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Kramatorsk trams make their final run

The south-eastern route to Bilomorska, with the city's proud industrial heritage clearly visible in the distance.

Kramatorsk closed its final route on 1 August, ending 80 years of tramway operation in the eastern Ukrainian city.

The tramway provided an important role in this community of 160 000, serving the large NKMZ machine-building works at the mid-point of the 14.6km (nine-mile) north-south ‘spine’. But ridership has dwindled, with only the main route and northern and south-eastern branches surviving into the 21st Century. The south-western route to the railway station closed in 2003 and the system closed entirely due to conflict in the Donbas region in spring 2014.

The city’s decision to abandon its trams was made earlier this year, citing inadequate funds for fleet and track replacement. Falling revenues due to a decline in industrial activity have made such investment unsustainable. A commitment has been made to redeploy as many of the undertaking’s 50 staff as possible.

Five KTM-5 bogie cars were used for service, from an operational fleet of eight dating from 1974. Nine buses are to replace the tram service and the city plans to buy a further three to enhance frequency. New trams would reportedly have cost UAH12-15m (EUR390 000-490 000) each, with modernisation quoted at UAH2-3m per vehicle. This compares with UAH1.5m (EUR49 000) for a new bus.

Almost all of the system’s track was on reservation, either as roadside double-track or
double-track grass alignment between separate carriageways; 34.7km (21.6 miles) of tracks are to be lifted and will be put up for sale with the trams.