This page presents news and other items of interest concerning the Zürich tram system and connected topics.
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A bit off topic, and rather out of the ordinary. The Etzwillen - Ramsen heritage railway has had an unusual visiting locomotive in the form of a Landrover that pulled three coaches in a publicity move.
Readers understanding the physics of railway traction will remark that in view of the tractive effort required, the feat of pulling three coaches at low speed isn't really that extraordinary. But the clip is well worth watching anyway. There is of course nothing new about Landrovers in railway shunting applications, and indeed in 2007 I photographed this one at work in Bern's Weissenbühl tram museum.
Good maps showing tramways can be a source of great pleasure in exploring known and unknown systems. The Internet has brought a number of interesting map resources, some of which I have discussed on the newslog in the past (Tundria and carto.metro). But here is another one. The OpenRailwayMap maps out the railways of the world (with some areas presently being covered in greater detail than others). If you zoom into the cities, tram routes are also shown.
The screenshot below shows Zürich with Sportplatz Hardturm at the top left, Stauffacher at the bottom right, while also showing Hardbrücke and Albisriederplatz. Tram routes are shown in pink, mainline railways in yellow or orange, sidings in black and industrial lines in brown (some dismantled sections are actually still shown as active, but otherwise this view seems fairly accurate).
I don't normally use this newslog to report on passing incidents and accidents, but yesterday's were something out of the ordinary. The SBB main line between Zürich Oerlikon and the airport was closed due to a fire in an SBB technical installation adjacent to the line. The airport line was closed for the most of the day, as was the line via Balsberg. The fire is beleived to be arson and caused extensive damage to signalling installations.
These tracks are used both by S-Bahn and national train services and caused disruption country-wide. Passengers to the airport were advised to travel via Winterthur or catch the tram. Hundreds missed their flights.
But where there is adversity, there are also herculean efforts, and VBG's tram route 10 was stormed by passengers. VBG / VBZ even put on extra trams between the airport and Oerlikon, with several Tram 2000 sets being reported and trams being run almost nose to tail to master the crush.
More details have emerged on the appeals against VBZ's Flexity order. The Siemens trams would have cost 3.56 million CHF each whereas the winning Bombardier tram came in at 4.28 million. However, the decison is based 50 percent on price and 50 percent on quality and VBZ has responded that the quality proposed by Siemens was indeed inferior. An interesting side note here was that Siemens was proposing an aluminium construction (which would have come in lighter, but which apparently was judged a negative criterium - remember Combino?). Siemens it appears is seeking more detailed reasons on why its proposal was disliked.
With Siemens scoring second place, their hopes of overturning the decison are understandable. This is less so for Stadler, who came fourth behind CAF. Maybe Stadler would have wished for a new tendering process to be started giving the company better chances, with the long time period over which the various delays have stretched the procurement being accompanied by changes in the market.
Today is the grand opening of Switzerland's biggest rail project of the last decades: The Gotthard Base Tunnel.
Siemens and Stadler have appealed against the awarding of Zürich's new tram order to Bombardier. Siemens is claiming its offer was about 50 million cheaper in acquisition and some 200 million in terms of lifetime costs, and that furthermore not all critreria were duly taken into account. Stadler complained about the very long time taken to reach the decision.
Following on from last week's news item that Flexity would squeal more than Cobra on account of its return to fixed axles (but still less than Tram 2000), it has now been explained how Bombardier will achieve this. The trams will have "wheel surface conditioning" (lubrication) similar to that in use on the supplier's Berlin trams.
Presumably following criticism of the aesthetics of the Flexity design presented, VBZ has explained that this is only an initial suggestion and that the details are still being refined in discussions between VBZ and Bombardier.
The ex-Winterthur GTZ trolleybus 0201 (ex 152) in service in Kramtorsk entered service there on 9th May. Sister vehicle 161 has not yet entered service. More updates and links to news items on http://transphoto.ru/city/157/ .
With all the news on the Flexity order, there is a lot of excitement as to what the new tram will look and feel like in service in Zürich. Not totally representative of course, but worth recalling is the visit of Augsburg's 882 in June 2010. At the timke I created a short photo gallery here.
Despite DB's announcement to shut down it's night train system, not all is doom and gloom. At least the Zürich to Hamburg train is likely to be picked up by Austrian Railways (ÖBB).
A comment on bahnforum.ch concurs with my own observations on the excessive axle loading of the Flexity tram. The comment links to a newspaper article (in Limmattaler Zeitung going back almost a year, but prophetically featuring a Flexity picture) in which it is confirmed that maintenance costs are not being considered. Despite having been conceived as a track-friendly tram, Cobra has already lead to increased wear on track and associated mitigatory measures. With Flexity's combination of added weight and the return to fixed axles, will things only get worse? Or will the larger wheel diameter (620 rather than 560mm) and shorter wheelbase mitigate this?
No doubt, an explanation will be forthcoming. Keep watching this space.
Another newspaper article on yesterday's Flexity announcement. The NZZ article (link here) offers a slightly different view (no snarky comments on wheels squealing, but a nod to history and the tram museum at the end. Also of interest is the film clip embedded in the article, which also features some interior views. The pictures below are stills from that film.
Exterior views were alrerady presented here. The interior views (as indeed the exterior ones) are at present still early versions and may develop. To me, the interior looks somewhat bleaker than the Cobra, but maybe this is in keeping with present-day design trends. It is nice to see that the "panoramic" seating area behind the rear door, as also seen on the Cobra, has been retained.
Today's edition of Tages Anzeiger has more information on the Flexity order (article here). The headline states that trams will "squeal again". In contrast to Cobra, which has individual wheels, Flexity will have axles again. However, according to the article, these will not squeal as loudly as the Tram 2000s (no explanation is offered as to why this should be the case).
The 70 trams are costing 358 million CHF. Unsuccesful competitors were Siemens, Stadler and CAF. These have 10 days to appeal the decison. After these 10 days the awarding of the contract is legally binding.
The 70 trams of the main order will replace all Tram 2000s of the first and second batches. The option for further trams will be used to cover planned system extensions and may also be used to replace the third batch of Tram 2000s.
Another interesting problem wull arise at the main workshops which are present unable to handle such long trams. When the Cobras arrived the traverser was rebuilt with a curved track. But to handle 43m long trams, another solution will be required. VBZ is looking into this, but the article also states the new trams will not be visiting the works during their first years.
The article also states that an importanbt difference to the Cobra is that rather than buying a custom tram, Zürich is now buying off the shelf. The first 16 trams of this type have been running in Blackpool since 2009, and the type has since also been supplied to Australia, Basel and Vienna.
More information has been released on Bombardier's Flexity 2 trams for Zürich, including artist's impressions.
The trams are to be Be 6/8 and 43m long, so approximately the same as a Tram 2000 coupled pair. Capacity would be 90 seated and up to 186 standees. This is a further erosion of seating capaity with Cobra having 96 seats for a length of 36 m, and a tram 2000 pair seating 100).
The weight comes in at 57t (Cobra is 39.2t, criticised at the time for being too heavy, Tram 2000 pair at 53t - per axle the new tram has 7.1t versus 6.5t for the Cobra and 4.4t for Tram 2000). In the move from Tram 2000 to Cobra the weight increase can maybe be chalked up to such niceties as air conditioning, which was to some extent mitigated by using aluminium for the bodies rather that steel. The Flexity reverts to steel bodywork, partly explaining the weight increase. But the Tram 2000 is also steel. How heavy can the air conditioning equipment be?
The tram will be powered by 6 110kW IGBT-powered asynchronous motors. This makes it only marginally more powereful than the lighter Cobra at 625kW. The Tram 2000s came in at 278kW, 308kW and 314kW respectively for the different batches. Breaking this down to kW/t, this puts the Flexity at 11.6, Cobra at 15.9 and Tram 2000 at 10.5, 11.6 and 11.8 respectively. So a lot of questions here remaining to be answered.
At long last, the winner has been announced.
The supplier of the new generation of Zürich trams is Bombardier. 70 Flexity trams will be delivered between 2018 and 2023 with an option for up to 70 more.
More details to follow.
Bern and Biel are seeking tenders for a joint order for new trolleybuses. In total 24 trolleybuses are being sought (plus options). Of these 14 will go to Bernmobil to replace their current fleet of 20. These will furthermore have battery packs to permit operation away from overhead lines. Biel is ordering 10 to replace 10 existing vehicles. Delivery is slated for 2018.
Pedaler (lightweight Swiss Standard Tram) number 1517 has for a long time been on display on the grounds of Wagerenhof in Uster. The car has now been adopted by Tram Museum Zürich for their strategic reserve and moved to secure storage off-system (sister car 1530 is an operational museum car) .
Tram 125 02-04.16
Despite politicians claims to be supporting international rail travel, the network of international trains is continuing to shrink. The last trains linking Switzerland to Belgium, The Eurocities Vauban and Iris ran for the last time on April 2nd. To mark the last day, an SBB restaurant car and panorama cars were added.
Article on wallorail.be
Appenzellerbahn has ordered 4 new trains from Stadler for 36 million CHF. The trains are similar to those on order for Nyon–St-Cergue–Morez and Transports Publics Fribourgeois and will be used on the Durchmesserlinie with through running onto Trogenerbahn.
Further to my recent report on the demise of restaurant car 1802, here is a film of it leaving Altstetten (by Specki65).
Now if only Bern's planners could learn to get their tram plans right first time.
Late last year this newslog reported on the demise of the last GTZ trolleybuses. Trolleymotion reports that 106, 122 and 142 were withdrawn on 13.11.2015, with 131 going a day earlier. The latter had accumulated the remarkable mileage of 1,433,182 km in more than 20 years (into service on 28.02.1995). 106, 122 und 131 were deregistered on 18.11.2015 and transported to the scrapper on 09.12.2015, 22.12.2015 and 25.11.2015. 142 was deregistered on 17.12.2015 with no indication provided of the scrap date.
But readers who have been following this blog will know that the GTZ story os not over yet. A pair of the long inactive GTZ of Winterthur are about to be trialled in Kramatorsk, Ukraine ...
It just doesn't stop getting worse for Europe's night trains. The already heavily decimated SNCF system is to stop all night trains from 1st July except Paris-Briancon, Paris-Rodez and Paris-Latour de Carol. The present Corail rolling stock is apparently to be replaced by trains leased from Russian Railways.
With the delivery of the new Uetliberg trains for SZU, older units are being disposed of. Sets 31 and 32 were a pair of two-car units delivered in 1978 by SWS and Siemens. Similar trains were built as a narrow gauge version and delivered to Lugano - Ponte Tresa, Centovalli and RBS (Bern). Stripped of parts, the two SZU sets made their final journey from Giesshübel to Langnau Gattikon on 4th February, before being taken to Kaiseraugst by road.
The following film was posted on Youtube by user Specki65.
Found on Youtube: a short piece from Kramatorsk, with some shots of the ex-Winterthur trolleybuses.
The last of BLT's Be4/6 of the series 101-115 (built 1971-6) were withdrawn at the end of last year. 13 of these have gone to Begrad for further service. 101 and 113 were previously scarpped due to accident damage. Attempts to retain one in Basel as a heritage car did not come to fruition.
Schweizer Eisenbahn Revue 2/16
WSB has issued a tended to acquire new trains. The tender is for 6 2-car sets or 5 3-car sets.
Schweizer Eisenbahn Revue 2/16
Former articulated tram protoytpe (whose development eventually led to the Mirage type) and later restaurant tram number 1802 is no more. After it was deemed that a repair of the defective motor was not economic, the remains of this tram, having been stripped of virtually everything including the bogies, left VBZ's workshops on a railway load loader on 7th December.
The picture shows the tram in happier times in 2008
Schweizer Eisenbahn Revue 2/16
Sankt Gallen is building a new cross-city connection that will permit through-working between Trogenerbahn and Appenzellerbahn, with the approach of the latter into Sankt Gellen being realigned using a tunnel to avoid the rack section. The project should be complete in 2018. New trains are already on order. Proposals to sell the line's previous Stadler trains to Neuchâtel have still not yet been finalized, however.
Schweizer Eisenbahn Revue 1/16
2025 planning in Basel proposes to extend the cross-border line to Weil beyond its present terminus at the station to Läublinpark, and in a longer term horizon beyond that along Römerstrasse and to the Hohe Strasse area. The town of Weil is presently applying for susbidies from the German state of Baden Württemberg.
Tram 124 11.15-01.16
Xe 4/4 2330, delivered in 1995 was scrapped in October 2015. The relatively modern vehicle had long been plagued with various teething troubles. It has been replaced by a road vehicle.
Tram 125 02-04.16
Soon work will begin on Limmattalbahn, a tram line extending from Zürich's western suburbs along the Limmat valley to Killwangen. But ambitions do not stop there: Communities further West have long been toying with the idea of extending the line into Baden. The propsal would be far from straightforward as there is no obvious preferred corridor. Costs would be about 50% higher per kilometer, especially due to the need to cross the river twice in order to serve Wettingen. The line would terminate at Baden station.
While recently googling to find whether there had been any new developments on this, I chanced upon this article in Aargauer Zeitung which even speaks of a further extension still. A tram could revive the former Nationalbahn railway line. The line between Wettingen and Mellingen last saw timetabled passenger service in 2007 but is still a strategic diversionary and freight route for SBB and will remain so until additional capacity becomes available through new alignment projects in circa 2030. Proposals see this line being diverted into Baden's main station through a new tunnel. The parallel road is blightd by regular congestion, so there is definitely a case for this. However, many of the more developments over the years have been on land away from the railway. Let's wait and see...
The world famous horse tram along the promenade in Douglas is set to end after 140 years. A very sad day for trams.
Zürich's new tram acquisition process, which has been seriously delayed following differences between VBZ and ZVV over who is to provide a second opinion on the evaluation of the tenders, has taken an important step forwards. Both sides have agreed to employ the servics of TÜV Süd. A decison on the order is expected this Spring.
The tram acquisition process has been a protracted one. Starting in 2009, three manufacturers were invited to demonstrate their trams in Zürich. Specifications were issued in 2011, with the five suppliers emerging from the pre-qualification round entering the race in 2013. Things began to turn sour in mid 2014 as it became increasingly clear that something was delaying the decision. In 2015 it was revealed the point of contention was doubt over the neutrality of the consultant ZVV was employing.
Two ex-Winterthur GTZ trolleybuses were presented in Kramatorsk yesterday (numbers 161 and 152). The trolleybuses have not been bought by Kramatorsk but will be trialled for three months pending a decision.
Construction of Limmattalbahn is set to begin in 2017, with the first section (extension of city tram route 2 to Schlieren) to open in 2019. Trolleybus route 31, which presently serves this route, will be cut back from Schlieren to Micafil in 2019 (the article in Limmattaler Zeitung mysteriously says no turning loop will need to be built at Micafil). Originally it was planned to divert tram route 2 to serve Bahnhof Altstetten, and this would have permitted the trolleybus to terminate at that location. However, with residents having succesfully petitioned to keep the tram on its present alignment, the trolleybus will continue to be required to assure a direct connection between Hermetschloo and Bahnhof Altstetten.
Here is one I missed earlier. Bern's trolleybus system celebrated an extension on 13th December when route 11 was extended to Holligen. The 700m extension serves Inselspital. A further 600m extension is planned that will take this route to Warmbächliweg, but construction will probably not begin before 2020.
The change is not all growth, however, as the recent extension leads to the abandonment of 500m line to Bremgartenfriedhof and Güterbahnhof, where passengers will now use postal buses. This section was a tram line until 1965 (part of tram route 1, Güterbahnhof - Brückfeld) and was converted to trolleybus in 1977.
A correspondent has made me aware of the appearance of ex Winterthur GTZ trolleybus 161 in Kramatorsk (Ukraine). The trolleybus is believed to be for use in Kramatorsk or Mariupol.
I have uploaded two new videos to Youtube. One shows the illuminated Schwamendingen subway (news item here) and the other recently withdrawn ex-Cisalpino ETR 470 Pendolini in Kaiseraugst.
At about 5am on 31st December, emergency services attended to a fire in an electrical cabinet in the Schwamendingen tram subway between Milchbuck and Tierspital. Although tram operation was resumed later that day, the fire had taken out the block signalling system. When driven on sight, the maximum speed in the tunnel is 18km/h (rather than 60km/h), and the tunnel lighting needs to be on.
I travelled through the tunnel on the evening of 6th January and the slow regime was still in force between Tierspital and Milchbuck. As a silver lining, the lighting reveals many details of the tunnel interior otherwise not seen.
A Happy New Year to all readers.
For those who read these news items on the www.proaktiva.ch/tram/zurich/newslog/newslog.html page, as every year, the previous news items have been moved to a separate page, which for 2015 is http://www.proaktiva.ch/tram/zurich/newslog/2015.html. For those reading as individual items, as usual, there is no change.
Just to summarise some of the highlights and look back on 2015:
There is still no decision on the new tram order, but at least the different parties appear to be moving towards an understanding on how to solve the issue. To summarise, the spat was caused by ZVV wanting to call on the services of a consulting company that some of the parties involved did not consider neutral.
Construction work on the Hardbrücke tram link is now underway. The next extension, Limmattalbahn, has also cleared its last major hurdles.
On the trolleybus side, the last three Mercedes/ABB GTZ bowed out in late November. This means the fleet is now made up entirely of Hess low-floor vehicles. The older of these are being retrofitted with battery packs to replace their auxiliary generators. There will be an increased running without overhead lines as junctions are simplified.