LATL H-Class Cars in Korea: Part 2

Above: From the Andy Goddard collection shows one of the refurbished cars waiting  to be loaded aboard a freighter that will take it to Korea. A poster on the side of the cars explains that the 60 cars are a gift to the people of Seoul from the United States.


By Ralph Cantos

As mentioned in part one of this post, about 60 assorted LARY /LATL H-4 class cars were sent to South Korea as a gift from the people of the United States to help out war-averaged Seoul, the nation’s capitol.

The 60 cars had been out of service since the massive May 22, 1955, abandonment of rail lines 5-7-8-9-F and the northern portion of the W line. The United States Government paid LATL to refurbish the 60 cars by enclosing the end sections with windows taken from cars intended for scrap, plus a fresh coat of paint.

All 60 cars were in excellent condition when shipped to Korea. As a matter of fact, all the H- and K-class cars were in excellent condition when retired in May 1955.

Photo #1  Photos 2 and 3 show cars in Korea.

Ralph Cantos Collection

This photo shows car no. 711 in 1960 after 5 years in service in Seoul. A little worse for wear. The Seoul Tramway System seemed to follow the maintenance practices of Pittsburgh Railways of keeping the cars in top running order, while giving little or no priority to paint and body work.

Charles Benson Photo, Robert Townley Collection

This photo taken by  Charles Benson is from the Robert Townley collection.

By 1963, the once-pristine cars were were not looking too good. Looks like the Seoul Tramway System was following the same maintenance practices as Cairo, Egypt, i.e. disregard anything not necessary to the operation of the cars, such as headlights, skirting, and steps.   By the end of 1968, the entire tramway system was abandoned. None of the former LATL H-class cars are known to have been saved.

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Doomed car 1397 keeps company with one of the "lucky" cars at South Park Shops in mid-1955.Ray Ballash photo. OERM Archive collection