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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As the Christmas days rarely offer much in the way of newsworthiness for the tram enthusiast, I am dipping into my archives and presenting a short series of pictures of what is probably Zürich's most rarely seen and most little photographed railway. This is because the railway is entirely underground and normally inaccesible to the public. This narrow gauge light railway is for the maintenance of the district heating tubes running through a narrow tunnel from the power plant at Hagenholz to the central ETH/university/hospital complex. A branch also serves the Irchel university site. The railway us owned and operated by the city's energy provider, EWZ. It has two battery-powered locomotives.
These photographs were not taken in the tunnel proper, which is not normally accesible to visitors, but in the basement of the power plant and the initial cut-and-cover section extending from it. The photos were taken on a visit two years ago.
I hope you are all having a wonderful Christmas time and wish you all the best for the New Year!
For fans of old tramcars, Milano ranks high among the cities meriting a visit. There are not many major cities in which bogie cars approaching their 80th anniversary are still in regular service in large numbers. Time and time again, news or rumours have been circulated that replacement of the Peter Witt cars was imminent — not least in the view of the continuous introduction of modern low-floor trams. Milano, however, also being a capital of not just fashion but also culture and style, can see beyond the provinciality of many other cities, and has no problem recognising the benefits of retaining such iconic trams in its fleet. The latest great news from this city is that many of these cars are not only being retained in service but are that their value is being fully recognised: In view of this, many are now being turned out in historic liveries. What better Christmas present could Milano have offered tram enthusiasts?
The cantonal government has rejected the proposals to extend tram 6 to the Zoo main entrance. It is claimed the 300m extension would cost 27 million (rather than 14) and that this is in no relation to the benefits.
Two new football liveries were presented last week. These are the Mirage set 1687+1712 sponsored by Coca-Cola and trolleybus 63, sponsored by Volkswagen.
In all, six special liveries were announced for Euro-2008, so we are still awaiting two more.
A series of pictures of the last weekend of metre gauge tram operation in Stuttgart has been uploaded, starting here.
VBZ has exercised its option for 14 further Cobra trams from Bombardier. This will take the total number to 88.
The cantonal government has placed the proposed Stadtbahn Limmattal on the list of projects for which it is applying for federal funds.
The 18th and final Swisstrolley trolleybus, number 161, arrived at the VBZ main workshops in Altsetten today.
16 Swisstrolleys and 17 LighTrams were ordered by VBZ in July 2005 as a replacement for Mercedes/ABB GTZ 1-11/13-36. The first Swisstrolley (144) arrived in July 2006, with the rest of the batch (145-59) following from January 2007. An option for two further Swisstrolleys (160-1) was exercised in February. Delivery of the longer LighTrams (61-77) began in August 2007 and will continue into 2008.
See also this website's trolleybus page
On 8th December, Genève is opening its extension from Cornavin to Les Avanchets. This is the first phase of a line that will ultimately serve CERN.
See also: Genève: Lancy tram opening (17.05.2006)
Also this coming weekend will be the closure of Stuttgart's last metre-gauge tram line (and also of the tram mseum at Zuffenhausen). See this website's earlier posting for more information.
The current status of the GTZ trolleybus fleet is that ten vehicles are no longer extant: 1-2/5/12-4/7/22/34-35 und five are in store 6/8/15/29-30. 33 is now a driver training vehicle 4128.
VBZ's appetite for driver training trolleybuses is somewhat remarkable, with three vehicles (4124/6/8 ex 3/4/33) currently allocated exclusively to these duties.
The latest of the football special livery trams (presumably 2087 + 2428) is being launched today by the trainer of the Swiss football team, Köbi Kuhn and other dignitaries. The tram is sponsored by Carlsberg.
Seen on route 14 yesterday: Cobra 3043.
On the evening of 22nd November, a head-on collision between two trams occurred at Schwamendingerplatz. Seven people were injured. The accident occurred at the track crossing where trams switch from left-hand to right-hand running (the former applies in the subway on account of the island platforms). The crossing is not protected by signals, but the normal ruling is that trams entering the subway should give way to those leaving. The cause of the accident is not clear. The trams involved were 3017 on route 9 (outbound) and 2049 on route 7 (inbound). Both have suffered significant damage.
The St. Gallen referendum on the renewal of the trolleybus fleet was acepted by 20,269 votes to 2,380, efectively securing the survival of the system. An overwhelming vote of support for the trolleybus!!
The third of the LighTram trolleybuses is now in service on route 31. On account of its all-white livery (presumably in preparation for a football livery), 63 has been nicknamed Albino by enthusiasts. A photo can be found here on Adrian Senn's website.
Bombardier has announced that it is relocating its traction converter testing and manufacturing facilities from Turgi (near Baden in the canton of Aargau) to Zürich Oerlikon. The reason for the move is that the premises Bombardier are currently renting from ABB in Turgi are required to accomodate ABB's expanding activities at this site. 110 jobs will be relocated. Bombardier already employs 370 people in Oerlikon in its engineering and service sectors. The new facilities will open in late 2008 and will be located in part of the Tramont building.
Website comment: The Tramont (Traktions Montage) assembly shop was the pride of the old ABB Transportation, with among others SBB's Re450 and Re460 locomotives having been commissioned there in the 1990s. Tramont is just across the road from the site where MFO (Maschinenfabrik Oerlikon) had manufactured railway traction equipment since the late 19th Century. Among their most iconic products were SBB's crocodile locomotives. ADtranz finally closed the Tramont shop between 1999 and 2001, with only the service and engineering departments remaining and finally being taken over by Bombardier. For this historic facility, the tide is finally turning!
Bombardier is supplying the Cobra trams to Zürich.
Officially, work on the third phase of Glattalbahn isn't starting until next year. The railway station at Wallisellen is, however, already rapidly being transformed. Seizing the opportunity that the Glattalbahn offers, Wallisellen decided to upgrade the site to an attractive transport hub serving the railway, Glattalbahn and buses; and also featuring a shopping centre with office and residential accomodation on the upper floors. The project is called Mittim, designed to become the new "middle" of Wallisellen. Construction work has now begun.
A group of nine Lugano councillors spanning five political parties have called for trams to return to this town in the southern part of Switzerland. A North-South line is proposed from Cornadero to the Scairolo plain. Lugano had trams until 1959.
Mirage (Blinde Kuh) 1693 and Trolleybus O405 GTZ 14 were transported to a scrapyard at Waltenschwil on 9th November. The second LighTram (double articulated trolleybus), number 62 entered service on 7th November. 63 was delivered on the 8th. It is painted in an all-over white and will presumably carry a football sepcial livery.
This newslog has now been up and running for four years. During the last year, the newslog page alone scored 12966 hits (attempts to download) and 12286 visits accouting for 1020 megabytes of downloads (compared to 8422, 7348 and 572 respectively in the preceding year). This site has, among others, increasingly been quoted as a source or reference by various news and general information websites — a tribute to its regularity and reliability. Thank you to all visitors who keep this site popular and please continue spreading the message to anybody else who may be interested.
The 25th November is fast approaching — this is the date of the cantonal referendum on Tram Zürich West, or more precisely the cantonal contribution of 90 million Franks (half of which could be directly recovered through a federal contribution if work starts before the end of 2008). To support the yes campaign, the exhibition tram (768) took a tour of the canton on the back of a low-loader lorry on Saturday 3rd November. Some pictures can be seen on Adrian Senn's website, railimages.senn.ch. It also seems likely that, for safety reasons, construction of the line will not begin until after the European football cup (2008). This means the opening date may possibly slip once again, to 2011. Readers who have been following this newslog since 2003 will remember it was originally planned to have the line operational in time for this event.
Opposition against the project has shifted from the right to the left wing, with several SVP politicians being supportive, whereas local left-wing groups are spearheading the no-campaign taking objection to a large part of the money being allocated to the parallel Pfingstweidstrasse road. For the inhabitants of the city of Zürich, this is the second time in half a year they are called to vote on the project. In June, 69.5% voted in favour of the city's contribution of 59 million. This makes it very likely that the cantonal referendum can also be won with a clear majority.
25th November will also see a referendum on the acquisition of new trolleybuses in Sankt Gallen.
Back in Zürich, Cobra deliveries have reached at least 3041. The next special football livery is likely to be applied to 2087 + 2428, which have been running in an all-white for some time now. Other Swiss tram systems are similarly decorating vehicles.
According to a report on Bahnhofplatz.net, the modifications to the trolleybus overhead at Klusplatz appears to be to permit a dismantling of the service connection to Hegibachplatz where the latter can no longer be accomodated due to the need to extend the tram and Forchbahn loading island. Until 1999, this non-revenue wiring was the only means of transferring trolleybuses from the Witikon line to the rest of the network (and especially the depot). The extension of route 33 to Tiefenbrunnen in that year meant it met the 34 at Klusplatz, making a direct connection the more obvious way of achieving this link — however, only the recently installed wires make this practicable.
Tram magazine (issue 91/09-11.2007) returns to the discussion surrounding the fate of Cobra 3006. In the December issue of 2006, it was stated that this vehicle had been scrapped, with body segments set aside to become an information stand for Tram Zürich West (the latter has not materialized). In May, when a (new?) tram appeared with the number 3006, it was widely claimed that this was a replacement provided by Bombardier, and that the other prototypes (which have similar flaws in their construction) would be similarly replaced. The June edition of Tram magazine then confirmed this. It is a sign that such journals are not scrutinised only by enthusiasts, that Lorenz Habicher, a member of the cantonal parliament for the SVP party and opponent of Tram Zürich West, raised the issue demanding to know whether public money was being wasted. It was vehemently denied by VBZ that the vehicle had been scrapped, it being explained instead that 3006 had been rebuilt by Bombardier to bring it up to the standard of the series fleet. In the latest issue, Tram magazine apologises for causing this uproar and also subscribes to the latter explanation. In my opinion, the difference between a heavy rebuild and a new tram is a matter of definition. It is clear that substantial parts of the body have been replaced (with notably a transition from the screw-based Alugrip, as also used on the Combino type, to a welded construction), with it being highly probable that parts such as motors, electrics and running gear have been re-used.
It was a praiseworthy decison on the part of VBZ to acquire prototypes, so preventing far more costly repairs.
Further news from Tram magazine: Mirages having received overhauls are (RA) 1676 (following accident damage) and 1685 and (SK) 1602/5/935/83 (observant readers of this website will recall that 1683+1717 now carry a football livery). 1692/4-6/703-6/9/22/6 are reported out of service. Tram 2000's overhauled are (R1.2) 2004-6 and (R2.0) 2087/314/417/23/8. Mercedes trolleybuses scrapped are 1/2/13/22. 5 is sold to Verkehrsbetriebe Winterthur and 6/15/29-30 stored in Regensdorf with 35 also being withdrawn.
Stadtbahn Limmattal is also back in the news, with Tram magazine reporting that the planning body ZPL (Zürcher Planungsgruppe Limattal) demanded in May that the project be accorded higher priority. The planners are demanding construction begin in 2016 for an opening in 2022. Stadtbahn Limmattal is a project to create a tram corridor from Zürich via Schlieren and Dietikon to Killwangen, and possibly beyond. It would connect to BDWM in Dietikon and open possibilities of through running.
The magazine's main article deals with the history of Basel's trolleybus.
Bernmobil has ordered 21 Siemens Combino trams for 100 million Franks. The will be delivered between August 2009 and December 2010. The unsuccessful competitors were Bombardier (Flexity Outlook), Stadler (Tango) and Raility (Leoliner).
In January, this website reported that the deadline for confirming the option of further Cobra trams was the end of October. This deadline has now passed without any official news of an order having reached my knowledge. It is, however, suggested by VBZ internal sources that Bombardier and VBZ have reached an agreement. Possibly, the referendum on Tram Zürich West (25th November) means part of the order is conditional (and would also explain why the news is being kept low key). The recent presentation of VBG's new corporate identity, while not directly stating that Cobras are involved, does suggest that Stadtbahn Glattal will be worked by Cobras. Another clue lies in the Cobra featuring more prominently on Bombardier's website than was previously the case. Watch this space for more details.
Cobra deliveries have reached 3040. The coming December timetable switch will see route 4 becoming the first all-Cobra route. The type's higher capacity will permit the stretching of service intervals from 6 to 7.5 minutes, spelling the end for the remaining four Mirage + B4 trailer sets. These trailers (FFA, 787-798, built 1962) represent the last Swiss Standard Trams in passenger service in Zürich, and so end an era that lasted 68 years. They are also the last trailers in Zürich. The vehicles will probably be transferred to Vinnitsa together with a matching number of surplus Mirages. The Tram 2000 + Pony sets that were used on route 4 until recently have been redeployed on other routes.
This is the 400th item to be posted on this newslog!
To address various inadequacies, the square at Bahnhof Stadelhofen is being redesigned.
As far as trams are concerned, Forchbahn's turning circle will be replaced by a larger double-track oval, with Forchbahn using the inner track and trams the outer track. This means that trams heading for Kreuzplatz (11 and 15) will run on the opposite side of the square to their current itinerary.
A connecting curve to the Seefeld line (routes 2 and 4) will permit trams from Tiefenbrunnen to also use the loop at times when Bellevue is closed. This will permit the current turning triangle in front of the opera-house to be dismantled. As part of a separate project, an underground car park is to be built at this location permitting many on-street parking lots to be removed, but meaning this track feature cannot be retained. In any case, the spur has seen little use in recent years as the difficulties of operating it during major events (normally involving the reversal of trams through dense crowds) has led to bus operation of the Tiefenbrunnen line often being necessary on such occasions. The new layout would put an end to this unpopular practice.
The line from here to Bellevue will also be re-styled, with the current outbound three-track section being reverted to doule-track while the in-bound one is lengthened and fitted with a scissors crossover at the Bellevue end.
The square at Stadelhofen, which dates to the mid 19th Century and is marked by its large mature trees and decorative fountain, will remain essentially unchanged. Despite demands from certain traders, the attractive but old-fashioned soil and grit ground cover will not be replaced by a more moden surface. However, a modern lighting concept is being implemented.
The tram works are planned for the Summer of 2009.
The above map (click to enlarge) shows the proposed track layout in blue and the existing in yellow. The opera-house turning wye is just visible on the left. To see the line to Bellevue and the project in the context of its broader area (but without the current layout, and rotated clockwise by 90 degrees in relation to the above map), see this overview map.
This generous approach to track layout design (also seen in the recent upgrade of the layout at Bahnhof Enge) is in refreshing contrast to the attitude prevalent on mainline railways, but also on many tramways, of rationalising track layouts to the bare minimum required for functionality under normal conditions — rendering them too inflexible to deal with extraordinary situations or the potential growth or changing needs of the future.
In a press release issued today, VBG presents its new corporate identity. The trams and buses under VBG management will be painted white with a blue band. To match the Glattalbahn brand, VBG's bus system is being rebranded Glattalbus. The website has been redesigned and a new logo introduced.
The new identity was officially presented on 18th November. It was also revealed that construction work on the third phase (Auzelg — Wallisellen — Bhf. Stettbach) will begin in Summer 2008.
Website comment: What may appear like the normal periodic redesign of a corporate identity, actually has a longer story to it. Observant readers of this website and other literature dealing with Stadtbahn Glattal may have noticed the futuristic-looking silver-white trams (an early version of which is shown on the right) that VBG has long used in artist's impressions of the new line and other material. These did not purely reflect the creativity of VBG's graphic design agency, but mirrorred VBG's desire to create a distinct corporate identity. Attempts to implement this met with opposition from VBZ who, because such trams would also run through onto the city network, saw its own corpoarte identity threatened. A compromise has now been found that uses Zürich's colours but nevertheless produces a distinct image.
Repainting of the buses will begin immediately (a first bus was presented at the ceremony) and be completed by Summer 2008. The 17 trams will not have to be repainted as these will be delivered new in this livery.
The photo on the left, taken on a September evening at Glattpark, shows a VBZ Cobra on route 11 meet VBG's concept tram apologizing for the inconvenience caused by the construction of the iarport line. Now the two vehicles are set to fuse.
VBG is the managment company resposnible for bus routes in the Glattal area and also Glattalbahn. VBG does not own vehicles or directly operate services, but contracts its bus routes out to private franchise holders. The first phase of Glattalbahn (which opened last December) is operated by VBZ as an extension of city route 11.
Earlier this month, an overhead line connection was installed at Klusplatz permitting trolleybuses to transfer between routes 34 and 33. Presumably this makes the service connection to Hegibachplatz superfluous.
Zürich's popular fondue tram will be back from 3rd November to 27th February on Wednesdays and Saturdays and additionally on Mondays, Fridays and Sundays in December.
To mark the 125th anniversary of trams in Zürich, VBZ has decorated one tram as a rolling birthday card. Several thousand people have signed their names on adhesive sheets which have now been fixed to tram number 2005 (not 1683 as suggested previously on this page; 1683 which spent some time running in white, finally became a football tram). 2005, the latest of Zürich's special livery trams, was presented yesterday and will spend the rest of the week providing special rides along the city-centre loop.
I have the pleasure of presenting a set of manufacturer's photographs of trams and related transport modes from between 1919 and 1949. View this gallery here.
The Buenos Aires demonstration line featuring two Mulhouse trams was inaugurated by president Kirchner on 14th July. The service is branded Tranvía del Este. Meanwhile, Alstom's marketing department continues to make good use of the attractive yellow cars, with one making a guest appearance in public service in Utrecht from 7-13th September.
Construction of the second cross city rail link was officially launched on 20th September. The new tunnel from Oerlikon to Hauptbahnhof will carry both S-Bahn and long-distance trains. Boring of the tunnel will begin 2008 for a 2013 opening.
The latest new trolleybus to enter service, following on from Lightram 61, is not another Lightram but Swisstrolley 160. This is the first of two additional vehicles ordered in February and being delivered seamlessly as a continuation of batch 144-159. 160 has been in service for about two weeks now (see also trolleybus fleetlist).
Mirages 1668 and 1709 came to brief fame in a short film jointly produced by VBZ and the police to warm motorists of the perils of making left turns in the path of approaching trams. 1668 was used for the street scene (in Oerlikon) and the cabless 1709 for the close-up of the actual impact. The .wmv file is here.
Another Mirage pair is also attracting attention. 1683+1717 are currently running as a pair on route 2 in a smart looking special red livery. This is the first of several such liveries being applied to mark the Euro 2008 football cup. This means 1683 has not received the birthday card livery as previouly suggested on this newslog.
A visit to Stadtbahn Glattal today revealed significant progress. The diversion of Thurgauerstr alongside Glattpark is now complete so that work is now progressing on the alignment of the Stadtbahn proper. The subway entrance at Lindbergh is also rapidly taking shape. Significant lengths of track are in position around Bahnhof Glattbrugg, and the viaduct between Balsberg and the airport is approaching completion. At Bahnhof Oerlikon, the points for the connecting line to Leutschenbach are installed and the stop is taking shape. The only section of phase two on which no work is yet in progress is the short continuation of this line to Leutschenbach. Phase two will open in late 2008, permitting trams to serve the airport. Recent photos can be viewed here and a complete archive here.
(This website reported on the museum's opening last year, however this was only a preliminary viewing prior to completion).
Further Bern news in brief: Bernmobil is to build a new depot at Bolligerstr for opening in 2010. This will replace Burgernziel depot.
Concerning Bernmobil's rolling stock acquisition, June's invitaion to tender apparently includes an option for 16 further vehicles and the possibility to return nine existing vehicles as part of the deal. Possibly this exchange is planned with the line to Worb in mind. This line is currently operated by RBS as line G, but Bernmobil wishes to take the line over and integrate it into the urban system (extending it beyond its current Zytglogge terminus). It may be that, rather than running the line with a mix of ex-RBS and its own rolling stock, that Bernmobil is seeking to minimize the tram types it operates. The line is currently worked by three-section trams derived from Zürich's Tram 2000. RBS was previously considering adding low-floor sections to these, but it may be that new trams represent better value for money.
Update (23rd September). The website of Bern's tram museum is www.trittbrett.ch/tvb. The next opening days are yet to be announced. Pictures I took at the museum (and elsewhere) yesterday can be viewed on this page (and the following) of the photo gallery.
The transport ministry of Baden-Württemberg (in whose juristriction Weil am Rhein lies) has, after a prolonged period of ambiguity, finally said it will contribute to the Basel — Weil cross-border tram project. Furthermore, if the extension of route 3 to St Louis does not come to fruition (as is becoming increasingly likely), it will be possible to divert the funds to the Weil extension. This makes the total costs of 104.3 million Franks (of which 46.4 million for the German section, part of which is being covered by Basel) financeable. It is planned to open the line in 2012.
The October edition of Tramways & Urban Transit (T&UT) features a two-page article by myself on the opening of Zürich's new tram museum at Burgwies.
Stuttgart, which must once have counted among the world's premier metre gauge tram systems, has over the last decades undergone a major reconstruction programme, with the old metre gauge tram lines being phased out in favour of a standard gauge Stadtbahn system. This massive programme is now finally drawing to a close.
The last metre gauge tram, route 15, connecting Ruhbank (Fernsehturm) — Eugensplatz — Hauptbahnhof — Nordbahnhof — Zuffenhausen — Stammheim, has only three months to go. This line is worked by a handful of the iconic GT4 trams (built 1959-65) of which 350 once graced the streets of Stuttgart.
Over the past months, the sections of line between Olgaeck and Ruhbank and Pragfriedhof and Nordbahnhof have been reconstructed with mixed gauge track. This has permitted trams to continue to serve the route during the difficult changeover. The work is now largely concluded, leaving Kelterplatz — Stammheim as the only all metre gauge section. On 8th December, metre gauge tram route 15 will run for the last time, being replaced by Stadtbahn U15 between Kelterplatz and Ruhbank. With the disappearance of the last metre gauge tram line, the Kelterplatz to Stammheim section will close. This closure will only be of temporary nature though, as there are plans to build a Stadtbahn line to Stammheim re-using much of the tram's alignment. However, Zuffenhausen's bustling shopping street will loose its trams for good as the new line will run in a subway here.
The change also affects Stuttgart's tram museum. As the museum's current base in Zuffenhausen depot will be cut off by the closure of the Stammheim line, the museum will relocate to Bad Cannstatt, where it is hoped to open a new museum next year. To mark the closure of the current museum, a major event with heritage trams is planned for 28th and 29th October. Until then, the museum continues to open to visitors on the second Sunday of every month from 13:00 to 17:00 and on the last Saturday from 13:00 to 18:00. On opening Sundays, museum route 19 is operated in the form of round trips from the museum via Kelterplatz and Stammheim. On opening Saturdays, museum route 19 connects the museum to Hauptbahnhof.
The final day of GT4 operation in Stuttgart (8th December) will see a ceremonial changeover around midday with some parallel or mixed running being likely. However, no museum cars will be out on this day. From about 11:00 the next day (9th December), however, a large number of them will work a shuttle service between Stammheim and Kelterplatz, so paying their last respect to this line in style. These will probably be the last ever tram movements on this line before it is dismantled.
Mixed gauge track is being retained on the Ruhbank leg of U15 for the purpose of museum tram operation. This will commence next year. For information on Stuttgart's tram museum, see www.shb-ev.info. Besides this museum operation, metre gauge will continue to be represented in Stuttgart by line 10, a cog railway from Degerloch to Marienplatz.
For all friends of the classic Swiss trolleybus, here is a special offer from the Portugese city of Coimbra:
This letter has been posted here for your information only. The author of this website is not responsible for its content. Any queries should be directed to the author of the letter.
See also this website's trolleybus pages.
The next public appearance of the restaurant tram will present culinary highlights from the Engadine region of Switzerland from 12th September to 27th October. Tours will take two hours, departing from Bellevue Wednesdays to Saturdays at 18:00 and 20:15. The three course meal costs 89 Franks. Reservations: + 41 (0) 44 434 44 34.
Jürgen Lehmann's trolleybus website, Obus 269 features a regular newsletter with news from across Europe and makes very recommendable reading. However, to provide a brief summary on Swiss items, and for those who don't read German, I am summarising some of the highlights from the latest edition (Nr 67, July 2007) here:
Bern: Building work outside the main station is leading to numerous diversions and bustitutions leading to reduced trolleybus operations. Furthermore, trolleybus routes13 and 14 are no longer worked as such since 28.01.2007 and 09.07.2006 respectively (these will ultimately be replaced by Tram Bern West). The lines remained usable until late June when building works in Bümpliz lead to the dismantlement of a first section of overhead. Removal of further sections is in progress.
Schaffhausen: Since 01.07.2007 operations are curtailed to Waldfriedhof — Neuhausen Zentrum on account of works. The situation will last until September 2008.
Lausanne: The acquisition of 35 new trolleybuses is planned for delivery by 2009. A joint acquistion with other Swiss operators is intended. These will replace second hand Genève vehicles and trailer sets with the oldest four-wheelers (built 1982). A further 65 should replace the entire current fleet by 2014. The acquisition may include four-wheelers to permit the retention of recently acquired trailers.
Zürich: Further details to this website's earlier report on GTZ withdrawals: Number 1 became driver trainer 4122 on 01.03.2007 and was already out of service few days later with gear damage. It had only accumulated about 700,000 km. It was replaced on 22.03.2007 by number 2 as 4123 but this suffered the same fate. Currently the driver trainers are 3 und 4 as 4124 (since 04.04.07) and 4126 (since 07.05.07). These vehicles had accumulated 1,065,467 km and 1,127,660 km respectively prior to the transfer. Failures led to the withdrawals of 13 and 22 (with similar mileages) in April 2007. 5 was broken up for parts in May. In the same month, 30 became the first unit to be withdrawn and strored in operational condition. 6, 8, 15 and 29 have since followed course and 34 and 35 were broken up for parts. See also this website's Zürich GTZ fleetlist.
See also this website's trolleybus pages.
Updates: Neuchâtel announced in July that it is joining forces with Lausanne (see above) and adding 20 trolleybuses to replace its oldest vehicles.
Sankt Gallen is planning to borrow a Lightram3 for demonstration purposes. The town already has a double articulated trolleybus, but this is a rebuild of a high-floor bus with a low-floor rear section added. It had been planned to rebuild more, but replacement is now the preferred option.
The number of special livery trams in Zürich has fallen off somewhat lately. Until recently, the only remaining such tram was the Gesundheitstram (2091). This is now set to change: 1683 is currently running on route 8 in an all white livery. This will be transformed into a giant birthday card in the approaching 125th anniversary celebrations. The public can add their signature at Bellevue on Wednesday 5th September 17:30-19:30 and Thursday 6th to Sunday 9th 10:00-19:30. Further special livery trams will appear to mark the Euro 2008 football matches to be hosted in Zürich next year.
A further destination has been added for Zürich's goods tram! From 13th and 27th July respectively, Burgwies is served by Cargo-Tram and E-Tram. Once a month, from 15:00 to 19:00, these respective services stand on the track fan of the tram museum at Burgwies permitting the public to leave unwanted items. The nine destinations now served are Wollishofen, Wartau, Albisrieden, Tiefenbrunnen, Letzigrund, Hirzenbach, Seebach, Burgwies and Irchel. The tenth destination, Laubegg, is served by a lorry as, since the extension of route 5 in March, there is no longer free track space for the tram at this loop.
See also this website's cargotram page.
My latest series of photographs (mainly) from Burgwies can be found here.
On 7th August, Winterthur's Solaris Trollino trolleybus number 180 was demonstrated in Gent (Belgium). A week earlier a Genova trolleybus was tested. Hopefully this is a good omen for the threatened system.
Luzern's Hess Lightram double-articulated trolleybus 232 was tested (without passengers) in Winterthur on 5th and 6th July. The trials should help clarify the necessary infrastructure modifications required to introduce such vehicles. A decison on the future of the town's trolleybus system is due soon. WV's Mercedes/ABB O405 GTZ are due for replacement in 2009/10.
See also this website's trolleybus page.
When is a tram new? Citing Nahverkehrsforum Schweiz, this website reported in May that a new Cobra tram numbered 3006 had entered service to replace the tram of the same number that was scrapped in December. This news has since been confirmed by Tram magazine (see also below). However, in a NZZ article of 15th June 2007, this is vehemently denied by VBZ. The new 3006 it is claimed, is the old 3006 that has been repaired (Bahnforum Schweiz). Maybe it just boils down to a question of what constitutes a repair and of VBZ wishing to protect Bombardier's interests?
Restaurant tram: An article of the Tages Anzeiger newspaper of 2nd August, it is reported that patronage of the restaurant tram is disappointingly low. The article suggests that this is due to the high prices and lack of variation in the chosen route. A VBZ spokesman, however, suggest the weather is also to blame, citing the success of the Fondue tram. The route is difficult to vary because of logistics of supplying the tram.
Rolling stock changes: The highest Cobra number I have spotted so far is 3032 (on route 11). According to Nahverkehrsforum Schweiz, deliveries have reached 3035. Cobra trams are currently deployed on routes 4, 9 and 11. Displaced Tram 2000 units have recently been making increased appearances on route 7. Very few Mirage and trailer pairs remain on route 4. According to Bahnforum Schweiz, the following vehicles were in store inside Wollishofen depot on 14th July: Karpfen trailer 786, standard trailers (FFA) 791-2/4-8, Mirages 1692/6/705/22 as well as X4 1990 (flat wagon) and Märlitram Be2/2 1208 (the latter two units probably only temporarily). The highest Swisstrolley number I have seen so far is 159.
Mirage: Tram Magazine (issue 90/06-08.2007) reports that the following Mirage are out of service: 1703/6/9/26. The list of scrapped units remains unchanged at 1617/54/61/70/90-1/97/700/2/8. The following Mirage have been overhauled/repaired (SK) 1601 and (RA) 1659/81/5. SK inspections are also planned for 1602-5.
With deliveries of new Swisstrolleys making good progress, they are now increasingly appearing on route 32. The highest new trolleybus number I have sighted so far is 157.
Four different Roumanian operators are reported to be interested in obtaining withdrawn GTZs. VBZ, however, only wishes to pass them on to two different towns. Which these will be has yet to be decided. Furthermore, various vehicles have recently been scrapped for spares and two are being retained for driver training duties.
A belated report on last week's Züri-Fäscht (6-8 July): This is a major event taking place every three years. During a period of three days, the lakeside area is closed to traffic, with numerous attractions, small and large, attracting the crowds. VBZ was present again this year with various attractions, including the popular pump trolley racing and with the Tram Bar (rear section of Mirage prototype 1801 converted to a portable bar).
Directly adjoining this, the Schweizer Verein der Feld- und Werkbahn Freunde (Otelfingen) operated their light railway.
Link to: Feld- und Werkbahn Freunde
Schaffhausen's council has decided to postpone the decison on the future of its trolleybus to 2010. The decision was due this year for a possible 2008 closure. The time gained will be used to consider the scenarios: gas (CNG), dieselbus and trolleybus retention (and possible expansion).
BDWM (Bremgarten-Dietikon) has placed an order for 14 new trains. These three section units will be supplied by Stadler for 80 million Franks, with the first unit being delivered in 2009. The design is based on that supplied to Forchbahn and Trogenerbahn. For the first time in the history of the Bremgarten-Dietikon line, the trains will feature first class accomodation.
This new rolling stock will permit the entire present fleet to be replaced. Be4/8 21-25 of 1993 will be sold to WSB. BDe8/8 1-9 of 1969 are likely to be scrapped, with possibly one unit being preserved.
See also WSB fleet renewals (11.06.2007).
Last week's yes to the city's contribution of 59 million to Tram Zürich West isn't the last word on this matter. Opponents have succeeded in securing a cantonal referendum on the canton's contribution of 90 million for 25th November.
Tram Zürich West is a project to build a new tram line from Escher-Wyss-Platz to Bhf. Altstetten. The 3km line costing 150 million Franks is scheduled to open in 2010.
Following Sunday's approval of Tram Bern West, Bernmobil is seeking tenders for 20 new trams. These must work the new lines but also replace the remaining Be8/8. The new trams must have a capacity of 240 passengers and a length of 40 to 45m with an axle loading not exceeding 8.3t.
The results of today's referenda are mixed, with tram projects in both Bern and Zürich being approved, but Basel's trolleybus facing abandonment. In brief, the authorities got what they wanted in all three cases.
The Tram Zürich West (or strictly speaking, the provison of 59 million by the city for the financing thereof) was approved by 69.3 to 30.7% at a voter participation of 36%.
The Tram Bern West project (or the cantonal contribution of 33 million) was approved by 69.5 to 30.5% at a voter participation of 29.2%. The city's contribution of 26 million was approved in last November's referendum.
Basel's trolleybus is now set to be abandoned, with Pro Trolleybus' retention initiative being rejected by 53.7 to 46.3%. The cantonal counter-proposal, involving the purchase of gas buses was accepted by 57.0 to 43.0%. Asked to select between the two, suport for the trolleybus fell to 43.8 to 56.2%. Voter participation was 52.1%. This is very bad news for Basel: Almost all of the arguments used against the trolleybus (such as nuclear power, inflexibility, difficulties in extending across borders) can equally be used against the tram.
Even before the final result of today's referenda are announced (which are sadly not looking good for Basel's trolleybus), latest revelations are giving a new slant on the story. It is revealed that the proposed biogas plant will be unable to produce gas of sufficient quality to be used as bus fuel. This biogas would have constituted at least 50% of the fuel of the gas buses replacing the trolleybuses.
Interestingly however, the biogas produced would be of sufficient quality for electricity generation. But without trolleybus wires, how is that electricity going to get to the buses?
Let's wait for the next lame excuse.
All the best for this weekend's referenda on three important decisions!
Aktion Pro Sächsitram is organising a photo tour on the Bremgarten Dietikon Bahn (BDWM) on 1st July. The tour will feature rides with and opportunities to photograph at various points along the line the BDe8/8 articulated units, both solo and as coupled pair. This type, dating to 1969, is soon to vanish. The tour also features a depot line-up and a short ride with the heritage set BDe4/4 10 Mutschällezäni plus open trailer B 11. The tour costing 64 franks starts at 09:30 in Dietikon and ends at about 17:00. In case of poor weather the tour will be postponed to the 8th. Details and registration on this page of Aktion Pro Sächsitram's website.
See also events diary.
Seen yesterday on route 31: trolleybus 156.
On 3rd April, WSB (AAR) announced that it had selected Stadler to deliver 10 new driving trailers (ABt 51-60) for 14 million Franks to enter service in 2009 (plus an option for two more). These cars will be used with Be4/4 15-17/19-27 replacing Bt 71-79 (the bogies of which will be re-used for the new cars). These units will have first class compartments — a novelty for WSB. The matching motor cars will be refurbished with new interiors and air conditioning. Be4/4 17 has been selected as a prototype and is currently being rebuilt in WSB's Schöftland workshop.
The more modern Be4/8 28-34 are also to be refurbished and have first class areas added. There is no fresh news about the acquisition of BDWM's Be4/8 21-25 (which are essentially identical to 28-34). These would replace WSB's older stock (Be4/4 9-14, BDt 80-85).
Standard Tram (Kurbeli) 1408 left Zürich by lorry for storage in a safe location on 30th May. The move was organised by Aktion Pro Sächsitram, whose long-term objective is the restoration of this tram to working order.
Pictures of the move can be seen on this page of the organisation's website.
The state of the iconic trolleybus system of Valparaíso (Chile) has recently given much cause for concern. The privately operated system, which features many former Swiss trolleybuses, is increasingly facing financial difficulties due to minibus competition. The operator has said it would have to close within two months if no solution could be found. However, the system enjoys much sympathy and President Bachelet herself has spoken out in favour of retention. Options being considered include priorities, susbsidies and state ownership.
For further information on Valparaíso, see this Valparaíso history page on Allen Morrison's Electric Transport in Latin America page (www.tramz.com).
The official launch of the ex-Zürich Karpfen trams in Vinnitsa (Ukraine) is planned for 6th June.
Just a reminder that Zürich's new tram museum is opening this Saturday (26th). This is set to be one of the largest tram events of recent years and not likely to be repeated soon.
As part of the 125th anniversary celebrations of Zürich trams, restaurant tram 1802 will be presenting specialities from tram cities around the world. From 1st June to 31st August, the tram will be operating from Wednesdays to Saturdays, leaving Bellevue at 11:45, 13:00, 18:00 and 20:15. The two midday trips take an hour and costs 35 Franks (two-course meal), the evening trips take two hours and cost 89 Franks (three-course meal). Drinks are charged extra. As always, reservation is strongly recommended: +(41)44 434 44 34.
The cities presented will be Valencia (from 1st June), San Francisco (from 4th July) and Rome (from 1st August). The tram will not operate during Züri-Fäscht (6-8 July) or Street Parade (11th August).
Weather permitting, the open "beer garden" trailer (1971) will be attached to this tram.
See also: events diary
The coloured boards on the rooves of Tram 2000s indicating the route number and principal destinations are soon to be replaced by window-mounted electronic displays (similar to those used on Cobras). The Mirages will retain their boards until withdrawal. The decison is justified by the introduction of real-time passenger information displays. Roof boards have been used since the early days of trams in Zürich.
With the referendum over Tram Zürich West planned for 17th June, the political campaign is warming up. Besides the usual anti-tram voices from the populist all-automobile end of the spectrum, there is opposition from the other end as well, with elements of the far left opposing the tram because it is supposedly a trojan horse designed to permit rebuilding of the parallel Pfingstweidstrasse (which is part of the same project). In this respect, it is fortunate that the yes campaign is also well under way. Its website is www.tram-zuerich-west.ch. Although it is true that road capacity will increase slightly as a result of the tram project, in my opinion it is rather short sighted to oppose it on this basis. This road will also become more urbanised, better fitting into its changing surroundings. Additionally thousands of new appartments and jobs are being created along this already overloaded corridor — expecting all these people to use the tram all the time is rather utopic.
Search news archive for Tram Zürich West.
Update: (1st June) The author of this website has written a letter of protest to Umverkehr, one of the organisations opposing Tram Zürich West, withdrawing his membership and support of that organisation.
The approaching opening of the tram museum (26th May) is being advertised intensively. One of the more original elements of the campaign are the shopping bags fitted to the front of Tram 2000's of route 11. People in posession of a similar bag (available from Migros) will be entitled to free rides on all urban VBZ lines on the opening day.
See also: Programme for Burgwies opening
Protrolleybus, the organisation campaigning for the retention of Basel's trolleybus, launched its campaign and a new website yesterday. In an effective demonstration, the press conference started at a bus stop alongside an accelerating diesel bus — putting paid to all claims that this is as quiet as a trolley. In contrast to the gas bus campaign, which is funded by industrial interests, Protrolleybus depends on individual donations. The referendum is on 17th June.
The latest new Cobra carries the number 3006, replacing the 3006 that was scrapped last year.
Jürgen Lehmann's trolleybus website, Obus 269 features a regular newsletter with news from across Europe. The latest edition (Nr 86, April 2007) includes news on the following:
Bern: with various trolleybus routes temporarily or permanently diesel-bus worked, only routes 11 and 12 currently see trolleybuses.
Sankt Gallen: the town council is considering replacing trolleybuses by hybrid buses. As an alternative, the acquisition of 7 double-articulated and 17 single-articulated trolleys is to be considered. The entire current fleet will be replaced.
Schaffhausen: a decison on the future of this small system is due to be taken this Spring. A study recommends conversion to diesel operation. This would take place in late 2008 coinciding with the rebuilding of an underpass. Local opposition is stirring.
Winterthur: in this city too, trolleybuses are threatened. The town council wishes to take a decision on the system's future before the end of the year.
In the face of so much troubling news, it is comforting that developments further West are more positive. Genève's route 7 was extended by 1km to Hôpital in February. In Lausanne, the delivery of 10 trailers from Hess was completed in the same month.
See also this website's trolleybus page.
Update On 7th May the executive town council of Sankt Gallen decided in favour of purchasing 7 double-articulated buses for 2008-2009 and 17 single articulated vehicles for 2008-2011. Earlier plans to stretch existing single-articulated vehicles by adding low-floor rear sections are being dropped. These replacements reduce the trolleybus fleet by two vehicles. The decison requires council confirmation. Stadt St.Gallen
On 30th April, tl (Lausanne) received authorisation to purchase 35 double-articulated trolleybuses for 43 million franks. The buses will enter service from 2009. There should be 100 new vehicles by 2014.
According to a 14th May report on the trolleybus Yahoogroup, trolleybuses could vanish from Valparaíso (Chile) in little more than two months due to financial difficulties caused by minibus competition. The city has many ex-Swiss trolleys.
On 22nd May, the full council of Sankt Gallen approved the trolleybus acquisition. A referendum will be held in November.
Regular readers of this page will be aware that the new tram museum in the former Burgwies tram depot is opening on 26th May. For anybody interested in the preservation of historical Zürich trams, this is a dream come true! Zürich's large and growing heritage fleet has finally found a permanent home. This is also the largest tram event the town has hosted in many years and not likely to be repeated soon.
09:30-11:30 Heritage trams and buses converge on Burgwies from all parts of the city and beyond.
Opening times for the museum for the rest of the year are:
Operating days for heritage trams are listed on this website's event diary page.
For further details, please consult the webpage of Tram Museum Zürich.
Tram magazine (issue 89/03-05.2007) reports that Mirage-type trams 1661/70/97 are scrapped, as is Cobra 3006. Body segments 1,2 and 5 of the latter are being retained for a display. Mirage overhauls are continuing, however, with 1679/82/6/8 having received repairs. 1677-79/1703/5/11 and FFA trailers 787-789 are reinstated. Exhibition tram 768 was moved from its previous location outside Schiffbau to the permanent way yard at Hardturm. It is now open by appointment only. 2042 last ran in its guise as Energietram (special livery) in November, having operated in this form for five years. The tram has reverted to standard livery, meaning Gesundheitstram 2091 is now Zürich's only special livery tram.
In Winterthur, trolleybus routes 3 and 6 are joined into a new route 3, Rosenberg - Hauptbahnhof - Oberseen. The last of the Saurer vehicles (122/4-5/30) are withdrawn and have been sent to Baia Mare in Roumania where sister vehicles 126-9 have already found a new home. 131 is being retained for driver training purposes.
BDWM (Bremgarten-Dietikon) is seeking to acquire 14 new trains to replace its entire fleet. Be4/8 21-25 of 1993 could be sold to WSB (Menziken-Aarau-Schöftland). BDe8/8 1-9 of 1969 face an uncertain fate.
In Bern, a major rebuilding of the station forecourt this summer will lead to numerous route diversions, curtailments and bustitutions.
Note on the timing of this news item: avid readers of Tram may realize that this edition has been on sale for some time now, and is indeed now hard to come by. Why wasn't this news published earlier here? I try to strike a balance between informing a broader public that probably doesn't read such publications, and protecting the interests of the publishers who do after all rely on sales to keep going — and I wouldn't want any reader to stop buying or subscribing to Tram because news from it appears here. Of course what appears here is only a summary so there are plenty of other reasons to read such magazines.
VBZ has published its passenger statistics for 2006. These show passenger journeys are continuing to rise, now reaching 296.7 million (2.3 million more than 2005 *). Of these, 186.8 million (+1.5 million) were by tram, 51.7 million by trolleybus, 36.4 million by diesel bus in the city and 2.3 million by neighbourhood minibus (Quartierbus). The night buses transported 300,000 passengers (+15%) and VBZ-operated buses outside the city 19.2 million.
The most popular tram line was route 14 (73,000 passengers per day), with the greatest growth being seen on routes 5, 7 and 9 (more than 4% each). The favourite trolleybus route was 33 (45,000 passengers) and the favourite diesel bus route was 80 (8.6 million in total).
* This figure does not appear to be compatible with the figure of 274 million as reported on this site for 2005. I assume the 2005 figure covers only activities within the city.
Marking the year of the 125th anniversary of public transport in Zürich, coloured labels, Seit 125 Jahren, in the shape of the VBZ "sausage" logo have appeared on most vehicles over the last days.
It has been some time since this website last reported on construction progress on the second phase of Stadtbahn Glattal. This 5.2km tram extension from Glattpark to the airport will open in late 2008.
Work is now in hand on all sections of the alignment (except a short section at Bahnhof Glattbrugg). Along the first section, from Glattpark to Lindbergh-Platz, work is concentrating on moving services. The tram will use a central alignment here, meaning the roadway itself is being diverted at the expense of the adjoining field — the rest of which is soon to make way for the massive Glattpark development (combined residential and commercial buildings and a park with a lake). Some of the buildings on the left hand-side of the road are hotels, calling themselves Zürich Airport — the airport proper is still many kilometres away.
At Lindbergh-Platz, the tram passes the building (which, if I have identified it correctly) is soon to be the European headquarters of Kraft Foods. In a controversial move, the unit has decided to relocate here from London. Some claim the move was motivated by taxes. However, there are many places with lower taxes than the Zürich area, including many in Switzerland — and apparently also in the European Union. Maybe the Glattalbahn helped sell this particular location? — in combination of course with the other factors that make Zürich so attractive (this year, Zürich has again topped Mercer's list of the world's most liveable cities).
From Lindbergh-Platz, the tram will take a left turn and dive down into a subway, excavataion of which is in full swing. This subway will take it under the airport railway link and the parallel tracks of the Kloten line. The line remains underground while running parallel to another railway, that to Bülach (the area is riddled with criss-crossing railway lines), before emerging at Bahnhof Glattbrugg. Once past the station area, some foundations for overhead masts are already in place.
Between here and Bäueler, the alignment cuts across what is still a field (excavation of the trackbed is in hand). At Bäueler, a new bridge is taking shape over the Glatt river (the latter gives Glattal its name). From here the tram follows a roadside alignment (Unterriet). The front yards of the buildings on the right hand side have all been cleared and many dug up for the new line.
At the end of this road, the tram will rise onto a viaduct (which is rapidly taking shape). At Balsberg a stop will be located on top of the viaduct with an interchange to the adjoining elevated S-Bahn line (this is the Kloten-line again). The viaduct then continues along the airport-approach road, passing various airport buildings before coming down to ground level again and approaching the main entrance. The tram continues from here to the cargo terminal - with light ground work being visible along its full length.
2007 marks the 125th anniversary of public transport in Zürich — the first (privately operated) horse trams commenced operations in 1882. VBZ are planning to mark the date in style. In addition to the opening of the Burgwies Tram Museum (26th May), various other events are planned, including culinary highlights (1st June to 31st August), activities at this year's Züri Fäscht (6 to 8th July), a celebration (5th to 9th September) and a congress (8th to 9th November). Watch this website for details!
See also events diary 2007.
For a brief overview of the history of Zürich's trams, see the history section of this website's 2005 Zürich article.
Apolgy: Amsterdam may be a bit off-topic for this website, but as cargo trams are a subject that fascinate me and that I have reported on extensively before, I will for the time being, continue to use this platform to publicise important developments.
Cargo tram: Amsterdam's project has come a step closer to reality through its test phase from 7th to 31st March (extended to 3rd April). The trams used were 783 and 801 (articulated types 9G and 10G). One was specially repainted into a green and white cargotram livery and the other advertises the energy comany and sponsor Nuon. In the initial part of the trial phase, the trams ran without payload, but from 19th March cargoes were carried from De Aker to the city. Cargoes carried were Heineken beer for pubs in the city and clothes for the Mexx store. During the final week waste paper was additionally carried in the opposite direction. One of the trams was driven by retired tram drivers and the other by drivers of the museum tram line.
As a little Easter treat, I have placed the Halberstadt article (published in January's Tramways and Urban Transit) online.
Route's 5 extension from Bhf. Enge to Laubegg commences operating today. The line serves the Sihlcity shopping centre (also opening today).
It is interesting to note that 1420 is among the trams depicted, definitely ending any speculation as to whether it has been retained in Zürich.
Zürich's popular restaurant tram (1802) is back with a spicy new flavour. This time the food is Indian — in connection with a guided tour of the Zoo to see the Indian lions. Tours operate from 31st March to 6th May, starting at Zoo at 17:30 (Wednesdays and Saturdays) and 16:30 (Sundays) with the meal on the tram taking 2 hours. The subsequent Zoo visit lasts an hour. There is a second tour at 18:45 (Wednesdays and Saturdays) and 17:45 (Sundays) with the order of the visit and meal reversed. The cost is 99.50 per person (drinks not included). Reservation is required: (+41) (0) 44 434 44 34.
This year, TMZ's Spring photo tour will take place on 22nd April, departing Gessnerallee (adjoining Hauptbahnhof) at 13:00 and ending at the same location at about 17:30. Besides photo calls, the tour using Kurbeli (Swiss Standard Tram) 1392 and trailer 732 will feature rarely used service and connecting tracks (and some soon to vanish stabling tracks). The tour costs 20 Franks (10 for children). Registration is not required.
See also events diary.
Tramfans planning a visit to Zürich for 2007 are also reminded of the grand opening of the new tram museum for 26-27 May.
The website of Eurailpress (7th March) states that the cantonal transport department is seeking a partner to produce a study on the Ringbahn Hardwald project, evaluate potential traffic and identify alignment variants.
Ringbahn Hardwald is a long-term project to extend Stadtbahn Glattal from the airport via Kloten and Bassersdorf to Dübendorf (and so close the Glattal "ring").
Seen this morning at Bucheggplatz: a trolleybus numbered 4122 on a driver training run. The bus was easily recogniseable as O405 GTZ number 1, the oldest of its type (dating from 1986) and the only with three doors instead of Zürich's standard four. This arrangement was often a source of delays in loading, making 1 a favourite for driver training (and other non-revenue work) even while in the regular passenger fleet.
The city's list of approaching road works reveals construction of the tram line from Bhf. Oerlikon Ost to Leutschenbach is to begin this July. The link is required to permit route 10 to serve Bhf. Oerlikon when the second phase of Stadtbahn Glattal opens in December 2008, but is not part of the Stadtbahn project proper.
Included in the same list is the project to replace the Schaffhauserstr railway underpass at Bhf. Oerlikon (used by route 14) by a 40m wide structure (instead of the current 17m). Work will begin in October, but the planned tram/railway interchange which will occupy this space will not be realised until 2013 at the earliest.
Website comment: What wonderful times that new trams projects are so commonplace that they escape high profile announcements ...
In the news item on the double deck tram poster, I mentioned that Talgo had proposed a double deck train with gangways on both levels, but that the concept had never been tried in practice. A correspondant from Finland has pointed out that following Talgo's failure to secure the Zürich S-Bahn order, partly on account of the lack of prototype experience, a non-motored prototype was built (pictures: 1 and 2).
All information provided as-is. As everywhere else on this website, no guarantee is offered for accuracy or completeness. Visitors intending to make special arrangements for these events are recommended to visit the websites of the organisers (see end of list) or check with these directly.
Updated: 23.04, 02.05, 08.11
For further information and confirmation please check the websites of the event organisers: TMZ (Tram Museum Zürich), APS (Aktion Pro Sächsitram), VHF (Verein Historische Forchbahn), VBZ (Verkehrsbetriebe der Stadt Zürich).
Event diaries for other years.
It seems that the teething troubles of the Cobras are not over. Yesterday's NZZ am Sonntag newspaper reports that these trams are receiving attention to their running gear every 100,000 to 150,000 km (circa 2 years), as opposed to about 360,000 km for older trams. Also, the wheels are being reprofiled every 50,000 km. With about a third of the 74 Cobras already delivered, a solution has not been found. A decision has yet to be taken on further vehicles for Glattalbahn and Tram Zürich West.
Following the approval of the cantonal contribution of 90 million Franks for the Tram Zürich West project on Monday (26th), the city council yesterday (28th) approved its own 59 million contribution by 76 votes to 35. Subtracting the federal contribution, these contributions reduce to 45 and 23 million respectively.
Opponents of the project have announced that they are to seek a cantonal referendum in addition to the city referendum of June (this is hardly likely to derail the project seeing 66.6% voted in favour of Glattalbahn in February 2003). In contrast, pro-tram politicians are pressing for an earlier realisation of the Schiffbau - Hardplatz extension than outlined in last year's 2025 strategy document.
The cantonal parliament has approved its contribution of 90 million Franks for Tram Zürich West by 98 votes to 48. This tram connecting Escher-Wyss-Platz to Bhf Altstetten should open in 2010 and will cost a total of 150 million, of which 59 will be payed by the city of Zürich. It is likely that a federal contribution will reduce these costs by half. It is estimated that the number of jobs in the corridor served will grow by 40% between 2005 and 2015, and the residential population by 110%. The project is subject to a referendum this June.
Trolleybus deliveries have reached 148.
Cobra: 3023 is in service.
Karpfen: (Heading for Vinnitsa) the following motor units were located at Altstetten works on 30/01: 1416-9/21/3-4/6-9 plus 1420 on accomodation bogies. On 06/02 two cars were seen passing through Schlieren on railway wagons at c12:30. On the evening of 08/02, 775/9/83 and 1418/21/24 were on wagons outside the works, with at least one further unit not loaded. On 15/02, 780-1 and 1419/20 were stabled at Buchs SG (Austrian border). Circa 14/02 some were seen near Vienna.
What can it mean when two Mulhouse trams appear on the streets of the Argentine capital? Their appearance may well be marking the first step in the return of trams to this city. With the support of Alstom, a 2km demonstration line is being operated in the Puerto Madero neighbourhood. If the trial is succesful, the line will be extended to Retiro.
The demonstartion line will be worked for one year using two Alstom Citadis-type trams from Mulhouse. The cars concerned are Didenheim and Staffelfelden which were shipped via the port of Bilbao and arrived in Buenos Aires on 24th January. Public service is expected to start in mid March.
Trams have been absent from central Buenos Aires for 43 years, but the city is not entirely without trams. A heritage operation exists in the Caballito neighbourhood, and two further unconnected lines operate.
www.tranvia.org.ar (website of heritage tram)
A new poster is going up in VBZ's trams and buses showing a very smart looking double deck tram at Paradeplatz — put together from parts of Mirages. This is an advertisment for the excellent public transport collection to the Sihlcity shopping centre that is opening soon. The double decker theme was chosen because shopping here is "almost as good as in London".
Looking at the picture carefully reveals that this double deck rebuild has retained its articulation. Such a bi-level articulation is a novelty on a tram as far as I know. Talgo has proposed such a system for railways but as far as I know there is not even a prototype. I wonder how 1631's upper deck will negotiate the hump at Bahnhof Enge?
The extension of route 5 to Laubegg, which will take effect on 22nd March, means Cargotram can no longer use the Laubegg turning circle. In order to be able to continue to serve this neighbourhood. ERZ will provide a lorry to pick up waste from an adjoining site. The changeover affects two monthly services (Cargotram and E-tram).
Website comment: It has always been a strength of Cargotram that the service uses infrastructure (in terms of both vehicles and the tracks where loading occurs) that already existed but did not see intensive use. Only this low-cost structure permitted the service to start in the first place and to expand to such success. When the expansion of passenger services re-claims such infrastructure, this can only be welcomed. I hope however, that Cargotram services will continue to be succesful and even expand at other locations.
This website's cargotram index
VCS has succesfully collected 7000 signatures for its initiative to push ahead with the tram extension to Zoo. This is 1000 signatures more than required to enforce a referendum. The referendum demands the provision of 14 million Franks for the extension. The justification for the 570 metre extension has been strengthened following the recent expansion of the zoo, which led to annual visitor numbers rising from 875,000 to 1,7 million. The zoo director, Alex Rübel said he was not opposed to the tram extension in principle, but would prefer to see the aerial cable car from Stettbach realised. He is concerned the tram extension will lead to the loss of 80 to 150 car parking spaces.
Website comment: The two projects (tram extension and cable car) should not be seen as alternatives, as each fulfills a different role. The tram takes visitors from the town to the zoo, whereas the cable car can provide an attractive connection to S-Bahn trains (and car parking) at Stettbach and so provides significant time savings (as well as being an attraction in its own right) for visitors from Winterthur, Uster and other destinations. For visitors from most parts of the town however, it represents a huge detour. As the two projects are to be financed from wholly different sources, they need not be competitors in terms of funding either.
As I have argued before on this newslog, the car parking argument does not hold water. The explanation that families who have walked around in the zoo all day can be expected to walk a bit further to the tram stop may contain an element of truth. But why should the same then not apply to car drivers? Is this really how people are to be encouraged to use public transport?
The "medium-weight" (Mittelschwer) or Iab/Ib variant of the Swiss Standard Tram, better known in Zürich as Kurbeli (Be4/4 1351-1415) must be one of the most typical and iconic of all Zürich trams. The timeless elegance of the design, both inside and out, combined with its aura of proven robutsness and the roar of it gears as it struggled up to Zoo in its final days on route 6 made this to one of the most characterstic types that ever ran in Zürich. The last Kurbeli was withdrawn in the mid 1990s and the type is represented in the heritage fleet by number 1392, which is restored to original condition with conductor seat, passenger flow and the original dark blue livery with white lines.
Aktion Pro Sächsitram has long been intending to secure a second vehicle of this type to preserve it in its latter and most iconic condition — with automatic doors, enclosed bogies and standard fleet livery of blue with white window band. Besides 1391, several other Zürich Kurbelis survive in Zürich and Bern, albeit heavily rebuilt, as works (and cargo) trams. Additionally some are still in use in Pyongyang (North Korea) and 1379 is preserved by AMTUIR in Paris (The collection is sadly currently closed to the public). None of these vehicles are immediate candidates for APS' goal. But there is one further survivor: 1408 has, through a quirk of fate, escaped the scrapman but has suffered somewhat through extensive periods of stabling in the open. Its survival is acutely threatened by the shortage of space caused by new trams being delivered and withdrawn trams accumulating at all suitable locations.
As an immediate restauration is out of the question financially, APS have set about securing the future of the vehicle by seeking to transfer it to a safe location for storage. Such a location has been found and the measure was approved by an extraordinary general meeting on 26th February. Following removal of asbestos by VBZ, the tram will be transported to the yard of a building company outside town where it can remain for five years. 1408 could, at some point in the future, be restored to working order as a museum car, or restored cosmetically as a static exhibit or even exchanged with another museum to be able to repatriate some-other exotic survivor. The most important thing is that the tram is now safe.
This website has reported on developments of cargo trams in various cities across Europe. Geographically, this may seem rather off-topic for a Zürich-focussed website. However, I feel this is justified and of interest in view of Zürich's status as a cargo tram pioneer and the coverage this webiste has given the topic (and my own interest in this particular aspect of tram operation in general).
Amsterdam's cargo tram will commence commercial operations in 2008, transporting goods to and from businesses within the city. The payload will be transferred from lorries to trams at distribution centres on the town's edge. The trams will serve smaller distribution centres within the city from where door-to-door distribution will be assured by electric cars. Restrictions on lorry access will provide incentive to use the system.
This February, a test phase starts in which two modified GVB trams will connect Osdorp to central Amsterdam. During the first two weeks these will run without load in order to evaluate their influence on the stability of passenger tram operations. After this loads will be transported.
See also this website's cargotram index page.
It is with great regret that I have learnt of the death in a car accident of Stephen Parascandolo. Stephen was active in promoting trams in London, and ran a highly succesful website on Croydon's Tramlink.
Stephen, aged 26, was a signalling engineer. He started his Croydon website as a schoolboy in 1999.
Stephen's website was one of the main inspirations in starting my own news page.
A new shopping centre, Sihlcity is shortly to open on the site of the former Sihl paper factory. It is intended that 60% of visitors come to the centre by public transport. To this effect, the site is well served by various bus routes, by trolleybus 33, tram 13 and by S-Bahn line S4. Additionally, the number of car parking spaces the center may provide is strictly limited. To further improve the service and add to the choice of direct connections, VBZ had been planning to extend tram route 5 from its present terminus at Bahnhof Enge to Laubegg in December 2008. It has now been announced that this date has been moved forwards to 22 March of this year! The early start has been made possible through financial support from the tenants of the new shopping centre. Very good news indeed!
According to reports on the BahnCH Yahoogroup, the first of the Karpfen type trams destined for Vinnitsa (Ukraine) was loaded onto its railway wagon on 30th January. Possibly, the press report of 13 units being shipped did not include this unit. In this case, with 13 loaded on 8th February, a total of 14 sets have been dispatched. This scenario would end any speculation as to a unit of this type being destined for San Francisco. However, it has also been pointed out that 1420 was stabled on accomodation bogies rather than its own bogies. It is not clear whether this tram has been sent to Vinnitsa or remains in Zürich. In the latter case, all possibilities are still open. Pictures of the units being loaded on 8th February can be found on Adrian Senn's webiste on this (and following) pages.
As pantographs and roof-mounted resistors had been removed to permit asbestos removal, sister unit 1430 was used to shunt these trams prior to dispatch. The set, 1430 + 785, is currently still seeing use as spare tram for route 10 and is based at Oerlikon depot. The pair will soon be overhauled for the museum fleet.
Trolleybus operation in Innsbruck is coming to a close. In contrast to what is planned for Basel however, most sections are being replaced by trams — so this changeover is strengthening rather than weakening the position of electrical traction in the city. On Saturday, 24th February, the last trolleybuses in regular service will operate on route O. This will be followed by a farewell event on the 25th, organized by the Tiroler Museumsbahnen society.
The date for Basel's trolleybus referendum is now official: 17th June 2007.
Today's edition of the free newspaper 20 Minuten, reports that 13 of the Karpfen or P16 type trams were loaded onto railway wagons yesterday, destined for the Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa. It may or may not bear connection that I saw 1430 returning to Oerlikon depot at about 19:30 yesterday. The tram was running solo (without trailer). 1430 is the unit of this type that is earmarked for preservation (together with trailer 785). In the meantime the pair are still used occasionally as spare unit for route 10, and 1430 may, on this occasion, have been used to shunt its sisters onto the railways wagons at Altstetten. The newspaper article adds that until the end of 2009, more than a dozen Mirage type trams will follow the Karpfen to Vinnitsa. Federal government is contributing 2.53 million franks to the transport and overhaul of these trams, which are expected to see another dozen years of service.
The fact that 13 and not 14 Karpfen are being shipped leads me to speculate whether the 14th unit that is available may not be earmarked for San Francisco?
Basel's parliament decided yesterday to reject the Pro Trolleybus initiative in favour of an all gas bus option. This means 26 new gas buses will be acquired instead of the alternative which was considered which is reported as the purchase of 13 new trolleybuses and replacing the other 13 trolleybuses by gas buses (sic — Basel currently has no more than 11 trolleybuses). This decison was taken by 60 votes to 51. The last word has not yet been spoken as Basel's citizens will vote over this in a referendum later this year. The vast support the referendum initiative received (over 8000 signatures) gives hope that this battle can be won. The 26 new gas buses would cost 5 million franks and the fueling station 1.5 million.
Webiste comment: The short-sightedness of the anti-trolleybus faction is on par with the massive tram and trolleybus abandonments of 1960s, only with the hindsight of history reducing the refuge of ignorance or innocence. In times of spiralling costs of fossil fuels and concerns over carbon dioxide it cannot make sense to wish to rely so strongly on a single source of energy whose prices are dictated by events far beyond local control — and this for very marginal and speculative savings. Electricity too, of course, is influenced by oil and gas prices, but electricity comes from many sources, including local ones, which makes its cost so much more robust in the face of crises. The higher costs of trolleybuses are larely offset by the longer working life and lower operating costs. When the environmental advantages and customer attractiveness are added, the gas bus must be a very meagre proposition. Come on Basel, wake up! And all the best for the referendum! (please also visit the homepage of Pro Trolleybus, www.protrolleybus.ch.)
Readers who have been following the news on these pages over the last two years will be aware of the ex-Forchbahn BDe4/4 and Bt4 vehicles that have been been shipped to Madagascar for the purpose of inaugurating a tram service in the capital, Antananarivo.
Operation of this vehicle type on Forchbahn ended in the autumn of 2004. The vehicles were shipped to Madagascar in two batches, the second of which arrived in Antananarivo last March. In addition to Forchbahn 11-16 and 101-106, TB (Trogenerbahn) contributed BDe4/4 6 and MGB (Matterhorn-Gotthard-Bahn) the luggage vans Z 100 and DZ 4354. It is planned to fit the latter vans with diesel-powered generators because electrification of the line in Madagascar is currently out of the question. These vehicles were all taken by rail to Basel, and then by boat to Antwerpen. From here they went by ship to the Malagache port of Toamasina, being allowed to run the final leg to Antananarivo on their own wheels hauled by a diesel locomotive (the railways of Madagascar being metre gauge).
Various cynics have seen the whole procedure as just a cheap way of disposing of unwanted rolling stock while veiled in a pretence of philanthropy. The prolonged periods of silence and the slow pace of progress have certainly not helped counter such suspicions. For example, some of the vehicles were marooned in Antwerpen for an extended period and were even threatened with scrapping while the promotors in Madagascar struggled to find money for the onward shipment. A lot of the news that comes back from African aid projects certainly is tainted by the bitter marks of waste, poor planning and little effect — problems that good intention alone cannot offset. It seems to me, however, that the case of Madagascar is very different. There has been a considerable contribution to this project from the Madagascar side, and it enjoys the personal support of Antananarivo's major Patrick Ramiaramanana. Also, if other projects are anything to go by (such as the refurbishment of the railways), the achievements of this island have a model status.
While donating surplus rolling stock certainly doesn't have the elements of philanthropy that famine or medical relief present, the value of this contribution should not be easily shrugged aside. The author believes that aid should not concentrate exclusively on the poorest among the poor but also bolster up stronger sectors to improve the economic viability of regions. Transport infrastructure is a prime ingredient of such viability, and in contrast to mammouth investments by multinationals such as oil or mining corporations, it remains under local accountability and provides immediate and sustainable benefits to a broad range of local people. The low-cost nature yet inherent technical soundness of the proposal at hand make it a model that should be considered for emulation not only in developing economies but also more globally.
Torn between the alternative scenarios of success or abandonment, it comes as a great relief to find further news from Antananarivo on the Internet. The website of Chambre de Commerce, d'Industrie, d'Artisanat et d'Agriculture of Antananarivo carries an article dated 4th January and quoted from L'Express de Madagascar. The article laments that two years have passed since the arrival of the (first) vehicles in Antananarivo. but that the minister of transport and public works is seeking offers from the private sector for the operation of the service. An investment of 80,000 Euros is estimated for the fitting of diesel generators. Additionally, the tracks will require some attention before services can commence. The trains that will be operated will have a capacity of 250 passengers, and serve the corridors Soarano — Soanierana — Tanjombato — Ambatofotsy and Soarano — Alarobia (the system will be known as Train Urbain de Tana). The goal is to relieve congestion in the city centre and will allow measures such as restrictions on access by taxis to further this purpose.
Three Cobra type trams on route 9 have been equipped with real-time passenger information displays. These monitors, fitted inside the trams, announce the next stop with arrival times as well as real-time information on connections.
Website comment: Similar displays have been used on the new generation of Neoplan buses for some time now. But alas, these often defeated their purpose by announcing hypothetical connections that the passenger could just as well have read from the route network him- or herself, including connections to bus routes that were not operating at that time of day. Only real-time information makes such a system genuinely useful. Is it worth dashing for a late-running connection, or is it better to take it calmly because the next is just minutes behind, or is it maybe better to maybe stay on board to travel by a different route? With an electronic traffic control system all this information is available in the control centre, so why not make it available to passengers. This is sensible use of technology for the benefit of all. Thank you VBZ!
In order to be able to shorten peak headways on route 32 to five minutes, VBZ has exercised its option for two additional Swisstrolley3 type trolleybuses. The total size of this batch is now 18 instead of 16 as ordered in July 2005. Deliveries will continue at the rate of two vehicles a month until late Summer.
The Swisstrolleys are arriving! A correspondent (Alexis) saw trolleybus 146 at Waserstr. stop (route 34) on a test run today.
This website has been updated with a brief series of pictures I took on my way to work.
Further pictures were added on 25th, depicting Glattalbahn's first snow.
It is reported on Nahverkehrsforum.ch.vu that route 5 may be extended to Sihlcity before 2008! Sihlcity is a new shopping center that is taking shape on the site of the former Sihl paper factory. The area is already served by route 13, but it is considered an additional tram route is required to serve the site. The prerequisite for the extension was created with the recent rebuilding of Tessinerplatz (at Bhf. Enge), as part of which a direct track connection was created between the two lines. When, and indeed whether this connection would actually be used has however remained a subject of speculation. From Bhf. Enge, route 5 will share tracks with route 13 and turn either at the Albisgütli terminus or at the intermediate loop at Laubegg.
An article in VBZ's Regenbogen staff magazine reports on the first of Zürich's Swisstrolley3 trolleybuses, which was delivered ahead of the rest of its batch in July and has been running in regular passenger service since September. The trials have been largely succesful. Some teething problems were encountered with the door mechanisms and also, at the height of the summer, with overhead lines being higher than assumed. These problems have been sucesfully addressed and 144 is already achieving an availability similar to the older Mercedes trolleybuses. The second and third of these vehicles are expected to arrive in the course of January. In total 16 are on order (numbers 144-159). They will be deployed mostly on route 32. They will be followed by 17 double articulated LighTram3 vehicles for route 31 (numbers 160-176).
VBZ and VBG are set to order further Cobra trams. The initial order (for 74 vehicles) included an option for 35 further trams. This option must be exercised by October 2007. The initial order did not take Glattalbahn or Tram Züri West into account as the realisation schedules of these projects were still uncertain at the time. 10 to 20 additional trams are needed. The exact number depends on the number of spare vehicles that will be held and maintenance intervals.
On a related matter, differences of opinion over liveries have arisen between VBZ and VBG. VBZ would like to see the trams used on Glattalbahn painted in the same colours as its city trams. VBG, however, wishes to enforce its own corporate identity.
Plans to extend tram lines from Basel across the border into neighbouring France and Germany are threatened. An independent study by a French organisation concerning the two extensions into Saint Louis (France) has suggested a price tag of 31 million Euros rather than the 17 million the Swiss planning claims. This is attributed to various details but more importantly reflects the higher costs of tram construction in France. Saint Louis's council is now in favour of dropping the extension of route 11 through the centre of Saint Louis and retaining only the more peripheral extension of route 3.
The third of the extensions, that to Weil am Rhein (Germany) is also plagued by financial questions. It appears that the bridge that must carry the tram across the railway lines at Weil is not sufficiantly strong and must be replaced, so boosting costs from 33 to 45 million Franks. It is hoped a decison can be taken this Summer.
The Swiss federation is supporting these projects by provising 50% of the costs (39.5 million Franks). However, the condition is that work must begin by or in 2008. If this support is lost, the projects could be set back by many years. Currently, public transport accounts for only 17% of journeys between Basel and its international neighbours as opposed to 37% for its national neighbours.
The first modified Combino type tram was returned to Basel on 22nd December. Combino 310 was the pilot vehicle for the Basel modifications and left its home city in November 2005. The modification of the other vehicles of this type will now commence. The first of these left Basel on 18th December. The modified 310 will have to undergo type acceptance testing before returning to passenger service.
The Combino type is undergoing design modifications following the discovery of dangerous structural defects in March 2004.
Merry Christmas and a Happy 2007 to all readers!
All 2006 news items (101 in total) have been moved to:
2006 was an eventful year. Restricting this overview to strictly Zürich events, the year saw Glattalbahn making great steps towards realisation. 2006 witnessed three great milestones: the opening of phase one, commencement of work on phase two and the approval of phase three (the latter will open in 2008 and 2010 respectively).
On the rolling stock side, 2006 saw commencement of deliveries of the series Cobra trams, with deliveries having reached number 3019 (?) by the end of the year. The rapid arrival of new trams has permitted the withdrawal of Mirage type trams and (officially) the total demise of the P16 or Karpfen type (this is not quite correct as I saw such a set on route 10 yesterday). Some of these trams are set to see further service in the Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa.
There are renewals ahead for the trolleybus fleet also. At the beginning of the year, a Geneva-double articulated Lightram type vehicle was tested. The success of this trial led to the confirmation of the order for 17 such vehicles, delivery of which is to start this Summer. Being purchased as part of the same 2005 order are 16 single-articulated vehicles of the Swisstrolley type. The first of these was delivered ahead of its batch in