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Start of operation for Finnish Skoda trams in Schöneiche – Rüdersdorf

The tram Schöneiche-Rüdersdorf is one of the smallest tram systems in Germany. The 14 km route connects Schöneiche and Rüdersdorf with the S-Bahn (commuter) station Friedrichshagen in Berlin. The meter-gauge tram line is numbered “88” and is operated by the Schöneiche-Rüdersdorfer Straßenbahn GmbH (SRS). It has modernised its fleet by purchasing two modern low-floor trains. So far, the operational fleet consists in four second hand GT6-type trams from Heidelberg from 1966 and 1973 and three partially low-floor KT4DNF (ex Cottbus, ex Szeged, built in 1987 and 1990). According to federal legislation, all local public transport has to be fully accessible to persons with reduced mobility (PRM) by 2022. The purchase of the two low-floor trains is therefore an important step. In order to save costs, the operator (SRS) decided to buy two used low-floor trains from Helsinki. These are two ForCity Smart Artic type pre-series vehicles of Skoda. After a two-month trial period, the first vehicle entered commercial operation in September 2018. The ForCity Smart Artic tram, based on the original concept of the Helsinki City Transport Company (HKL), was developed in cooperation with HKL and Škoda Transtech, which is a Finnish subsidiary of the Škoda Transportation group. The two trams were tested in Helsinki since 2013. Series deliveries started in 2016 and one vehicle is shipped to Helsinki every three weeks. The series differs from the pre-series vehicles in terms of mechanical structure and number of bogies. So far, 55 series trams have been delivered to Helsinki. HKL Helsinki bought a total of 70 trams ForCity Smart Artic.

The two “finnish” low-floor trams on their first common day of operation on 1 May 2019 on the Schöneiche-Rüdersdorf Tram near Berlin

The Artic trams for Schöneiche have a length of 28 meters and a width of 2.40 meters, offering 88 seats and three wheelchair spaces (including a boarding ramp) and two spaces for trolleys. For the purchase cost of the two SRS trams is of 3.7 million euros of which 85 % have been financed by the local districts Oder-Spree and Märkisch-Oderland. Despite the launch of the two Skoda low-floor trams, at least two ex Heidelberg GT6 will remain operational as this is the only bi-directional tram type SRS currently has in its fleet. Bi-directional trams are indispensable in case of construction work and other disruptions.