In January 2015, a special tram was launched in Prague. Red/Orange in colour with an ‘M’ on the front and the rear of the tram cut off – like a pick up truck. The tram’s purpose – to grease the tram lines. It is called Mazací tramvaj – there is only one. The grease tram is a 25-year old type-T3 tram no. 5572 that was previously used as a snow plough and hauling tram. Operation starts daily around five in the morning and ends late in the evening when it returns to the Pankrác depot. Each day the tram covers more than 200 kilometres.
In 2016, the tram was refitted with a large new canister fitted to the rear. The tram also has a webcam on the back that streams a live video while it drives around Prague. You can watch the tram’s progress via this site (sadly has a small advert(s) before the live webcam). This webcam was used to taunt me, by a friend who knew I watched the tram’s progress at lunchtimes:
This year, he decided to ride his Harley Davidson around Prague, dressed as Santa Claus, trying to follow the grease tram’s path – while I provided directions and watched the streaming video.
I’ve lost count of the times where the tram has passed by me – I always wave. But as always, if you look for something you can never find it. So it was with the grease tram. It has a timetable, but on Friday 22nd December it looked like the timetable had been thrown away and the tram was on a random joyride around Prague.
I could see the tram heading up the hill at Nuselské schody toward IP Pavlova in Prague 2. Santa was not far away in Náměstí Bratří Synků. However, regular traffic isn’t allowed on the tram lines at IP Pavlova, so he headed to Karlovo náměstí to catch the tram there. Santa missed it.
The tram continued to Lazarská, Václavské náměstí and Bílá labuť – just as Santa was about to appear, the tram went into a hidden siding and had a rest.
The chase continued through Žižkov, Flora, Strašnice, Zelené Město (where it had another rest in a hidden siding) until finally I was able to screen capture Santa behind the tram.
Apparently there were plenty of people taking pictures, not knowing Santa’s true purpose that day.
The Prague Transport Authority website http://www.dpp.cz/sledujte-putovani-mazaci-tramvaje-prazskymi-ulicemi/
There is a Mazací tram Facebook group https://www.facebook.com/mazacitramvaj?fref=ts.