Edited by Robin Hickman, Moshe Givoni, David Bonilla and David Banister
Chapter 42: The regional tram-train of Kassel, Germany: how regional responsibility leads to local success
The German city of Kassel (population approximately 200,000) is located 150km north of Frankfurt. It is the centre of a rurally oriented region with some 700,000 inhabitants. Directly adjacent to the city of Kassel are located independent municipalities and cities with a population of approximately 100,000 inhabitants. In the 1960s, the city assumed a peripheral position in the Federal Republic of Germany and in Europe. The border of the former German Democratic Republic (GDR) was only 50km distant and transport connections to the east hardly existed. Economic development stagnated over a long period. Kassel was significantly destroyed in the Second World War. The reconstruction of the city was conducted on the basis of concepts that derived from modernist notions of architecture and city planning prevalent in the period from 1950 to 1970. This involved the construction of wide streets and an entirely new urban layout for the city. The historic old city was not reconstructed. From today’s perspective, these concepts appear excessively automobile-friendly and difficult to integrate with contemporary ideas regarding sustainable urban development. Around 1970, the public transport system entered a period of crisis. The city had a tram system originating from the beginning of the development of the city’s transport system. The first electric trams were already in operation at the beginning of the 1900s and the network was continually expanded from that time onwards.
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