Opinion | A Funeral March for the Staßenbahn R.I.P.

Push the button, climb the high steps and plop yourself down on a polished wooden seat. The seat’s design has an inward slope, so with every twist and turn you slide back or to the side. The ticket validating machines make a funny noise when there’s a bump on the rails, and the signal bell clangs every so often to wake up the occasional distracted motorist – it’s hard to imagine a Vienna without its classic old trams.

As the standards for public transport rise, however, we are just going to have to. The Wiener Linien, Vienna’s public transit authority, is phasing out its iconic E1 and E2 trams, to be completely replaced with ULFs – the Siemens-produced ultra-low-riding trams, less noisy, more spacious and better suited to people with disabilities and big bulky things like prams and buggies.

When the Wiener Linien posted a blog entry last year about discontinuing one of the E1s – it was taken off the rails and disassembled for scrap metal, accompanied by rather graphic photos from the scrap yard – there was a wave of grief. “We had many people call us and message us saying ‘that’s so sad, it made me cry’,” says Johanna Griesmayr, a spokesperson for the Wiener Linien. “I think I will be quite sad too when the last old trams are taken out of service. They are part of the city and how it’s viewed internationally. When you see a picture of Vienna, there’s usually a tram in it.”

The clanking, high-riding, hard-seated Bims – as the Viennese affectionately call their trams – have been in use since the 1960s, so by any measure they have done their duty, and they have done it well. They are no doubt capable of much more, but like cars, ships and airplanes, they too have an expiration date. So, as you climb those steps and slide into your wooden seat, take a pause to enjoy it before you push that button one last time.

Alexei Korolyov
Correspondent for Monocle 24 radio and Monocle magazine covering Austria, Central Europe and beyond. He has reported for numerous other media including The Washington Post, The Washington Times, USA Today, Der Standard, BBC Radio 5 live, CBC radio and ORF.

Help us help you

“Strong media and independent journalism are built on the shoulders of subscribers. Your support means the world to us.

Benjamin Wolf
COO & Managing Editor

The coronavirus outbreak affects and challenges your life in big and small ways. Metropole is here for you and we are proud to be your news source during this crisis.

But just as the coronavirus has increased the need for independent journalism, it has also undercut a major revenue source of media companies, ours included – advertising.

We need your support to keep it up – donate or subscribe and #helpushelpyou!

Support Metropole!


 

RECENT Articles

From Beirut to Vienna: Funeral March for the Dead

Following the devastating explosion in Beirut, the Lebanese diaspora in Vienna is demonstration in support.

The EU Deal Enters a New Phase

After an agreement over a coronavirus relief package, the European Union is working to implement the plan.

The Coronavirus in Austria & Vienna | New Support Platform Launched

Here’s all you need to know about current measures and developments, including trusted sources and tips – regularly updated.

Book Review | Daniel Kehlmann & The Power of Mockery

In Tyll, widely-acclaimed German-Austrian author Daniel Kehlmann reinvents a medieval legend to unmask the fatuity of rulers and the wisdom of tricks.

Why the EU Recovery Fund Is a Big Deal – for Europe & for the Climate

The recent budget-corona negotiations could lead to the creation of a fiscal union and a greater emphasis on sustainability.

Musical Chairs for UK-EU Expats – Grab a Seat Before the Music Stops

As the Brexit negotiations drag on, there is still no final clarity on the future of British citizens living in Europe. It is likely to be reciprocal – whatever that means. With Boris, who knows?
 

METROPOLE NEWSLETTER

Join over 5,000 Metropolitans, who already get monthly news updates and event invitations.