Kyiv tram

Postcard of the Month

Kyiv car 14, Krestschatik

The Ukrainian capital of Kyiv (Kiev, Kiew) is, at the time of writing, in the news for all the wrong reasons. The city stands on the Dnieper River in the northern half of the country and is one of the oldest cities in Eastern Europe, dating back to at least the 5th century. It was captured by the Vikings in the 9th century but completely destroyed in 1240 by Mongol invaders. Much later, it came under the control or influence of Lithuania, then Poland and then Russia. The city prospered in the 19th century when part of the Russian Empire, but declared independence in 1918 from Soviet Russia. From 1921, it was a city in the Soviet Ukraine. Largely destroyed again in WW2, it recovered as part of the Soviet Union and was its third largest city. Ukrainian independence from the Soviet Union was declared in 1991 but recent events threaten to change everything once more.

Tramways began in the city with a horse tramway, initiated by Amand Struwe (a Russian military engineer), in 1891 but some city roads were too steep for two-horse trams - some even for four-horse trams. A limited steam tramway started in February 1892 but two electric cars, built by the Struve brothers near Moscow, also arrived in 1892. These were successfully tested, easily climbing the steep streets including from Podil Street to Khreshchatyk Street, the latter being the main street in the city centre running north-east to south-west.

Our postcard, No.300 in a series by an unknown publisher, shows car 14, one of the earliest in the fleet and also believed to have been built by the Struve brothers. It is seen travelling along Krestschatik (Khreshchatyk) in about 1905. The gauge of the city tramway at this time is uncertain and there were eventually a number of tramway operators running on various gauges! By 1925, the tramways had been standardised on the 'Russian gauge' of 1524mm (exactly 5 feet).

Prior to the 2022 war, the tramway had been operating over 400 trams (mostly various Tatra models) on some 21 routes. Some new Electron T5B64 5-section trams, built by Electrontrans of Lviv in Ukraine, entered service from 2015.


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