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European Railroad Discussion > Virtual tourism: trams -- Kursk, Russia

Date: 10/24/21 16:56
Virtual tourism: trams -- Kursk, Russia
Author: gobbl3gook

Hi All, 

As you know, I like trams.  And I like obscure eastern or central European cities.  And I like maps.  

As an exercise, let's go to a random city that has good trams, and take a tour!  

I'll pick something in southwestern Russia, just for the obscurity factor.  

Going to OpenRailwayMaps, we'll follow the Belarus and Ukraine border, looking for a city that has about a dozen tram lines.  Then we'll investigate further.  

This city, labelled only in Cyrillic, has about 4 lines.  (Smolensk)

This one has none.  (Bryansk)
Though it has an impressive railway system, with an over/under track at the main junction.  

This city, Kursk, also has only 4.  But we'll try it out.  

Looks like there is one line to the NE.  With a big tram yard.  And one line to the SW which branches twice.  And a 5th little spur in the city center.  

Tram lines are invisible on Google maps (unless there is a button to turn them on?  Transit, maybe?)  So you look at the lines in OpenRailwayMap and find some interesting spots to investigate on Google StreetView.  You can also go to OpenTopoMap to see what the features of the city are, to find tram lines in front of monumental buildings, pretty parks, or bridges.  

We'll start with the giant tram yard in the NE.  
It's just to the right of the south throat of the railroad yard, easy to spot as a reference point on Google Maps

We're in luck -- the Google Streetview Car drove along the south side of the tram yards in 2012.  And caught a nice red tram coming or going.  
What else do we see?  A lady in a skirt, standing primly.  A fairly modern looking yard office?  A man with his lunch pail standing, waiting to board the tram?

Looking along the street on the south side of the yard, we see a tram in operation.  It's car #012.  Looks like it has been painted several times.  And at at least one point has been left to decay (based on fairly extreme paint peel under the current layer).  Folks going to sork on a sunny day.  All was well in Kursk in July 2012.  (What were the world events?  Russian events?  I don't remember, off hand).  

What we really want to see is the tram barn.  Hopefully a cool Tsarist era building.  
This is our best look it seems.  Not as photogenic as we hoped.  But a landscaping crew is planting a tree for a little beautification.  That tree is 9 years old now.  Or maybe they're just working on utilities.  That's a nice Mountain Ash to the left.  With orange berries.  The climate here is similar to the American midwest.  

Let's look at the terminal loop at the end of the NE line.  It's in a park, where a single fmaily home residential area seems to meet a large industrial site.  
No trams in the loop.  But, there's one coming or going.  Also red and yellow.  (Post Soviet version of SPSF Kodachrome?)  
Going up the line a bit to see if we see the tram, there is no tram.  But we can see it's a solid double track line, and has a crubly grade crossing to a dissheveled industrial site.  What's in those aerial tanks?  No hazmat markings.  Are they safe?  

Let's go to the city center now.  
Here is the short spur that goes to the train station.  It should be busy.  
Nope.  Definitely not bustling.  Someone walking home with groceries.  That's about it.  (But check out those shiny blue mansard roofs.  Definitely poast-Soviet.  This town is maintained structurally, even if it seems drab at street level).  

Let's go to the train station, too, for fun.  
Here we go!  Here's a little action.  A sunny July day, people walking up the steps to board their trains, or meet visitors.  Minibuses waiting.  Taxis unloading.  

Let's follow the tram line, to try to find downtown.  
This looks promising.  Big buildings, monuments in traffic circles.  
This looks better,  A building-size LED billboard on a mall to the south.  A Tsarist-era building to the north.  Pretty quiet, though.  

Let's find some trams.  
Here's one!  From 2019.  Paint still looks good!
What were the world events of July 2019?  Pre Covid.  Was this when Russia finished the Kirsk Strait Bridge and started blockading Ukrainian shipping?  Did anyone on that tram care?  Probably not... Pretty relaxed body posture through and through... 

Here's another one from 2019.  New skin on the tram, with yellow tinted windows.  And check out the glassy turrets on the building behind!  

Going west, here's a pair near the downtown loop.  
Note how you can see right through these trams.  Like an aquarium.  That also means that when you are sitting inside you have a fantastic view of the city.  Left, right, front back.  Up, down.  Not like the rebuilt tram we saw a link or two ago, with tinted windows.  Or not like a modern tram with thick pillars between the windows, tinted windows, high seat backs... 

And check out the Tsarist era wooden building on the right.  I recall reading about why nobody was ever able to invade Russia since the Khan crew in the 1200s.  Russia was so big, with so few geographic features, that the defending armies could retreat indefinetly.  Vacate the battlefield.  And the invaders would just get strung out, and wouldn't capture anything of value.  St. Petersburg was the only stone city in Russia.  Which is why (IIRC) Hitler encircled it, but wouldn't invade.  You can see with flimsy wooden buildings like this, places like Kursk would be easy to invade.  But hardly worth the effort!  

Going further west, here is #057 headed inbound on route 4.  Stopped to board or disembark.  Nice windshield visors!

Outbound.  On OpenRailwayMap this junction looks pretty interesting.  Props to the Soviets for building for smooth operations and future capacity needs!  Integrating tram and expressway.  If only Los Angeles could have figured this one out.  
https://goo.gl/maps/fJRg1yosJoXuLRGU7 (A streamline tram coming up the ramp) 
https://goo.gl/maps/EVCUpzrF84rAzxcU6 (Over-under photo, no trams.  StreetView came through here 4 times, '21, '16, '17 and '19)
This place looked more exciting on the map than it does in real-life.  

The western terminus is in a park or a forest.  Let's check it out.  
Well, not too exciting.  No prominades, no monuments, no gardens.  

Anyway, that's Kursk!  Did I miss anything?  Has anyone been here and taken these cute Kodachrome trams around this dusty industrial city?  Are there gnomes?  Cathedrals?  

And I didn't check out OpenTopoMap for interesting spots with tram lines.  

This would be a day in my life of wandering eastern Europe.  Except, on my bicycle.  Or on tram and on foot.  Instead of Google StreetView.  Look at a map, check stuff out.  Eat some food along the way...  

Ted in OR

Edited 3 time(s). Last edit at 10/24/21 17:26 by gobbl3gook.

Date: 10/24/21 17:20
Re: Virtual tourism: trams -- Kursk, Russia
Author: gobbl3gook

Date: 10/25/21 09:32
Re: Virtual tourism: trams -- Kursk, Russia
Author: Lackawanna484

Kursk was the site of the biggest tank battle in history, too.  Over 6,000 German and Soviet tanks fought for a month during July of 1943.

By the conclusion, an entire German army was captive or killed, and German offensive capability was obliterated on the Eastern front.  The loss of so many tanks at Kursk, and the loss of troops at the siege of Stalingrad was a turning point for the war effort.

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