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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Following an extensive test phase, the first RABe 511 double-deck S-Bahn trains from Stadler have entered service on S14 today.
It is being suggested that bus routes 69 and 80 may be on the radar for conversion to trolleybus operation. VBZ plans to publish a report on the future development of the trolleybus system next year. As recently as 2008, electrification of these routes was rejected on grounds of costs.
Meanwhile, manufacture of the new Hess trolleybuses has commenced. In contrast to the units already in Zürich, the new buses will not have auxiliary engines but use batteries when no overhead power is avialable.
Tram Zürich West opened today with commented round trips by tram on the new line. Regular operation will commence tomorrow. A fuller report will follow.
The timetable switch of 11th December will see Geneva's tram system extended to Bernex. The tram system is also undergoing a major simplification with the number of routes being reduced from seven to three by eliminating overlapping wherever possible.
Yesterday, 12 Mirage trams were loaded onto railway wagons at the VBZ workshops in Alstetten for the long trip to Vinnitsa. The cars are 1626, 1656, 1659, 1664, 1668, 1673, 1676, 1677, 1679, 1681, 1685 and 1688. Previous reports had sugegsted only nine would be going East. They will furthermore be accompanied by an extensive stocks of spares. It is notable that both "celebrity" Mirages, 1626 (of Tram Zürich West fame) and 1676 (the ballet tram) are among the 12. Photos of the trams leaving their home of more than four decades can be found on this facebook page. Meanwhile, the two TMZ Mirages (1674 and 1675) have received freshly overhauled bogies. One is likely to debut on the museum line this Saturday (26th). TMZ are also planning a tour for 11th December.
VBZ are planning to refurbish the long-underutilised Wollishofen depot as a combined tram and trolleybus depot and also add an aoudoor stabling track alongside the present by-pass track. Pressure on depot space is likely to rise in coming years as new trams are delivered.
On 11th November, the federal transport ministry granted operating approval for Tram Zürich West, thus clearing the project's last hurdle prior to opening on 11th December.
Further to the photographs uploaded yesterday, I have posted some accompanying videos on YouTube.
I have uploaded a series of photos from my recent USA trip. The trip took me to Michigan City (Indiana) to see what is probably the very last section of street-running interurban railway in the USA. This is part of the South Shore line connecting Chicago to South Bend. Besides the electric suburban trains, the line also carries freight.
My decison to come here was accelerated by learning of plans to build a new alignment, ending the street running. Although the plans are not finalised and the financing is also unclear, I considered it a case of ride it while I can. The loss of this feature will make the world a poorer and more boring place. The Michigan City pictures can be viewed here.
The complete trip (including some non-transport topics) can be viewed here.
Winterthur is ordering two further Hess trolleybuses under an option of the 2009 order, when 21 Swisstrolleys (101-121) were ordered to replace the same number of GTZs (140-161). Due to frequency increases, however, two GTZs (147 and 149) were retained. The present order will replace these by mid 2012. 147 spent a short period as a de-icing vehicle but has now returned to regular service, being replaced by a purpose-built van.
Incidentally, the GTZ are still listed as for sale on the Sturm dealership page.
Schnelläufer type tram 1016, which spent its final years in Zürich as Goldtimer (painted gold and used for guided tours) before being purchased by a restaurant in Spiez in 1993 is no more. Now, only four of this type remain. They are number 2 (tram museum, operational), 1008 and 1018 (APS heritage cars, operational) and 1025 (ex ZOS 81, awating restoration).
This newslog has reported on the various attempts to operate freight services on tram tracks. Zürich has had a cargo service since 2003 picking up household waste (see cargotram page) and Dresden has a service since 2001 supplying parts to the factory where Volkswagen builds its Phaeton cars. Attempts to introduce similar services in Vienna and Amsterdam have failed. One major difference between the failed and succesful schemes was that the succesuful schemes serve one single dedicated customer or purpose, and that the tram presented clear advantages for the customer from the outset. The schemes were not reliant on hopes of unidentified businesses jumping on board as the test phase gained momentum, but were driven by the core customers. One hopes the failed schemes will serve as lessons to others seeking to follow suite.
While on the subject of freight on tramways, one should also mention the scheme in Kyoto (of which unfortunately I know very little) as well as situations involving heavy rail freight use of light rail tracks (or vice versa) such as in Bremen, Kassel or San Diego.
The next cargo tram scheme could be in Paris. As a first step, ghost running has commenced on line 3 using a passenger set to determine whether the line's capacity can accomodate the necessary movements. It is hoped that in a later phase supermarkets can be attracted as customers. One hopes that the expectations of the scheme's promotors are based on realistic projections and that it will not follow the sad examples of Vienna and Amsterdam. The promotors explain that 90 percent of deliveries in the Paris metroplitan area are by road, and account for 25 percent of the region's greenhouse gases and 20 percent of congestion. One wonders how much of this can realistically be captured by the tram with its very incompelte coverage of the region. But on the other hand even very minor traffic flows could set an example for others to follow.
Back in April, this newslog reported on the surviving Peckham trucks in Zürich. The newslog entry mentioned the imminent departure of one of these for Edmonton in Canada. According to the newsletter of the Edmonton Radial Railway, the truck left Zürich on April 28th, arriving in Edmonton on July 4th. This wasn't the truck's first transatlantic trip as the truck was built in Kingston NY 113 years earlier. The truck will be rebuilt as standard gauge (a relatively simple operation seeing the type's modular build) and used under the body of a Saskatoon car (originally from Charlotte NC). The adjoining clippings are from the Edmonton Radial Railway's newsletter (EERS) issue 1/11 and 2/11.
Meanwhile, the body of Ce 2/2 93 (also mentioned in the above posting, and more fully described in this entry) finally left Zürich last week. The tram has spent a protracted period of storage in Zürich (at one point even being temporarily returned to operating condition), with the claimed ultimate goal being be recreate a replica car Ce 2/2 45 representing the initial batch of Pecham-trucked trams used in Zürich. In contrast to the later cars these had open balconies, and would hence have made a markedly different contribution to the museum fleet. During the restoration of LSB Ce 2/2 2, a lot of work was done in parallel for number 45 with numerous parts being acquired and set aside. With focus of the tram museum's efforts shifting towards the museum itself, and with pressing overhauls and repairs on the core fleet, the longer term projects are slipping to a more distant future. This, combined with legal questions over the ability to operate an open-balconied car, led to the decison to dispose of the body of 93, with only the truck being retained in store.
The decison to dispose of the body appears to me to be unfortunate. Recerating a new one from scratch will require a considerably greater effort. Although on-track storage space in Zürich is limited and costly, an off-track and off-site alternative could have been sought. In terms of its attractiveness as a museum piece, the differences between many of the existing cars may not be immediately obvious to many non enthusiast visitor whereas a clearly different open-balcony car would have had immediate appeal (as indeed the popularity of other obviously different cars such as of the LSB or ZOS shows). In my opinion this project should have been prioritised rather than set back. If legal hurdles genuinely preclude such a car, why retain the truck? But the decision no doubt had its sound reasons.
Meanwhile, learning of the body's impending demise, an initiate from Germany moved to secured the car and was able to collect it last week. The body is being placed in safe storage for a future replica project. More details will be released later.
Basel's BVB is to purchase 60 Flexity trams from Bombardier for 220 million Franks. The first will arrive in 2013, with two trams a month being delivered from 2014. The trams will be delivered in two lengths: There will be 45 longer cars, measuring 43.2m with eight doors and a capacity of 254 passengers. The shorter 17 3m cars will have six doors and carry 183 passengers. 101 older cars are being replaced (Swiss Standard Trams and Duewags). There is also an option for 51 further trams.
This order is a replacement for the Tango order BVB withdrew from last year.
Further to my recent series of Alicante photos, I have added a YouTube video of Alicante trams at Muchavista at night.
All Karpfen trams in Vinnitsa are reported withdrawn from service.
Martin Baumann (citing Blickpunkt Strassenbahn)
The use of this type in the Ukrainian city has been short lived. 13 of this type were sent to Vinnitsa from Zürich in 2007. Probably, there are now sufficient Mirages available to render them surplus.
Photo by Håkon Kinck Gaarder
Latest plans for Limmattalbahn have this line opening in 2020. Zürich's route 2 will be extended to Schlieren on Limmatalbahn tracks. The current Badenerstrasse alignment between Lindenplatz and Farbhof will be discontinued, with trams being routed along a new line shared with Limmatalbahn and serving Bahnhof Altstetten.
The dotted lines on the above map are pedestrian routes and the yellow blocks are planned pedestrianised areas. The future alignment of tram route 2 is in red. Presently it terminates at Farbhof and follows Badenerstrasse to Lindenplatz before continuing on the shown alignment to the right. The terminus of Tram Zürich West can be seen on the other side of the railway tracks at Bahnhof Altsetten (Vulkanplatz).
Contrary to an earlier report, nine (not ten) Mirage trams from the strategic reserve are heading for Vinnitsa. These are: 1656, 1659, 1664, 1673, 1677, 1679, 1681, 1685 and 1688. As already reported, 1674 and 1675 are to be retained for the heritage fleet. All further Mirages remaining in Zürich will be scrapped.
bahnhofplatz.net (citing bahnONLINE.ch)
I have uploaded a series of recent tram photos from Alicante.
Lausanne is also working towards a high-quality bus link for the Bussingny - Lutry route.
Lausanne's original urban tram system closed in 1964 (although the interurban LEB line has survived). Besides an extensive trolleybus system, the hilly town also has two metro lines (one rubber-tyred and one light rail).
The fleet renewal in Schaffhausen is complete. The new Hess trolleybuses 101-107 replace the almost 20-year-old NAW units 111-113 and 115-118.
Concerning disposal: 113 is being fitted for de-iceing duties and 116 has been transfereed to Bressonaz for preservation. Negotiations concerning the sale of the remaining trolleybuses are in progress.
Note: 114 was cannibalised following a fire in 2008. It was replaced with a diesel bus to increase flexibility in terms of sharing spare vehicles between routes.
Following the voting of the Städteinitiative initiative, the city and canton of Zürich have been seeking ways of fulfilling the demands. The demanded extension of tram route 15 to Affoltern may well leapfrog the Rosengarten tram project, which could even mean the line could be running in the early 2020s.
After two weeks of holidays in Alicante (including trams, of which maybe more later), I have probably missed some newsworthy items. I will present these here as well as possible and apologise if I have missed anything.
The Städteinitiative is a privately launched referendum requiring the city of Zürich to reduce the modal shift of car usage in the city by 10 percentage points within 10 years. The referendum was unexpectedly accepted on 4th September by 52.4% of votes (31,493 in favour).
Among the measures suggested by the promotors of the initiative are creating more space for pedestrians and cyclist at the expense of car lanes, closing down certain roads at night, additional bus lanes for trolleybus routes 32 and 33, the extension of tram route 15 to Affoltern and trolleybus 34 to Hauptbahnhof, and also requiring that more new housing developments be designed to support car-free lifestyles.
Much scepticism has been voiced about the vote. The city needs the cooperation of the cantonal government for many transport developments, both in terms of planning and for financing – and the canton is generally less enthusaistic than the city about restricting car use, although it does actively support and advance public transport projects such as the development of tbe S-Bahn and tram extensions. In November last year an initiative to accelarate the construction of the Rosengarten tram line which would have massively restricted space for cars on a major road without providing an alternative route was rejected. Understandably, that initiative was also unpopular with the cantonal government. The promotors of the present initiative are confident that the cantonal government can be convinced of the necessity of the initiative's measures. The modal share of cars is presently at about 36%, and would have to drop to 26% if the initiative is to be satisfied.
Latest information suggests that the Mirage trams to be retained for the heritage fleet are 1674 and 1675. 1675 was observed running to the tram museum at Burgwies on 3rd September. The remaining 10 Mirage trams will be sent to Vinnitsa.
Google has become famous for its "Doodles" that modify the company logo on special occasions. Today, the honour is bestowed on a Lisboa tram, marking the 110th anniversary of electric traction in the city.
The trolleybus and bus preservation group RétroBus is marking ist 10th anniversary and holding an open day at its Moudon base on 20th August (from 10:00-18:00). A shuttle bus will operate from Moudon station. Entrance will be 10 Franks (plus 2 for the suttle bus). The vehicle collection will be on display inside and outside the shed, and bus driving experience will also be offered.
To better advertise the approaching opening of Tram Zürich West, a number of Cobra trams are having colourful wrap-round adverts applied to their front ends, co-sponsored by businesses located along the new line. The trams will run in this guise from October 2011 to March 2012.
Since today's earlier announcement, more details have emerged on the order. VBZ is ordering 21 Swisstrolleys for 30 million Franks. They will enter service from 2013. The order includes an option for 40 further trolleybuses by 2016. With 12 double-articulated units also on order, and a total of 43 trolleybuses due for replacement, the option allows VBZ to retain a high degree of flexibility in view of either possible growth or shrinking of the trolleybus system, which of course is partly dependent on projected new tram lines, but also political support for trolleybus expansion.
While on the topic of Swisstrolleys, the first of Schaffhausen's units has arrived.
VBZ has selected Hess to supply its new single-articulated trolleybuses. The announcement for 12 double-articulated units from the same supplier was announced in May. They will replace the Mercedes/ABB O405 GTZ trolleybuses 101-143.
Test running on Tram Zürich West began yesterday. Among the trams used on the first day of testing were various heritage trams, the restaurant tram and cargotram. The new line connecting Escher-Wyss-Platz and Bahnhof Altstetten Nord (Vulkanplatz) will open for passengers in December.
San Francisco is building a major transit interchange called the Transbay Terminal. In a future phase, it is planned that Caltrain commuter rail and high-speed trains will also serve this terminal, for which purpose a tunnel will be dug under the city. Well, what has this got to do with Zürich? The animations created to promote the terminal and the rail link feature, besides sleek high-speed trains, double-deck commuter trains that look surprisingly like the Siemens RABe514 of Zürich's S-Bahn.
Zürich and San Francisco are sister cities, and to promote this, there is already a Zürich tram (of sorts) running in San Franscisco.
I have uploaded a short Youtube movie of street-running on WSB/AAR in Aarau. This was filmed in October 2009. Street running ended in December 2010 when trains were diverted onto the re-gauged Aarau-Suhr railway.
It seems that thanks to the recession, Tram Zürich West is being completed at 70 million Franks below budget (for a total budgeted cost of 300 million). Good news indeed!
Current proposals for the proposed Lugano tram system have evolved to an H-shaped system with Lamone and Cornadero being the norther extremities and Pontre Tresa and Grania the southern. The first phase would build the lower-left leg and the middle bar of the H, with the leg using 7.1km of the alignment of the FLP (Lugano - Ponte Tresa) narrow gauge railway as far as Bioggo from where, rather than proceding to the railway station as the FLP currently does (the station is located high above the town centre), it would run into the town centre on a 3.2km new line, partly using a tunnel. A lift is being proposed to assure the connection to the railway station. Planning should be complete by the end of 2011. The new tram line would cost about 200 million Franks and be realised between 2015 and 2018. The fate of the remaining section of FLP railway is uncertain, but a shuttle service is suggested so that intermediate stations do not lose their service. Later phases of the tram system would see trams return to Lugano's beautiful lakeside promenade.
The Frauenfeld-Wil (FW) meter-gauge railway has order five Stadler Diamant trains for a total of 31 million Franks (delivery in 2013). The order comes as a great relief following recent closure threats.
In Zürich, exceptional liveries of cultural interest are permitted for up to three theme trams at any one time (currently there is only one: Ingenieurtram, 3056). Only in 2008 for the duration of the Euro 2008 football championship was this rule softened and six advertising trams permitted. The city council has now decided to trial commercial all-over advertising on five trams for a three-year period. The first adverts should appear in early 2012.
Further to the map resources highlighted recently (carto.metro and tundria), a correspondent has pointed me to another excellent site, Gleisplanweb.de, featuring track plans from Germany and Switzerland (Zürich is here).
Thanks to Jim Kramer
The final length of rail on Tram Zürich West was welded into position under Hardbrücke yesterday, with the testing and training phase to commence shortly. Full passenger operation will start at 05:04 on 11 December. The line cost some 150 million Franks to build and includes 3070 meters of double track, 33 points and 18 crossings (the latter figures presumably include the remodelling of Escher-Wyss-Platz).
Further to previous reports on the numbering of ex Zürich trams in the Ukrainian city of Vinnitsa (see July 2008, March 2009, August 2009 and November 2010), the following list represents the latest status of ex-Zürich cars there. Thanks to Martin Baumann and www.depo.vn.ua .
With respect to the November 2010 list, this list is updated through the addition of Mirages 315-332.
With both Basel and Zürich in the process of selecting their next tram generations, it may be of interest to go back in time and look at the tram types that were offered for the last major renewal back in the 1990s. I have searched my archives and scanned some of the brochures distributed at the time. The Zürich order was finally won by Cobra, with Basel selecting Combino.
Bombardier produced a brochure for its Cityrunner type. The type is still in the company's portfolio and has been offered again (presumably in an updated version) but is now marketed as Flexity Outlook. The type was demonstrated in Zürich last year. As a touch of Basel-friendly customisation, the car on the front page of the flyer displays "Bahnhof SBB" as destination.
Vevey, who at the time were still an independent company, advertised their quaint Urbos tram, in which every two-wheeled section is supported by the previous similarly to a Talgo train. No examples of this tram were ever built (not even as prototype), but the Vevey works were later taken over by Bombardier and Zürich's Cobras assembled there. The name Urbos is today applied to an unrelated tram type built by CAF.
At the time, of course, Cobra was a competitor to Bombardier's product. The consortium of manufacturers (SIG, ABB and Schindler) appear to have cobbled the Basel brochure together quickly, with the design on the front page being an older version than that on the reverse. The final result was in my opinion much more aesthetically pleasing than either of these. The brochure acknwoledges that low-floor trams are not new, but have been around since the beginning of the 20th Century — a nice note seeing that Basel was among the early adapters (Dante Schuggi and later the Bugatti cars). Too often tram maunfacturers ignore history and even if they don't repeat its mistakes, will claim to have invented things that were already around long before their time.
Moving back further in time, also of interest is a look at the tram that the new generation will replace. Here is the brochure of the first batch of Tram 2000 presented from BBC's perspective (BBC produced the cars jointly with Schlieren).
And on a completely different note and going back much further in time, even if in the news iteself dates to the same decade as the Tram 2000: I know that this newslog has some Reading readers, so here is a newspaper article on the 1977 end to AEC Regent operation with Reading Transport.
Further to the recent announcement on the order of 12 double articulated trolleybuses for route 32, it should be added that these will be delivered in time for 2012/13 timetable switch. The order also includes an option for 10 further units.
VBZ is also to spend 13 million Franks on strengthening the power supply of its network. The use of longer trolleybuses as well as air conditioning are leading to an increased power demand. The improved power supply will however also permit cost savings through the improved ability to absorb power from regenerative braking. By 2020 these savings could reach a million Franks a year. VBZ has 526 wired kilometers of which 222 for the trolleybus.
Following the recent closures of the trolleybus systems of Lugano (2001) and Basel (2008) and the threats to both Winterthur (2008) and Schaffhausen (2009) (which could fortunately be overcome), and despite rising fuel prices, threats to trolleybus operations continue. The city of La Chaux de Fonds has announced that it will seek to replace its trolleybuses by hybrid buses by 2014. The decsion is being precipitated by a pedestrianisation plan, which would require the trolleybuses to be moved to a different street, combined with the high costs of operation (on what is, after all, a small system). The local greens have announced that they will oppose the plans. But will that be enough?
More trolleybus news and information on this website's trolleybus page.
The Post Office Railway, that elusive automated narrow gauge railway built for the conveyance of mail and running entirely in tunnels connecting various London post offices and railway stations has always been the stuff of legends. This became even more so since its closure in 2003. The Post Office has, despite much demand, not allowed any visitors to the mothballed installations since then. But in the long run, officialdom cannot match determination, and in spite of the ban, a group of adventurers has managed to find a way into the tunnels and have brought back a treasure trove of the most amazing pictures, the likes of which have never been seen before.
Visit http://www.silentuk.com/?p=2792 for more ...
The other pages of the www.silentuk.com site also contain some gems.
Those readers interested in maps should check out carto.metro.free.fr for system maps of various tram and metro systems. These maps show an amazing level of detail including track layout, platforms, sidings, depots and abandonded and planned lines as well as (in the interarctive version) links to live departures and Google Earth.
Unfortunately there isn't one for Zürich (yet?).
In the past, this webiste has reported on cargo tram developments around the world. Besides Zürich, Dresden has a cargo service serving the Volkswagen factory. Attempts to operate mixed goods services in Vienna and Amsterdam have come to naught, and it might seem that interest in such projects is colling off a little. But now there is a new name on the list. The Keifuku Electric Railroad, a light railway in Kyoto, is today inaugurating a once daily parcels services using a dedicated vehicle attached to a regular tram. The service is operated for Yamato Transport Co. to Arashiyama, from where onward delivery will be provided by bicycles.
VBZ is buying 12 additional Lightram3 double.articulated trolleybuses from Hess for 20.5 million Franks. These trolleybuses will replace Mercedes/ABB O405 GTZ and permit route 32 to be fully operated with double-articulated units. The order is part of the acquisition announced in October 2010. The accompanying order for single articulated units has yet to be awarded.
Commencing at the Altstetten end, the area around the terminus is being transformed by the construction of several office blocks in a project marketed by SBB as WestLink. Some years ago, this area was all still car parking and a scattering of small sheds and workshops. The track and overhead line are now essentially complete, but a second loop track will be added at a later point when construction work on the offices is sufficiently advanced to vacate this space. The turnouts for this have already been laid.
From here the line follows Aargauerstrasse. On the right hand side are stabling sidings of SBB, soon to make way for a new train depot. Various company premises line the left hand side of the road. One of these plots is the site for a future tram depot (to be realised circa 2020).
The exhibition tram, 1626, after having stood at Duttweilbrücke for much of 2010, and then a shorter period on the loop at Altstetten, has been unceremoniously shunted to the new stop at Würzgraben, its future unknown, but for the moment lending some aura of activity to the new tram line.
From here the line cuts through an area of sprawling wholesale markets and distribution depots. The Migros skyscraper facing Pfingstweidstrasse, together with the various bridges crossing the road have over the years become the informal greeting card of Zürich for people arriving from the Limmat valley motorway. The tram is transforming it from one of those lost areas in between places and firmly embedding it in the urban fabric. Already new buildings are going up everywhere as this once marginal area is becoming attractive for residents and businesses. The largely demolished Hardturm stadium still sits looking sorry for iself, but once political differences have been resolved, a new stadium will rise from the ashes on this site. It was serving this stadium that was in fact one of the orginal reasons for pushing ahead with this tram project.
At Duttweilerbrücke, an impressive arch spans the tram lines and parallel roadway. This was intended by the architechts to symbolise a new entrance gate to Zürich. The cycle path that it carries is being built along a former railway siding (the tentacles of which once stretched as far as Escher-Wyss-Platz and Sportplatz Hardturm) and whose conversion to a cycle path is being done in a way that is respectful of its past, with the rail being left visible in the new surface.
A buffer stop stands on the northern edge of Pfingstweidstarsse marks the limit of the section that is still used as a railway track (albeit for stabling the grain hoppers that serve the nearby Swissmill siding). The rails that crossed Pfingstweidstrasse at level under the bride are still visible, coming very close to the new tram tracks. I have heard it said that it is intended these be retained as a little reminder of the area's industrial past. Let us wait and see.
Further inwards, the line passes Technopark, a complex created specifically to provide shelter for startup companies and that has developed to a hub of high-tech activity. Besides a scattering of modern develoments, the various clubs and venues occupying the crumbling industrial buildings along Pfingstweidstrasse still set the pace here. More of these will probably soon be flattened as new developments drve up the rent.
The tram track is complete throughout the new line with the exception of a short section where Pfingstweidstrasse joins Hardbrücke. Most of the stops and landscaping work is also approaching completion, and overhead lines are also in place on more than half the route.
At Escher-Wyss-Platz, the new junction is also complete and the new line connected. The extension will open in December.
The photos accompanying this news item, and more besides (all taken yesterday evening), can be found in this gallery.
In July 2008, as part of a larger S-Bahn order, 121 centre coaches were ordered to permit the older push-pull S-Bahn sets to feature a low floor entrance. Eight of these will be deployed on SZU's Sihltal line, with the rest being used on SBB's units, with ultimately one being inserted into every set. The first of these coaches have now arrived and are being tested. Surprisingly, although they are SZU liveried, they are being tested on SBB trains.
The high-entrance coaches being displaced will be refurbished and redeployed on peak-only relief trains that will be topped and tailed by Re 4/4 ii locomotives. They will replace the single-deck EWI/EWII trains currently used on these services. The project to create these trains is called LION (Lifting - Integration - Optimieriung - Neusgestaltung).
Basel (BVB) has received four offers for its new tram generation (having backed out of its earlier order for Tangos). Tenders were received from Bombardier (Flexity Basel), Siemens (Combino) and two from Stadler (Tango and Tango LF).
The latest special livery tram is the set 2051 + 2315. Each section is painted in a different livery, representing another operator in the ZVV region. This tram should make people more aware of their operational integration and the fact that all tickets are interchangeably valid, regardless of the issuing operator. I am assuming the other operators are doing something similar. An S-Bahn train carrying different liveries has already been sighted.
For both units, advertising liveries are nothing new. 2051 carried a football livery in 2008, actually carrying the livery of a Swiss airliner, and 2315 advertised the Messe extension of route 11 from its opening in 1999 until 2004.
Following public consultation in cooperation with the Tages Anzeiger newspaper, it was decided the next generation of Zürich trams will have wooden seats rather than fabric ones. 87.5 percent of those asked expressed this preference.
The Rosenberg extension of Winterthur's trolleybus route 3 (adding two stops) opens today.
Tram enthusiasts had their last opportunity to see 93 in Zürich on Saturday at an event in Wartau depot. The story of this car has already been told in an earlier news item.
The Peckham #8 truck that is currently under the car will be set aside for a future replica project, whereas the body is likely to go to Germany for a trailer project (of which I hope to reveal more later). This is not entirely unfitting as number 10 did start its life as a trailer.
The present truck was never actually used under the car. The car's earlier truck was scrapped some years ago with parts going to an Austrian museum for a restoration project (of which unfortunately I have no further information). The present truck is from a scrapped works car and was originally one of the first batch of Peckham #8 trucks built in the USA for Ce 2/2 57 - 84 in 1898. Following the conversion of these cars to trailers in the 1920s, many of the trucks were re-used for works cars, which is why several survived until recent times. The truck that is currently under 93 still has the original wheelbase of 2m (many others were extended) but the motors and axles were at some point replaced by more powerful ones with disc wheels rather than spoked.
Another truck from the same batch, with an extended wheelbase but retaining original spoked wheels (but no motors) was also on display. This truck will soon also be leaving Zürich. It is heading for Canada, where the Edmonton Radial Railway will convert it to standard gauge and pair it with the body of an ex-Charlotte NC streetcar dating to 1895.
The star of the show was the beautifully restored yellow LSB 2, a sister vehicle of 93, with the two presenting a stunning before and after contrast. This car has one of the later Peckham trucks that were built under licence by Schlieren.
While on the subject of Peckham survivors, as far as I know there are three further Peckham trucks still in Zürich. These are X2 1984 and 1987, both still seeing regular (almost daily) use as trailers in cargo service (the former has spoked wheels), and possibly one more in the VBZ works fleet (X2 1997?) but not seeing regular use. Another survivor is to be found in Scotland, in the Grampian Transport Museum. An 1900 Peckham truck from Zürich was sourced for the resoration project of a Cruden Bay Hotel Tram, completed in 2000. A further surviving 1898 truck is under a shunting vehicle on the Blonay Chamby tourist railway (Te 2/2 926). So in total, according to my information, there are 10 Zürich Peckham #8 trucks surviving in the world, of which eight are currently still in Zürich and seven are of the original 1898 batch — not bad seeing the 1898 units ended passenger service in the 1920s.
More pictures of the event (or a subseries showing only car 93)
The last two GTZ trolleybuses, 147 and 149, are expected to be retained until 2013 (construction work at Hauptbahnhof may increase the number of vehicles required). 11 units (141, 142,144-146 ,148,151-154 ,161) are with the Sturm dealership seeking a new owner. The remaining eight units (143,150, 155-160) have gone to VBZ to provide spares for their own GTZ.
Between 2004 and 2007, this website reported several items on the shipping of various meter-gauge vehicles (mostly ex-Forchbahn) to Madagascar. The vehicles reached the island but litle progress was made on the urban rail project for which they were intended. According to an article (dated 23rd November 2010) in Limmattaler Zeitung, there is new hope for the project with a Chinese consortium now seeking to promote it.
On April Fool's day every newspaper typically runs a story testing the gullibility of its readers. Today two of these concerned trams, and both come from Bern.
Berner Zeitung builds on the story of the squeal caused by the RBS Tram 2000s. Additionally playing on the red and blue livery of these trams, which resembles the colours of Basel's football club, the article suggests the club's president is paying for the new wheelsets that will reduce the noise, in return for which the trams will carry the club's logo. The article encouraged fans of Bern's own football club to attend a protest.
Der Bund reports that tilting trams will reduce journey times (citing the challenges caused by the new timetable introduced with the opening of Tram Bern West).
This Saturday (2nd April), Tram Museum Zürich's (TMZ) new workshop in Wartau will be open to the public between 10:30 and 16:00. TMZ has just completed a move of its workshop from its previous location in an annexe of Depot Hard (Escher-Wyss-Platz). The workshop is run by volunteers and performs overhauls and reapirs to the museum fleet. The small depot at Wartau was the site of the tram museum until 2006 when it was transferred to its present location at Burgwies.
The occasion will also be the last opportunity to photograph tram number 93. 93 is claimed to be the former Limmattalstrassenbahn (LSB) trailer number 10, later converted to a motor unit and later still rebuilt as a rail welding car. In view of the numerous rebuilds, it is questionable however how much of the car can be considered original. The car's final number in this condition was Xe 2/2 1948 (having in the interim also variously been Ce 2/2 61, Xe 2/2 973 and Xe 2/2 1973). Following its withdrawal in 1967, the welding equipment was removed and the car passed into the custody of the tram museum. It initially underwent a superficial cosmetic restauration., with the blocked windows being reopened and re-glazed and the car repainted as a passenger vehicle of the municipal fleet carrying the not-quite authentic number 93. The interior was however not refitted. The car continued to be operational for many years but was rarely run as its lack of interior meant it was not suitable for passenger service. It was intended to ultimately restore it more fully using parts from LSB sister vehicle Ce 2/2 2, but finally it was number 2 that was restored in its place and that regained its full LSB glory. Instead it was proposed to use 93 as basis for a replica open-balcony car to be numbered Ce 2/2 45. The general similarity in construction made it suitable for this, and in parallel to the restoration of 2, many parts were acquired for this project. An original US-manufactured Peckham truck from a car of this batch that had survived under a works tram was set aside, and genuine ex-Zürich motors were acquired from a Geneva tram scrapped in Wehmingen. It thus came as quite a shock when earlier this year it was announced in Tram magazine that the transport ministry were not prepared to approve an open balcony car and that the project was hence effectively dead. Tram Museum are thus disposing of the vehicle. This will thus be the last opportunity to photograph it.
The disposal of the vehicle remains unclear. It seems the truck will be set aside or (according to rumours) sent to Canada for a project there. Possibly the body may also be used for another purpose.
Illustrated history of this car on Tram Museum Zürich's website: www.tram-museum-archiv.ch/Seiten_sammlung/Museumswagen/93-D.htm
According to bahnhofplatz.net, the last of the 21 Hess Swisstrolley3s for Winterthur was delivered on Friday. 120 is already in service.
On 7th April a new shopping centre will open in Rosenberg. As this is some distance from the present Rosenberg stop, route 3 is being extended by a short loop on that date. The present Rosenberg stop will then become Schachtenstrasse. The new wires are still being strung.
I payed a short visit to Winterthur this evening and have uploaded some pictures.
It is now 10 years ago that the first Solaris trolleybus was presented. In Switzerland, Trollinos are operated in Winterthur and La Chaux de Fonds. Happy Birthday Trollino!
Although VBZ is officially not commenting on who is tendering to supply the city's new trams, according to an article in Tages Anzeiger, the Polish suppliers Pesa and Solaris are not participating. However Alstom, Skoda and Vossloh Kiepe are taking part.
The era of the BDe8/8 on BDWM is finally drawing to a close. The last units are expected to be withdrawn by the end of this month. Only number 7 is being retained (to be converted to a bar/lounge car for private hire).
Zürich is not the only city preparing to place a makor order for new trams. Following BVB's withdrawal from the joint Tango oder with BLT, the order is being retendered. BVB is seeking to acquire 60 trams in different lengths. The first trams should be delivered in 2014, with delivery in batches stretching to 2021. The order will also include an option for 51 further trams. The volume is thus far larger than Zürich's interest in 30 trams. Five suppliers have expressed interest so far. Besides the usual trio of Siemens, Bombardier and Stadler, two less known suppliers have expressed interest: Koncar (Croatia) and Pesa (Poland).
Basler Zeitung (online edition)
According to the online-edition of Tages Anzeiger, the submission deadline for tenders for the new low-floor tram generation will be tomorrow at noon. Obviously the large manufacturers (Siemens and Bombardier) are submitting bids. VBZ is not revealing details concerning smaller manufacturers (the article speculates on the Spanish manufacturer CAF — personally I would also like to see some of the East European manufacturers including Heiterblick trying their luck).
Stadler says it is participating, but the 100 percent low-floor condition would seem to exclude the Tango tram that the company demonstrated in Zürich in 2009 (about 70 percent low floor). It is likely that Stadler will be offering it's other tram: the 100 percent low-floor Variobahn, a type originally developed by ABB Henschel and inherited by Adtranz and then Bombardier before being transferred to Stadler along with the Pankow works (Berlin). Variobahn was first delivered to Chemnitz in 1993 and many variants appeared over the years. The latest version has made negative headlines due to noise and vibrations from the units supplied to Graz, but Stadler appears confident it can resolve this.
With the Combino crisis of 2004 (leading to much of the type's delivered fleet worldwide being withdrawn, almost on the day seven years ago), the euphoria for 100 percent low-floor trams was broken somewhat and professionals even began admitting what fans had suspected for a long time — that the riding qualities of 100 percent low floor trams are generally inferior to proper bogie trams. Further to the poor riding, the crisis revealed that some types also had serious structural flaws resulting from the introduction of new manufacturing methods and the different ways in which forces were distributed in the tram body. Among the trams needing modifications were Zürich's Cobras, whose delivery was delayed as a result. Since then, technology has improved as reflected both by new types and improved versions of older ones (including the Combino itself). However, some of the fundamental issues have not gone away and bogie trams are probably still superior in terms of their ride. Let us hope that history will prove VBZ was right to reject the Tango.
I missed this item earlier on, but consider it to be of sufficient interest to be included here:
On 8th February, the French government confirmed that it is contributing 5.73 million Euros to the cross-border extension of Basel tram 3 from Burgfelderstrasse to Saint Louis. The total costs of the link are estimated at between 56 and 63 million Euros. The line should open in 2017.
Following on from the Weil extension into Germany (currently under construction) this will be the second new cross-border extension of the BVB tram system.
Back in 2007, this newslog reported that Swiss estimates put costs at 17 million and the French side at 31 million. This is a steep and regrettable price increase. It is also unfortunate that the cross-city variant involving route 11 has been dropped for the more peripheral route 3.
It is with great sadness that I have learnt of the passing away of Carl Arendt. Carl is best known in modelling circles for his philosophy that a model railway need not be large to be interesting – on the contrary, he pioneered the concept of a micro-layout, a layout that can fit into less than 3 or 4 square feet while retaining operating potential. His originality and vision will be missed.
It remains to be seen whether or not somebody else can take over his phenomenal website: www.carendt.com.
This website reported on the closre of Lausanne's La Ficelle cog railway for conversion to a rubber-tyred metro and the failed attempts to re-home the rolling stock. Finally one car has been saved. The bus and trolleybus group Rétrobus has aquired a driving trailer and will display it in the planned museum at Moudon.
The trolleybus information and campaign site, trolleymotion, reports that Winterthur's 118 (delivered on 22nd February) is the 250th Swisstrolley3. The Swisstrolley story began 20 years ago with Hess' protototype Swisstrolley (which ran in Zürich as 50 and later became Biel's 80). In total, 58 Swisstrolley and Swisstrolley2 were built. The chasses were supplied by NAW (except the nine duobuses for Fribourg of 2003-4 which used MAN chasses). NAW ceased trading in 2002 and the 250 Swisstrolley3 built since 2004 use Hess' own chassis. The double articulated Lightram3 are included in the 250, but the derived hybrid buses are not. Still awaiting delivery are a total of 15 trolleybuses for Neuchâtel, Winterthur and Schaffhausen. Besides the various Swiss systems, Swisstrolley3s are to be found in Arnhem and Solingen. Hess hopes to win further trolleybus orders from Zürich and Lausanne and also further market the hybrid version.
Swisstrolley deliveries list here (external link).
This website's trolleybus page.
Further to last week's announcement concerning specifications of the new tram generation, further details have been reported. VBZ says that the 100 percent low-floor requirement does not exclude such features as the popular rear high-floor area of the Cobra whose longitudinal seats and large windows have proved very popular with families (and tram fans). To be able to cope with the deployment of 43m trams on all routes, some stops will have to be modified or relocated. VBZ is not interested in intense development work on prototypes (as occurred the Cobra) and is requiring manufacturers to offer proven concepts. A first tram must be delivered by May 2015, with the first six units to enter service in December 2016 following a rigid test phase.
Following the evaluation of recent tram trials, VBZ has defined its requirements for its next generation of trams more closely. 30 new trams will replace the first generation of Tram 2000 units (2001-45 and 2301-15). They must be 100 percent low floor and have a minimum capacity of 225 passengers (ideally 250) of which at least 90 seated (Standing capacity is based on the assumption of four passengers per square meter). The overall length may not exceed 43m (thus slightly shorter than a Sänfte + Pony pair). As a comparison, a tram 2000 coupled pair, which such a unit would replace, is 42.8m long and seats 100 passengers while nominally accepting 111 standees (if the second unit is cabless, 108 if it is not).
Further criteria include energy efficiency, air conditioning, and the tram's suitability for all routes.
This decision would seem to exclude the partially low-floor Stadler Tango tram as sold to Basel and Geneva, but would not exclude Stadler totally as that company does have a 100 percent low-floor tram (Variobahn) that it could adapt for Zürich.
T&UT is published by the LRTA. Their website is here.
With new level-crossing legislation coming into effect in 2014, 47 crossings on Forchbahn fail to comply with the new standards. Of these, 26 will be modified and 21 closed. For some of the crossings that are closing, new access roads will have to be built. All crossings currently secured by only flashing lights will have to be fitted with barriers. Each crossing will cost 500,000 to 600,000 Franks, of which Forchbahn will have to cover more than half from their own funds.
It is regrettable that there are motorists who are unable to recognise the meaning of a flashing light, and one wonders how they deal with other road traffic situations.
An operator and preservationist of a fine collection of vintage Swiss buses has announced an open day for his collection for 8th May. The collection is located only eight minutes from Ziegelbrücke's railway station. Besides the unique and varied collection of buses, coaches and utiluity vehicles of all ages, visitors will also be able to see Zürich tram trailer 768. This Swiss Standard Tram was built in 1953. Following is withdrawal it became an exhibition tram for Tram Zürich West in 1985. Jürg Biegger acquired the tram in 2007, and had it repainted into its 1960s livery and fitted for parties and events.
Those wishing to experience vintage buses in public service in a rural setting should not miss 17th April, when three buses from the collection will be working between Wald, Hinwil, Uster and Bauma.
More information on the events and and vehicles is available on Jürg Biegger's website: www.hnf.ch.
Reliability of the Cobra trams and satisfaction with Sänfte+Pony pairs (concerns that the length of the latter would lead to congestion at Bahnhofplatz proved unfounded) mean that the stored Mirage units are now definitely surplus. 10 of these will be shipped to Vinnitsa this year, with the remaining two being earmarked for the tram museum.
Not included among the 12 Mirage survivors is 1626. This tram has been an exhibition tram since January 2010 and stood on a comleted section of track of Tram Zürich West. It has now apparently been moved to the turning loop at Bahnhof Altstetten Nord (also part of Tram Zürich West).
VBZ has published its strategy on future depot usage. Rather than concentrate in large out-of-town depots, VBZ values its distributed locations, which reduce dead operating mileage. However, in order to deliver value for money, it is reviewing these. Furthermore, with maintenance needs developing due to more complex tram types, a transition to "competence centres" is a possibility.
And while I was busy uploading photos, I also added a series (from 4th December) featuring snowfall in Amsterdam (here).
Stadler's new double-deck train (KISS) has been recognised with an award by Germany's Privatbahn Magazin. 133 trains of the type have been sold so far, including 50 for SBB, many of which will be used on Zürich's S-Bahn.
Planning of Limmattalbahn, the projected light rail link from Zürich Altstetten to Killwangen is making good progress, with the final section of undecided alignment (Dietikon) now defined. According to this decison, Limmattalbahn will run via the station forecourt and share tracks with the BDWM (Bremgarten - Dietikon narrow-gauge railway) between there and Zentralstrasse. Earlier plans had suggested a different and slightly more peripheral alignment. At one point a subway solution was also suggsted. From now until the end of the year more detailed plans will be prepared and the precise locations of stops defined. Also under consideration is an extension of the double track for BDWM along Bremgartnerstrasse. Construction of Limmattalbahn could begin in 2016 for a 2019 opening.
The website of Limmattalbahn (see below) also publishes some artists' impressions of the alignment with the trams. Of course, as with the early impressions of Glattal trams, it is much too early to speculate on the precise vehicle design and these impressions are more to visualise the trams in their future environment. It is nevertheles interesting to see what the planners' vision or wish for tram types is. The wedge-shaped nose cone reminds of Siemens' Avanto tram-train being supplied to SNCF, or with a squint you can recognise Augsburg's Flexity, which was recently demonstrated in Zürich. Other elements echo other types. An earlier impression (albeit by a local newpaper and probably not sanctioned by Limmattalbahn) shows a Cobra.
I don't believe that the numering of routes has been decided yet. Calling the Killwangen line L1 without any colour coding (as the pictures suggest) would seem to set it aside from the Zürich urban system, but also aside from the other interurban narrow gauge railways (S17 and S18) which are considered part of the S-Bahn. A new route numbering system is thus implying the creation of a new category (unless maybe it is being implied that tram route 1 wil be revived and Limmatalbahn operated as an extension of it?). I prefer to assume that nobody has thought about this yet. The white livery is probably supposed to be that of A-Welle, the integrated transport organisation of Canton Aargau, which is currently carried by buses and being applied on BDWM and AAR/WSB (but varies between the different pictures, so who knows?).
Late last year, this website reported the visit of Eberswalde Solaris Trollino 051 to Zürich. Not much has been heard of this since, but according to bahnhofplatz.net, the trolleybus was not tested on Zürich's streets but performed only measurement runs within the grounds of Altsetten works.
The adjoining photograph was taken from the bahnhofplatz.net website, citing the www.obus-ew.de website, in turn citing Solaris Schweiz. I am displaying the picture here as I believe it may be of general interest, but will remove it if requested by any copyright holder. The original photograph on www.obus-ew.de is here.
So far, it was intended that when Tram Zürich West opens at the end of this year, that it would be served by a route 4 diverted from its present Werdhözli terminus. The service to Werdhözli would then be assured by extending route 10 from Hauptbahnhof. Concerns that the length of such an extended route 10 might might impact punctuality, and also unresolved issues over differing headways on the two routes have led VBZ to reconsider this option. Instead, they now wish to introduce a new route 17 linking Werdhözli to Hauptbahnhof. It is intended to use a rust-brown colour for the route indicators of this route. Route 17 is liklely to be short-lived, however, as the Hardbrücke tram is scheduled to open in 2016, with the Werdhözli line then being taken over by route 8.
From the December 2011 timetable change, route 4 will thus be:
The city is pushing for the tram extension from Hardplatz to Schiffbau. This would permit route 8 to be extended from its present Hardplatz terminus to Werdhözli. The new section required is short (less than a kilometer) but will cost 100 million Franks on account of the difficulty of the work required. It will connect two neighbourhoods that are currently divided by the railway lines that the bridge crosses. It is also the first step towards a future tangential tram route (as described in VBZ's Vision 2025). The project will require laying tracks on the existing road viaduct (Hardbrücke) where it would use the outer lanes, with trams having to cross all traffic lanes at level. The tram would serve Bahnhof Hardbrücke, using the same high-level stops as trolleybus routes 33 and 72. The project still has many hurdles ahead of it in terms of gaining the necessary approval and funding. Various plans, artist's impressions and a short animation film of a tram on the new line can be viewed on this website:
Following the succesful trial of touch-screen ticket machines, ZVV has confirmed an order for 1100.
NZZ, 12th January
On 12th December, RBS's former Route G was integrated into the Bern tram network, becoming part of route 6 and being extended across town to Fischermätteli. The RBS Tram 2000 units have proven unpopular however, with residents complaining about the squeal in curves. To address this, Bernmobil will cut back route 6 at Zytglogge every day at 21:00, with the Fischermätteli section being bus-worked in the late evenings. In circa four months, once sufficient staff have been trained on the Combinos, these will take over the evening services, permitting the full tram service to return. To further address the squealing, the wheelsets of the Tram 2000s are being changed. If this fails, a total replacement of this type may be considered.
20 Minuten (Bern edition)
The study for Bern's proposed regional tram line (Schliern - Ostermundigen) shows this wil cost 550 Million Franks rather than the 260 million projected earlier. A tunnel will be required to reach the Rüti terminus on account of the gradient that would otherise be required. Still to be defined is how the tram will cross the city centre. As an additional tram line is not desired on the Marktgasse, a second cross-city alignment is required and has not yet been identified.
20 Minuten (Bern edition)
A second wheel lathe has been installed in Oerlikon depot. The new equipment from Talgo cost 2.2 million Franks plus 900,000 for the installation. The new lathe can turn four wheels at the same time, finishing all 12 wheels of a Cobra in four hours, taking about 2mm off the wheel diameter. A Cobra requires this treatment about every 10 weeks or 25,000km. The goal is to do this every 30,000km, replacing he wheel typre every 180,000km. At present a Cobra wheel tyre lasts 160,000km. That of a classical tram lasts 300,000km. Different alloys are currently being tested to improve the life of wheelsets. The Cobra type has been criticised for its occasionally noisy ride, caused by the polygon formation of its wheels.
I have posted another Youtube video of Cargo Tram in action. This was all filmed yesterday and shows rubbish being loaded at Hirzenbach, the tram passing through Schörlistrasse on the Schwamendingen subway and at the end of its trip, pushing back into the ERZ yard at Werdhözli.