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Wroclaw extended its tramway network again

© Silviu-Costin Iancu

In Poland, the start of the school year at the beginning of September represents one of the most important events for public transport sector. This is due to the fact that new timetables for the winter season come into force in September, both at a national and local level.

What is more, in the city of Wroclaw, the shift to the winter timetables was a good opportunity to implement other important changes, for which the local authorities have been preparing for a long time. During the last decade, the city administration has embarked on an ambitious process of gradually modernizing all parts of the tram network, but also expanding it to the new parts of the city. In the meantime, the layout of routes suffered only minor modifications. Yet this year, two important investments were completed. First, the opening in May of a new tram segment in the Popowice street. Then during the summer was finished the construction of the common dedicated fast route for trams and buses to the neighbourhood of Nowy Dwor. This meant that finally all pieces of the desired network are now put in their place. A general reorganization of lines was considered possible and plans to achieve this were made.

For the reasons described above, the weekend of 2-3 September was a very active one in Wroclaw. It started on the 2nd of September with the tram and bus parade at 12 o’clock that marked the inauguration of the shared tram and bus route to Nowy Dwor. This was also an opportunity for the local operator MPK to present at the head of the parade the new acquired model of electric bus Mercedes-Benz e-Citaro G, which will enter into service soon.

Photo gallery of the parade

The new route of 7 km, abbreviated as TAT (Trasa Autobusowo-Tramwajowa in Polish) represents by far the most important investment made by the city of Wroclaw in the public transport infrastructure since the Second World War. Before starting the investment in 2019 it was known as one of the busiest transit corridor in the city, with even more than 10 bus lines serving some segments of the corridor. One of these lines, 106, is especially important, as it provides direct connection between the city airport and the main railway station.

Unfortunately, this corridor was also the most affected by traffic jams. Many blockages were caused by the fact that a railway was cutting the corridor into two and all car traffic had to give priority to trains. The only facility from which the public transport benefited before the investment were the 800 meters long bus dedicated central lanes on the street of Strzegomska.

The implementation of TAT started in July 2019, when the contract for the building of the first segment of the route was signed. In total, it cost 390 million Polish zloty. From this, European Union financed 182 million. The investment project was split into 3 parts, each containing a segment of the new route.

The first segment between Plac Orlat Lwowskich and the tram loop Park Przemyslowy, is the closest to the city centre and was inaugurated on 26 June 2021. Most of it was built as a dedicated right of way for trams and buses through a disused industrial area, with a bike lane and footway on one of the sides. A 22 metre viaduct was constructed in order to avoid intersecting the street Smolecka. The last part of the segment between streets Srubowa and Park Przemyslowy existed before as a tram line built in 1964. It was totally rebuilt to accommodate bus lines as the part of the TAT project.

Bus and tram use segragated lanes | © Silviu-Costin Iancu

The second segment between the loop Park Przemyslowy and the crossroad of Strzegomska and Rogowska streets is the longest, measuring 3 km. The construction started in April 2021 and was ready on 22 July 2023, when it was firstly opened only for a bus service. It contains the most spectacular infrastructure element of the whole project, a 150 metre viaduct dedicated for trams and buses over the railway line that connects Wroclaw with the town of Legnica. The rest of the segment has also a reserved right of way for trams and buses. Between the viaduct and the National Road 5 passage, the right of way is built on the southern side of Strzegomska street. The last part until the intersection with Rogowska street uses the former central bus lanes, which were reconstructed to contain also tram tracks. At the end of the segment, a parking type “P&R” is still under construction. The parking covers an area of 116 m2 and will contain stations for charging electric vehicles.

Viaduct to cross the railway line | © Silviu-Costin Iancu
At the end of the 150m viaduct | © Silviu-Costin Iancu
Nowodworska | © Silviu-Costin Iancu

The third segment measures 1,7 km. Its execution required the reconstruction of the Rogowska street and of the former Nowy Dwor bus terminal. Works lasted from February 2022 until the inauguration on 2nd September 2023. The entire infrastructure containing roadway, bicycle lanes and sidewalks was rebuilt from scratch in the Rogowska street. As the space available was more limited than on previous segments, the tram tracks were laid directly on the roadway, so tram and car traffic is not segregated.

The Nowy Dwor terminal was rebuilt larger than the former bus terminal. It was designed to contain two tram tracks, two bus lanes and a mini park in the middle with benches were people can rest. In the future, two charging facilities for electric buses are expected to become functional. A Park&Ride with 70 places was also built near the loop. It is worth mentioning that just beside the terminal exists the Wroclaw Nowy Dwor railway station, served by local trains belonging to the regional operator Koleje Dolnoslaskie.

Next day, on the 3rd of September, after the inauguration ceremony of the whole route, the largest reorganization of lines in the city since 1991 took place. 11 tram lines and 10 bus lines permanently changed their routes. In the case of the trams, the public transport authority decided to make order in the numbering of lines, limiting them to the interval 0-23. This is in contrast with a change made a decade earlier, when after the opening of new tram segments to Gaj and Kozanow, it was decided to renumber some lines as 31 plus, 32 plus and 33 plus, in order to promote them as upgraded lines. Now the new renumbering exercise saw their numbers changed to 21, 18 and 12. On the new TAT route to Nowy Dwor lines 13 and 23 started operating. The circular line 0, one of the last such lines in Europe, which was running in both directions around the centre as 0L and 0P,has now become history.

Nowodworska | © Silviu-Costin Iancu
© Silviu-Costin Iancu
Near Smolcka | © Silviu-Costin Iancu

In the case of bus lines, the changes were mainly focused on the western part of the city, where the new tram lines to Nowy Dwor and on Popowice (15 May 2023) started regular service. Surprisingly, many bus lines continue to run parallel with the new tram lines on long sections or even on most of their route. This is, for example, the case of line 149 connecting Nowy Dwor with the main railway station and the transfer centre Plac Grunwaldzki, although the same destinations can be reached now by tram lines 13 and 23 respectively. In fact, on TAT fast corridor trams have not replaced any bus lines, and buses continue to be predominant here. Some of these bus lines could be easily converted into tram lines in future. For instance, the part of the routes 132 and 142 which is connecting directly Nowy Dwor with the neighbourhood Karlowice-Rozanka, where tram tracks exist in parallel.

With the changes provided at the beginning of September, I can confidently say that Wroclaw started a new chapter in its public transport history. Yet, things are not going to settle down as the local authorities have new projects, some still requiring planning, but others being already implemented. New tram lines, to even further outskirts of the city like Maslice, Swojczyce, Psie Pole or Jagodno are very likely to become reality in the upcoming years.

A network map is available here:

Fture extension | © Silviu-Costin Iancu
Smolecka | © Silviu-Costin Iancu