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Frankfurt: T instead of P – Alstom’s low-floor trams start service and replace the last Düwag trams

© Budach / VGF

The Frankfurt transport company VGF will use products from Alstom for operation on its eight tramway lines. 58 low-floor trams of the Citadis SX05 model, adapted to Frankfurt’s special conditions and requirements, will be delivered by Alstom until 2025; they will be denominated T series. The first of them arrived in the city some months ago and have already completed extensive test runs. On 9 December 2022, the official press presentation of the vehicles took place, and the timetable change two days later was scheduled as the start of passenger service. The tramcar no. 302 and 305 are ready for operation, 305 usually operates on lines 17 during the morning rush hour while 302 is currently used for driver training.

First T-series tram in revenue service is no. 305 | © VGF Pressebild/Twitter

Short and long version

Five years ago, the VGF had invited tenders for the procurement of an initial 38 low-floor tramcars, but the company had gradually extended the order to meet possible future requirements – service extensions in the form of new lines or more frequent intervals.  Alstom will now deliver a total of 58 “T” trams by 2025: 24 of them in a 31.5-metre-long standard version with 191 standing and seating places, 34 as 40-metre-long trains with 248 total passenger capacity. The vehicles are composed by three sections in the short version and four in the long version. They have four or five bogies, two or three of which are motorized. The first 40-metre tramways are scheduled to be in service by the end of 2023, initially on the particularly busy line 11.

Most of Frankfurt’s first low-floor series R built in the 1990s will be replaced, here two of them at Hauptbahnhof in 2021 | © Budach

Replacement of the last high-floor trams

The new T-series trams will be used to improve services and also to implement and serve  network extensions currently planned or already under construction, but they will also replace the major part of the first-generation „R“-type low-floor trams purchased in the 1990s, which are expected to be sold to Budapest. But they will not only replace the R series:

There are still seven P series light rail / tramway vehicles in operational condition, servicing different lines, including the 15, 17 and the 18, usually on weekdays. Their services are even marked accordingly in the timetables, because with their high floor and entries via folding steps they do not allow for barrier-free access.

No. 720 and 128 at Stresemannallee/Gartenstr. stop on line 17 in June 2022 | © Budach

The P series were purchased in three tranches between 1972 and 1978 with the intention to allow for gradual transition of the Frankfurt tramway network into a light rail system with underground section and later on even to a pure metro network. They were designed for operation on the existing tramway network on surface with a width of 2.35m. A total of 100 vehicles were delivered: in 1972no. 651-680, which had folding steps and were soon also used on the tunnel lines, were first used on the new “B” line (U4 and U5). No. 681-716 built in 1973 had fixed steps for use only on the tram network. The no. 651-680 were designated as “Pt” cars (“t” for tunnel) to distinguish them. In 1977/78, a series of new vehicles with folding steps were again delivered (numbered 717-750). For the parallel operation of the U4 and U5 lines in the tunnel, several cars were later widened on the entrance areas and equipped with swivelling steps. They were denominated Ptb.

The phase-out of the began after the turn of the millennium with the procurement of new low-floor S-series tram cars, followed by further vehicles of the various substructure types. Several of the 100 vehicles procured had been sold abroad in recent years, to Turkey and Poland, and various others ended up at the scrap yard. But the high passenger demand made it necessary to reactivate some vehicles that had already been stored, so that the seven trams (all rebuilt from Ptb) with the numbers 128, 138, 148, 720, 727, 736 and 749 are still in service today. This should come to an end in the near future, as soon as more and more the new Alstom Citadis will be delivered.

No. 727 is one of seven Pt series trams still in service, here at Südbahnhof in June 2022 | © Budach
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