Old tram.

New owners of old Helsinki trams promise restoration, a nostalgia tram and new urban culture

Helsinki City Transport (HKL) has selected the recipients of old trams removed from service. The criteria for the selection included the widest possible placement and diverse new uses for a variety of users. HKL announced last summer that it would hand out old trams to new owners. 

The new owners will use the trams to create new types of urban culture, while respecting the historical values of the trams. 

“Trams are part of Helsinki’s everyday life, and these trams have seen a great deal of life over the past decades. It’s splendid that they won’t be demolished but will continue their service lives in new roles,” says HKL’s Managing Director Ville Lehmuskoski

Tram car 615 will go to Oy Stadin Ratikat Ab, car 320 to the Kustaankartano multiple services centre, car 91 to Allegra Lab Ry and Helsinki Distilling Company Oy, and cars 11 and 521 to the City of Mikkeli and the Mikkelipuisto garden park. The sixth car removed from service, car 12, will be kept by HKL for the time being. 

Oy Stadin Ratikat Ab intends to restore their tram with respect to its history. The company has been engaged in museum tram service in Helsinki since 2009. An open museum tram car has been especially popular in the city. Car 615 is from 1916 and a part of the same series as the previous car in museum service. After restoration by the company, car 615 will go to service in the 2020’s. 

“An open car is not inviting on a cold or rainy day, and the beautiful, one-hundred-year-old 615 with its large windows will be a magnificent addition to the museum service. 615 protects passengers from the weather but has open decks,” says Daniel Federley, CEO of Stadin Ratikat. 

The Kustaankartano service centre’s tram car 320, which is from 1955, has a driving wheel in the cockpit and a cashier’s booth at the back. Kustaankartano as the new owner will enable special groups to use the tram. 

“We will use the tram for sharing old memories and as a venue for events such as concerts. This tram with its booth will surely arouse diverse memories,” says the service centre’s managing director Tarja Sainio

Allegra Lab Helsinki ry and The Helsinki Distilling Company will put their tram car into service in a versatile art and science programme and turn it into a platform for urban culture in the Teurastamo cultural centre area in Kalasatama. 91 is a wooden car from 1923. 

“The programme for car 91 will be produced by Allegra Lab Helsinki ry and Turhan tiedon seura ry. The tram will see a diverse art and science programme including events related to the history of Helsinki,” says Taina Riikonen, Vice Chair of Allegra Lab Helsinki and Chair of Turhan tiedon seura (“society of useless knowledge”). 

Cars 11 and 521, from 1959 and 1958 respectively, will end up outside the Helsinki metropolitan area: they will be stationed in Mikkeli to spread the message about trams.  

“Some of the key elements of a city are a city centre with a grid street plan, urban culture and trams. Mikkeli has only lacked trams so far. Cars 11 and 521 will put Mikkeli into the league of the few cities of Finland with trams. They will provide the Mikkelipuisto garden park with more urban culture: places for encounters, art exhibitions and small-scale concerts,” says Jouni Riihelä, the City of Mikkeli Technical Director. 

HKL announced last June that it would give up old trams that are unsuitable for transport service and have been removed from service. By handing the cars over to new owners, the cars can have a new life in innovative uses. 

The cars were offered for new uses that support the development of urban culture in a manner that respects the values and history of trams. HKL received 94 applications by deadline on 31 August 2018. 

HKL will continue to own museum trams.

“HKL wants to support the tram history of Helsinki. We seek to make sure that Helsinki will retain a tram from each decade of our tram history representing the period, style and technology of the decade,” says Artturi Lähdetie, director of HKL’s infrastructure and equipment unit.