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Kraków: A tram as a Cologne film actor

Cologne in Kraków: Tram and stop transformed for two nights in the style of Cologne I © ZTP Kraków

On the night of 9 and 10 December, the underground Krakow stop “Politechnika” served as a film set for the series “Westwall”, which German film and television broadcaster ZDF is currently filming in Poland, Cologne and the surrounding area. Among other places, it played the “Rudolfplatz” stop in Cologne, Germany. A Bombardier tram from MPK Kraków also took part in the filming, and was given the colours of Kölner Verkehrs-Betriebe AG for the occasion. The trams in Kraków (Cracow) usually wear a royal blue colour scheme with white and black colour elements. The car number 1448 of the vehicle is imaginary. The light rail and tram fleet of KVB Cologne is numbered in the number ranges 2000, 4000 and 5000.

Picture gallery (please click to open):

The vehicle is one of the NGT6 series of the first or second construction series from 1999/ 2000/ 2003, of which a total of 26 were delivered to Kraków. Conceptually, the low-floor trams of Kraków and Cologne are actually very similar to each other. The NGT6 in Kraków as well as the K4000 and K4500 in Cologne are six-axle, three-car low-floor articulated trams with a centrally arranged articulated bogie-car. However, the Krakow vehicles belong to the “Flexity Classic” product family, while the Cologne counterparts are part of the so-called “Flexity Swift” family. The vehicles also differ in dimensions: Kraków’s Flexity’s are 26 m long and 2.4 m wide, while the Cologne variant was designed as a low-floor light rail vehicle with a length of 28.4 m (K4000) and 28.5 m (K4500) and a width of 2.65 m, respectively.

The tram was signposted with line 12 to Merkenich, which also runs in Cologne via Rudolfplatz and is operated with low-floor trams I © ZTP Kraków

The tunnel stop is one of two underground stops in the entire stops in the entire Krakow tram network. The 1.4 km long tunnel section serves two underground stations of which Politechnika and the main railway station (Dworzec). Previous metro plans for Kraków did not materialise. Further information and maps of the Kraków tram network can be found here:


Six-part miniseries from ZDF

The film project is a six-part miniseries with the working title “Westwall”. It is based on the novel of the same name by Benedikt Gollhardt, who also wrote the screenplay as creative producer. Isa Prahl directs the breathless thriller about the unusual love story of Julia (Emma Bading) and Nick (Jannik Schümann), who become involved in a right-wing extremist conspiracy.

When the young police student Julia Gerloff meets the mysterious Nick, she is about to fall in love. But after their first night together she is shocked to discover that Nick has a huge swastika tattoo on his back. Julia’s father, the old leftist Wolfgang (Karsten Mielke), is outraged, and her flatmate Lydia (Lorna Ishema) also advises Julia to forget the guy immediately. But Julia believes Nick, who insists that he has left his former life behind.

Cologne’s tram and light-rail map and “Rudolfplatz” sign at the “Politechnika” station in Kraków I © ZTP Kraków

Julia starts to investigate on her own and soon realises that she is just a puppet in a much bigger plan. When she stumbles upon a right-wing extremist network that reaches into the police and the Office for the Protection of the Constitution, her life is completely thrown off course. She follows a trail deep into the forests of the Eifel to the abandoned bunkers of the Westwall. At the old World War II defences, the police trainee finds the hideout of a terrorist (Jeanette Hain) – with whom she has more in common than she realises.

Other roles are played by Devid Striesow, Rainer Bock, David Schütter, Suzanne von Borsody, Kostja Ullmann, Stephan Grossmann, Ilknur Boyraz and others. It is produced by Gaumont GmbH, Cologne. The producers are Sabine de Mardt, Andreas Bareiss and Rainer Marquass. Bastian Wagner and Johannes Frick-Königsmann are the ZDF editors. Filming is expected to last until December 2020, a broadcast date has not yet been set.

Sources: ZDF, ZTP Kraków

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5 months ago

Really interesting article, Thanks for researching all of that. The whole action seems like its lots of work and costly just to film a scene in at a “faked” Rudolfplatz Station with repainting a tram and changing the station names. Its funny that the ZDF did all that, why couldnt they just film at the real Rudolfplatz Station at night, when there is no tram traffic? Or just at some other underground station in Cologne, wich looks more like the original?
I live in cologne and have visited the actual Rudolfplatz station many times, it does look completly differnt than this station and also the tram thats used is not in any way simelar to the K4000 and 4500 wich are used by the KVB there.
First, the undergound station at Rudolfplatz is not that large and open. It also has completly differnt colors and the platform has differnt floot tiles. Also, the LED displays at the station are not the ones wich you find in cologne.
The reskinned NGT6 does not make it more realistic. Neither K4000 or K4500 have orange LED Displays, so it does not even look real from far away. The whole thing just looks ridicules.

Everyone who lives in cologne or has ever been there and used the tram will immediately see that its not the real station.
If you want to inculde scenes with a special station in a film, then at least try to film it at a location that looks somewhat simelar. In this case it is not in any way realistic and just a waste of money. The ZDF basically has unlimited money for expensive filming projects like that, because is a so called “Öffentlich Rechtlicher Sender” like ARD and a couple of others. They are all funded by a TV-tax wich is around 18€ per month for every household in Germany. So they dont need views to earn money.