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New investments – no closure: Tallinn opts for battery trolleybuses

Solaris Trollino 18 built in 2009 | © Dirk Budach

After years of neglect, the Estonian capital of Tallinn is once again capitalising on the advantages of modern trolleybuses.

The network, which once consisted of 9 lines, had been cut by half and reduced to the 4 lines currently in operation by 2016, and a complete closure of the system had long been under discussion. However, following trials with the latest generation of test vehicles, the official decision has now been made to modernise and expand the network again.

Mayor Mihhail Kõlvart comments: “We have set ourselves the goal of modernising public transport in the capital in line with the targets set out in the mobility plan by 2035 and acquiring new vehicles, for example Vilnius, Prague, Zurich and Milan and many other cities. Trolleybuses are not only environmentally friendly, but also economical thanks to their longer service life. At the same time, today’s battery trolleys are quiet and comfortable for passengers.” 

According to the plans, 40 new battery trolleybuses with IMC (In-Motion Charging) technology are to be purchased: 22 long 18-metre trolleys and 18 standard 12-metre trolleys. The total cost of the investment – the purchase of battery trolleybuses and the reconstruction of the contact network – is estimated at 40 to 50 million euros over the next 5 to 6 years.

“There are currently four trolleybus lines in operation in Tallinn. Their infrastructure is decades old in many places and definitely needs to be replaced. “We are definitely also thinking about taking new directions,” added Kõlvart. In the city centre, the overhead lines are to be partially dismantled and the buses here will run in battery mode. A complete renewal of the overhead lines is planned on the outer routes. The new battery-powered trolleybuses will also run on other routes away from the overhead lines.

In addition to the new trolleybuses, Tallinn will gradually introduce electric buses, which, according to the city administration, are better suited to serving routes with lower passenger demand.

In order to implement the measures, Tallinn City Council intends to secure funding from the city council in 2024 as part of a supplementary budget.

There are currently 44 Solaris trolleybuses in operation in Tallinn – 18 of which are articulated vehicles – dating from 2002-2009.

Solaris Trollino 12 of different model series at Mustamäe terminus | © Robert Schwandl