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The first trolleybuses in Russia
The first trolleybuses in Russia

The firstborn of electric transport - the forerunner of the tram - was, as the newspapers wrote at that time, “moved by the force of an electric current running along the rails” in St. Petersburg in August 1880. However, the invention of Staff Captain Fyodor Pirotsky was not given due attention at home, and the author has developed tragically.

A year later, Pirotsky's idea was implemented by the engineer Werner von Siemens, who was at the origins of the famous German concern, and the world's first tram line was opened in Berlin. At the same time, a German, with his impressive list of his own inventions, can hardly be called a plagiarist.

Among the many developments of von Siemens was the first prototype of the trolleybus, it hit the road on April 29, 1882. It was a four-wheeled carriage with two electric motors, the current was supplied from a wire suspended above the road by means of a cable. The novelty received the name "electromote" and for almost two months it cruised demonstratively in the German Halensee on a route 540 meters long.

Experiments with trackless electric vehicles continued around the world. In Russia they were crowned with success in 1902. This is how the Avtomobil newspaper reported on this hot on the heels: “At present, a car has been built in St. Petersburg, driven by electrical energy obtained from wires along the track, but walking not on rails, but on an ordinary road …”.

Leningradskoe highway

Leningradskoe highway. The first Soviet trolleybus LK-2 is on the route. End of 1933. Source: Museum of Moscow

The first demonstration of the apparatus took place on the territory of the Frese and K enterprise on March 26 (approx. April 13 in a new style). This date is considered the birthday of the Russian trolleybus.

In its next issue, the magazine told the details: “A car was demonstrated, powered by current from the central station with the help of a special cart rolling along the wires and collecting current from them. The cart, connected to the vehicle by a double wire, is moved by the vehicle itself. During the experiments, the car easily evaded the direct direction, backed up and turned … ".

The pioneer of Russian transport developments, Pyotr Frese, was behind the tests - the author of the first car in Russia (1896, together with Fleet Lieutenant Yevgeny Yakovlev), a truck (1901), a mail van (1903), a fire engine (1904) and other inventions.

The Frese truck served as the basis for the first Russian trolleybus, the electrical part was developed by Count Sergei Schulenburg. This machine did not yet have "horns", and the current transmission trolley, which moved along the wires, was assembled under the von Siemens patent.

Boris Vdovenko "The first double-decker trolleybus YATB-3 in Moscow on Revolution Square", September 26, 1938

Boris Vdovenko "The first double-decker trolleybus YATB-3 in Moscow on Revolution Square", September 26, 1938 Source: Museum of Moscow

Later, the idea of ​​opening an entire long-distance trolleybus line was born. But the bold "Project for equipping the Novorossiysk - Sukhum highway with electric cars", invented by the young engineer Shubersky, remained a project.

How the second became the first

By the beginning of the 20th century, the concept of a tram as the basis of urban transport was considered the most advantageous, therefore, tram traffic existed in 43 cities of pre-revolutionary Russia. The trolleybus time came in the Soviet Union, and the first line opened in Moscow in the fall of 1933.

Initially, it was planned to buy cars in Germany, but the Country of Soviets could not find the funds for this, and the development was entrusted to the Scientific Automobile and Tractor Institute. The two first-borns of the Soviet trolleybus fleet jointly created three enterprises: the chassis based on the Ya-6 bus was prepared by the Yaroslavl Automobile Plant; body made of oak frame, sheathed on the outside with sheet iron,and inside, pasted over with leatherette, is the Moscow Plant named after Stalin; the electrician was taken over by the capital "Dynamo" named after Kirov.

Boris Vdovenko "Double-decker trolleybus YATB-3 in Moscow near Tverskaya Zastava", April 26, 1938

Boris Vdovenko "Double-decker trolleybus YATB-3 in Moscow near Tverskaya Zastava", April 26, 1938. Source: Museum of Moscow

The length of the "electric buses" was 9 m, width - 2.3 m, weight - 8.5 tons, speed - 50 km / h, capacity - 36 seats, excluding the driver. Lucky passengers expected unprecedented comfort with soft seats, nets for small luggage, power windows, electric heaters and fans, and there was even a mirror on the back deck. The front door was opened by the driver using a lever, the rear door was opened by the conductor or by the passengers themselves.

Both cars were painted in a combination of dark blue and yellow colors and named LK-1 and LK-2 in honor of the second person in the country at that time - Lazar Kaganovich. The commissioning of the transport was timed to coincide with the 16th anniversary of the Great October Revolution - the Roman numerals XVI under the windshield, clearly visible in old photos, speak about it. Below they attached a shield: “From workers, engineers and employees of the State. car plant them. Stalin, the Dynamo plant, the Yaroslavl Automobile Plant, NATI.

Route No. 1 with a length of 7.5 km passed along the Leningradskoye and Volokolamskoye highways, connecting the Belorussko-Baltiysky railway station, as it was then called, and the former village of Vsekhsvyatskoe (now this is the area of ​​the Sokol metro station), next to which there were two railway stations of different directions … In the same place, in Vsekhsvyatskoe, a garage was built for a miracle of technology.

There were some curiosities. On the eve of the official acceptance, on the evening of November 4, LK-1 went on a test flight. When the car returned, the floor in the garage could not support its weight, and the failed trolleybus was badly damaged. At the time of the opening of the trolleybus service in the USSR - it came at 11 o'clock in the morning on November 15, 1933 - only the car with the number "2" entered the line, and the LK-1 was still under repair.

When it was returned to service, both trolleybuses were captured for newsreels. During the shooting, the operator even dared to climb onto the roof of a moving car at the risk of himself, in order to more clearly convey to the audience the principles of its operation and maneuverability.

Route No. 1 was at first single-track - when one met, one trolleybus passed the other, lowering the pantographs from the contact wires. Both "kaganovich" worked until 1940, and then gave way to more advanced models.

Boris Vdovenko "Double-decker trolleybus YATB-3 on Pushkin Square", June 15, 1939

Boris Vdovenko "Double-decker trolleybus YATB-3 on Pushkin Square", June 15, 1939 Source: Museum of Moscow

British exotic is a smoker's dream

In the young Soviet republic, deprived of access to fresh Western technologies, it was practiced to buy samples of advanced technology abroad. In the USSR, they were studied screw by screw, and the peeped ideas were later applied in domestic mechanical engineering.

In 1937, the British English Electric Company Ltd. purchased a pair of three-axle trolleybuses. One of them was two-story. When the purchase was shipped to Leningrad by sea, it turned out that the giant's dimensions impeded rail transportation. As a result, the awkward Englishman had to be towed to Kalinin (now - Tver), where he was loaded onto a barge and taken to the capital.

Having worked in September-October 1937 on the same route, the exotic Briton went to the Yaroslavl Automobile Plant. There, after acquaintance with the overseas curiosity, over the next two years, a dozen YATB-3 double-decker machines were released, which in the summer of 1939, with the beginning of the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition (VSHV), began to run around Moscow.

One of the two routes of these trolleybuses just ended at the All-Union Agricultural Exhibition. Especially for them, the height of the contact network was increased by one meter (up to 5, 8 m), which created problems for one-story "colleagues". To reach the wire, those had to pull up the "horns", which limited maneuverability and led to frequent loss of contact. Difficulties in the simultaneous operation of machines of different height buried the two-story project - the last YATB-3 held out on the streets of Moscow until January 1953.

In addition to their foreign appearance, these trolleybuses had a feature that was unthinkable for our time - smoking was allowed on the second floor. Despite the tobacco smoke, this floor was tacitly considered more prestigious. Therefore, a separate conductor was responsible for each floor - their goal was to prevent the center of gravity of the tall car from shifting due to the uneven distribution of passengers, which would be fraught with overturning.

The enemy is at the gate

By June 1941, 17 routes operated in the capital with a total length of about 200 km. They were served by three trolleybus fleets with 599 vehicles. In terms of their total number, pre-war Moscow was the second in the world, second only to London.

With the beginning of the war, buses and trucks were required by the Red Army, fuel was also sent primarily to the military. So the trolleybus became the main mode of transport in Moscow.

Inhabitants of the Leningradsky District load firewood onto trolleys at the cargo section of the Northern Port, 1943

Residents of the Leningradsky District load firewood onto trolleys at the Severny Port cargo area, 1943 Source: Museum of Moscow

The city needed a daily supply of food, industrial and military cargo, and with the onset of cold weather - coal and firewood, so the shortage of trucks was especially acute. To compensate for it, some of the passenger trolleybuses were converted into freight ones. In addition, there were 49 hoisting trolley carriers in the capital, produced before the war in Yaroslavl. In addition to the electric motor, they had a diesel engine, which allowed them to leave the route for a short time.

To supply the city along the Leningradskoye Highway, a special line was laid to the cargo Northern river port.

During the Great Patriotic War, the Moscow "horned" unwittingly gave impetus to the development of trolleybus transport in the USSR. In the fall of 1941, when the enemy was at the gates of Moscow, 105 trolleybuses were evacuated from the capital. These "refugees" in 1942 entered the first routes in the history of Kuibyshev (now Samara) and Chelyabinsk, and in 1943 - Sverdlovsk (now Yekaterinburg). Only these "Muscovites" were transported not by idle townspeople, but by workers of defense enterprises.

The Belle Epoch of the Blue Trolleybus

Tram and trolleybus competed not only on the street, but also in literature. The firstborn of the mechanical age in the city, the tram, at first was perceived as a soulless machine, or even a road to the next world. Thus, in Bulgakov's The Master and Margarita, the tram becomes a murder weapon at Patriarch's Ponds. At Pasternak's, the protagonist of Doctor Zhivago dies "in a faulty carriage, on which misfortunes have been pouring all the time." And one of the most ominous poems by Gumilev is called "The Lost Tram".

Valentin Kunov "The Sokolniki Carriage Repair Plant has finished testing the first articulated trolleybus TS-1", August 22, 1959

Valentin Kunov "Sokolniki Carriage Repair Plant has completed testing of the first articulated trolleybus TS-1", August 22, 1959 Source: Museum of Moscow

Another thing is the trolleybus, which flourished during the Khrushchev thaw, when new routes were drawn to Moscow's new buildings. In the mid-1960s, more than 1800 "horned" ones worked in the capital, and the Moscow trolleybus network (1253 km) was the longest in the world. To cope with the increased passenger traffic, at the plant in Sokolniki, according to German technologists, they began to make the country's first articulated trolleybuses TS-1, which are popularly called "vacuum cleaners", "crocodiles" and "sausage".

At this time, the image of goodness and hope was entrenched in the urban lyrics for the trolleybus. The beginning of poetic chanting was laid by Bulat Okudzhava, who wrote in 1957:

When I can't overcome trouble

when despair sets in

I get into a blue trolleybus on the move, at the last, at random.

The last trolleybus, through the streets of mchi, Circling the boulevards, To pick everyone up, victims in the night

Wreck, wreck …

Okudzhava was echoed by Julius Kim:

The last trolleybus, naive boat, Great guitar passing greetings …

And beloved lips with a taste of apples, And a request for happiness that does not exist.

Many were included in this roll call: Eduard Uspensky, Mikhail Tanich, Boris Dubrovin, Sergei Tatarinov, Leonid Sergeev and other poets. The trolleybus even inspired Viktor Tsoi and Ilya Lagutenko.It is significant that in February 2013 a route that had been closed for several years was recreated in Vladivostok for the filming of the Mumiy Troll's video for the song Fourth Trolleybus.

Andrey Mikhailov "Trolleybus SVARZ car Volga", 1960s

Andrey Mikhailov "Trolleybus SVARZ car Volga", 1960s. Source: Museum of Moscow

The reduction of trolleybus networks is the imperative of the times, which is constantly changing its needs both for man and for the machines he invented. However, history knows many unexpected twists and turns. Scrapped in many countries back in the 1950s, the tram is undergoing a renaissance and is returning to metropolitan areas in the form of a modernized light rail. Perhaps a similar reincarnation awaits his old rival?

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