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First Bombardier Flexity tram arrives in Zurich

The Bombardier Flexity Zurich Tram shortly after its delivery I © Tom Kawara/ VBZ Zürich

On the night of the 12th to the 13th of November, the first Bombardier Flexity tram has been delivered to Zurich. The 43 meter, seven-car low-floor tram has been transported from the Bombardier plant in Vienna to Zurich and put on the rails straightaway. The vehicle is already capable of driving and was presented to the press on 15 November 2019. Now, the test drives and fine tuning of the brand-new vehicle will start. Service start is expected in mid 2020.

The Flexity Zurich

For Zurich’s public transport operator VBZ, the delivery of the first Flexity tram is a historic moment. On the one hand, the tram tender had been delayed for years due to legal disputes. On the other hand, VBZ only introduces a new tram generation every 20 years or so.

Layout drawing of the Flexity Zurich tram I © Bombardier Transportation

The Flexity Zurich is designed for a lifespan of 40 years. It is part of the Flexity family of Bombardier and is technically similar to the Flexity’s for Basel, Vienna and Innsbruck. The front design has been developed specifically for Zurich. The colour scheme is typical for Zurich: blue and white colours are dominant.

The Flexity Trams have a total length of 42.87 meters and a width of 2.4 meters. Three of the four bogies are each powered by two 110 kW asynchronous motors. The vehicle has 91 seats and 187 standing places.

A special innovation on the tram is “ODAS”, the Collision Warning and Brake Assistant which will ensure even more safety for tram drivers, passengers, mixed traffic and passers-by. The modular system supports the driver even in extremely confusing situations, detects dangers and sends a warning signal to the driver or is able to support immediate moderate braking.

In the interior, the Flexity Zurich features USB charging stations, umbrella holders and LED strips on the doors: these signal the status of the door. Thanks to the same signaling at the front and rear of the vehicle, passengers can see from afar whether it is worth hurrying to get the tram. The interior is a pavilion with large windows and bright colors. The 91 seats are designed as wooden shell seats – according to VBZ a tribute to the old “Mirage” trams.

Service start in mid 2020

The blue-white Flexity Zurich trams will enter regular service from mid-2020 on. In the upcoming months test and homologation activities will start. Extensive tests are carried out and various functions are tested and continuously adapted to the specific conditions in Zurich so that the further Flexity can be integrated as smoothly as possible into the existing fleet.

VBZ have been suffering for some time from fleet shortage and at times even the older Mirage trams are used to avoid service disruptions. The order for the 70 low-floor tram has been placed in March 2017. The VBZ initially ordered 70 vehicles priced at 358 million francs (about 326 million euros). These will replace the “Tram 2000” generation from the 1970s and 1980s over the next five years. In addition, VBZ have the option of acquiring another 70 Flexity trams. This would allow the replacement of the 2000 trams with low-floor centre section. The VBZ also expects increasing traffic demand. On the 138 km long route network with 17 lines alone in the year 2018 a total of 202.6 million passengers were carried.

Today’s rolling stock

Today, Zurich’s tram rolling stock consists in:

  • 97 Tram 2000, Be 4/6 articulated tram, SWS/ SWP/ SIG/ BBC/ ABB, built in 1976 – 1987
  • 15 Tram 2000, Be 4/6 articulated trailer car, SWS/ SWP/ SIG/ BBC/ ABB, built in 1978
  • 35 Tram 2000, Be 2/4 „Pony“ trailer car (four axles), SWS/ SWP/ SIG/ BBC/ ABB, built in 1985 – 1992
  • 23 Tram 2000, Be 4/8 articulated tram with low-floor centre section, Schindler, built in 1991 – 1992/ 2001 – 2005
  • 88 Tram Cobra, Be 5/6 low-floor tram, Adtranz/ Bombardier, built in 2001 – 2010

The next steps

From December 2019, the test phase will be carried out on the VBZ network, in which various functions and typical Zurich operation conditions: gradients, stops and depot facilities will be tested.

The first commercial on the VBZ network will take place in the early summer of 2020. The line on which the first Flexity will run is still to be determined. Lines with high passenger traffic are prioritized.

By the end of 2020, 9 to 10 Flexity vehicles will already be operating on the VBZ network. A normalization of the tram services is expected in December 2020.

The delivery of all vehicles of the basic order (70 pieces) will be completed by 2024 thanks to the condensed delivery schedule.

21.11.2019

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