Tram Zürich West update
filed on: 17.05.2011 (17th May 2011)
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.
This news item is from the 2011 newslog.
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