Special thanks to Michael Kolyadov, formerly of Ivanovo, for the additional information provided.

Ivanovo is a city of approximately 465 000 inhabitants, situated some 300 km north-east of Moscow. It is known for its extensive textile industry that is most influential in the city's economy. But unfortunately this industry, however crucially important during the USSR years, is not favored by Russia's new economic conditions. Thus the city itself suffers from lack of adequate resources, and happens to be one of many Russian cities that make an extremely poor impression just by its overall appearance. The roads are poor, not looked after in years, and in some places simply non-existent. Once impressive Stalinist buildings that line up the central streets were meant to represent the achievements of the proletarian state, but nowadays hint at its eminent decline, as the buildings themselves are in poor shape. The rest of the city architecture is chaotic and indistinct, with local authorities seemingly giving up on looking after such properties at all. More than a half of the city's territory is made up of wooden houses in a village-like setting, which might mean a civilizational rebound, but which is very characteristic of Ivanovo and adds to its image as an eminently provincial town. As in many places in modern Russia, hot water and electricity blackouts were common. And as in many other places, the public electric transport enterprise here is the first to suffer from the economic misfortune.

At the same time Ivanovo tramway system has a rare distinction of being probably the only system in the former Soviet Union that determinedly closed one of its tramway lines, along Prospekt Engelsa in June 1999, partially dismounted it and then consciously re-opened the line as recently as July 22, 2002. This is also the only city that is known to conduct an experiment of reducing a fare on trams and trolleybuses by 50 kopeek to compete with private minibuses. The service for both trams and trolleybuses was drastically increased between the visits in June 2002 and in May 2004. The increase of trolleybus service was seemed to be a whooping two- or three-fold increase. As the state of repair of most of local rolling stock is shockingly poor, in 2004 it seemed that every workable piece of junk was pressed into service. Ivanovo has a successful program of tram overhauling, but can accommodate only one car at a time. The small shop at the depot has so far turned out about 10 rebuilt KTM-5 trams and is working full steam, but the quality of work done is dreadfully low. There are about 30 rebuilt trolleybuses, which is about 1/3 of the entire fleet.


Tramways in Ivanovo run since November 8, 1934, although freight tramway service was provided even earlier since 1927. The only depot still in use was built in 1938. The system now boasts 41.4 km of track, and has 5 routes, #1, 2, 3, 5 and 6. Route #4 existed briefly in 1996 (see tram & trolleybus network map of 1996). Any information on where #4 used to go in the past, before this partial rebirth, will be welcomed and appreciated by the authors.

Ivanovo has about 62 tramcars, most of them KTM-5 cars of considerable age, and 9 KTM-8 cars (#315-T to #323-T). The newer KTM-8 cars are considered unreliable, thus five of them are already out of service. The only KTM-8 cars remaining in workable condition are 315, 321, 323 and 317, latter one used to train student drivers only. Out of those only 315 is rebuilt, with no future plans for the other three. The system operates single units only, although it used to operate many two-car sets during the "better" days. The oldest car on the property is #272-T delivered in 1978. The oldest tram noted in service was #256-T delivered in 1984. The newest tram is #323-T representing the batch of KTM-8 cars delivered in 1993. There were no new tram deliveries ever since 1993. Some cars were rebuilt at the Voronezh Tram and Trolleybus Rebuilding Factory. By 2004 about 10 cars of KTM-5 type were locally rebuilt in the one room local overhaul shop, tramcar #279-T was a pioneer that started the program in 2002. The rebuilt cars could be singled out by the smooth body surface inconsistent with the original design.

Trams mostly serve the older neighborhoods of the city, the central area, and the surrounding village-like neighborhoods, with lines ending just shy of major new apartment block developments, serving them only partially. Trams run in mixed traffic on main streets in the center of the city, including THE main street, Prospekt Lenina, itself. Lines get more rural at the outskirts, as trams enter village-like areas. Here trams run on a somewhat reserved right-of-way, characterized here as "reserved" mainly due to the inaccessibility of unpaved streets for other traffic, thus forming virtually tram-only streets. Even if the street is in a good shape, tracks are simply dropped over the surface of the street in the middle of it, rising above the surface, unpaved, and impossible to cross by other traffic. All this implies that the existence of such tramway lines could be considered safe and secure. The most impressive village-like running could be found along Ul. Karavaykovoy on route #1, 3 and 6 on the Melanzheviy Kombinat line; along Bolshaya Vorobyevskaya Ul. and Nekrasova Ul., route #5 to ZTS, and also alongside route #3 to PkiO Stepanova. Route #3 boasts an impressive tramway-only village boulevard. On Gagrina Street and Frolova Street tracks spread away from one another, making way for wild greenery in the middle. A complete rural remoteness of this area makes the existence of such boulevard an oddity.

Route #3 deserves special mentioning, as contrary to the other city tram lines, the need for its existence seems to be somewhat ambiguous. Not only is the distance covered by tram walkable, it is paralleled by trolleybus service #4 that provides direct access to the city center, when trams do not. The headways on route #3 are long, also it operates better during the rush hour. Most cars assigned to route #3 are pulled to the depot during the daytime.

Trams in Ivanovo are operated surprisingly well, also a few irresponsible setbacks were noted, as the undertaking seemingly has trouble shifting toward serving customer's interests first, as opposed to the interests of its own. All routes but #3 are running on a very short headway, although the headway is not very consistent, as trams often bunch up together. This should be easily avoided since trams do not get seriously obstructed by any external factors such as traffic signals, traffic itself, or else. The most puzzling is the retention of practice of placing dispatch points not at terminals but midway, where trams are passing through but get delayed with the passengers remaining inside for dispatch purposes. There are even passing tracks built on Stantsionnaya Ul. near Pr. Lenina, where dispatch is located, and where trams could be stored as they get delayed, so others can pass. The delayed trams could be full of passengers going toward the Main Railroad Station, yet patrons are obliged to wait until the dispatcher decides to let them go.

The condition of the track in Ivanovo stands out considerably among many other Russian cities, as some impressive 90% of it could be graded as "good". The only notable exception was the line served by route N3 toward PKiO Stepanova. The pavement alongside the tracks could be all broken up, representing constant danger for track brakes to be ripped out (which happens more than often), but the track surface itself is even enough. Poor pavement along the tracks might even contribute to tram speed, as automobiles prefer to stay away from the tracks. Regardless, the other seemingly positive aspect of tram operation is that trams in Ivanovo are surprisingly fast. There were numerous occasions when trams were noted doing way over the city legal speed limit of 60 km/h, including areas with mixed traffic, and including the main street Pr. Lenina with somewhat heavy traffic, where trams are leaving cars behind in a cloud of dust, apparently scaring them away by the thunder of the approaching 25 tons of steel and passengers.

Although fast service could be a good thing, some strange fanatic disregard to obvious safety measures was noted among many drivers, including female babushkas. On the same stretch of Pr. Lenina, trams were speeding downhill, with a stop and a major intersection at the end of the hill. Drivers probably get encouraged after having to complete a service stop for a brake checkup at the beginning of each trip, at the designated spot right outside of the depot and terminal at the Main Railroad Station common to all routes.

Speeding is worsened by the considerable age of the cars and seemingly poor maintenance. Many trams were observed making suspiciously uncommon noise. At one point car #271-T was noted producing clouds of smoke from the left side of the rear boogie, yet it completed an entire run on route #2. The car received an in-the-field maintenance at the 1 Rabochiy Poselok terminal in a form of a serious kick in the boogie performed by a heavy-set babushka conductor. That was thought to be enough for this car to comply with the local safety guidelines, so #271-T picked up its passengers and continued on. Curiously, the smoke did disappear.

The re-instated route #6 meant a twofold increase in service on the Melanzheviy Kombinat line, as the previous headway on route #1 is mainly kept intact, yet #1 and #6 are complementing circular routes and have to run on a similar headway. Some doubts about where extra passengers for the service will come from were quickly dissolved by assurances from the locals that there is always potential in local passenger flows, just give them the new service to fill. Yet, having all that potential, and having achieved a major milestone in opening previously terminated line, Ivanovo does not seem to have any further plans for tramway development. Neither does it have any plans for any new tramcar deliveries.


The line along Engelsa Prospekt was close in June 1999, partially dismounted and then consciously re-opened as recently as July 22, 2002. The initial reason for lines closure was the need for the reconstruction of the bridge over the Uvod River, but it is widely viewed as an excuse for tramway closure, as even when the construction was finished, trams did not come back. It should also be noted that Engelsa Prospekt is regarded as an important through traffic thoroughfare that passes around the city center and has unusually high traffic volumes. One should stop short of assessing the events surrounding this line as a triumph of conscience in city planning or an achievement by the local government, the way it was surely presented to the public. There were also extensive but less official talks of the previous Mayor's (serving during the closure) commercial interest in the asphalt manufacturing plant and the road construction firm responsible for work performed on tramway closure, as well as the current Mayor's connection to the same asphalt manufacturer now involved with the re-opening. All reconstruction work related to the opening of this line, however, was done by the Tram & Trolleybus Undertaking (the TTU), with TTU money. A detailed photo review of the events, including pictures before the closure, during the closure, and after the re-opening, could be found on page 1 of the photo pages.


The first trolleybus in Ivanovo ran on November 5, 1962. Since then the system developed into a dense network, covering almost the entire city and boasting 130.7 km of wire worked by approximately 80 vehicles, all of the ZIU-9 type. Trolleybuses predominantly serve the city center and the vast new developments of high-rise apartment blocks in the southern part of the city. The Ivanovo trolleybus network is somewhat peculiar as trolleybus lines are also built in the areas of low-density population, where individual housing is common and no new apartment buildings are built. This reveals apparent previous attempts to provide every neighborhood of the city with trolleybus service. Interestingly, in the central area of the city all tramway lines are paralleled with the trolleybus services, yet there is no real competition observed between the two modes, as despite a few exceptions, trams and trolleybuses serve different neighborhoods at the city outskirts. The approximately 16 km line (one way) to a neighboring municipality, the city of Kohma, was opened in 1970. This line possesses purely interurban characteristics and is served by route #6. The line to the airport opened in 1978, and was extended within the airport in 1988, which was the last trolleybus extension in Ivanovo. This line is worked by route #11, and is currently severely underserved. At one point in 1999 #11 was shortened with only one trolleybus assigned to it. The more popular portion was substituted with the new service #12. This, however, was soon reversed back to the original arrangement.

In 2002 trolleybus service was not as reliable as the one provided by trams. Headways were longer than they should be, and were not always followed. Even the busiest routes serving dense neighborhoods could run on 15-20 minute headway. Some routes in Ivanovo are unnecessarily long and thus less effective.

By May 2004 there was an impressive two- to three-fold increase in trolleybus service observed. Some routes that were served with 15-20 minute headway in 2002, were boasting 7-8 minute by 2004.

The network has suffered a few cutbacks in the early 1990's in an apparent attempt to optimize it, which even meant some wire abandonment. But resulting streamlined routes have not seen a better service, as headways remained long or continued to deteriorate, thus defeating the purpose of the optimization. The practice of placing a dispatch station in the middle of the route is applied to trolleybuses as well. It is even worse with trolleybuses, as some trips could actually terminate at the dispatch point with passengers transferred to the next trolleybus. Ivanovo could also be distinguished by a peculiar practice of arranging some trolleybus stops before intersections, when the commonly accepted standard for the former Soviet systems is placing stops after the intersection.

The trolleybus rolling stock consists of old ZIU-9 trolleybuses in notably deteriorating state. The oldest vehicle on the property is N313, delivered in 1981. The oldest trolleybus noted in service was N337. Ivanovo does have, however, an active program of locally rebuilding old trolleybuses. The program has turned some impressive numbers of rebuilt vehicles between 2002 and 2004 observations. The rebuilt trolleys are literally "noticeable", as during the rehab the internal electrical equipment is transferred to the roof of the vehicle, as it is often done elsewhere, but Ivanovo furnishes its rebuilt versions with an enormous angle-shaped box. This prompted a local joke denoting that such vehicles are equipped with small portable power stations.

There were plans for trolleybus development in the city, commemorated with trolley poles and some supporting wire marking an unfinished line to Minyaevo, which remains in such condition since the early 1990's. There are no current plans for development, as the city is struggling to maintain what is already in place. It doesn't always work out, as there is always a threat of power supply shortage due to delayed payments. In the summer of 2000 trolleybuses were not operating between 10:00 and 15:00, also routes #7 and #8 were closed leaving some lines with no service at all, and the interurban route #6 was cut at both ends thus leaving the city of Kohma without trolleybuses as well.


Ivanovo is a poor city, and all problems of the local public transportation reflect just that. Yet the city is severely underserved by transportation, to the point that not just trams and trolleybuses, but private minibus and bus companies are running at their maximum capacity and are not able to digest the remaining demand. The drastic increase in service over the past few years was impressive, but it is not matched by rolling stocks state of repair. The city was lucky enough to almost finish building its public electric transport network covering practically the entire city before the collapse of the Soviet Union. Thus both trams and trolleybuses have great potentials in the city. The re-opening of the tramway line and the service increase do represent exploitation of such potential. It is just that local authorities have to break away from the circle of daily survival practices that in the long run might turn out to be costlier than they seem today, and pay more attention to some planning for the future.

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