Rhein-Neckar Region, Germany

From nycsubway.org


RNV Duewag MGT 646 at Paradeplatz, Mannheim, on rt. 7. Photo by Jos Straathof, August 2004.


In the lower Rhine and Neckar River region of southwestern Germany is an interconnected meter gauge system of tramways. This network consists of local tram services in Heidelberg (the easternmost city in this cluster), Mannheim (the largest city) and Ludwigshafen, and two interurban tramways, the OEG (Oberhein Eisenbahn Gesellschaft--pronounced "Oh-Eh-Gay"), which has two routes out of Mannheim toward Heidelberg, the longer of which also serves Weinheim, and the RHB (Rhein-Haardtbahn), a single route running westward into the hills to Bad Durkheim, near the French border.

All of these systems have been around since the beginnings of the 20th Century, and were devastated by Allied bombing in World War II, but were rebuilt and are heavily used. Altogether, the five systems make up a partnership called the Verkehrsverbund Rhein-Neckar (RNV), and it is possible to get a day pass to ride the entire network, which totals 189.5 km.

Each system still features some of the classic rounded body style Duewag trams from the 1960s through the early 1980s, though in dwindling numbers as new Bombardier-built low-floor Variotrams are placed in service.


Heidelberg, situated along the Neckar River (which empties into the Rhine), has the smallest tram system in the RNV network with only 20.7 kilometers of trackage. There are but four local lines, numbered 1 through 4, plus Line 5 which is operated by OEG. The longest and most interesting route is Line 3, which runs from Handschuhsheim in North Heidelberg across the Neckar River and through Bismarckplatz, the main city plaza, but turns south before reaching the Hbf (Hauptbahnhof or main railway station) and heads southward on a long route past such well-kept neighborhoods as Bergfriedhof and Rohrbach until reaching Rohrbach Sud, a major bus transfer terminal. Line 4, which shares Line 3 trackage but turns to serve the Hbf and which takes a different route to Handschuhsheim, terminates here, while Line 3 continues south, partially on single track, to Leimen. There is also Line 2, which runs east from Bismarckplatz skipping the Hbf but crossing the OEG at Czernybrücke Sud and continuing on through the industrial section of town to Kranichweg/Stotz and then single track to Eppelheim, a very charming and trendy neighborhood. (Route 2 was suspended for track reconstruction when I visited in 2001, but was back in service well before my 2005 visit.) Finally, there is Route 1, which shares trackage with all of the other lines at various points, and has limited hours of service--but is the only route connecting the Hbf with Adenauerplatz and Bismarckplatz other than the OEG. At one time, there was also a route 6, but this has been abandoned.

The trams in Heidelberg range from 8-axle, 3-section Duewag cars built in 1975 to back-to-back coupled sets of 6-axle Duewags to the newest low-floor Variobahn trams, which entered service starting in 2002. The routes are not segregated by tram type, and one can expect to see any type of tram show up at a particular "Haltstelle" or stop. However, the Variobahn trams seem to be assigned exclusively to Line 3.

The tram depot is located one block north of the Hbf on Bergheimerstraße.

There is also a Funicular--the Kornmarkt/Molkenkur/Königsstuhl route, visible from the Neckar River north of Bismarckplatz but not reachable by tram.


Mannheim is the major city in the Baden-Württemberg region, and sports the most trackage in the RNV network. Three of the routes operate into neighboring Ludwigshafen (across the border in Rheinland-Pfalz state, and are jointly operated with Ludwigshafen's VBL.

The nerve center of Mannheim's tram system is in the area bounded by the Mannheim Hbf, Wasserturm and Paradeplatz, where seven routes plus the OEG and RHB interurbans ply the city's meter gauge rails. Routes 1, 2, 7 and part-time Route 9 are operated by MVV, with routes 3, 4 and 6 operated by both Mannheim and Ludwigshafen fleets. Route 1 (Schönau/Rheinau) is the system's longest and heaviest, and 2-car trains of low-floor Duewag 6-MGT trams are utilized.

The newest trams are the Bombardier RNV6 low-floor Variobahns, 10 of which were allocated to MVV and OEG, and 8 to the Ludwigshafen VBL.


Ludwigshafen, in Rheinland-Pfalz, is located across the border from Mannheim, in Baden-Württemberg, and is part of the RNV meter-gauge network. It operates two full-time and one part-time route, plus three routes jointly operated with Mannheim's MVV. The Rhein-Haardtbahn interurban, which begins in Mannheim, also operates through Ludwigshafen.

Of all of the RNV systems, Ludwigshafen still operates classic Duewag trams dating back as far as 1962, but these are rapidly disappearing as new Bombardier Variobahn low-floor streetcars join the roster.

Route 4, one of the three joint Mannheim/Ludwigshafen routes, and the RHB share trackage as far as Oggersheim, while through-routed Line 3, part-time local line 12 and RHB run out to Oppau. Routes 10, 11 and part-time 12 are local services.

Oberhein Eisenbahn Gesellschaft (OEG)

The Oberhein Eisenbahn Gesellschaft (OEG) is a fast, first-class interurban serving the meter-gauge RNV network, with two routes between Heidelberg and Mannheim, with some 63.1 km of trackage. There are two OEG routes--the short line between the two cities via Seckenheim, and the considerably longer, angular route via Weinheim. In actual practice, each train (except for some rush-hour runs) will make a complete circuit of the two routes. Carbarns are located at Edingen on the direct route and Eheim on the line between Mannheim and Weinheim. The segment between Heidelberg and Weinheim features extensive single-track sections. Service is frequent (every 20 minutes or better).

The rolling stock on OEG is commodious and fast, reaching speeds of 100km/hour (62mph). There are 31 of the standard rounded-body Duewag GT8s and GT8Ks built between 1966 and 1989, and two groups and body styles of Adtranz/Bombardier Variobahn trams, purchased in 1996 and 2003. All OEG stock is double-ended.

In addition to the fast interurban service with spread-out stops, OEG provides local service while in Heidelberg and in Mannheim on the line to Weinheim as far as Käfertal.

Rhein-Haardtbahn (RHB)

The Rhein-Haardtbahn is an interurban running out of Mannheim which penetrates the foothills at Bad Durkheim bordering France, and also runs north to Oppau out of Ludwigshafen (but starting in Mannheim). The two segments are, in general, not through-routed.

Since RHB operates on trackage where local routes are also present, service is usually hourly. Base service is provided by 1994/95-built Duewag ET6Ns, similar to vehicles purchased simultaneous for Ludwigshafen and Mannheim.

The ride out to Bad Durkheim is very scenic, passing through

well-scrubbed suburbs and some farms.

2009 Update

Beginning October 1, 2004, the three cities' urban tramway systems, the interurban OEG, and the Rhein-Haardtbahn have been merged into one operating company, the Rhein-Neckar-Verkehr GmbH (RNV). The RHB has been integrated into the timetable of Ludwigshafen's line 4. A standardized orange, blue, and white livery has been applied to some of the existing vehicles. The tram lines were also renumbered beginning in 2006 into the following scheme: 1-10, Mannheim-Ludwigshafen tramways, OEG, and RHB; and 21-26 Heidelberg city trams.

(Note about the photos on this site: The Rhine-Neckar operating area is fairly complex, with three urban tram systems and two interurban operators sharing trackage and crossing between the three cities of Mannheim, Ludwigshafen, and Heidelberg. For ease of labeling the photos, the "system" designation for this combined operating area is now labeled RNV. Locations in the Ludwigshafen area are designated "LU", Mannheim "MA" and Heidelberg "HE" after the location name. Locations on the dedicated trackage of the OEG interurban lines are likewise labeled "OEG" and the Rhein-Haardtbahn "RHB".)


Trying to assemble a roster for the various Rhein-Neckar systems isn't easy. In some cases the fleet numbers overlap. The data below was assembled from Peter Ehrlich's notes above (and on the photo captions), and the book Trams in Western Europe, by Michael Taplin and Michael Russel (Capital Transport).

City/OperatorNumbersYearsManufacturer/Model (Notes)
Heidelberg201-2041975Duewag GT8
Heidelberg214-2291964-1968Duewag GT6
Heidelberg230-2441973Duewag GT6
Heidelberg251-2581985-1986Duewag M8C
Heidelberg261-2721994-1995Duewag MGT6D (partly low floor)
Heidelberg273-278?2002-2002Adtranz/Bombardier Variobahn RNV6 (low floor)
Ludwigshafen121-1381962-1963Duewag GT6
Ludwigshafen153-1591971Duewag GT8
Ludwigshafen201-2141994-1996Duewag MGT6 (partly low-floor)
Ludwigshafen215-2222002-2003Adtranz/Bombardier Variobahn RNV6 (low floor)
Mannheim451-4701970-1971Duewag GT6
Mannheim501-5231962-1964Duewag GT8N (partly low floor)
Mannheim601-6501994-1995Duewag MGT6
Mannheim701-7132002Adtranz/Bombardier Variobahn RNV8 (low floor) single end
Mannheim76x-xxx2002Adtranz/Bombardier Variobahn RNV6ZR (low floor) double end
OEG82-971966-1968Duewag GT8
OEG98-1101973-1974Duewag GT8
OEG117-1421996Adtranz/Bombardier Variobahn RNV6 (low-floor)
OEG127?? 2002-2003Adtranz/Bombardier Variobahn RNV6 (low-floor)
RHB1014-10181963Duewag GT6
RHB1019-10221967Duewag GT12
RHB1031-10351994-1996Duewag MGT8
RHB1042?1994-1995Duewag ET6N

Photo Gallery

Five Random Images

Image 12149

(279k, 792x519)
Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Hauptbahnhof (MA)

Image 12157

(139k, 684x547)
Photo by: Peter Ehrlich
Location: Hauptbahnhof (MA)

Image 40737

(143k, 1024x768)
Photo by: Jos Straathof
Location: Bismarckplatz (HE)

Image 142170

(461k, 1200x800)
Collection of: David Pirmann

Image 142175

(430k, 1200x800)
Collection of: David Pirmann

More Images: 1-50 51-100 101-134

Page Credits

By Peter Ehrlich.

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