One thing I love about Germany is that I DON’T know everything and that there are still surprises. Take this bit of serendipity for example. On October 25th Steven Brown and I were headed east from Eisenach towards Neudietendorf to scout locations for the Plandampf event the next day. Suddenly I spied out of the corner of my eye a Duewag GT6 heading across an open field adjacent to the interstate, what?! I went into full research panic mode to try to figure out what the hell I had just seen, thanks to having a phone that can access all the worlds information I realized I had seen some part of the Gotha streetcar network, a town which I had no clue even had streetcars. Fate would have it that there was a large traffic jam blocking our way to Neudietendorf so we decided why not go find some streetcars and find an alternate route. I found what looked like a turning loop on the map in the town of Sundhausen south of Gotha. We pulled up and found a small station on a piece of trackage that looked distinctively East German with the single line running on a dedicated track between the road and adjacent houses. A check of the schedule showed one arrival in each direction in just a few minutes, we were in luck.
A quick background on the Gotha streeetcar network; the Gotha network has its beginnings in 1884 with an interurban line into the Thurigan forest completed in 1929. The line was constructed in Meter gauge which was fairly common practice in Germany. Gotha had an interesting place in Streetcar history in the GDR era when the Gotha Wagonfabrik became the primary tram builder for GDR until Tatra trams became the eastern bloc standard. Unlike many networks in the east that were abandoned the Gotha trams have managed to hang on and still operating with mostly GDR era stock. The system operates mainly Tatra KT4D trams supplemented with 4 ex- Mannheim Duewag GT6s. Map below from UrbanRail
First we see Tatra 303 arrive from its trip on the interurban line from Tabarz
Next Tatra 310 arrives with a Route 1 service which will proceed to the turning loop one stop further at the hospital and then return back.
As much as I wanted to stick around we still had some scouting to do so continued south, one day I hope to return to Gotha as it looks like one of the more interesting lines in Germany, totally free of low floor cars and a 21 km long interurban section. Hopefully I can get back before change wipes away this little gem.