2023 begins with an important new development for the rail rolling stock fleet of SWB, the company that operates public transport in Bonn, Germany, a city of 330,000 inhabitants located in the state of North Rhine-Westphalia. In fact, the first of 26 ForCity Smart trams ordered in December 2019 from Skoda Transportation is ready. The rolling stock has been sent to the wind chamber in Vienna to complete the homologation tests and then start the line trials. Starting in 2024, the new fleet will replace trams built in 1994 by Duewag and Siemens, vehicles that are intensively used and whose revamping was not deemed worthwhile.
The investment of EUR 160 million includes the supply of the vehicles and the provision of spare parts for 25 years. There is also an option of 12 vehicles for future network extensions. This is certainly good news for Bonn’s tram network, which currently comprises three lines, identified by the numbers 61, 62 and 65, with a total length of around 30 km. Lines 61 and 62 are force lines, running every 5 to 10 minutes; line 61 operates in the built-up area west of the Rhine river, while line 62 connects the Romlinghoven district, south-east of the city, with Quirinusplatz, located in the Dottendorf district, south-west, passing through Kennedybrucke and connecting the two main railway stations, the central station and Beuel station.
From Quirinusplatz to the central station, lines 61 and 62 share the route. Service intensifications are planned ( for line 61 from the central station to the northern terminus at Kopenagener Strasse and for line 62 from the railway station to Beuel station. Line 65 takes over the routes of line 62 in the south-east and line 61 in the north, and operates in the morning and evening hours. Due to its configuration and service offerings, the tram network lends itself to being very competitive, and the new cars will guarantee a future of quality.
30 metres long and 2.40 metres wide, the ForCity Smart tram model is bi-directional, articulated on 3 carriages and 4 bogies, two for the first and third carriages; this arrangement has made it possible to reduce the load per axle; the bogie type will have less impact on the infrastructure, resulting in lower maintenance costs for the same. Skoda has paid great attention to the interior space, which is very spacious, and which has made it possible to accommodate 180 passengers and space for wheelchairs.
The particular design of the bogie has made it possible to obtain space for an additional 16 seats The 4-door per side arrangement reduces the time needed for wrapping Like all state-of-the-art rolling stock, the ForCity is equipped with a low floor, summer and winter air conditioning for both driver and passenger compartment. Variable message panels provide passengers with all kinds of information. Careful attention has also been paid to the acoustic and thermal insulation of the vehicle, which is designed for lower energy consumption and higher performance. The livery is elegant, white with red stripes. Top speed is 80 km/h.
For Skoda, the Swb order is the third in Germany after Schöneiche (3 ForCity Smart Artic including two pre-series vehicles from Helsinki) and Chemnitz (14 ForCity 35T).