Header image: Derivative work. Tram No. 15 in Szopienice, Upper Silesia. MacQtosh, CC BY-SA 4.0 https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
The Upper Silesian Interurban Tramway in Poland is one of the largest tramway systems in the world. The network has 35 routes serving a conurbation of 13 towns in the region. Source: Silesian Interurbans in Wikipedia.
Map attribution: Jonny84, CC BY-SA 3.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0/, via Wikimedia Commons
I have written this article from the perspective of a tram enthusiast. Hopefully, you will be able to virtually experience the tramway excitement of sites, sounds and smells of day-to-day life in the urban and rural settings of the tramway.
Image of tram in Kazimierz. Derivative work: MOs810, CC BY-SA 4.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons
From such a perspective, the tramways of Upper Silesia have it all.
You can experience tram journeys through decaying urban industrial settings that suddenly transport you through an idyllic rural countryside. A moment later, you can be travelling through a smart semi-urban scene and finish your journey in the thriving metropolis of Katowice.
Such scenes are illustrated in two very contrasting videos I would like to share with you. The first cab driver’s view video transports you on a long tram journey from the Sosnowiec area right into the heart of Katowice. The tramway infrastructure throughout the journey is mostly new and illustrates the considerable investment undertaken on this tram route.
The second video of tram journeys through Upper Silesia illustrates a skilfully videoed reporters view of a mainly decaying tramway system witnessed on some tram lines in Upper Silesia. The idea of including this video is not to poke fun at the tramway operator (Tramwaje Śląskie) but to give you a sensory experience, through tramways, of the urban and semi-urban areas of Upper Silesia.
Geographical note: Sosnowiec lies just outside the region of Upper Silesia. However, it is within the tramway operators network.
Tram journeys through Upper Silesia
Upper Silesian Interurban Line 15 from Sosnowiec Zagórze Loop to Freedom Square (Plac Wolności) in Katowice
Sosnowiec Tramway Seasons 2020. A collection of trams through the seasons.
Tramway Infrastructure Upgrades
It is noted that Tramwaje Śląskie announced in October 2020 that a tender had been accepted for the modernisation of sections of the Sosnowiec area tramway tracks. Source: Author’s note in the comments section of the second video (in Polish) and Net.tg.pl. In Polish.
View a tramway map of Upper Silesia
Map attribution: ES64U4, CC BY-SA 4.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0, via Wikimedia Commons. View the original higher resolution tramway map at Wikipedia.
I hope that this small glimpse into the tramways in Upper Silesia will set the scene for your journey to a region well worth visiting. Even if, at the moment, your journey may need to be a virtual one.
Silesian Interurbans in Wikipedia. In English
Tramwaje w konurbacji górnośląskiej in Wikipedia. In Polish
Tramway operator’s website – Tramwaje Śląskie S.A. In Polish
Katowice Tourist Information Centre. In English