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Carriages and cars – A brief history

Car number “1”

Originally known as n. 411, it is the oldest running tram car in Europe.
Only after the ANONYMOUS SMALL RAILWAYS COMPANY started to run the service, on September 9th, 1902, the carriage was given the number 1 out of an initial car fleet of six.
The mechanics were built by GRAZEN UNION FABRIK, the same company that built carriages for Trieste’s Municipal Electric Tramways company, and the electrics were implemented by OSTERREICHISCHE UNION ELEKTRICITATS GESELLSCHAFT.

Carriages looked quite different then from today’s cars: there was no cover for drivers, who were therefore exposed to all kinds of weather conditions and, in case of rain or snow, would wear big waterproof capes to protect themselves and the car controls.
A few years later, in 1908, two glass shields were added to protect drivers and, later still, the car’s structure was slightly altered in length to accommodate more than the initial maximum of 44 passengers.

Around 1937, bogey carts were introduced (and are still currently in use), while the number 1 carriage was taken out of service and transformed into a rescue car, both to pull out broken-down cars or in case of maintenance work needed along the line (a platform was built on the roof to make this job possible).

In 1992, the number 1 carriage has been completely restored by the Tramways staff and a celebration ride was staged for the 90th anniversary of the line’s first ride: repainted in the original green adopted during the 1920s, it now has two engines and can carry up to 28 sitting passengers.

Car number “6”

During the September 2002 celebrations for the 100 years’ anniversary of the Trieste-Opicina tramway, the restoration of another historical carriage from 1902 was launched: it had been in service until the end of the ‘60s as a maintenance car, then kept in the Campo Marzio Railway Museum in Trieste, where it was first externally renewed in 1992 by the museum’s voluntary staff. Since then, though, wear and tear and the exposure to bad weather had again reduced the carriage to a wreck in need of urgent repair.

After a complex and meticulous restoration process, financed by the Transport Consortium Company (owning the carriage), Trieste Trasporti Ltd (running the tramway), the Friuli Venezia-Giulia regional authority, the Cassa di Risparmio di Trieste Foundation and the Officina Navale Quaiat co. Ltd., carriage number 6 of the famous ”Tram de Opcina” has been brought back to life.
The repairing process has been developed in three stages: first, extended research in historical archives and museums, both locally and in Austria, followed by planning of the intervention, and finally by the actual reconstruction of the carriage.
The restoration, too, has been carried out at three different levels: electromechanical and mechanical repairs, woodwork, carpentry and accessories.
The original electric engines were found in one of TT’s warehouses, therefore allowing the electrical system to be restored to its original state – after thorough inspection of both the engines themselves and the original control devices – by using new materials and according to current legislation.
Carpenters have had to completely reconstruct the tram woodwork, as the original one was too damaged to be recovered.
The same wood used 100 years ago has been employed, namely larch for the car structure and the floors, oakwood for the seats and parts of the floor-boards, mahogany for the ceiling and the inside/outside appliances, and teakwood for the bodywork mouldings. Altogether, more than 5 cubic meters of wood have been used.
The final result looks very authentic and is historically accurate.
The mechanical parts have been thoroughly inspected, and the details reconstructed according to the original design. As for the accessories, the casts and the fusions of all the original bronze and brass details have been accurately reproduced, as well as the inside lamps, which have been reconstructed by a factory in Vienna.
The original steel structure has been thoroughly inspected first, and the worn-out or damaged parts have then been restored by hot riveting, as electric welding had not been invented at the time the tram was first built.
The shade of paint used for the bodywork is, again, the same as the original colour the tram was painted in until the first half of the 1920s.

The reconstruction of the trolley pole has been interestingly performed by exactly reproducing the original and rather odd system of levers and springs.
More than 8.000 working hours have been spent in total by expert staff to bring the restoration process to completion with extraordinary, old-fashioned attention to detail.
Today, Trieste can proudly count on two perfectly functioning historical tram carriages – N. 1 and N. 6 – which can be rented by private individuals or associations for any event, ceremony or celebration they may wish to organize.

A brief history


The first electrical rack-railway line with two cable carriages is launched on the Piazza Scorcola – Vetta Scorcola route.

1906 – 1936

The original line terminus in via Nazionale is moved forward to the Opicina railway station.


The original rack-railway is replaced by the cable line.

1935 – 1936

Five bogie railcars constructed by STANGA – T.I.B.B. (Tecnomasio Italiano Brown Boveri) Mechanical Workshops are added to the tram fleet.


Two more bogie cars by the same constructor are added to the fleet.


The service is resumed after reconstruction of the cable tramway site; the equipment and the two wagon-shields are replaced (1st stage).


Technical adjustments to the cable tramway required by national legislation through introduction of automatic running and control are finalized (2nd stage).