Intra Express GmbH
0049/30/785 33 91
0049/30/785 92 08
Thomas E. Fischer
Tax Number: 29/10/5481
Finanzamt für Körperschaften III, Berlin
We have chosen the
United States of America as the destination of our last big Intra
Express tour as this is one of the most fascinating countries for
tramway enthusiasts. Having visited all Light Rail systems, and trams
on the East Coast in 2015, we do the same in the central part of the
country this time where most of the recent openings have taken place.
We follow Mississippi River for about 2,500 miles all its way down from
Minneapolis via Saint Louis and Memphis to New Orleans - including
detours for example to Arizona and Texas not to miss any tram. On this
unique tour we pass no less than 13 of the country's 50 states, visit
famous cities, cross fantastic landscapes, and learn to know more than
a dozen tramway (and light rail) systems, six of them opened between
2004 and 2017, and never visited by an Intra Express group before.
Additionally we visit nearly as many heritage tramways featuring
classic PCC cars and Interurbans.
The Idea of this Tour.
The United States of America are a huge country. The longest distances on our tour are covered by air, but most of the time we ride a big, modern tour coach on the county's good highways providing plenty of space for our small party, and carrying our baggage straight from one hotel to the next. This is the fastest, and most comfortable way in a country where trains are no alternative. For an ambitious programme like ours it is unavoidable to change hotels often. We have chosen good hotels of well-known American chains such as Holiday Inn, Hilton, La Quinta Inn und Quality Inn only, offering large, and comfortable rooms. Some of the hotels feature swimming pools. Our hotels are conveniently, but not always centrally located. In cities like Phoenix, Minneapolis, and Saint Louis where light rail has reached the international airports, we have found airport hotels within walking distance from stations that are as comfortable (and as quiet!) as downtown hotels, but much more economic. Tramway charter tours are more or less planned on heritage lines only, and we also do not visit the depots of all systems. This does not seem necessary as many of the modern systems operate one single type of vehicles to be seen on the lines anyway. We therefore tour most of the networks using regular service cars, giving you sufficient time for photo breaks at interesting locations, and Day Passes wherever available.
Sunday, May 27th, 2018.
09:20h departure from Frankfurt airport by American Airlines, the world's largest airline, via Charlotte to Phoenix in Arizona. Same afternoon arrival due to the time difference. Hotel accommodation in Phoenix.
Monday, May 28th, 2018.
Full day excursion by charter coach to Tucson, 180 km away, where a tramway line has been opened in 2014, operated by eight low-floor cars manufactured by United Streetcar in USA. After most of the major US cities have got light rail systems mainly on their own right-of-way since the 1980s, short city-centre tram lines with modern low-floor cars (called "streetcars" in American) have become popular in recent years. The third category are so-called "trolleys", also city-centre trams operated by the cities, but using either heritage cars or replicas. Later on our tour we shall see more samples of both types. Hotel accommodation in Phoenix.
Tuesday, May 29th, 2018.
Today we ride the Phoenix light rail with its only line opened in 2008, and meanwhile extended to more than 40 km. It is operated by Japanese Kinki-Sharyo cars. Afternoon flight 2.300 km Northeast to Chicago, Illinois and accommodation there.
Wednesday, May 30th, 2018.
For now we do not spend much time in Chicago but follow the electrified South Shore Line to South Bend, Indiana by coach this morning, before we continue our journey to Detroit, Michigan (500 km). It is regarded as the country's last Interurban even if it is nowadays operated by Japanese railway-style EMUs, and has not much similarity with an interurban tramway any more. At least there is some short section of street-running through Michigan City where we plan a photo stop. Hotel accommodation in Detroit.
Thursday, May 31st, 2018.
Another city-centre streetcar has been opened in Detroit in 2017. The fleet consist of low-floor cars provided by Brookville, another new US-manufacturer of tramways. The cars are equipped with batteries for some non-electrified section. There is also an automatic people mover running on an elevated circle line in downtown. In the afternoon our coach takes us via Dayton where we have a short break for one of the country's few remaining trolleybus systems to Cincinnati, Ohio (440 km). Accommodation in Cincinnati.
Friday, Jun. 1st, 2018.
The city of Cincinnati opened a downtown streetcar in 2016, and once again we find here a different type of cars, built by the Spanish CAF company. In the afternoon we return to Chicago by coach (470 km). Hotel accommodation in Chicago.
Saturday, Jun. 2nd, 2018.
Full day excursion by coach North to Wisconsin. Stop in the city of Kenosha for a visit to the nice tramway circle line opened in 2000, and operated by a fleet of former Toronto PCC cars painted in the typical liveries of different North American cities that once used these iconic trams. Not far from Kenosha is the East Troy trolley museum with about 25 tram and interurban cars from regional systems, and a 12 km section of a former interurban line where some of them run. Original South Shore Line cars can be found here. Total distance today: 300 km. Accommodation in Chicago.
Sunday, Jun. 3rd, 2018.
Two further tramway museums West of Chicago are on the schedule of today's coach trip. The Fox River Trolley Museum in South Elgin is dedicated to the electric interurbans in Chicago area. It owns about 30 cars, and operates some of them on its own line. The Illinois Railway Museum in Union calls itself the country's biggest railway museum with the incredible number of 450 vehicles - besides locomotives and railway rolling stock also many trams, underground trains, and trolleybuses. There are lines on the huge territory of the museum where trams, trains, and trolleybuses can run. Total distance today: 190 km. Hotel accommodation in Chicago.
Monday, Jun. 4th, 2018.
Trams have vanished from Chicago a long time ago, but the city still has one of the country's oldest, and most interesting Underground Railways - in fact running mostly elevated - which is on our schedule this morning. The "Loop", an elevated circle line in-between the skyscrapers of the city centre, offers fantastic photo spots with its narrow curves, rectangular track crossings, historical station buildings, and modern, but because of the curves very short vehicles. The Loop is so famous that the whole city centre is named after it: while all other American cities call their city centres Downtown, it is called Loop in Chicago. Early afternoon airport transfer and onward flight to Minneapolis in Minnesota. No transfer coach is required there as our hotel is located few steps from a light rail station, two stops from the airport, and three stops to the Mall of America, Americas biggest shopping centre. Hotel accommodation in Minneapolis.
Tuesday, Jun. 5th, 2018.
The fist light rail line in Minneapolis was opened in 2004. Meanwhile a second line has been added, and the system has grown to a total length of nearly 40 km. It is serve by two types of Bombardier, and Siemens low-floor cars. At the Target Field terminus there is a connection with the diesel-hauled Northstar commuter trains, the St. Paul terminus is located at the historic main station, the recently renovated Union Station. Even a special platform has been built there where railway enthusiasts can watch, and photograph passing Amtrak and freight trains. To give you ample time to tour the system using your day pass, and to take pictures at the most interesting locations, we have planned a whole free day here. Hotel accommodation in Minneapolis.
Wednesday, Jun. 6th, 2018.
In the morning we take our coach to ride two heritage trams in the suburbs of Minneapolis, the Excelsior Streetcar Line and the Como-Harriet Streetcar Line, both operated by the local association Minnesota Streetcar Museum. In the afternoon we go South to Boone, Iowa (360 km), and spend the night in a hotel there.
Thursday, Jun. 7th, 2018.
After a short ride on the only car of the East End Electric Traction Company in Boone, a typical, beautifully restored rural interurban from 1915 with passenger, and freight compartments we continue our coach tour to Kansas City, Missouri (350 km). Hotel accommodation in Kansas City.
Friday, Jun. 8th, 2018.
Since 2016 Kansas City also has a new city centre tramway running four CAF low-floor cars. In the morning we have plenty of time for rides and pictures, in the afternoon we continue our coach tour South to St. Louis, Missouri (400 km). Accommodation in St. Louis.
Saturday, Jun. 9th, 2018.
A little bit "older" is the St. Louis light rail system, opened in 1993. It meanwhile consists of three long lines with a total length of 73 km. To give you sufficient time for touring, and photographing the network, we have planned another full day here. The fleet exclusively consist of Siemens cars of different generations. The opening of the Loop Trolley has been delayed, but we hope it is running at the time of our tour. This 3.5 km long heritage line serves the nightlife and theatre district in downtown with one bogie tram ex Seattle ex Melbourne, and two Gomaco replica cars ex Portland. Hotel accommodation in St. Louis.
Sunday, Jun. 10th, 2018.
By coach we go further South along Mississippi River to Memphis, Tennessee (450 km), the city that once had the county's largest heritage tramway network with 3 routes, and about 20 cars mostly from Melbourne and Porto. Opened in 1993, it has unfortunately closed in Early-2014 after two Melbourne cars had cought fire during service. Test runs of meanwhile refurbished trams have started recently, and we can only hope the system has got permission to reopen by the date of our tour. If not, the afternoon is free for sightseeing, perhaps for a tour on a Mississippi paddle steamer or for a visit to Graceland, once the residence of Memphis' most famous citizen, Elvis Presley, nowadays a museum, and a place of pilgrimage for Rock 'n' Roll fans. Hotel accommodation in Memphis.
Monday, Jun. 11th, 2018.
On today's schedule are two small tramways in Arkansas. Little Rock opened a 5 km long city centre line with five replica heritage trams built by Gomaco. Fort Smith has a tramway museum, and heritage line in memory of its former tramway. Besides trams there are also locomotives, and buses to be seen. Hotel accommodation in Fort Smith, Arkansas (470 km).
Tuesday, Jun. 12th, 2018.
In the morning we continue our coach tour to Dallas, Texas (430 km), and arrive around noon. The first light rail line was opened here in 1996, and the system has become the country's biggest with a total length of 149 km meanwhile. It is probably the only network on this journey that we cannot tour completely without a night shift. But this is perhaps not necessary as all cars on all lines look alike: there is just one type of 115 Japanese Kinki Sharyo trams with low-floor middle sections. Additionally Dallas features the McKinney Avenue Trolley, a heritage line with a variety of trams of different origin, the modern Dallas Streetcar, opened in 2016 with Brookville low-floor cars and a non-electrified section, and diesel-hauled commuter trains. Our hotel is located at Union Station close to all lines.
Wednesday, Jun. 13th, 2018.
Free morning in Dallas. Around noon we take our coach on to Houston (380 km) to visit another light rail system opened in 2004. It now has three lines totaling about 30 km long. The original fleet was provided by Siemens, and additional CAF cars have arrived meanwhile. Hotel accommodation in Houston.
Thursday, Jun. 14th, 2018.
Free morning in Houston. Airport transfer around noon, and onward flight to New Orleans, Louisiana. Transfer to our accommodation in the city centre.
Friday, Jun. 15th, 2018.
San Francisco and New Orleans are regarded as the most beautiful cities in the United States with the most interesting tramways. Whichever you personally prefer, a full day in New Orleans today is undoubtedly the last highlight of this varied tour, and gives you ample time to explore the tramway system. If you did not do it in Memphis before, you also have another opportunity of a tour on Mississippi River by paddle-wheel steamer, and in the evening it is worthwhile to visit one of the many Jazz clubs, and to try Creole food in French Quarter. New Orleans (like San Francisco) features one of the few tramways in USA that survived the period of closures after the war. The only remaining tramway route is operated by the legendary Perley Thomas bogie cars of 1923 until today. Between 1988 and 2016 four more lines have been added, and as there were not enough historic trams available for obvious reasons, 80 replicas have been built in the company's own workshops. Hurricane Katrina has heavily demolished the tramway network and fleet in summer 2005, but everything has been repaired since then. Hotel accommodation in New Orleans.
Saturday, Jun. 16th, 2018.
Very early airport transfer, and onward flight to Charlotte. The six-hour transit stop there may be used for a quick visit to the new heritage tram that was not yet opened at the time of our 2015 visit, and is to be replaced by a modern tramway in 2020. In the afternoon we fly American Airlines back to Frankfurt.
Sunday, Jun. 17th, 2018.
07:30h arrival at Frankfurt.
The Tour Price Includes:
* Flights Frankfurt/M. - Charlotte - Phoenix - Chicago - Minneapolis und Houston - New Orleans - Charlotte - Frankfurt/M. by American Airlines or other well-known US airlines.
* 20 nights accommodation at good hotels, twin rooms with private facilities.
* All necessary transfers and tour by charter coaches as per itinerary.
* All visits as per itinerary including entrance fees.
* Day Passes for public transport in most cities (wherever available).
* English speaking tour guide.
Not included: All meals (except complimentary continental breakfast in some hotels) and fares for public transport during our programme in cities where no Day Passes are available.
€ 4,750 per person. Single room supplement € 1,200. Single room supplements in the United States are very high compared to European standard. The reason is that American hotels usually do not have single rooms at all. If you book a "single", you get a big standard room with one or even two double beds, accommodating 2 to 4 people, for single use - and have to pay the full room rate. As on all our tours, individual participants wishing to save their money are welcome to book a shared twin. We are sure to find an English-speaking roommate for you.
A connecting 2nd class return ticket from any DB station (including all border stations) to Frankfurt airport and back costs € 120 per person additionally. Please state your wishes on your tour booking.
Regulations of Immigration.
Citizens of most European countries need a Passport for this tour, valid at least as long as the tour lasts, and featuring a plastic-wrapped, computer readable page containing your personal data. A visa is not required, but all visitors have to apply for an electronic entry permit (ESTA) on the Internet in advance. There is a fee of presently 14 US-$ (about 12 €). All participants booked on this tour will receive further information from us in due time, and we are glad to help you with the procedures, if required.
Climate and Health.
On this tour we cross the United States from South to North, and back. At the Northernmost point (Minneapolis) average daytime temperatures of 20 degrees Celsius can be expected at this time of year, in the South 30-35 degrees Celsius. There should be much sunshine, and not too much rain. However, there is no guarantee for the weather. Omnipresent air-condition in hotel rooms, restaurants, tour coaches, and even in public transport make high temperatures well bearable. As these are often a little cooler than Europeans are used to, we recommend always to take a light jacket, or pullover with you. To get a cold is probably the worst thing that can happen to your health as the United States are perfectly clean, and hygienic. There is no special health precaution required.
Our tour price does not include any meals. However, an increasing number of US hotels (but not all of them) nowadays offers a complimentary breakfast. In or near each hotel restaurants of different categories can be found, and it depends on you how much money to spend for food and drinks. It makes a big difference whether you go to McDonald's & Co. or to an up-market restaurant. Those who wish to save their money, but do not like to eat Hamburgers every day, should look out for so called "Family Restaurants" offering good plain cooking at reasonable prices, but usually no alcohol.
Due to low demand we do not offer insurances any more. Nevertheless we strongly recommend to make sure to have a tour cancellation insurance as a cancellation at short notice could otherwise become very expensive for you.
Tour Guide: Thomas E. Fischer.
Booking Deadline Date: February 15th, 2018 unless the tour is sold out before this date.
Minimum Number of Participants required to let this tour go: 20.
To book this tour please click here!
Tour Operator: Intra Express Hobby- und Studienreisen GmbH, Burgherrenstr. 2, D-12101 Berlin, Tel. 030/785 33 91, Fax 030/785 92 08, Email firstname.lastname@example.org, Internet www.intraexpress.de, Managing Director: Thomas E. Fischer, VAT No. DE136587760.