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Subjects in FocusRailways in Modern Macedonia

Railways in Modern Macedonia

The ambitious Baron Hirsch
The railway line Thessaloniki-Skopje-Mitrovitsa
The Thessaloniki-Monastir railway line
The Thessaloniki-Constantinople railway line
Changes of the railway network
The railway personnel
Locomotives and rolling stock
Forgotten railway stations
The trains in the war
The Thessaloniki of trams and trains

Images on this page

The tram-lines on the old sea-front in Thessaloniki
Early 20th century picture postcard with trams on the sea-front in Thessaloniki, 1907-1957, Thessaloniki, Th. Tsinopoulos archive.

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The Thessaloniki of trams and trains

The tram-lines on the old sea-front in Thessaloniki

For more than six decades the tram was Thessaloniki's best known symbol after the White Tower. Its history began in May 1893 when the sturdy Hungarian horses of the Belgian Tramway Company pulled the first cars, luxurious for their times, along the Exohes line: Customs House-White Tower-Buyuk Dere (the Yeoryiou stop).

While the cars' upholstered leather seats eventually wore out, the length of the tram lines increased steadily. In 1907 the trams were electrified, while their tracks spread to all the city's major horizontal and vertical axes.

During the First World War, the tram lines were crossed by urban railways, which the Entente's armies considered indispensable for servicing medical and other wartime needs. The main urban railway line began at the port and continued up Constantinoupoleos street, passing the Allatini tile factory to wind up at the allied hospitals at Mikra.

In 1934 the length of the city's network was 25 kilometres. With the adoption of monthly fare cards, the trams were established as a popular means of transport, overcoming the first challenges of the bus. In 1940, ownership of the Belgian company passed to the Greek state, while one year later half the vehicles were commandeered for the needs of the occupying forces which had flooded the city.

On 21 July 1957, Thessaloniki's last tram undertook its final journey, an employee waving a white flag from its front. The trams' deficits forced Thessaloniki's capitulation to pollution. Only time will tell if it was final...

Macedonian Heritage
Content courtesy Ekdotike Athenon S.A.