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Which low-floor tram for Zürich?

filed on: 17.03.2011 (17th Mar 2011)

bombardier flexity paradeplatz 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 tango schoerlistrasse 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.

siemens combino bellevue With the Combino crisis of 2004 (leading to much of the type's delivered fleet worldwide being withdrawn, almost on the day seven years ago), the euphoria for 100 percent low-floor trams was broken somewhat and professionals even began admitting what fans had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.

This news item is from the 2011 newslog.

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