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Newslog 2016

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This page presents news and other items of interest concerning the Zürich tram system and connected topics.

This is not the official information page of any organisation. All opinions expressed here are my own or belong to those to whom they are attributed. Whereas care is taken to ensure the correctness of news, no claim is made to total accuracy.

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26.09.2016 - Train Urbain du Tana update

Tramway à Tana : Bientôt une réalité selon la CUA

The project of creating an urban passenger railway in the Antananarivo area (Madagascar) is still alive. Or at least this is what is suggested by an article published in Midi Madagasikara as recently as 19th August of this year.

In 2004 the idea was hatched of setting up this service using second-hand equipment from Forchbahn and other Swiss narrow-gauge railways, adding generators to permit operation on this unelectrified line. Although the equipment did reach the island in 2006, things went quiet after that as the dream ran out of momentum. The article states that the project is being held up by disputes over illegal buildings on the right of way. All equipment is in stored in Soarano station. An operation in two to three years time is considered possible.

I am assuming the photograph accompanying the article is a stock photograph, and not representative of the trains they are proposing to use.

23.09.2016 - Night trains: ÖBB presents Nightjet

OeBB introduces Railjet night trains Following up on previous reports on ÖBB taking over some of DB's night train services from Switzerland, ÖBB has finally put an end to the speculation. Their existing night train network is being rebranded Nightjet (following on from their railjet brand for modern daytime intercity trains). The trains will be painted in a dark blue livery. Furthermore, three ex DB routes are being taken over, two of them starting in Austria and the third being Basel to Hamburg. This would imply that the train is being curtailed to Basel instead of Zürich and also that the Amsterdam, Berlin and Prague services are definitely being discontinued.

Neverthless it is good to see ÖBB break and unpleasant trend here. I wish them every success.


21.09.2016 - Basel: Standard Tram update

Swiss standard tram Steinenberg Updating on a previous report on the Swissrail Yahoogroup (update dated yesterday), there are now only four Be 4/4 Standard Trams remaining in service in Basel: 466, 472, 475 and 476.

13.09.2016 - HESS trolleybus update

The following is taken from trolleymotion (comments are my own).

The recently announced joint order by Bern and Biel is worth 28 million CHF for the Bern part (16 single and 7 double-articulated trolleybuses) and 10 million for the Biel part (10 single-articulated trolleybuses). This would put the value of a single-articulated unit at 1 million and the double at 1.7 million.

The TOSA order for Geneva is worth 13.9 million for HESS and 10.1 million for ABB. The first bus will be delivered in late 2017, with the entire route going over to TOSA operation in Spring 2018. No modifications to the timetable time are planned, meaning the fast charging wil be hard pressed to prove it's worth.

With 2 buses being supplied this comes out at 2 million per bus, but this sum includes the charging infrastructure.

Also being delivered are new trolleybuses for Luzern. Four buses have already been delivered and these will soon be followed by five double-articulated and four single-articulated units. These will be followed by 10 trolleybuses for Arnhem and then another eight double-artics for Luzern.

The article also mentions the exhibition of the TOSA prototype in Paris late last year and of Zürich 160 at the VÖV congress in Fribourg in May. Luzern double-artic 236 was demonstrated in Lyon in May.

12.09.2016 - Ex Sernftal units to return home

In 2014, this newslog reported on the plan to repatriate the two ex-Sernftal units in use on the Atterseebahn in Austria. These units are almost identical to 9 and 10 of Forchbahn. This dream is now coming true. The two units dating to the late 1940s were formally withdrawn on 10th September. One of the units should return to Switzerland this autumn with the other following next year. However, Verein Sernftalbahn are still looking for donations.

09.09.2016 - King Pjotr Kraska is dead

Maybe not immediately connected to the topic of this newslog, but concerning Zürich trams in a cultural sense: Pjotr Kraska, oddball and self proclaimed "King of Zürich and Bilbao" is dead. Kraska was an artist conncted to the Dada movement who managed to grab attention through the proclamations he would distribute in trams, by crossing swords with dignitaries and also by repeatedly landing in court for refusing to buy a tram ticket.

Tages Anzeiger

09.09.2016 - Waldenburgerbahn to go driverless

Basel's BLT is taking over Waldenburgerbahn, and converting it from 750 mm to meter gauge, but they're not stopping there. The next step will be to convert it to automatic (driverless) operation. BLT is consulting with experts and supplier over this. The 250 million CHF rebuilding of the line will allow for this option, which could go live as soon as 2022.

08.09.2016 - Driverless buses in Sion

driverless bus sion (Sorry to be late in reporting this one). Driverless battery buses are being tested in Sion. The little buses plod along under computrer control at a maximum of 20km/h and can be stopped by passengers in case of an emergency. They are operated by PostAuto.


08.09.2016 - French night trains

In February this newslog reported that all French night trains but two were to be discontinued from 1st July. That hasn't quite happened yet, but the reprieve seems to be temporary. In many cases operating days are reduced and the trains are set to be finally axed at the end of the summer. The trains from Strasbourg via Mulhouse (and thus of interest to Swiss visitors) to Port Bou are already discontinued. Russian sleeping cars are presently being trialled on the Paris - Nice train.

Rail Passion, Sept 2016

08.09.2016 - Electric bus future

According to a VBZ press release, commencing in October, a battery bus will be tested on VBZ's midibus routes / ligher local bus routes (these are the 35, 38, 39, 40, 64, 73, 79 and 307). The demonstrator is being supplied by the Czech company SOR. The bus will be operated with 100% renewable electricity. New buses will be required for these routes from 2019.

The release also mentions the new "battery trolleybus" being jointly developed by Hess, VBZ, ETH and Berner Fachhochschule. The new trolleybus will have a larger range of off-wire operation than the presently available battery trolleybuses.

The proposed electrification of routes 69 and 80 is also mentioned. This is envisaged for the period 2019 to 2022.

Hybrid buses are also being considered as an option for further increasing the share of electric traction.

08.09.2016 - Bern and Biel order Hess trolleybuses

Following a joint tendering process, Bern and Biel are awarding the supply of 33 new trolleybuses to Hess. Bern is acquiring 16 single-articulated and 7 double-articulated units replacing their entire current fleet (20 Swisstrolley 2, delivered between 1997 and 2000) for 28 million CHF. Deliveries will commence in 2018. Biel is acquiring 10 single-articulated units to partially replace the present fleet.

The new trolleybuses will be of type Swisstrolley 5 and use powerful battery packs rather than auxiliary diesels to facilitate off-wire operation.

Karosserie Hess

08.09.2016 - Basel: Tango deliveries complete

Basel tango tram Centralbahnplatz at night With the delivery of the 38th tango tram in late August, delivery of this order to BLT is complete.

07.09.2016 - Old photos on Drehscheibe Online

Mirage tram in hardturmstrasse and old forchbahn
An interesting find on
Drehscheibe Online is this page with stunning black and white pictures from the Zürich region in the 1967 by Urs Nötzli. Of interest to tram enthusiasts is this view of a Forchbahn Be4/4 9 (still extant today as a works car) on a crossover in the woodland section above Rehalp (apart from the train, the situation has changed little). This is immediatelky followed by a view of new Mirage tram 1635 (still extant today in Vinnitsa) being delivered. The location is the city end of Hardturmstrasse with the still extant residential buildings of Escher Wyss Platz depot visible in the background. What was then a tree-lined avenue is now a busy road with an off ramp of the Hardbrücke flyover running down the middle. The transporter wagon would run the full length of Hardturmstrasse to be unloaded at Sportplatz Hardtrum. The remains of the exchange track are still visible there today. Note also the folded "wings" on the wagon by which the tram will gently roll down onto VBZ tracks.

The section also includes wonderfully atmopsheric shots of Stadelhofen, Selnau and Enge stations. Enjoy.

18.08.2016 - Basel: End night for standard trams

Swiss standard tram Bruderholz The Swiss Standard Tram, first introduced in the late 1930s was at one time ubuiquitous across Switzerland's tram systems. Basel was destined to become their last stronmghold, but with new Flexity trams entering service there, the type is entering its very last days of regular Swiss service.

Swiss standard tram Steinenberg According to a report by Martin Baumann on the Swissrail Yahoogroup (dated August 16th), there are now only six Be 4/4 Standard Trams remaining in service in Basel: 466, 469, 472, 473, 475, 476 and these will very likely be withdrawn by December.

Basel Tram Bahnhof SBB They are no longer permitted to lead and are normally seen at the rear of three car trams on route 3 behind a Be 4/4 from series 477-502 and a standard trailer with added low floor section.

Tram trailers Bahnhof SBB As of now, there are 14 non-low-floor trailers and 35 conversions running but these are being withdrawn gradually as the new Bombardier trams (5001-5044 43.26m and later 6001-6017 31.83m) are delivered. Latest delivery to Basel is 5024.

Be 4/6 tram Claraplatz Be 4/6 659-686 will be donated to Sofia (Bulgaria) when withdrawn. All of these are still in service as of now apart from a question mark of the future of 674 which was damaged in a collision with BLT 151 at Aeschenplatz on June 17th.

Be 4/4 tram Steinenberg Be 4/4 477 to 502 are also all in service at present.

17.08.2016 - Trolleybus and battery bus

According to a report on Trolleymotion, VBZ trolleybus 160 that was demonstrated in Lausanne from 19th to 25th July is the first of the VBZ trolleybuses formerly equipped with auxiliary diesels to be re-equipped with a battery pack (the earlier batch of both Swisstrolley and Lightram were initially equipped with auxiliary diesels, the second batches having battery packs from new). Further vehicles are presently undergoing the conversion at Hess's Bellach plant. During its stay in Lausanne the trolleybus did not see any passenger service but tests were made to observe aspects such as thermal load on resistors, temperature and discharging of batteries.

The trolleybus had previously been exhibited at a KTBB congress in Fribourg on 24th and 25th May, with only one half of the inerior refurbished to demonstarte a before and after effect.

There is also a federally sponsored reserach project to produce a more fundamental conversion of a trolleybus for battery operation. It will use different motors and also seek to reduce energy consumptiuon by auxilary consumers. This bus will be presented in late 2016.

29.07.2016 - ÖBB to take over many German night trains

This newslog has previously reported oin the imminent threat to Germany's CNL (City Night Line) services, and also on the possibility that ÖBB (Austrian Railways) step in to save some of them. An article in Handelsblatt says the final announcement on this will follow in September, but at present it would seem that among the CNL trains to be taken over by ÖBB are those from Switzerland to Hamburg and Prague. There is no mention of Amsterdam, unfortunately.

Nevertheless, in times that a total abandnnment seems unavoidable in the medium term in many countries, it comes as good news to see fresh investment and confidence. I wish ÖBB the best of success with this venture.

28.07.2016 - How to speed up trams

An old article, and one I had been meaning to post but that somehow slipped my mind. According to this January article from Tages Anzeiger, the average speed of trams in Zürich is 15.6km/h, with downward tendency. The slowest route is the 6 (13.7km/h) and the fastest Glattal route 12 (25.9km/h). The gradual ersion of speed is caused by traffic as well as increased numbers of pedestrains, cyclists, and slower loading times due to increased passenger numbers.

Various measures have been put forward. These including moving the transponders for point control further ahead so points can be approcahed at higher speed. The maximum permissible speed in curves is also being evaluated on a case by case basis.

28.07.2016 - Trolleybus news

According to the recently published annual report of VBZ, the electrification of bus routes 69 and 80 is still being pursued, with planning in progress and an application for federal support being prepared. The proposed connection of trolleybus routes 31 and 34 is also making good progress. Planning is complete, and following a consultation in 2016, through running could commence in December 2017.

27.07.2016 - What future for named trams?

named Tram 2000 paradeplatz A number of Tram 2000s, especially of the first series, are named after neighbourhoods of the city of Zürich (a list can be found here). An article in Züriberg, cited on explains that the namings were actually sponsored by the respective neighbourhoods, which explains why some neighbourhoods not actually served by trans (such as Witikon) are included but others (such as Leimbach) are not.

With the trams in question set to be replaced soon, it remains a matter of speculation what future tram naming has. Apparently the tradition has not died out entirely as, according to the article, Cobra 3001 was named Stadt Zürich in 2001, but the naming was soon forgotten about and no name presently carried.

The article says that the possibility of naming the Flexity trams remains open, but there is no policy decison on this matter. The article also speculates that the Tram 2000s will not necessariyl make their way to the scarpyard. They are essentially still in good condition but need to be withdrawn due to the legal need to provide an entirely low-floor fleet from 2023. A further life elsewhere thus remains an option.

21.07.2016 - Pedaler trams

The lightweight variant of the Swiss Standard Tram, known in Zürich as Pedaler was delivered to Zürich in three batches. The first batch, 1501-18 entered service between 1941 and 1946. They were followed by a second batch numbered 1519-50 with more powerful motors and delivered 1949 to 1951. Also delivered in 1949 were two non standard cars with BBC equipment (rather than MFO). The second batch is today represented in preservation in Zürich; by 1530 whereas two cars of the earlier batch have also survived until recently.

pedaler tram 1517 wagerenhof uster Mentioned on this newslog several times is 1517 which survived on the grounds of Wagerenhof in Uster. Despite the outdoor location, the condition of this car appears to be quite sound overall (it benefitted from being repainted at some point). However no detailed survey has been made of the electrical equipment which may well have some surprises in store. Despite apparently being well cared for, the owner was seeking to dispose of this tram and thus it was offered to the tram museum. On 15th December 2015, the tram was moved by low loader lorry to a covered storage location in the canton of Aargau. The car is not officially part of the tram museum collection but is formally owned by a group of members on behalf of the museum. It is being kept as this would be the last opportunity to restore a car of this type should some tragedy befall 1530. There are currently no plans to restore it.

Surprisingly for such a relatively small batch, there was until recently a second survivor. 1501 survived as a snow broom on Bex-Vilars-Brettaye railway (being rebuilt for this purpose by VBZ workshops in 1980). This vehicle was withdrawn in 2014, being replaced by a purpose built snow broom. The tram museum was also given the oppoprtunity to acquire this car but it was decided not to do so due to the modifications. However, the opportunity was taken to recover numerous spare parts (including both complete bogies) when the car was scrapped in late autumn 2015. As the car was operational right up intil withdrawal, it is assumed the parts are in better condition than those of 1517, and could be used to bring that tram back to life.

TMZ Revue 1/2016

20.07.2016 - VBZ trolleybus trialled in Lausanne

VBZ trolleybus in Lausanne
Zürich trolleybus 160 is being trialled in Lausanne from 19th to 25th July. The purpose of the trials will be to observe the vehicle's performance with respect to its battery. The present Lausanne fleet all have auxiliary engines rather than batteries. Use of battery traction could facilitate the extension of certain trolleybus lines without adding overhead lines, and also create flexibility in view of construction-related diversions.

80 percent of TL's passengers are presently transported electrically.

24 heures

18.07.2016 - Tram Hardbrücke progress

construction tram hardbruecke On my way home from work today, I took a number of pictures of construction of Tram Hardbrücke.

Click on photo to view series, or here for index.

18.07.2016 - TOSA order for Genève

Back in 2013, this newslog reported on the TOSA demonstration bus in Geneva. This innovative electric bus uses strategically placed "flash charging" stations along the route to top up its batteries. This means battery size can be limited to an economically manageable level without rendering the vehicle overly heavy or sacrificing passenger capacity. At first the bus was, rather unwisely, marketed as a trolleybus replacement. But it seems that sense has seen the light of day and the first route on which these buses will be used is to be a diesel route, TPG's route 23.

A consortium of HESS and ABB are to provide 13 flash charging stations and 12 buses, with operation to commence in March 2018. The order is worth 10 million (ABB part) and 14 million (HESS part).

Le Temps

18.07.2016 - New tram oder: more on Siemens' appeal

More information has become available on Siemens' appeal against the awarding of the order to Bombardier.

Siemens is claiming its offer was 3.56 million CHF per tram, about 20 percent less than Bombardier's 4.28 million. If the option of 70 additional trams is to be fully realized, this reflects an overall saving of 90 million.

VBZ is countering that these costs are offset by operating and lifecycle factors. The Siemens tram was to have been built in aluminium rather than steel, a factor that VBZ held against Siemens. However, Siemens claimed VBZ made no specification as to the material and that the lighter tram would additionally have caused less wear on the tracks (notes on weight comparisons here, data for Siemens offer unfortunately not available).

Siemens is furthermore claiming that Bombardier's offer was graded higher on factors such as safety and fire protection, although in fact both offers were equivalent with regard to these requirements.

VBZ however, is claiming that these factors have all been considered.

Finally, Siemens is accusing VBZ of colluding with Bombardier and having set up the tender in Bombardier's favour. Now the decison is with the courts.

14.07.2016 - Basel / Weil: Validity of tickets on Weil line

In 2014, this newslog reported on confusion surrounding validity of tickets on the Germany section of the cross-border tram route from Basel to Weil. As from the timetable switch in December the rules will change again: Generalabo and Halbtax will no longer be recognised on this section.

08.07.2016 - BDWM will operate Limmattalbahn

Limattalbahn Dietikon Bahnhof It has been announced that Limmattalbahn, the light rail link extending from the tram system on Zürich's western suburbs along the Limmat valley and into the neighbouring canton of Aargau will be operated by BDWM. VBZ and SZU had also shown interest in operating the line, but have announced they will not chalenge the decision. BDWM presently operates the Bremgarten - Dietikon line (with which Limmattalbahn will share a short portion of track) as well as various bus routes in the area.

Apparently, BDWM's offer had the lowest cost.

In my opinion, this is a fortunate choice, Bremgarten - Dietikon being an efficiently and well run railway.

08.07.2016 - Winterthur: Former tram depot saved

Back in 2014, this newslog briefly reported on attempts to save Winterthur's Deutweg bus and trolleybus depot, which had in its original incarnation been the town's tram depot. Following a long campaign and legal battles, the town has now agreed to retain both the main shed and the adjoining office building. Plans for redeveloping the wider site need to be scaled back accordingly.

06.07.2016 - In case anybody is in Freiburg ...

In case any of my readers are in or visiting Freiburg this Friday (8th July), I am holding a talk on trams and rails of Alicante for Freunde der Freiburger Strassenbahn.

Alicante talk Freiburg

Download invitation as pdf

17.06.2016 - Landrovers and rails

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.
Landrover shunting in Bern tram museum
Landrover shunting in Bern tram museum

17.06.2016 - Another great map resource

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).
open railway map

08.06.2016 - Glattalbahn takes the strain

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.

arsonists cause chaos on airport railway
20 Minuten article

01.06.2016 - Update on appeal against Flexity procurement

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.

01.06.2016 - Gotthard base tunnel opens today

Today is the grand opening of Switzerland's biggest rail project of the last decades: The Gotthard Base Tunnel.

01.06.2016 - Siemens and Stadler appeal against Flexity order

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.

25.05.2016 - Flexity won't squeal

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.
Tages Anzeiger article Berlin solution for Zurich tram squeal

Tages Anzeiger

25.05.2016 - Flexity can be a shapeshifter

Bombardier flexity for Zurich

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.

Tages Anzeiger article

25.05.2016 - Details from Kramatorsk

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 .

19.05.2016 - Memories of the Augsburg Flexity demonstrator

Augsburg Flexity in Zurich 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.

19.05.2016 - Night trains: ÖBB to the rescue?

City Night Line being shunted at Basel SBB Here is an item that has been in my inbox for some time but that I somehow didn't manage to post.

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).,7803008

19.05.2016 - Is Flexity bad for track?

A comment on 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.

Limmataler Zeitung Zuercher Tram-Beschaffung VBZ ignoriert Mehrkosten im Unterhalt

18.05.2016 - Kramatorsk: ex-Winterthur GTZ in service

According to, ex-Winterthur 152 is now in service as Kramatorsk 0201.
Winterthur trolleybus in Kramatorsk

18.05.2016 - Even more on Flexity for Zürich

NZZ Anzeiger article on Bombardier flexity for Zurich

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.
Bombardier flexity for Zurich
Bombardier flexity for Zurich

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.

18.05.2016 - More on Flexity for Zürich, and squealing wheels

Tages Anzeiger article on Bombardier flexity for Zurich

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.

18.05.2016 - Flexity for Zürich

More information has been released on Bombardier's Flexity 2 trams for Zürich, including artist's impressions.

Bombardier flexity for Zurich
Bombardier flexity for Zurich
Bombardier flexity for Zurich
Bombardier flexity for Zurich datasheet

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.

17.05.2016 - Bombardier to supply new Zürich tram

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.


14.04.2016 - Bern and Biel to order new trolleybuses

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.


12.04.2016 - Pedaler 1517 joins Tram Museum collection

Pedaler tram 1517 in Uster 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

12.04.2016 - Former Uetlibergbahn cars become restaurant in Winterthur

szu uetliberg heritage train The former Uetliberg cars Ce 2/2, C 41 and D 311 are now a restaurant in Winterthur. See for more information.

11.04.2016 - Further international trains gone

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

Eurocity Iris and Vauban

11.04.2016 - Appenzellerbahn orders new trains

new Stadler trains for Appenezellerbahn 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.

Railway Gazette

11.04.2016 - 1802's last trip

Further to my recent report on the demise of restaurant car 1802, here is a film of it leaving Altstetten (by Specki65).


08.04.2016 - Bern: Ostermundigen says yes to tram

Overturning their no vote of 2014, and echoing the similar reversal on the Tram Bern West project in 2008, the population of Ostermundigen have approved their tram with 55.6 percent.

Berner Zeitung

Now if only Bern's planners could learn to get their tram plans right first time.

31.03.2016 - The GTZ trolleybuses are no more

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 ...

29.02.2016 - Bad news for French night trains

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.

SNCF night train map

29.02.2016 - SZU: Be 8/8 go for scrap

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.

29.02.2016 - Winterthur GTZ in Kramatorsk

Found on Youtube: a short piece from Kramatorsk, with some shots of the ex-Winterthur trolleybuses.

29.02.2016 - Basel: BLT trams go to Beograd

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

29.02.2016 - WSB seeks new rolling stock

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

29.02.2016 - Restaurant tram is no more

restuarnat tram 1802 in 2008 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

29.02.2016 - St Gallen Durchmesserlinie

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

29.02.2016 - Basel: Weil tram to extend further?

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

29.02.2016 - Basel: track scrubber scrapped

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

29.02.2016 - Limmattalbahn: To Baden ... and beyond?

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...

22.01.2016 - Douglas horse trams to end

The world famous horse tram along the promenade in Douglas is set to end after 140 years. A very sad day for trams.
Douglas horse trams to end manx radio

A petition has been launched here

20.01.2016 - Progress in tram acquisition

BLT Tango tram and VBZ Cobra Bahnhofstrasse 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.

20.01.2016 - Kramatorsk: Two GTZ trolleybuses to be trialled

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.

Winterthur trolleybuses in Kramatorsk

15.01.2016 - Limmattalbahn and trolleybus

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.

14.01.2016 - Bern: Trolleybus reaches Holligen

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.


13.01.2016 - Ex Winterthur GTZ in Kramatorsk

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.

Winterthur trolleybus in Kramatorsk

11.01.2016 - Videos: Schwamendingen subway and ETR 470

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.

08.01.2016 - Fire in Schwamendingen tunnel

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., tagi

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.

08.01.2016 - 2015 news

A Happy New Year to all readers.

For those who read these news items on the page, as every year, the previous news items have been moved to a separate page, which for 2015 is 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.

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