Two additional Lightrams ordered
filed on: 04.06.2013 (4th Jun 2013)
VBZ has ordered two additional Lightram3 double-articulated trolleybuses. The pair is costing 3.6 million and will be delivered in the first half of 2014. The order is being placed with the manufacturer, HESS, on the basis of an option signed with the 2011 order and permitting up to 10 such buses to be ordred by the end of 2016. According to the press release, the two lines using double-articulated trolleybuses, routes 31 and 32, jointly need 28 trolleybuses in service plus three spares. Currently, however, only 29 are available. The new trolleybuses will cover this shortage.
Interestingly, the press release presents an explanation of why insufficient vehicles were ordered in 2011. This states that previous plans had intended to cut back route 31 between Schlieren and Farbhof as early as 2014 to permit a rebuilding of the terminus area (Stadtplatz Schlieren). This section of the route would then temporaily be replaced by diesel buses until the opening of the Limmattalbahn tramway. According to present plans, the work is being postponed until 2017, coinciding with the beginning of construction work for the tramway (which will replace the trolleybus West of Bahnhof Altstetten). The cutting back of the terminus of route 31 would reduce vehicle requirements by three trolleybuses. The extended transitional period now justifies the acquisition of new trolleybuses rather than continued diesel operation under wires. The press release states that the buses will be re-deployed elsewhere on the system after closure of the Schlieren section, but does not specify this further.
In this way, a premature trolleybus closure, of which the public had (as far as I know) not hitherto been informed, was narrowly averted.
Re-running previous calculations with this new data, the present replacement of 43 O405 GTZ trolleybuses by 21 Swisstrolley4s and 14 Lightram3s is reducing the fleet from 78 to 70 units. Four of the reductions are explained by a stretching of headways on route 32, made possible by the increased capacity of the buses. The other four reductions (affecting single-articulated routes) will be covered by increased used of diesel buses under wires, and is also partially justified by the proposed tram line on Hardbrücke, although the reasoning here too remains questionable, as in its initial form, route 8 will not significantly replace much trolleybus traffic. Let us hope for a change of heart on this issue also.
This news item is from the 2013 newslog.
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