Biel tram

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Biel tram
Trams on the main square
Trams on the main square
Route of the Biel tram
Tram network in 1925
Route length: 13.5 km
Gauge : up to 1902: 1435 mm /
from 1902: 1000 mm
Power system : 550 V  =
Maximum slope : 42 
Minimum radius : 15 m
Operator: City tram Biel
Opening: Bözingen - Nidau : August 18, 1877
re-gauging :
December 31, 1902
Opening: Biel - Mett : October 24, 1913
Shutdown: December 8, 1948

The Biel tram was a tram running in Biel / Bienne and its surrounding area , which existed from 1877 to 1948 and was operated as a horse-drawn tram ( Rösslitram ) until 1902 . The responsible transport company was initially the Compagnie générale des tramways suisses (TS), later the Biel Städtische Trassenbahn ( French Tramway de Bienne , abbreviated TrB ) from which today's Biel transport company emerged.


Horse tram

Car No. 5
Summer car no.108

In 1857, the Swiss Central Railway (SCB) opened the railway line from Olten via Herzogenbuchsee to Solothurn to Biel, which gave the small town with a population of over 4,000 at that time a strong growth spurt and in 1870 already had twice as many inhabitants. Many immigrants were French- speaking watchmakers from the Jura . A horse-drawn tram modeled on American cities was intended to provide faster connections in the urban area.

In 1874 the horse railway company Biel was founded with share capital of 200,000 francs , which in 1875 a concession to operate a horse-drawn tram on the Bözingen – Biel– Nidau ​​route for 25 years, which also better connects the train station with the city should. The concession required the route to be traveled 20 times a day in both directions. The fare for the entire route could be 20 cents , which corresponds to around 12 francs based on today's purchasing power.

The Biel Horse Railway Company contracted the concession to the Geneva Compagnie générale des tramways suisses (TS) in October 1876 . This company emerged from the Compagnie des tramways de Genève (CTG), which had only been founded in March of the same year and had taken over two tram lines in Geneva from predecessor companies. A horse-drawn tram had operated in Geneva since 1862. Today's Transports publics genevois (TPG) emerged from the TS . The horse railway company Biel dissolved after it had given up the concession.

After two months of construction, TS opened the 4180 m long standard-gauge horse -drawn tram line from Bözingen to Nidau ​​Schiffländte on August 18, 1877 . This made Biel the second city in Switzerland to have a Rösslitram, even before the cities of Basel , Bern and Zurich followed. The operation began with four wagons and 18 horses. Three of the four cars came from abroad, the fourth car came from the Swiss Industrial Society (SIG) in Neuhausen am Rheinfall . Single -axle trailers were available for mail transport .

The following year, on March 23, 1878, the line was extended by 400 meters to Nidau ​​Church.

From 1880 it is reported that a horse was in action for four and a half hours a day, covering 17 km. The horses were strained so that nine of the 13 existing horses died or otherwise left the service. In the same year 11 new horses were bought.

At the beginning the horse tram business made a profit, but soon there was an economic downturn. Some hard winters continued to put pressure on the operating result - the Federal Council refused to accept the request to cease operations in winter. From 1888 the company was back in the black until the end of the century. In 1897 the horse-drawn tram carried 488,549 people. She now had 22 employees and 21 horses.

After the introduction of the compressed air tram in Berne, people in Biel thought of switching to electrical operation. At the end of November 1900, TS merged with Société genevoise des chemins de fer à voie étroite (VE), the second tram company in Geneva, to form Compagnie genevoise des tramways électriques (CGTE). In 1901 this company sold the Rösslitram to the city of Biel for 170,000 francs.

Electric tram

A motor car from the Ce 2/2 1–12 series in 1903
In front of the Biel train station

After the city of Biel took over the horse-drawn tram, the license for the conversion to electrical operation was submitted in June 1901. In May 1902, electrification and conversion to meter gauge could begin. Twelve electric motor vehicles were procured and individual horse-drawn tram cars were rearranged so that they could continue to be used as sidecars . Electrical operation Biel – Bözingen began on October 10, and the line to Nidau ​​was also electrified on December 30.

In 1913 a second line to Mett was opened, which was served by the new line 3. There it was possible to switch to the independent Biel-Meinisberg Railway (BMB), which served the route to Meinisberg with two steam railcars . The existing tram lines received the line signals 1 and 2, previously the tram operated without line numbers.

From 1916, the Biel-Täuffelen-Ins-Bahn (BTI) joined the route network in Nidau, and it wasn't until 1926 that the train got its own route from Nidau ​​to the SBB station.

The BMB had to cease operations in 1923 due to insolvency . It had to be renovated by the Canton of Bern and was converted to electrical operation. Management was transferred to the Biel tram, with which the tram network reached its maximum extent from 1926.

line 1 Train station - central square - mill bridge - Juraplatz - Bözingen
Line 2 Train station - Nidau
Line 3 Train station - central square - Mett
Line 4 / BMB Train station - central square - Mett - Orpund - Safnern - Meinisberg

1930, the lines were 1 and 2 for the new line 1 Nidau-Bözingen by bound . As a result, Line 3 became Line 2 and Line 4 became Line 3.

line 1 Nidau ​​train station - central square - mill bridge - Juraplatz - Bözingen
Line 2 Train station - central square - Mett
Line 3 / BMB Train station - central square - Mett - Orpund - Safnern - Meinisberg

From 1936 the BMB returned to its own operation, so that the Biel tram only went to Mett.

In 1940, the tramway trolleybus and bus service began to be gradually converted . Line 3 became a bus line in 1940, line 2 became a trolleybus line in the same year. Line 1 was also replaced by a trolleybus line on December 8, 1948.


Ce 2/2 6 from the first series

The tram had 20 two-axle railcars from three series. Two series had car bodies from SIG, one series from Schindler Wagon Schlieren (SWS). All series had electrical equipment from Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon (MFO). All railcars were canceled after the tram was closed except for the Ce 2/2 No. 5, which came to the Bex-Villars-Bretaye-Bahn . Eight railcars of the first series had already retired in 1940 after lines 2 and 3 were switched to bus operation.

designation number Manufacturer Construction year Discarded
Ce 2/2 1-12 12 SIG, MFO 1902 1939-1948
Ce 2/2 13-18 6th SWS, MFO 1913 1948
Ce 2/2 19, 20 2 SIG, MFO 1930 1949
Pendant No. 45

Trailer operation was only introduced in 1910. The 11 trailers came from SWS and SIG. When the two lines were closed in 1940, five trailers were withdrawn, the rest of them were handed over to the Lausanne tram after operations had ceased.

designation number Manufacturer Construction year Discarded
C2 41.42 2 SWS 1910 1948
C2 43.44 2 SWS 1913 1948
C2 45.46 2 SIG 1925 1948
C2 51-55 5 SIG 1940-1941
Company car
Explosive wagon Xe 2/2 No. 1

The company car included the Xe 2/2 No. 1 self-propelled explosive vehicle, which has been preserved by the Blonay – Chamby museum railway , two snow plows and seven mail trailers. The explosive wagon is the only surviving vehicle on the Biel tram.

Discussed construction of a new tram line in Biel and the surrounding area: RegioTram

Since 2009, the canton of Bern has carried out a preliminary study on a tram line for the city of Biel. The planned line was to connect the up-and-coming commercial and residential area in the east of the city with the city center of Biel. The line would have continued the existing 21 km Biel-Täuffelen-Ins railway as a tram line. In March 2015 this project was stopped. The construction of the tram line would have cost 311 million francs - including renovation work on the existing infrastructure.

See also


  • Albert Ziegler: Bieler Strassenbahnen - Tramways of Biel Switzerland; Urban tramway Biel, urban transport company, Biel, Biel-Meinisberg-Bahn, Biel-Täuffelen-Ins-Bahn , Gut Vorhard, Verlag Eisenbahn, Villingen 1977, ISBN 3-85649-027-2

Web links

Commons : Strassenbahn Biel  - Collection of pictures, videos and audio files
  • Josef Pospichal: Biel / Bienne tram. In: Locomotive statistics. (Roll material list).

Individual evidence

  1. a b c d e f g h The Bieler Rösslitram. In: memreg. W. Gassmann AG, May 1, 2005, accessed on January 16, 2020 .
  2. a b Anna Dorothea Noser: Biel Chronicle 1900 to 1903 . ( [PDF]).
  3. Jürg Ehrbar: Biel-Meinisberg-Bahn BMB. In: discontinued railways in Switzerland. Retrieved January 17, 2020 .
  4. ^ Josef Pospichal: Tram Biel / Bienne. In: Locomotive statistics. (Roll material list).
  5. ^ Regiotram agglomeration Biel / Bienne: final report preliminary project summary. (PDF) (No longer available online.) Office for Public Transport, Canton of Bern, archived from the original on August 13, 2018 .;