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Köln EUR1bn tram order to be ‘biggest in its history’

Koln’s newest HF6 LRVs vehicles entered service on line 3 in late 2021. Approval for routes which operate outside the city is expected before the end of the year. KVB

Germany’s Kölner Verkehrsbetriebe (KVB) has described its plans to procure 132 new high-floor vehicle sections, plus 34 connecting modules, as the biggest tram order in its nearly 150-year history.

Announced in May, the tender for the Rhine city includes an option for a further 60 sections and 23 connecting modules, as well as maintenance. The municipally-owned transport operator expects the deal to be worth more than EUR1bn.

The new deliveries are intended to make up 30m-long vehicles, which can also be connected to run in pairs that are to run under the designation HFx. They will complement the latest arrivals of Flexity Swift HF6 cars from Bombardier (now Alstom), the first of 20 of which was delivered in 2020 to join the then 382-strong fleet. It is expected that the final vehicles under this order will arrive next year.

KVB’s intention under the new tender is for five pre-series vehicles (made up of ten sections and five connecting modules) to arrive in 2026, with series deliveries from 2028.

It is expected that the new trams will mainly be used to increase capacity on lines 4, 13 and 18, but also to cater for expected ridership growth across the system.

Dating as a tramway from 1877 and later upgraded to Stadtbahn standards, Köln’s network now covers around 200km (125 miles) and includes tunnelled sections in the city centre. Operations are handled by a mixture of low-floor (1, 7, 9, 12, 15) and high-floor (3, 4, 5, 13, 16, 17, 18) routes.