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Gera may (only) order six new low-floor trams

Gera's public transport operator GVB has a fleet of 22 high-floor KT4D trams in service I © Yannick Albert

Numerous high-floor Tatra trams are due to be replaced in Germany’s eastern German tram operations. Gera in southeastern Thuringia also plans to replace its Tatra fleet, of which 22 KT4D from 1981 – 1983/1990 and six KTNF8 with a low-floor middle section from 1990 are still in operation. The city council has been discussing the procurement for months. The main issue was the financing of the new fleet. According to an MDR article, the majority of right-wing AfD and center CDU decided against a proposal from the Left, social-democrats and the Green party. As a result, Gera’s public transport operator GVB will only be able to procure six new low-floor trams. The initial plan was to procure twice as many new trams to replace the old high-floor railways.

This decision is doubtful not only from the customer’s point of view, but also from a business and economic perspective. As a matter of fact, the engineering and production costs for tailor-made low-floor trams are relatively high, so that a small series will very likely result in a correspondingly high price. In addition, the state of Thuringia would fund the procurement with 50%. Another argument of the transport operator against the strategy is the increasing need for maintenance of the up to 40 year old Tatra trams.

What’s next?

According to the MDR, the Green politicians will refer to the regional administrative court because an economic audit for the procurement of six vehicles is still missing. However, as the deadline for funding applications ended last Friday, 5 June, a decision for the procurement was urgent. It is therefore very likely that only six vehicles will actually be put out to tender, although GVB requires 10 to 12 new vehicles to replace the fleet of 22 KT4Ds, which operate in double traction. It is planned to procure 30-meter-long low-floor trams, which would be delivered from 2024.