This page presents news and other items of interest concerning the Zürich tram system and connected topics.
This is not the official information page of any organisation. All opinions expressed here are my own or belong to those to whom they are attributed. Whereas care is taken to ensure the correctness of news, no claim is made to total accuracy.
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Construction of the first phase of Stadtbahn Glattal is making visible progress. Pedestrian underpasses are being cut into the railway embankment at Hallenstadion (the widening of the roadway will consume the existing pavements). The girders were delivered by rail and moved into position by heavy cranes. The work is requiring some late evening closures of the Oerlikon to Wallisellen railway.
A second round of tree felling on Thurgauerstrasse has begun. In total 70 trees will be felled but these will be replaced by 130 new ones. Thurgauerstrasse is being reduced from four to two traffic lanes for the duration of construction and police are advising drivers to use public transport.
The buildings opposite Ambassador Hotel (these are standing on the alignment of the new tram) are currently being demolished. Construction of the Ambassador to Auzelg section will begin in earnest in January
There have been some clashes of opinion over the moving of services and how the costs should be shared. VBG believe the utilities should provide a larger part of the costs than these are willing to pay. The roadway is public property and utilities can use it free of charge on the understanding that they share risk and responsibility for changes - VBG interprets such changes to include the laying of tram tracks, but the utilities maintain the tramway is not part of the public roadway and that road building legislation does not apply. The matter is being dealt with by the courts. Legal action is not delaying construction because work is initially financed from the Stadtbahn Glattal fund and costs subsequently distributed.
Seen today on route 10: 2114 with new low floor centre section. Interestingly the overhaul date is January 05 (Rev 2.0 1.05).
Rebuilt to date are : 2100/2/4/7-9/13-4/6-8.
The last of the new Be4/6 cars is being delivered today (presumably 73). Withdrawn BDe4/4 and Bt4's still on the Forchbahn are 12/3/104/5/8. 108 is at Esslingen and has acquired some graffiti, the others are at Forch.
Dolderbahn, the short rack railway climbing up to the Dolder Hotel and sports complex has reopened. The line was closed in August for refurbishment which included the replacement of all track. The two turnouts have been replaced by a sliding type as seen on some mountain railways.
Following the Combino crisis, there has been a full investigation of the Cobra design to ensure the same errors were not made here (both designs are based on Alcan's Alugrip system). Following this, Bombardier have revealed that some problems may occur in the second half of the lives of these trams (which are expected to last 35 years). The design is to be strengthened accordingly.
6 Cobras (3001-6) were delivered in 2001, with the start of series delivery (3007-74) now expected in late 2005.
For info on the Combino crisis see: 13.03.2004 and 30.06.2004. All cities that bought them have since seen most if not all Combinos return to traffic. Their safety is assured by an interim repair package and regular checks. A more permanent repair program will begin next year.
Website comment: Readers are remined that the original Cobra design saw wrapped polmer thread being used for the body segments, and that this was dropped by ADtranz in 1998 because it was, apparently, not sufficiently strong. Let us hope that Bombardier gets it right this time!
13.12.2004 - Stadtbahn Zug opens
The new rail timetable introduced on 12th December has brought about numerous changes, cutting journey times on many corridors and improving service frequencies. It also features the opening of the new light rail system in the Canton of Zug. The system, which cost 67 million CHF to implement is operated using Stadler-built FLIRT railcars sharing main-line tracks. Service and stop frequencies have been increased significantly as compared to the previous local train services.
11th December marked the final day of operation of trolleybuses on this route in Basel, leaving the 31 as the only operational trolleybus route in the city.
The 2005 Cargotram schedule has been published. Besides continuing to pick up cumbersome waste items from the previous eight locations, the service will now also serve Irchel.
A summary of the Cargotram success story is:
07.12.2004 - Tram museum fund tops half a million
500 000 CHF have been raised since the launch of the tram museum appeal earlier this year.
see also 01.04.2004.
Sänfte number ten is 2108. A further new Forchbahn car has also been delivered (probably 71).
2102 is the latest Tram 2000 low-floor rebuild.
15.11.2004 - Special trams at Christmas
Tram Museum Zürich's end of year tour will be held on 28th November. The stars of this year's tour will be the three surviving Ce4/4 Elefant cars. The tour starts at 10:00 at Gessnerallee and costs 20 CHF. No reservation is necessary. The tour lasts about three hours and features many photo calls.
To make Christmas shopping a special experience, or just to help enjoy the illuminated Bahnhofstrasse, historic trams will be supplementing the regular servce in the city centre on 4, 11 and 18th December (13.00 to 18.00) and on 5 and 19th Dezember 2004 (12.00 to 17.00). Trams serve the loop Central - Paradeplatz - Bellevue - Limmatquai in both directions, calling at all stops. Normal tram tickets are valid.
Forchbahn BDe4/4 10 will also be active in the pre-Christmas period. On 3, 4, 10, 11, 17 and 18th December it will leave Esslingen at 18:55 (Forch at 19:12) for a tour including Bahnhofstrasse, returning to Esslingen at 20:30. The tour costs 20 CHF including a drink and snacks. Reservation is required (043 288 11 11). If fully booked, an additional service will run at 16:25.
This newslog has now been online for one year. Thank you to all visitors who have contributed to the site's popularity, and also to those who have contacted with me with corrections or comments. Here's to another good year - and hopefully a lot of good news!
Originally I had been planning for updates about once a month - but there has simply been so much to report that the page has had to grow much faster than that. Subjects have varied from rolling stock changes to political developments and planning with the occasional glance over the fence to see what other tram cities are doing! On occasions, this page has presented news ahead of other sites and media!
According to the displayed page counter, this page has been visited 1525 times, wheras the server statistics suggest 2511 hits, with some 64 MB transferred in html-text alone (the hit discrepancy is probably due to the former not re-registering visitors returning after a short absence). Interest has been growing from month to month since January, reaching 347 hits in October. Compared to many other sites, such figures may seem meagre, but they are good for a page which I have done so little to promote (yet), and addressing such a specialised field of interest.
Yesterday (10th November), the federal cabinet granted VBZ the concession to build and operate the tram route from Escher Wyss Platz to Bhf. Altstetten. Construction could begin in 2006 for completion in 2008.
11.11.2004 - Z-Abo simplifies commuting
Whereas the zonal structure makes ticketing within the ZVV area straightforward, commuting from neighbouring cantons remains more complex - until now: From 12.12.04, Z-Abo, a system of monthly and annual passes will merge the zonal fares structures of these regions with that of Zürich.
Pro Trolleybus, the organisation campaigning to save Basel's trolleybuses has officially presented its initiative to the authorities. This is supported by 6666 signatures (4000 are required). A referendum must now be held over the future of the trolleybus system.
See also 16.09.2004.
08.11.2004 - I'm back!
I'm just back from two weeks of vacation, and can't guarantee that I haven't missed any important happenings. The biggest change that I can see is that the building work on Bahnhofplatz has finally come to an end and trams call at their usual stops again (work here started in April, with the tram stop being moved to Löwenstrasse). Trolleybus 31 has returned to its usual route through Löwenstrasse rather than the deviation by Sihlpost (for which temporary trolley lines had been erected).
As part of my holidays, I spent three days touring the narrow gauge railways and tramways of Valencia province. Besides the trams of Valencia and Alicante, I travelled on two very contrasting narrow gauge lines: the electric line from Valencia to Villanueva de Castellon - running through extensive citrus plantations and operated as part of the metro system but still very much an interurban at heart, and the much more touristic Alicante to Denia line which is currently tram-worked as far as Campello (with electrification continuing to Villajoyosa). The Campello to Denia service is still in the hands of the trusty Ferrostahl railcars. In Alicante, the construction of the city tram tunnel is very much in evidence.
The end of BDe4/4 and Bt4 operation on Forchbahn was marked in style by a VHF tour yesterday (17th October). On the first leg, the formation consisting of 105 + 13 + 104 + 12 brought visitors from Stadelhofen to Forch. Commemorative tickets were issued on board. Many riders flocked to the windows to enjoy the characteristic song of the motors echoing along Forchstrasse for the last time (on the newer trains, windows cannot be opened to this extent). A first photo stop was held in the forest above Rehalp, much to the anger of honking motorists, who were flagged to a stop during the brief three minutes that photos could be taken.
At Forch, a line-up was staged with representatives of all rolling stock generations. Inside the depot, refreshments were served and souvenirs sold (the author went home with a destination flip-board from 108). In the afternoon, the tour continued with the same vehicles being coupled into various typical (and not so typical formations) and shuttling between Forch and Esslingen (each time in a different composition) with the ubiquitous photo stops. Many further photographers lined the road. Unfortuntely, the morning's good weather gradually deteriorated. Some good photos can, however, be seen on Adrian Senn's website. Congratulations are due to VHF for the excellent organisation and operation.
The future of these vehicles was also much discussed during the tour. They will be sent to Antananarivo, Madagascar (many have already been shipped) where they will be used to operate a suburban service on what, according to the source, is either a disused tram line or a section of railway line. For this purpose, diesel generator units will be fitted by the new owners. There is some doubt as to whether the venue will be a success, as only a small section of the line is curently runable and it is not clear how strong commitment is to repairing the rest. Neither is it clear whether the line follows a corridor in need of such a form of transport. The Swiss Confederation is financing the shipment and Forchbahn donating the cars. Possibly, three Bts could also go to BVB (Bex).
On Forchbahn, BDe4/4 10-16 and Bt4 101-8 are being replaced by Stadler built Be4/6 low-floor articulated cars 61-73. Delivery has now reached 70. Three such units coupled replace a four car set of bogie cars, with the thirteenth unit being kept spare. BDe4/4 10 is to be preserved by VHF.
The eighth Sänfte (2107) was seen on a test run today.
An aerial cable car is proposed to relieve the growing congestion around Zoo. Connecting to the S-Bahn at Stettbach, this could provide significant time-saving for passengers from the East. Cabins will hold 8 persons and be fully disabled accessible. Besides relieving congestion, the installation could become an attraction in its own right. According to executive councillor, Andres Türler, this project will cost 16.7 million Franks and could be operational by late 2009.
The latest Tram 2000 low floor rebuild is 2104. 2100/4/9/13/6/8 are currently on on route 6 and 2117 on route 3.
04.10.2004 - Forchbahn 70 is here
Now they're coming fast! The latest Forchbahn car was delivered on Friday (1st October). I am told this is number 70 and, just for the record, that it was shunted into the VBZ works by SBB Em3/3 18806 at 11:30.
Own observations and BahnCH.
VHF are organizing a farewell event for the remaining Forchbahn BDe4/4's on 17th October. This includes a four car train from Forch (dep 09:30) to Stadelhofen, returning to Forch (dep 10:05), a vehicle line-up at Forch (about 11:00), guided tours of Forch depot (hourly from 12:00), runs to Esslingen with photo-calls (hourly from 13:17), and a final run to Stadelhofen (departing Forch at 16:30). A supplement of 5 Franks will be charged for riding the specials. Non-travelling photographers are called upon to voluntarily make this contribution.
The first of the new Stadler units for Trogenerbahn was delivered yesterday (29th September). These are based on the new Forchbahn design but have three sections and two cabs. See also 18.08.2004.
A VBZ leaflet on the proposed tram route 18 to Bahnhof Altstetten (dated September 2004) confirms that this is still on target for the 2008 opening (see also 09.09.2004). The leaflet additionally makes reference to the construction of route 1 at a later date, and the link between the two at Hardbrücke.
27.09.2004 - Limmatquai without cars
Yesterday (26th September) Zürich participated in the European festival of car-free cities. Zürich has particpated every year since 2000, but this year's activities marked a more permanent change - the banning of motor traffic from the central section of Limmatquai. One of the festival logos was fittingly: the Ferrari horse gone to graze. See also www.multimobil.ch and news for 16.02.2004.
Seen on route 6: 2100 with low floor centre section.
17.09.2004 - Siemens loans Combinos to Freiburg - for free!
On 15th September, new Combino 281 was delivered to Freiburg im Breisgau. Four further vehicles will follow shortly. They are from a batch of nine which was put on hold due to concerns over the design. However, with the earlier batch (271-9) still out of service and the Winter timetable approaching, the vehicle shortage is becoming more critical (In Winter, Freiburg has some 40 percent more passengers due to cyclists switching to public transport). The five new Combinos remain the property and responsibility of Siemens and their use does not pre-empt any acceptance decision.
Pro Trolleybus's initiative to halt trolleybus abandonment in Basel has cleared its first hurdle. The 4000 valid signatures required to enforce a referendum have been collected in less than two months, with further signatures still coming in. The initiative wants to stop BVB's plans to 'standardise' the bus fleet (a cloudy formulation for trolleybus abandonment).
Basel has a fleet of 12 Neoplan articulated trolleybuses delivered in 1995. With a life expectancy of 25 years but a low resale price, abandonment would be financial folly, especially seeing the contribution these silent and friendly vehicles make to clean air, green mobility and passenger comfort.
See also: 16.06.2004.
Forchbahn Bt 102 & 106 have left the VBZ workshop on standard gauge low loaders at 12:30 today - probably bound for Madagascar. See also 13.07.2004.
Hardturm stadium will now definitely not host Euro 2008 soccer matches. What effect this will have on planned tram route 18 has not been stated in this context, but the change probably reduces the urgency of the 2008 deadline. See also 11.06.2004, 08.06.2004 and 26.11.2003.
07.09.2004 - Forchbahn 62 returns
Forchbahn Be4/6 62 was delivered to the VBZ workshop in Altstetten by rail at 12.30 today. This vehicle was involved in an accident on 19th February - before it had even entered service - and had to be sent to Stadler for repairs.
The accident report (published on 17th May) reveals more about the incident. Be4/6 61 and 62 were on a special trip to take press photographs at various locations on the city network. The pair left Forch depot at around 13:20 and proceeded to Zürich. On taking the curve at Stadelhofen, an unexpected brake application of short duration occured. The train continued via Bellevue, Rämistr, to a photo stop at Kinkelstrasse. From here it proceeded towards Oerlikon. Another unexpected brake application occurred at Irchel, and again on the turning circle at Bhf. Oerlikon.
From here the units proceeded to return by the same route. Another brake application occurred at Milchbuck, this time of longer duration immobilising the train. A problem was suspected on the rear vehicle (62): The crew decided to deactivate the brake on that vehicle. The brakes, however, came on again shortly afterwards. The decison was then taken to abort the trip and take both vehicles individually into the adjacent Irchel depot. The front vehicle (61) was detached and driven into the depot. While this was happening, the brakes on 62 released themselves and the unit rolled back towards Milchbuck into the path of the oncoming 2087, causing damage to an estimated value of 100 000 CHF. The damage to 62 was by far the worse of the two because the coupling was retracted.
The investigation revealed that all the locations where these mysterious brake applications occurred had one thing in common: they are all left turns. Analysis of the vehicle's 'black box' showed that the applications did indeed correlate with the use of the left indicator light. The problem has never been observed before because the Forchbahn takes no left curves on its normal route and the indicators had not been tested while the vehicle was in motion. The fault has since been corrected. The final cause of the accident was the failure by staff to secure the parked 62 correctly.
The full report can be read on: http://www.uus.admin.ch/imperia/md/content/uus/schlussberichte/4020309.pdf.
07.09.2004 - Corrections to Basel news
A correspondent has pointed out some errors in news items concerning Basel on this page:
A visit to Basel yesterday revealed that operation of ex-Bern trams has ceased. The wheel tyres are worn down to the safety limit. Three cars are stored at Eglisee and a fourth at Wiesenplatz.
Dolderbahn, the cog railway from Römerhof to Grand Hotel Dolder will be closed for a total refurbishment between 30th August and 10th December. Replacement buses will operate during this period. Besides a total overhaul of track and signalling, the two cars will also be modernised.
The felling of trees on the alignment of the planned tram line along Thurgauerstrasse has begun. New trees will replace those removed. Wood from the felled plane trees will be used by the city to make benches.
Further to yesterday's news on the fire that ravaged Wiesenplatz depot, it has been confirmed that the vehicles destroyed were 602 (Haifisch party tram), 708 (2-axle trailer), 1046 (Badwännli open top trailer) and 351 (Be 8/8, ex Bern 711). Many other trams could be saved through the fast reaction of staff who moved them out of harm's way. The building is badly damaged and beyond use for the time being.
At about 17:45 today a fire broke out in Wiesenplatz depot in Basel. The extent of the damage has not yet been finally confirmed, but it seems there were no injuries. The surrounding houses were evacuated.
Many museum cars were kept at this depot and the fire ravaged the wooden outbuilding where these were stabled. Early reports suggest that the fire broke out in the refrigerator of Haifisch 602. This tram is completely destroyed. Also damaged are 711, 1046 und 708. In a stroke of fortune, several other museum cars were away at the time on private hire duties.
18.08.2004 - Forchbahn
Delivery of new units has now reached number 67. 62 has not yet returned from its accident repair (see 19.02.2004). There will now be a short break in deliveries as Stadler works on two similar (albeit three section) units for Trogenerbahn. A farewell tour for the BDe4/4 is planned for 17th October.
18.08.2004 - Low-floor on route 6, P16 on route 10 ...
Since the beginning of this week (16.08), 2113 has been joined on route 6 by the low floor 2000s previously deployed on route 10. In return, some P16 bogie cars have transferred to route 10 - where the type has been absent for ten years!
Follwing the lead of Dresden and Zürich, Wien is planning to join the league of tram systems transporting goods. Wiener Linien wish to have a cargo tram prototype available in 2005. Regular traffic could be carried before 2010. The 'Liefertram' will run in the gaps between regular services at times of low traffic and also at night. Possible uses include supermarket supplies, materials to large construction sites and refuse collection. Through open access arrangements, other hauliers could also use the infrastructure.
09.08.2004 - Stadtbahn Glattal in 2007
Trivia found on the internet today: The official opening of Stadtbahn Glattal is now set for 2007. End of trivia! At one time the date was late 2005 - but continuous quiet and minor shifts of the project start cannot go without a slip in the completion. The good news is that the project is now firmly under way with ground work in progress and Zürich's tram system eagerly looking forward to a strategic and significant extension (see also 30.06.2004).
Seen yesterday on route 10: 2109 with newly fitted low floor centre section.
03.08.2004 - Basel Combinos are returning
12 Combinos are now back in service in Basel. All 28 should be in use by the end of the year. Starting in 2005, they will be sent to Siemens in Prague (formerly CKD Tatra) for modifications. (see also 30.06.2004, 13.05.2004, 08.04.2004, 13.03.2004)
Today's press made public the deal to transfer withdrawn Forchbahn units to Madagascar for use on suburban services in the capital, Antananarivo. The city's major, Patrick Ramiaramanana, officially accepted the gift on a visit to Zürich.
In contrast to earlier sources, the press state that the number of sets to be sent to Madagascar is five.
It is planned to rehabilitate 5km of the 25km of metre gauge line in Antananarivo by the end of the year and the rest progressively later. There have been no passenger train services there for decades (but the line is used for freight, being part of a larger system streching from the central highlands to the Indian Ocean). Antananarivo has 1.2 million inhabitants and, understandably, faces considerable transport problems.
From 2nd to 4th July, Zürich celebrated Züri-Fäscht, a major festival recurring approximately every 3 years. The lakeside area was closed to traffic. Food, drink and entertainment venues attracted the crowds. This also led to the diversion of many tram-lines. But not these diversions are the subject of this news item, but some very special trams taking part in the festivities.
The tracks on General Guisan Quai (route 5 was diverted) were used for tram racing! A pump trolley styled to look like a mini Tram 2000 (suitably numbered 2004) raced another pump trolley looking like a mini Neoplan bus. Members of the public were invited to try their hand at the pumps and the overall best time was honoured by a trip to Cyprus!
A little further along the same road, some further trams were to be admired: Zürich's community centres (now calling themselves Gemeinschatzzentren) marked their presence by offering activities for children. The activities were centered around four old trams (withdrawn standard trailers 747/56/67/68). Children could act in a tram theatre or paint the trams according to their wishes. This may well have been the last public appearance of these tram veterans (incidentally, 770 was in service on route 4 on Saturday - see also news item of 02.04.04).
Another railway attraction was presented by Schweizer Verein der Feld- und Werkbahn Freunde (Otelfingen) who operated a 600mm gauge demonstration line offering rides through the Arboretum between General Guisan Quai and Hafen Enge.
Yesterday, Forchbahn Be4/4 16 and Bt 101 left Zürich by rail for Basel. From here they will be taken to Antwerp by barge for shipment to Madagascar. It is intended to use them on suburban services in Antanarivo for which a diesel generator will be fitted in the luggage compartment of the Be4/4 (see also 13.05.04).
In total, Madagascar will receive 4 Be4/4s and 4 Bt's from the Forchbahn. Further stock will be sent there from the Trogenerbahn next year. The remaining three Forchbahn Bt's will go to BVB (Bex - Villars - Bretaye). The final two Be4/4's will probably be scrapped.
2117 entered service on route 10 with a new low floor section yesterday (?). Low floor Tram 2000s in service are now 2113/6-8. 2113 is on route 6 and the others on route 10.
The official ground breaking ceremony for the Hallenstadion to Auzelg tram line will be on 14th September. Some preparatory site-work will begin in July. This will involve the strengthening and stabilising of marshy ground alongside Katzenbach. Work will involve removing the topsoil and creating an embankment. The earthworks will require time to settle before construction proper on this section begins in January. Besides the tram, an extension of Auzelgstrasse will also be carried.
The new line will be 2.8 km in length. Work on the Hallenstadion - Ambassador section will begin in September, and Ambassador - Auzelg in January for inauguration in 2006. The city of Zürich is responsible for the construction of the former section and the canton for the latter. This project is the first of three phases in the creation of Stadtbahn Glattal, a fast tram service in the Glattal area. Further phases will see extensions to the airport and Bhf. Stettbach for completion in 2008 and 2010 respectively (pending availablity of funds).
Yesteday in Bern, Siemens presented their latest Combino repair concept: Besides welded bodyshells (instead of the screw-based Alugrip system), the new/rebuilt Combinos will have a different articulation design allowing greater freedom of movement between the individual sections. The most radical change will be the use of radially adjusting axles which should reduce stresses on the body (and be more track-friendly too). As this redesign is quite fundamental, a new acceptance phase will be required before such a tramcar can run in public service.
Meannwhile, small numbers of Combinos with minor or no damage are temporarily returning to service in various Combino towns. Some have already returned in Basel and Potsdam. Three will have returned in Freiburg by the end of July. Such cars are subject to continuous monitoring to assure the safety of passengers.
The Combino problems are having political repercussions in Basel where the decision leading to the acquistion of these trams is being investigated. The running costs of the units are considerably higher than the 0.984Fr/km which were originally promised. Additionally, 70% low floor designs with a lower risk factor than Combino were not considered in the final rounds of the tendering process. Dieter Doege, an expert from Potsdam is testifying and explaining that the Combino problems were predicatble. Doege foresaw problems with the construction and running gear and heftily opposed the acquistion of Combinos in his own city - unsuccesfully.
(see also news items of 13.03, 08.04 and 13.05 on this page)
29.06.2004 - Rolling stock reshuffle
Currently it is planned to use the next low floor Tram 2000s to be delivered on route 10. Once sufficient cars are in service these will be transferred to route 6 with P16 sets being returned to route 10 in exchange.
16.06.2004 - Limmatquai for trams and pedestrians
The pedestrianisation of Limmatquai will take effect from 25/26th September of this year. This project had already been decided in a referendum in 1999, but execution was blocked by objections, primarily from the automobile lobby and their proxies. For the trams which use Limmatquai, pedestrianisation should improve punctuality (at present, trams are frequently caught in congestion here).
Pedestrianisation only affects the section between Rudolf-Brun-Brücke and Münsterbrücke (this is the narrowest section, trams use dedicated lanes in the other parts). Preparatory work will begin next week. By 2006, this prime waterfront location will additionally be upgraded by architechtural measures.
BVB are pressing ahead with their plans to withdraw trolleybuses. Although financial problems have cast doubt on the intent to do so this year - leading to the cancellation of the sale of these vehicles to TPG (Geneva), BVB are still relentlessly pressing ahead with abandonment plans. To alleviate ecological concerns, BVB are promising to use buses with so called bio-diesel on current trolleybus routes. These are supposedly more ecological than trolleybuses. According to Pro Trolleybus, this argument is questionable: Wheras Basel's trolleybuses use only power from renewable hydro-electric sources (and not nuclear as the pro-dieselists claim), these bio-diesel buses use fossil diesel fuel with 15 percent rape-oil extracts added. The ecological balance fails to consider fuel expended in cultivating this crop. Like any other diesel bus, a bio-diesel also emits toxic gases. In brief, only the name is bio.
Pro Trolleybus are planning to initiate a referendum on the retention of trolleybuses.
Seen today at Bucheggplatz heading for Oerlikon: 2116 with low floor centre section (or Sänfte). Like 2118, this tram is allocated to route 10 (judging be the route boards). The transparencies, however, displayed route 11 (presumably a depot working).
The chances of the new Hardturm stadium being realised in time for the Euro 2008 soccer cup are dwindling. The stadium (which will have an integrated shopping mall) is being co-financed by Credit Suisse. As part of their conditions, they demand a certain number of parking spaces for shoppers. This has led to opposition from locals and VCS who fear additional traffic in this already congestion plagued area. There are additional concerns about the height of the stadium and the shadow this will cast on neigbouring properties.
This situation has led to a mud-slinging showdown over the past months with mutual accusations of sabotage. VCS still refuse to withdraw their complaint and CS refuse to reconsider the plans. The situation has now reached the point where time is running out, and if work cannot start soon, the stadium will not be available for the championship. In order not to lose the match, the city are now considering renewing Letzigrund stadium instead.
Although the need for route 18 has not disappeared, its connection to the Hardturm stadium redevelopment gave it a certain urgency which is now fading. It remains to be seen how this will affect the schedule of this project, which in contrast to the stadium, doesn't face any significant opposition.
The realisation of route 18 has taken another step forwards: VBZ have applied to the transport ministry for a concession to build and operate this new tram line which will be built between Escher-Wyss-Platz and Bhf. Altstetten, serving Hardturm Stadium. Construction work could begin in 2006 to allow the tram to be operational in time for the European Football Cup in 2008.
03.06.2004 - off topic announcement
Today I successfully conducted the defence of my doctorate thesis at ETH Zürich. It is a great relief to have finished at last!
27.05.2004 - Maltese food on the tram
Zürich's celebrity Chuchichäschtli restaurant tram with its open-topped 'garden' trailer will feature in public service in the coming weeks. In connection with the annual Caliente Latin music festival, Maltese cuisine will be served on board this tram.
Operating times are 27th May to 19th June, Thursday and Friday from 11:30 to 14:00 and 18:00 to 23:00 and Saturday from 16:00 to 23:00. Departures are half-hourly from Bellevue. Reservation is strongly recommended (phone 0 43 317 00 10, ie + 41 43 317 00 10 from abroad). The usual route is Bellevue - Limmatquai - Central - HB - Bahnhofstr. - Bellevue. Boarding is possible at all stops on this route but Bellevue (loop track) is advisable as this is the only stop with a longer wait.
The festival sponsors include the Maltese Tourist Board and Air Malta.
Be6/6 1802 started life as Tiefbahn articulated prototype 1601 in 1960. It was renumbered 1702 and finally 1802 to accomodate advances in Mirage numbering. 1802 spent its final years in regular service coupled to P16 trailer 786 as Einsatzwagen, filling in service gaps caused by irregularities. The frequent change in route number and destination this required led to the set being fitted with large route indicator boxes with electrically powered films. 1802 last ran in this guise in 1993. It was then converted to a restaurant car with a kitchen in the rear section. Its first mission was as Sushi tram in Zürich's 1993 Japan festival. Open topped beer garden tram 1971, which is coupled to 1802 whenever weather permits, was converted from standard trailer 731 in 1992. The pair have appeared in many guises since offering different styles of food and entertainment. During last year's Caliente festival, the theme was Balearic.
In yesterday's referendum in the canton of Bern, the cantonal contribution to the Tram Bern West project was rejected by a very narrow majority of 50.4 percent.
The city and federal contributions to this project had already been assured. In yesterday's referendum, voters were asked to approve the cantonal contribution of 47.5 million Franks (to a total cost of 122.3 million). In the city of Bern itself, approval of the project was at 61 percent. The staunchest opposition came from rural areas. It is now unlikely the project can go ahead within the intended timeframe, if indeed at all.
The federal contribution of 51.2 million was earmarked for transport projects in cities or agglomerations. There will doubtlessly be much speculation on which project(s) benefit from Bern's mishap.
New Stadler Forchbahn units now in service are 61/3-5 with 66 expected imminently. Accident damaged 62 is also expected back soon (see 19.02.2004). The first Bt to be withdrawn is 107 which has been moved to a scrapyard in Dübendorf by rail.
The great little train of Zürich could soon be showing it's worth in other climes. Interest in BDe4/4 11-16 and Bt4 102-6/8 has been expressed for use in Madagascar! The BDe4/4's would be rebuilt with diesel generators. It is not clear whether they will be used on the Fianarantsoa to Manakar line which has recently been repaired with Swiss assistance, or whether they are intended for another project. Neither is it clear how realistic this initiative is or how many vehicles are required. Stay tuned to this channel!
It has been revealed that the Basel Combinos have been suffering far greater wear and tear on their wheelsets than previously admitted. In order to reduce vibrations, BVB have reprofiled their wheelsets every 70'000km instead of 100'000 to 120'000km as is the practice for older types. This interval is likely to drop further to 40'000km. A new lathe had to be procured especially for this purpose.
The company responsible for advising Siemens on the Combino bodywork has been identified as the Zürich consultancy Alcan Mass Transportation Systems (formerly part of Alusuisse). This company is helping Siemens find a solution.
12.05.2004 - FIFA tram
Yesterday a new theme tram was presented: 2086 + 2418 celebrate the internation football association, FIFA, and mark the association's links to the city of Zürich. FIFA is celebrating its centenary this year: It was founded in Paris on 21st May 1904 and its headquarters has been in Zürich since 1932.
FIFA chairman, Sepp Blatter, unveiled the tram at Messe-Hallenstadion terminus. The set will run in this guise for one year and be used on routes 2, 3, 4 and 9.
From September 1998 until this repaint, 2086 carried another theme livery, celebrating the opening of the Messe extension of route 11.
20min and own obsevations
The 5 trams to be loaned from Bern to Basel are not to be Standard Trams as previosly suggested on this page, but Be 8/8 cars from 1973. A first car will be sent to Basel on the night of Monday to Tuesday (10-11th May) and will be used for clearance testing.
The first Tram 2000 with a low floor centre section from WinPro has entered service today (number 2118). Further deliveries will follow at a rate of one a month until all 22 are in service.
The Zürich arms have been applied to the front of this vehicle, below the windscreen (similarly to the Cobra).
Basel are negotiating the loan of 5 Standard Trams from Bern. These vehicles, which were previously earmarked for Iasi, should help relieve the tram shortage caused by the sudden Combino withdrawals. The shortage has already led to many interesting workings in Basel, including reinstating Duewags, borrowing BLT cars and even the use of museum trams. Things are set to get more interesting still!
03.05.2004 - ZVV to enlarge?
According to a report in NZZ, there are plans to replace ZVV (the Zürich area integrated transport system) by a new system covering a considerably large area. Today, ZVV is basically confined to the canton of Zürich wheras the succesor (whose name has yet to be announced) will cover considerable parts of adjoining cantons and possibly parts of Germany. This will reflect the fact that commuters are travelling into Zürich from further and further afield.
21.04.2004 - New Forchbahn units enter service
New Stadler-built FB units 61, 63 and 64 are now in service.
It is now one year since cargo tram was launched. Since then, 380 tonnes of refuse have been collected. The largest volume came from Seebach and the smallest from Tiefenbrunnen. The number of terminals was increased from four to eight at the beginning of this year.
Trees and wires: Recently gardeners were at work cutting back undergrowth and pruning trees around Burgwies depot. One tree fell onto the overhead causing damage which propagated itself to the street outside. To prevent one piece of wire that was hanging down rather threateningly from causing further damage, downhill trams were required to retract pantographs and coast past this section. The damage was quickly repaired.
Bogies: Yesterday, the two ex Geneva bogies stored at Burgwies were transferred to TMZ's workshop at Depot Hard. These bogies are from a Herbrand Geneva equal bogie car which was remotorised with ex-Zürich TM11 motors in the 1930ies. Following withdrawal, this car was sold to the Klagenfurt museum and subsequently to Wehmingen. Following a prolonged period of exposure to the elements, the tram had deterioted to such a degree that Wehmingen decided to dispose of it. TMZ were able to secure the bogies and return these to Zürich. It is hoped that two of the motors are in sufficiently good condition to warrant their restoration for use on the planned replica of car 57. Probably the spoked wheels are also original Zürich.
Car 57 will represent one of the open balcony four-wheelers that were built in 1899. The trucks were imported from the Peckham Company in the USA and were originally equipped with American motors and controllers. Later these were replaced by more powerful TM11 motors. When these cars were withdrawn in the late 1920ies, the TM11 motors were sold to Geneva. The Peckham trucks were re-used for works cars, a number of which still survive (including the Cargo tram wagons). One such truck has been secured by TMZ and will form the basis for a replica car. It is hoped to use the ex-Geneva TM11 motors. The body will be made using parts from 93 (which is a developement of the same design). Other surviving representatives of this later version are 102 and LSB 2.
Cobra: Some of the advantages of modern technology were clarified by a recent incident. A side window on a Cobra had to be replaced following an incident. On an older design of tram, such an operation might take some hours. On Cobra it took two working days, not that the work itself took that long but during this period the car was out of use as the glue had to set. The glue takes one day to set, after which another component was added which also had to be glued. One wonders what affect it will have on availability when such repairs are required more frequently.
P16: (1416-1430, 771-786) VBZ are negotiating with an unnamed buyer over the sale of these trams, set to be withdrawn from 2005.
Combino: (Basel) Repaired Combinos are expected to return to service from 19th April. It is likely that the bodyshells will have to be replaced by a more robust design later. As the guarantee period has expired it is possible that BVB will have to bear part of the costs themselves. It has been suggested bus acquistions can be postponed to release the necessary money. Such a move could reprieve the trolleybus system.
The demise of the Standard Trams has often been prematurely announced. The latest such report appeared in Tram (Number 77, February 2004) and claims that the four remaining two-door trailers on route 4 have been withdrawn. Stock rendered surplus by the cutting back of route 10 from Seebach to Oerlikon (see 14.12.2003) has rendered, or so it is claimed, the last of these trailers superfluous. However, 770 is still in service. This vehicle is 51 years old this year and the last of a type dating to the early 1940ies. Zürich once had 60 trailers of this type.
The Swiss Standard Tram is based on prototypes delivered to Zürich in 1939. The first production vehicle (delivered to Zürich in 1940) still survives as Cargo Tram 1922. Several hundred Standard Trams were built for a total of five Swiss cities. The Zürich cars were (trailers) 711-770, 787-801, (prototypes) 1031-1032, (Kurbeli) 1351-1415 and (Pedaler) 1501-1552. The recent withdrawals reduce the number of Standard trailers to 13, of which only number 770 represents the original two-door design with angular ends, wooden floors and louvered windows.
787-798 are all still active on route 4. These three door trailers delivered 1962-3 represent the second generation of Standard Tram. Withdrawn cars in store are 747/56/67/8.
Zürich also operated a third variant of the standard trailer family. 799-801 were VBZ's newest trailers, acquired in 1973 to the same design as that used in Basel. They joined their brothers and sisters in Basel in 1999 when they were sold to BLT. They were given the numbers 1301-3 and BLT's yellow and red livery - and see regular use on BLT's tram 17.
Kurbeli 1408, which has been parked in the open at ZW Altstetten for many years, is to be transferred to Burgwies depot. Apparently this tram is subject to a preservation attempt by Aktion Pro Sächsitram, who also wish to obtain one of the three door trailers 787-798 when these become available. No restoration is planned at present and the main concern is securing 1408 from the elements and the scrap dealers. For the time being, storage in Burgwies is a secure option. However, when rebuilding of the depot starts, another location must be found.
It should also be mentioned that 1530 and 1392 + 732 are preserved in operational condition in Zürich and that 1379 + 739 are preserved by AMTUIR at their Colombes base near Paris. 731 survives in the guise of open-topped tram 1971. Various further units are now works trams (albeit extensively rebuilt), two of which have recently been transferred to Bern. Various Kurbelis and trailers survive in Pyongyang.
TMZ has now officially launched the appeal for Burgwies tram museum. A press conference is being held in Burgwies depot today (the date is unfortunate but the news is serious) . It is hoped 1.5 million Franks can be raised in donations and sponsorships to finance the project. The new museum will open in 2007, coinciding with the 125th anniversary of Zürich trams and 40th anniversary of TMZ.
The appeal is coordinated by the pi.ar agency, which also collected money for the restoration of the lake steamers. The launch of the appeal was timed to coincide with the redesign of the TMZ website: www.tram-museum.ch. This presents a very professional image and places the Burgwies project more at the centre of activities than was previosuly the case. The website also explains how to donate money and features a barometer showing the sum raised to date. Sadly, the archives of the old website with their mass of historic information and photographs are no longer accessible, but it has been promised that this will be corrected. Equally, the website suggests that an English and French langauge version is in the pipeline.
The website of pi.ar is www.piar.ch. It is interesting to look at some of the other customers served by the agency. There is not yet any mention of TMZ.
The picture accompanying this news item is an impression of how the museum could look. Tracks 1 and 2 are used as a joint entrance area with the Migros supermarket (in the adjoining shed). Above the entrance will be a mezzanine floor with a viewing gallery and area for exhibitions or a model railway. The lower level will also include the museum shop, toilets, and a kitchen. Tracks 3 to 6 are for the museum collection. The picture was created by www.businessimages.ch.
24.03.2004 - Cobra deliveries to be stepped up?
VBZ are seeking to negotiate an increase in the Cobra delivery rate with Bombardier (currently one a month from mid 2005). A vehicle shortage is feared with the opening of route 18 (planned for 2008).
WV has confirmed its order for 10 new trolleybuses. These will be supplied by the Polish manufacturer Solaris. The first unit will be delivered towards the end of this year.
18.03.2004 - Cobras from Villeneuve
Following the Pratteln closure news (see 17.03.2004), Bombardier have announced that Cobra production will be switched to the former Vevey works at Villenueve. The Cobra contract specifies that these trams must be built in Switzerland.
In the 1990ies, Vevey was working on a low floor tram design of its own. This tram, Urbos, was intened to rival Cobra.
Pratteln works has a track connection linking to Basel's tram network which has often been used for test running and maintenance work.
NZZ and own observations
Bombardier have announced that they are reducing their worldwide workforce by 6600 and closing 7 European works. These include Pratteln (584 jobs). Bombardier jusify the decision by over-capacity, and interestingly, that SBB have given large orders to Bombardier's competitors last year. Pratteln will close by late 2005. Bombardier will still employ people in Oerlikon, Turgi and Villenueve.
The other threatened works are Ammendorf (Germany), Kalmar (Sweden), Doncaster, Derby Pride Park, Wakefield (all Britain) and Amadora (Portugal).
webmaster comment: The accusation that SBB bears guilt through giving orders to other companies is a bit rich coming from a company that preaches the free market. But maybe the admission that Bombardier failed to win orders would be too much of a concession.
The affect the closure will have on the production of Zürich's Cobras remains to be seen. Maybe production can be moved to Villeneuve? Current contracts see 68 Cobras being built in Switzerland for delivery to VBZ between 2005 and 2010. Whether further examples will be ordered for the new extensions or another type will be purchased is still open.
It may not affect Zürich directly, but it is nevertheless big news in the tram world. In an attempt to get to the bottom of Combino's troubles, Siemens shipped Freiburg 272 to Prague for structural tests. These tests proceeded to total destruction and showed structural weaknesses, especially concerning the roof structure which is liable to cave in in case of a serious accident. Siemens ordered all Combinos with more than 120'000km to be withdrawn. This affects Freiburg and Basel as well as parts of the Augsburg and Erfurt fleets and others. The withdrawal took affect from today (13th March 2004). Serious vehicle shortage affect the systems concerned.
11.03.2004 - Trams for Winterthur
Winterthur, the second city of the canton of Zürich, may well be on it's way to reintroducing trams. A study into the potential of trams recommends construction of a 5.4km line from Bhf. Töss via Sulzer Areal, Hauptbahnhof, the city centre to Oberwinterthur and Bhf. Grüze. The line would connect with railways at both ends and there would be through running to Embrach, Bülach, Seuzach and the Töss valley, partly replacing train services. Winterthur's old tram system closed in 1951. The town now boasts a modern trolleybus system, but if trends continue, some routes will reach their capacity in the coming decade.
Tagi and own observations
03.03.2004 - Announcing T&UT Zürich article
VBZ seeks to acquire 35 to 40 new trolleybuses, and expects to pay around 1.2 million Franks per vehicle - double the cost of diesel buses. Ride quality, performace on hills and ecological arguments, however, moved VBZ to retain this mode. The new buses will replace the worst of the problematic Mercedes/ABB trolleybuses.
Possibly, up to half the new vehicles could be double-articulated, similarly to those recently delivered to Geneva. The technical prerequisites are currently being investigated.
webmaster comment: This comes as good news in troubled times, with Basel seeking to abandon its trolleybuses. More about the growing opposition to Basel abandonment can be found on: www.protrolleybus.ch. This is a movement well worth supporting. Please visit their website even if you can do nothing else!
Yesterday the first 2 of the 13 new Forchbahn vehicles were inspected by ministry officials and passed for service. But they will now not enter service as soon as expected. The same afternoon the units were running in town for publicity shootings, when technical problems occurred. The set was stopped outside Irchel depot and one unit detached to be taken inside. The other unit (number 62) started to roll away towards Milchbuck. The person on board was unable to stop the runaway. 62 struck the oncoming 2087 on route 9. Fortunately, nobody was injured. The repairs will take some 2 months and cost 100'000 to 200'000 Franks. An investigation has been launched.
VBZ and Forchbahn director, Thomas Portmann, expressed "after 40 years Forchbahn is getting new cars and then this has to happen". Either he was misquoted, or he should take a better look at the fleetlist. Practically everything is younger than 40 years. Much of it significantly younger!
Tagi and own observations
17.02.2004 - New driver seats
Following complaints from drivers, new driver seats will be fitted to much of the Tram 2000 fleet. The new electrically adjustable seats are similar to those of the Cobras. The Tram 2000 seats released will in turn replace those in the Mirages.
Plans to pedestrianise Limmatquai have faced fierce opposition despite approval in a referendum. The last objection has now been withdrawn and the pedestrianisation could take effect this autumn. The change affects the section between Rudolf Brun Brücke and Helmhaus, and could transform this area to a very attractive waterfront location. It could also improve tram punctuality (the thoroughfare being a hot spot for congestion on the tram tracks).
07.02.2004 - Good news for public transport
The referenda of this weekend brought two good news items. The national AVANTI referendum was rejected by a large majority. This would have built many new roads including the second Gotthard tunnel. The city referendum on the new transport blueprint was accepted. This rejects the creation of new city centre car parking capacity, but supports the transfer of on street car parking to new underground car parks, so liberating space for pedestrians. A citywide cycle network will also be created. In the aftermath of these clear messages, the relative priorities of roads and public transport will have be reconsidered which will definitely be good for the latter.
15.01.2004 - Tram Züri West on the right track
The city council has made 4.7 million Franks available for the planning of tram route 18. Plans must be complete by the end of 2004 if the line is to open in time for the European football cup in 2008.
15.01.2004 - Link to Stadtbahn Glattal takes step forwards
Yesterday, the federal government granted their 36 million Frank support for Bern's Tram West project. Money was also made available for a 450m extension in Zürich connecting Thurgauerstrasse to Schaffhauserstrasse. This line will provide a second connection between the city network and Stadtbahn Glattal in Oerlikon and permit through running via Milchbuck. The original plan was for a connection at Messe only which would have allowed through running only via Bucheggplatz.
20 min and own observations
13.01.2004 - Rebuilding of Tram 2000
2099 - 2021 will receive the same cab modifications as have already been applied to 2102 and 2113. This basically consists of an additional window between the cab and the passenger compartment. The modification will improve passenger safety and be applied as the units are rebuilt to receive low floor centre sections.
20 min and own observations