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Everything prepared: Limmattalbahn test runs have started

© Limmattalbahn

The start of revenue service of the Limmattalbahn in the north-west of Switzerland’s largest city, Zurich, is not far away: On 11 July 2022, test runs of the new low-floor tramcars on the new light rail line have begun.

The project

The Limmattalbahn is a new metre-gauge light rail service which will connect the fast-growing communities of Schlieren, Urdorf, Dietikon, Spreitenbach and Killwangen to the Zurich tram network over a length of 13.4 km. At Farbhof stop, there is a connection to Zurich’s tram line 2. From there, the Limmattalbahn continues for about 400 metres to the Altstetten SBB station.

Interchange between Limmattalbahn and Zürich’s tram line 2 | © Aargau Verkehr (AVA)
© Aargau Verkehr (AVA)
Other network maps are available here: https://www.urbanrail.net/eu/ch/zh/zuerich-map.htm
and here: https://www.limmattalbahn.ch/home/versteckte-seiten/limmattalbahn-map.html

For more than 20 years, there had been discussions about a better public transport connection for the emerging growing area before it was finally agreed to build a metre-gauge, largely double-track line according to modern tramway standards. In 2010, the Limmattalbahn AG was founded, and after numerous objections and requests for changes during the planning phase, construction work began in 2017.

In the meantime, the works have been largely completed, except for minor remaining tasks, which still have been finished. The new depot in Dietikon for the vehicles had already been handed over to the operator Aargau Verkehr AG (AVA) on 5 May. On 31 May, AVA presented the first new vehicle of the Limmattalbahn to the public, and since 1 July, the catenary has been under power. And now the test runs have begun, which precede the final start of operations forseen in five months time.

The past

The predecessor on parts of the route was the former Limmattal-Strassenbahn, which ran as far as Dietikon until 1930. Subsequently, the Zurich tram operated on the shortened route to Schlieren until 1955, before the Farbhof-Schlieren section was replaced by the trolleybus. The trolleybus line was cut back from Schlieren to Farbhof in 2017, and modern trams have been running here again since 2 September 2019, initially by VBZ as line 2, which was extended from Farbhof to Schlieren. We reported here:
https://www.urban-transport-magazine.com/en/first-part-of-the-limmattalbahn-starts-operation/  .

Aargau Verkehr AG as operator

Aargau Verkehr AG, which already operates two well-established metre-gauge networks in the region, namely the Wynental and Suhrental Bahn and the Bremgarten-Dietikon Bahn, on which a total of 42 trains carry a good 7 million passengers a year, was chosen as the operator of the new railway. The Bremgarten-Dietikon railway connects directly to the new Limmattalbahn at Dietikon. Stadler regional railcars run on this line in regular service, which is to be further modernised on some sections of the line, too.


On the Limmattalbahn, on the other hand, there are eight seven-car low-floor tram cars of the TRAMLINK model from the manufacturer Stadler, which is also in service in a similar configuration on other trams and regional trains elsewhere. The vehicles are 44.3-metre-long, 2.40-metre-wide, 100% low-floor bi-directional trams with capacity for 260 passengers, 88 of whom are seated. There are five double-width doors on each side of the car, plus a single door at each end. 3 of the 4 bogies are powered. Numbered 8001-8008 they can run under 600V (city network) and 1.200 V DC. 

It starts!

On 9 and 10 December 2022, the Limmattalbahn will be opened, and on 11 December 2022, it will start operating as line 20 between Altstetten and Killwangen-Spreitenbach stations.

By 2032, it is planned that the Limmattalbahn will be extended once again from Killwangen-Spreitenbach, via Neuenhof and Wettingen to Baden station.

Picture gallery
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On the completely rebuilt and modernized Waldenburgerbahn in the canton of Baselland, test runs with very similar Stadler Tramlink low-floor tramcars began in early July 2022, too.