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According to reports on the SwissRail io group, the sale of Trogenerbahn 31-35 to Neuchatel fell through in early 2017 as Neuchatel was unable to raise the money. But a fresh agreement was reached later that year. The five trains sold will be replaced on AB by additional tango units, taking the fleet size to 11. The latest news is that 32 arrived at Neuchatel on Tuesday (9th April) painted in Neuchatel's current black and green bus livery. Driving trailer 533 went for scrap the same day.
After 37 years in the transport museum in Luzern, 32 is returning to Zürich. This 6-wheeled tram, built in 1939, is celebrating its 80th birthday this year. Together with its long scrapped sister car, 31, it was a protototype (at least as far as its bodywork was concerned) for what was to become the Swiss Standard Tram, and was an important milestone in the development of modern tram designs internationally.
The return of the tram to Zürich has long been an objective of the Tram Museum. The car is being delivered to Burgwies by lorry today and will be placed on display in the museum shortly.
A routine control late last year revealed fractures in one of the rods fitted under a Cobra tram to guide the wheels into curves (these radially adjusting wheels are an important feature of the Cobra design). Further investigations involving Alstom (as succesor to SIG who designed this part of the tram) and the material science laboratory, EMPA, showed that the damage could have led to a derailment.
As an immediate measure, commencing 21st March, all Cobra trams are being inspected. In the meantime, uninspected trams are having to operate at reduced speed. The new limits are 42km/h generally, 12km/h on points and crossings as well as restrictions on curves.
The restrictions mean that overall speed is reduced and connections cannot be guaranteed. There is also an increased use of high-floored Tram 2000 cars, including on the airport routes where these are otherwise a rarity.
With many Cobras having now passed their test, regular operation is slowly resuming.
I have recently observed this tram on what I assume was a test or driver familiarization run. On the inside, the tram is fitted with route boards in the style of the old ones used when Mirages were still commonly in service, but updated to reflect the extended route 8.
With the tram line to Affoltern slowly but surely moving towards the spades in the ground stage, VBZ has published on its website a history of previous attempts to build a tram line to Affoltern, as well as looking at the history of the bus line that served this corridor in the interim.
The first attempt to serve Affoltern by tram was in 1903 when the ZOS company applied for powers to build a line from Wallisellen to Regensdorf via Oerlikon and Affoltern. Only the section from Schwamendingen to Oerlikon was actually built, with one of the reasons being that the westward continuation would have involved crossing SBB tracks on the level (the Regensburg bridge not yet having been built). The alignment proposed was only party identical to that of today's project, as it would have connected to the existing system at Oerlikon rather than following Wehntalerstrasse. The Oerlikon connection is still being entertained by VBZ as a longer term objective.
A second attempt followed in 1910, this time curtailed to Affoltern, but extended at its eastern end to Dübendorf. ZOS's motivation was tactical, as by obtaining the concession they could keep competitor companies from building a similar line. The plans were dropped with the share offer being undersubscribed.
A third attempt in 1928 saw a shortened line to Neuaffoltern, as part of a project also featuring a line in Hofwiesenstrasse. Again, this was to stave off attempts by competition to build a line competing with ZOS's main line from Zürich to Oerlikon. The tactic failed and the city did soon build a new tram line through Hofwiesenstrasse, with the entire ZOS company being bought out by the city not long afterwards.
With Affoltern's population growing, a fourth attempt at building a tram was launched in 1946, but this was dropped as trams were falling out of favour at the time.
The bus competition moved fatser, with a privately operated bus service commencing in 1905, but closing two months later. Another operator, with ZOS support, provided service from 1910 to 1914. A third abortive attempt followed in 1925. Finally the city inauguarted a bus service in 1932. This was the forerunner of today's service, and was converted to trolleybus in 1975.
Internet find: this rare film footage of the Altdorf tram.