March 10th, 2009


Passports please

Trams are an undeniably urban institution. In fact, almost my personal definition of civilisation is the presence of a tram network that you can jump on and off. But not all trams spend all their time on city streets: some head out through the suburbs to the villages.

And one, The Basel #10 to Rodersdorf manages more than that. As it hurtles along the contour lines, hugging the green hillsides at a most-untramlike speed, it does what very few trams do.

It crosses an international border. It actually enters the EU, clipping a tip of Alsace and stopping at the station of Leymen in France while there.

(Goodness knows how the ticket machines work at that station. We didn't step down to see whether they insisted on CHF or EU, though it wouldn't surprise me to see dual currency machines there.)

Oh, and of course, this being Europe, the border is almost unsigned. We certainly weren't asked for any ID, not seeing even a ticket inspector.

Annoyingly, when we reached Rodersdorf, back in Switzerland again, it was a little too late to have lunch. However, the little station building restaurant has the interesting feature that the ceiling has, instead of beams, rails and sleepers overhead.