China - Dalian


In January and February 1999, I had to visit Dalian in China on business. I was fortunate to be able to study the tram and trolleybus systems while I was there. Unfortunately, one of the trolleybus routes (the 102) had been withdrawn only weeks earlier and I found crews demolishing the overhead. Route 101, some 5 miles in length, was however, flourishing and operated an intensive service - even on a Sunday. I walked the whole route on one such Sunday, visiting the depot and managing to drive one of their trolleybuses in the depot yard. The following photographs chart my progress from the terminus at Malancun back to the city.

Fares were very cheap, the trolleybuses costing a flat fare of 0.5 RMB (about 3.5p) for the 5 mile run, the trams costing 1 RMB, or 7p. All operating staff appeared to be female - even the depot manager! Trolleys had two conductresses, stationed at each of the two entrance doors, but they had also to fight their way round the crowded vehicles collecting fares. They also distributed a flimsy paper ticket, but only if asked. The trams had a clear box at the entrance to drop the 1 RMB note into while the driver (also female) looked on.

There were three tram routes (201, 202 & 203) covering some 14 route-miles, and two depots. One depot was friendly and one wasn't! At the friendly one they were repairing at least one trolleybus, and they had in storage two old very long articulated trams. The Witt-style trams were lovely old vehicles which had great motor whines when running. The trams used a mixture of bow collectors and trolley poles.

It is apparently proposed to replace trolleybus route 101 with a new tramway, as part of the scheme to update the whole tramway system in the city. This was because the intensity of the route warranted a tramway, the trolleybuses were getting very old and needed considerable attention, and the concrete poles' reinforcing rods were corroding to an alarming degree. There had been no news on this work when I checked in 2001, and as 2005 closed I was still waiting. News in 2006 was that the scheme had been postponed (due to cost), and indeed there was a possibility of new trolleybuses being obtained for the route.

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Malancun Terminus. There were two bays here, and frequently three trolleybuses such was the volume of passengers. 3992 & 3604 lay over briefly before their return to the city.
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On the road to Malancun. 3997 passes brightly-coloured flats and shops.
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3620 heads for Malancun, viewed from a convenient footbridge over the road.
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Part way back from the terminus is the depot. Here 3971 in Sanyo advertising livery runs out to commence operation. Vehicles had route 101 in a side or back window, and in the glass above the windscreen. 3971 was one of only a few to have it stencilled on the front.
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Even for a Sunday the service headway was only a few minutes. It would have been interesting to see the depot full! Here several trolleys wait out of service at the back of the yard...
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...and the fronts of 3979, 3996 and 3621, all of the 4-door design with a door at the front, which was not used by passengers.
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3970 parked up, which was of the 3-door design. All the trolleys in service and in the depot were articulated, in either design..
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3986 in 'standard' livery passes the other exit from the depot, with another full load, on its way back to the city.
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3917 & 3604 pass each other on an industrial part of the route. Most of the overhead was strung catenary-style as here.
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3 trolleys, with 3968 closest, near the crossing with tramway 202. The skyscrapers of the city are now apparent.
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The crossing itself with 3980 and modern-design tram 8007. It was difficult to get a shot of both tram and trolleybus here, even with a frequent service on each, being a right-angle crossing. Note the lorry piled up with wood.

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While on the subject of trams, here are 5 on the 202, between the tram depot and the trolleybus crossing. The first three show three of the four designs; modern, Witt-type and pointed type. (Yes, the second vehicle is a bus - the 5th one's behind the traffic lights).
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Not far from the city terminus, route 101 joins tram route 201crossing in the foreground. Here highest-numbered 3999 turns off for Malancun, while 3917 returns to city.
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3915 at the same place. Contrary to popular belief, cyclists are few and far between; in Dalian at any rate. The traffic intensity in the working week is such that they would probably all be killed!
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3984, with a full load bound for home turns in front of tram 7011 of the fourth design. The trolleybus frequency is such that another is in the background (and that would be full too!)
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3985 turns at the city terminus. The pole on the right of this shot figured in an amazing episode when the driver of 3602 turned too sharply and got stuck on it, blocking the whole system for an hour!
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3919 in more-or-less the same place, having just arrived. The trolley in front is boarding and the one in front of that is already leaving. Obscured is the fact that there would be several hundred Chinese trying to get on - no wonder they needed two conductresses!
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3606 pulls out of the terminus for the return trip to Malancun. Tram 7008, at its terminus, waits to set off also.
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I also explored route 102. Some of the wiring remained, particularly in side-streets. The route ended at Tiger Beach with a turning circle, but then there was a spur to another depot. Four rigid trolleys (numbered 001-004) were parked on the pavement outside; 3 ShengFeng and an unidentifiable smaller vehicle bringing up the rear...
Dalian20.JPG (22086 bytes) No trolleys remained in the yard, I could only assume that any 'standard' articulated trolleys had been taken to the other depot - perhaps that's why it looked packed.
I was disappointed this route had come off - it would have been great to go down to the sea on a trolley....