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Zürich receives first new Flexity tram

West Midlands Metro Urbos 23 undertaking testing in Victoria Square on 22 November. Image courtesy of G. Bannister

The first seven-section 43m Bombardier Flexity 100% low-floor single-ended tram (Be6/8 4001) was delivered by road to Zürich’s central workshops in Altstetten during the night of 12-13 November. It was ready to run, and shown to the press on 15 November, but will not enter service until summer 2020. It should be seen on city streets during test runs before the end of 2019.

A fleet of 70 such vehicles are on order, with an option for a further 70, representing the first new design for VBZ in 20 years. The 2.4m-wide trams are carried on four bogies, three of which are powered by two 110kW asynchronous motors to deal with gradients up to 8%. Inside there are 91 seats and space for an additional
188 standing passengers (at four passengers/m2).

Zürich’s traditional wooden seats are fitted, alongside enhancements such as USB charging and LED lighting. The floor height is 350mm at entrances. The trams are also fitted with Bombardier’s ODAS collision warning and braking system. When the first 70 arrive over the next five years they will be put into service on lines 7, 11 and 14.

The new trams were tendered in 2011 but due to a disagreement with the city council they were not formally ordered until March 2017. The CHF358m (EUR325.5m) contract was placed in order to start replacing the Tram-2000 generation dating from 1976-87.

Under the original timescale deliveries should have begun a year ago to be ready for the expansion of the network in 2019, instead of which VBZ has been struggling with a tram shortage, met in part by reinstating two Mirage cars from the heritage fleet into passenger service.