Appendix 9:
Urban Tramways Survive In Small Eastern German Towns
On 1989 November 9, following several months of political turmoil and public protests, authorities of the Deutsche Demokratische Republik (DDR, "East Germany") announced that DDR citizens would be permitted to travel freely to the West. Although probably not anticipated at the time, this act led inexorably to the reunification of Berlin, and all of Germany, effective 1990 October 3.
The sheer pace of the political changes engulfing central Europe must, whatever their other benefits or disbenefits, leave a large question-mark hanging over the future of some of the smaller DDR tramways, most of which would have been closed years ago had they been in the West. Even with the current concern for environmental considerations, it must remain doubtful whether tramways such as Naumburg, Jena and Halberstadt can survive in a more market-oriented economy (Russell, May 1990, p. 165).
Doubts about the continued survival of urban tramways in small Eastern German towns were well grounded. However, urban tramways in the former DDR have benefited from substantial investment for new rolling stock (some of it second-hand from Western German systems) and infrastructure renewal. The apparent consensus: in spite of sharp decreases in traffic as the result of increased motorization, tramway systems are urban amenities worth keeping. The town council of Halberstadt, population 80,000, received a consultant’s recommendation that its 8-km / 5-mi urban tramway should be replaced by bus. The council rejected this advice and instead approved construction of a short suburban extension. Naumburg, population 30,000, was forced to suspend tramway operation in 1991 because the track had become life-expired. About half the previous system length had been rebuilt by the end of 2004. Limited service is operated on occasion for special events, and eventual restoration of full service is planned. With this qualified exception, all urban tramways in the former DDR that remained at 1989 continue in operation.