On the 5th of February 2019, the representatives of the Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) took over the jubilee 250th ForCity Alfa tram with registration number 9450. By this, DPP has completed the long-term contract for delivery of new trams of type 15T and this phase of the tram fleet modernisation has been finalised. First ForCity trams set off on their journeys around Prague eight years ago. The first 15T tram was handed over to the Prague Public Transit Company on the 28th of January 2011. The jubilee 100th tram was handed over in 2014 and the 200th tram, in a new design, in 2017.
“Today we took over the last one of 250 15T trams in total from Škoda Transportation in Prague. It was one of the key long-term contracts for us and we have finalised an important phase of the tram fleet modernisation,” says Petr Witowski, the Chairman of the Board of Directors and Managing Director of DPP, and he further states: “We are happy that we have modern and comfortable trams for Prague citizens and visitors. Moreover, 100% of the trams are low-floor, thus offering smooth transport for passengers with reduced mobility. This is in line with the Prague’s strategic priority to ensure fully barrier-free network of the public transport by 2025.”
It has been almost ten years since the first red-silver low-floor tram with timeless design by Škoda Transportation left the depot in Prague. During that time, the vehicles of Škoda Transportation have successfully reached more than fifty million kilometres in traffic with passengers. The trams from the ForCity family are of high quality and desired, as testified by the last year order of 176 ForCity Smart trams for Ostrava, Pilsen and especially for three German cities of Mannheim, Ludwigshafen and Heidelberg. The ForCity trams can also be seen in Hungary, Turkey, Slovakia, as well as in China.
ForCity Alfa Prague tram is the first mass-produced 100% low-floor tram with rotating chassis in the world. Also as the first one in the world, it has a unique drive with gear-less engines with permanent magnets, which drive all wheels of four axle-less chassis. The chassis’ location below the corridor connections and below the vehicle’s ends allows for maximum variability in the interior layout.
The tram, which is 31.4 m long and almost 2.5 m wide, has the capacity of 180 passengers – of which 61 are seated. Thanks to its ability to ride in arcs smoothly, the tram cuts travel time and speeds up traffic. This is also helped by six wide double-leaf doors which enable passengers to get on and off very quickly.
During the deliveries for Prague, the trams have undergone several changes of design and interior. Adjustments have also been made to improve passenger comfort. In addition to the gradual introduction of air-conditioning systems in trams, these changes included e.g. replacement of wooden seats, which did not suit passengers, for plastic ones, as well as addition of handrails for passengers with reduced mobility. Some of the innovated vehicles have also Wi-Fi internet connection with modern LTE technology. New design is obvious especially in front of the vehicles, where the colours were adjusted significantly: newly, the windscreen frame and the middle part of the front are yellow-orange. This design innovation aims at increased safety of pedestrians. The bright yellow-orange contrast colour is visible from afar, thus ensuring maximum visibility of the tram especially at pedestrian crossings.
At the moment, DPP is gradually launching the EMA system, which shall automatically, without the driver’s intervention, control selected functions of the vehicle, such as e.g. stops announcements, wheel and rail lubrication, reduction of speed to the prescribed value when riding in arcs or over crossings, display of the tram’s position at the underlying maps on an internal monitor for passengers, etc.
Together with the delivery of the new trams, extensive reconstructions of rail supports in depots must have been realised, workbenches for the maintenance workers and new stronger hydraulic jacks must have been added, and automated sand refill in trams must have been installed. Several construction investments have been realised also in the Tram Repair Shop and it was necessary to prepare and design new technologies for heavy maintenance of, in particular, chassis in the Tram Repair Shop. All of these investment actions have been completed or are near completion. A new railway yard is being built in the Hostivař Tram Repair Shop, the work is in full swing. Work is under way also in the Žižkov tram depot, where gradual reconstruction is under way in halls, the rail supports are being changed so that they are able to comfortably deposit new 15T trams. A similar reconstruction has already been done in the depots of Kobylisy, Pankrác and Vokovice, and partially also Motol, i.e. in five out of seven tram depots in Prague in total.
Picture – DPP: Petr HEJNA