A Tale of Two Tram Cities.
Sometimes I stumble into the past. Although I was keen to explore Charleroi by tram, I wasn’t expecting the vestige of roadside interurban operation on the long line to Anderlues.
Frequency on this line is only about every half hour, and I nearly gave up on this leg of my journey while waiting for a delayed outbound tram at the dark and dire brown-tile transfer station called Piges in western Charleroi.
Much of the route features modern construction on concrete elevated structures and subway, a creation of the Charleroi Metro. However, once beyond a turn-back station at the end of this infrastructure intensive right of way, trams operate on a vestige of the old Vicinal network (once the operator an extensive system of Belgium’s interurban tram lines).
This includes side-of-road operation with long sections of single track, passing sidings and brick-lined streets. I was astounded. I checked my calendar, and it confirmed that it really was August 2014, not sometime in the mid-twentieth century.
However, as is too often the case, I was on short-time and only had a few hours to explore this fascinating railway.
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Tomorrow, take a ride on the SNCB!