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Progress on Tram Zürich West

filed on: 23.06.2009 (23rd Jun 2009)

unexpected rail encounter In recent decades, the addition of new tram lines to the Zürich system has progressed rather sparingly. Following the stagnation of the 1960s in which the future of the tram system was called into question, growth never managed to progress beyond realising a new project every decade: Werdhözli in 1976, the Schwamendingen lines in 1986, and Messe/Hallenstadion in 1999 (and this despite long and growing wish lists). Since then, growth has accelerated somewhat, with the first two phases of Glattalbahn opening in 2006 and 2008 respectively. With work now progressing on both Tram Zürich West and the third phase of Glattalbahn (for opening in 2011 and 2010 respectively), Zürich is in the rare position of seeing two independent major projects being realised simultaneously — the first time this has happened since 1930.

Progress on Glattalbahn was recently presented on this newslog. This article will therefore take a closer look at the other project: Tram Zürich West.

Tram Zürich West

Escher Wyss Platz Construction of this commenced officially on 9th Septmeber 2008 with first rails being layed earlier this month. The new line will start at Escher-Wyss-Platz. The diagram (left) shows the layout which is to be completely remodelled (into a sort of elongated grand union). The new line is that from the junction to the lower edge of the diagram.

under hardbruecke The tram will run in the median of this road (Hardstrasse), lengthways underneath the Hardbrücke road viaduct (the junction is also partly under this). This covered median strip is currently used for car parking.

industrial sidings This neighbourhood was once heavily industrialised, but is now experiencing a fresh boom as a trendy district to live, do business or enjoy the night life. Dating back to its industrial past, many lengths of siding are still to be found throughout the area and indeed sidings once ran along both shoulders of Hardstrasse — and these are still largely intact.

swissmill train These tracks are not all historical remnants bereft of any function however, as there is one plant that is not only still served by rail but also plans to retain its current location and rail access. This is the Swissmill flour mill which receives several trains a day. Coming from the mill (which is located on Sihlquai, not far from Escher-Wyss-Platz), trains first run on the east shoulder of Hardstrasse and then switch to the west shoulder by passing under Hardbrücke at an obtuse angle.

swissmill train under hardbruecke This path conflicts with the future tram line which would require two additional rail/tram intersections (there is already one at Escher-Wyss-Platz, as can be seen on the right-hand side of the above plan).

relaying industrial siding To avoid this, the disused continuation of the siding along the east side of the viaduct will be revived and a new connection to the west side is being built further South to permit the current one to be removed. What may look like new tram track taking shape at the Pfingstweidstrasse intersection is in fact the first section of this new connection. The picture (right) shows the disused, but to be revived tracks of the east shoulder in the foreground.

first tracks of tram zurich west The new tram line will turn right into Pfingstweidstrasse at about this location, and run along the right shoulder of this broad thoroughfare. Ground work is visible in many places. The first track is not really in front of Technopark (Zürich's prestigous "campus" for startup technology businesses) as news reports have suggested, but is a short length on the Duttweilerstrasse intersection (further west). This is the only proper tram track that has been installed so far, and few other areas currently look ready to receive rails.

In this area, the tram passes several major redevopment sites. These include the Toni Molkerei, a former yoghurt factory that is being demolished, the former Hardturm football stadium , which is to be replaced by a new modern stadium and various other projects.

building at Bahnhof Altstetten After the stadium, the line turns left into Aargauerstrasse and ends on a plot of land adjoining Bahnhof Altstetten (where the turning circle will be built). Altstetten station is served by both commuter (S-Bahn) and long distance services and many new businesses have been attracted to this area in recent years. There are also proposals to transfer the coach terminus here, further increasing its role as a transport interchange. The main station building is on the other side of the tracks, and although currently not served by trams, the project for tram 1 or Limmattalbahn could change this.

tram 2000 on route 13 in bahnhofstrasse A series of photographs documenting the current status (including those used above) can be viewed here, and various unconnected recent Zürich tram pictures are here.

This news item is from the 2009 newslog.

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