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Utrecht to convert Sneltram

A SIG high-floor tram at Kanaleneiland Zuid in 2016; new proposals suggest that by 2020 low-floor trams will serve this line through to Uithof. (Neil Pulling)

Dutch city to align new low-floor line with existing system by 2020.


A preliminary decision to convert Utrecht’s SUNIJ (Sneltram Utrecht Nieuwegein IJsselstein) service to a conventional low-floor light rail line by 2020 was announced by the Province of Utrecht on October 28. The intention is to make it compatible with the under-construction Uithof line from Utrecht Central Station to the University Campus, due to open in 2018; the two lines will meet at Utrecht Central Station.
The Dutch project will involve the modernisation of infrastructure and replacement of the high-floor tram fleet; the two-section articulated vehicles were originally built by Swiss company SIG in 1982-83 but were modified with new cabs in 2000-01 by German company PFA. Further life extension work was completed in 2011-12 by VDL Heerenveen.
An additional 22 CAF Urbos low-floor trams will be procured as an option from the contract for 27 33m cars for the Uithof line signed in January 2015, the first of which is due for delivery in early 2017. With a capacity for 216 passengers, 62 seated, the new CAF trams for the Utrecht CS – Uithof service will be fitted for catenary-free running to allow extension through central Utrecht’s narrow streets and near sensitive equipment in De Uithof. This may also be considered for the additional vehicles to allow through-running. As with existing SUNIJ services, vehicles will mainly operate in coupled formation to cater for up to 490 passengers; stops on the Uithof Line are being constructed to accommodate 75m trams.
The total cost of infrastructure work to make the two lines compatible is estimated at EUR141m, but this excludes modernising the existing combined tram/bus depot in Nieuwegein, which is already being upgraded as part of the Uithof line project. However, with the need to provide capacity for 22 additional trams, further expansion will be required.
By 2020 over 60 000 daily journeys are forecast between CS and De Uithof. Scheduled to open in 2018 with an end-to-end journey time of 17 minutes, the 8km (five-mile) new line will shadow the bus line 12 route which it is due to replace.
The provincial council will consider the proposals on December 12.