram depot was developed in 1912 in St. Petersburg. It was built in 1913 near the terminus of the tram line. The whole complex consisted of seven buildings, which included the repair shops, dining room for employees, warehouses, stables and administration offices. This building is made of red fire brick. At present depot building is officially recognised an architectural monument in Chisinau and it is protected by the government.

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