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MPK Kraków renew fleet with new and used trams

Die Verkehrsbetriebe MPK Kraków setzen bei der Wagenparkmodernisierung sowohl auf Neufahrzeuge wie den Lajkonik (Tango) von Stadler (links), als auch auf die Modernisierung von Gebrauchfahrzeugen aus Wien und Düsseldorf (rechts) I © MPK Kraków/ UTM

The public transport operator MPK in Kraków is renewing its tram fleet – not only with new vehicles, but also with modernised used vehicles. Last week, two “new” vehicles arrived in the city on the banks of the Vistula: a new Stadler Lajkonik low-floor tram and a “second hand” GT8SU from Düsseldorf’s Rheinbahn. But let’s go step by step: Between 2019 and 2021, a total of 50 Stadler low-floor trams nicknamed Lajkonik, a symbolic figure from the Middle Ages, were delivered to Kraków. We reported on the vehicles in detail here. In April 2020, Stadler was awarded the contract for the delivery of a further 60 identical vehicles. The first vehicles of this second series have now been rolled out in Krakow.

But MPK is also continuing its tradition of modernising used tramcars. Since 2009/ 10, a total of 40 former Vienna U6 six-axle articulated cars and 28 GT8S taken over from Düsseldorf have been modernised from the ground up, given a new interior and exterior design and, most importantly, fitted with a low-floor centre section. 

Rheinbahn’s GT8SU arrived in Kraków on 24 November 2022 I © MPK Kraków

With the gradual retirement of the GT8SU at the Düsseldorf Rheinbahn, the MPK took the opportunity to purchase further GT8SU light rail vehicles. Although these are already 49 years old (built in 1973), they were mechanically and electrically modernised in 2012. The main difference to the vehicles already in Kraków is the fact that the GT8SU were converted for operation for elevated platforms in the 1980s. This adaptation (lowering the car body by adjusting the bogies, adjusting the doors, etc.) must now be reversed. However, this should not be a major challenge for MPK Kraków’s main works. The mechanics and electricians have built up extensive know-how over the past decades.

The modernisation is especially interesting from a financial point of view. According to MPK, the vehicles could be acquired for a very attractive price. At the same time, the vehicles are being made “fit” for many more years in the company’s own workshop.

In the years 2014 – 2021, a total of 28 GT8S were completely refurbished and equipped with low-floor centre sections I © UTM

MPK Kraków has acquired a total of five GT8SU from Düsseldorf. Of these, three will be modernised over the next few years and will then receive a low-floor centre section, air conditioning and an electronic passenger information system, just like all the other GT8S cars already in service in Kraków. The remaining two cars will be used as spare parts donors for the GT8S already in service.

In the coming years, the modernisation of the tram fleet in Kraków will continue in order to further reduce the number of high-floor vehicles. The purchase of another 60 new trams is planned for 2025-2026, including some with a length of over 40 metres.

Delivery of the Lajkonik II trams

The first three new Lajkoniki IIs were received at the end of November and have already been put into service. The vehicles were officially presented at the Nowa Huta tram depot on Thursday 24 November.  

According to the contract, Stadler is to deliver all 60 Lajkonik II by 2023. This will increase the share of low-floor trams in the entire MPK fleet to around 90 per cent. Today, the classic Konstal 105Na multiple unit consists as well as former Vienna E1 + c3 trams are still in operation.

The new Lajkonik II are three-section low-floor vehicles with four running bogies. The wider-than-average entrance doors (1,400 mm) ensure fast passenger changes.

A novelty are special backrests for standing passengers. The trams will each carry 238 passengers, 75 of whom will have seats. Among other things, they will be equipped with air conditioning, a ticket vending machine, a passenger information system, cameras and USB ports for charging smartphones.

View of the interior of the Lajkonik II: New are the leaning aids for standing passengers I © MPK Kraków

It is worth highlighting that two of the 60 trams will be adapted to run by battery without overhead wires, while the others will be designed to use this solution in the future.

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