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Route 12: Nockebybanan
Alvik - Nockeby

The Nockeby line
A30 no 304 The Nockeby Line, or "Number Twelve," is usually called Stockholm's last tramway line. It is operated today by SL Tunnelbanan AB under a competitive tender contract. The history of line 12 is dotted with threats of abandonment and competition from bus service and the subway, but even so, the line has weathered all these storms with finesse. Line 12 came into being in 1919, when the line previously called line 2 changed its name. Line 2 was the first tramway line enjoyed by the people in Bromma; it ran on the pontoon bridge over Traneberg Sound, completed in 1914, and terminated at Äppelviken. In 1920, line 12 was divided into two parts, one of which became line 13, running on a branch to Ulvsunda, and the other, still called line 12, extended to Alléparken. In 1923 line 12 was extended to Smedslätten, and in 1924 to Ålstens Gård. Two years later it was extended again, when the Höglandstorget stop came into service.

The Nockeby Line is born
Line 12 entered its period of greatness in October 1929, when it was extended to Nockeby; it has been called Nockebybanan (the Nockeby Line) ever since. With the extension to Nockeby, the line was 10 km long, running between Tegelbacken and Nockeby. But the line didn't become really effective until 1934, when the new Traneberg Bridge (still in service) was opened. At last it was possible to keep to the timetable, without constantly being delayed by bridge openings, as with the old bridge.

Constantly threatened with abandonment
In 1981, a decision was made that was vital for Number Twelve: the line was to be improved and modernized. This can be seen as the final decision that Nockebybanan should continue to run for a while yet. Number Twelve was threatened as early as the 1920s, when a company was started in an attempt to replace the tram line with bus service. It was the residents in Bromma who started this company; they were fed up with Number Twelve's crowded, uncomfortable cars and constant delays. This time, the tram line survived because Stockholms Spårvägar (SS - Stockholm Tramways) bought new tramcars and offered more frequent service. With the new cars, and the new Traneberg Bridge (1934), Nockebybanan became competitive again, and its continued existence was not questioned again until the 1940s. As Stockholm's western suburbs began to increase in population around that time, and the Ängby line (later converted into one of the first subway lines) opened, Number Twelve's future came up for discussion again. What would be the best way to transport Bromma's residents into the city in the future? In the end, three proposals were presented:

  • Subway line
  • Bus line
  • Continued tram service
Rebuilding Nockebybanan as a subway line would mean intrusive changes in the local urban environment and would cost enormous sums of money. Replacing the tram line with bus service would not work either, as the traffic on the roads into Stockholm was already congested. This meant that tram service was retained. But Number Twelve's "sister," line 13, was abandoned in 1950 and replaced by bus line 60. When the western part of the first subway line, from Kungsgatan to Vällingby, opened in 1952, Number Twelve's runs to and from Tegelbacken were canceled, meaning that almost half the line was gone. But, on the plus side, line 12 got the tramcars from the Ängby line (which had been replaced by the subway line). The next fight for Number Twelve against a threatened abandonment was during the 1970s. The tramcars and trackway were so worn down that a thorough renovation was needed. An inquiry, called the "Nockeby inquiry," was begun, and once again three alternatives were presented:
  • Retain and improve the existing tramway
  • Replace tram service with bus service on the tram right-of-way
  • Replace tram service with bus service on existing roads
The inquiry resulted in the 1981 decision to renovate the line instead of abandoning it. Renovation was the most expensive alternative, but it was thought unwise to allow short-term financial considerations to force abandonment of such a well-functioning transport line as Nockebybanan. About the time of the line's 60th anniversary, 1 October 1989, the renovation was nearing completion. On that date, the line also got its original line number, 12, back again. (It had been renamed line 120 in 1975 for administrative reasons. At the time, many thought this was a step in attempting to replace the tram service with buses, since suburban bus lines around Stockholm normally have three-digit line numbers.)

More tough decisions
A30 x2 At the end of 1996, it was once again time for SL's (Greater Stockholm Transport) board to wrestle with the issue of Number Twelve. A decision on renovation had to be made, and as before, a couple of alternatives were considered. The cheaper alternative was to keep the line alive, but not much more, during a 10-year period. The more expensive choice was to inves about SEK 75 million to fully renovate the line, and to allow it to use the same kind of tramcars as the coming light rail line. In January 1997, the board made the decision to invest in the more expensive alternative. Probably a wise decision, as the cheaper alternative would only have delayed the more expensive investment anyway. The disruption caused by this renovation has resulted in a suspension of service on the line during the period June 1997-June 1998. Switches and rails are being replaced, and the distance between the tracks is being increased to allow room for the new, more modern tramcars. Also, the platforms have been rebuilt and improved, and a new tram workshop has been built in Bromma. The renewed Nockeby line resumed service on 22 June, and no significant work is expected to be needed on the line for the next 60 years or so.


Line map 12

  • Alvik linje 22 T-bana (Alv)
  • Alléparken (All)
  • Klövervägen (Klv)
  • Smedslätten (Sms)
  • Ålstensgatan (Åls)
  • Ålstens Gård (ÅlG)
  • Höglandstorget (Hlt)
  • Olovslund (Oll)
  • Nockeby Torg (Not)
  • Nockeby (Nob)

type of service tramway
nam Nockebybanan
number 12
terminals Alvik linje 22 T-bana
length 5,7 km
stops 10
cars • 10 of class A30
• 7 of class B30

Text: Per Ampferer
Photo: Roger Stenius
English translation: Tim Kynerd

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