On 1 November 2023, the first of 27 new Tramlinks started regular service on the Bern network. With the introduction of the 20 bi-directional trams and 7 one-way trams supplied by Stadler Rail, Bernmobil achieves its goal of adapting the transport service to the needs of increasing mobility in the city and region of Bern.

The new vehicles from Stadler Rail, which were ordered in 2019 and purchased by Bernmobil as operator of the public transport network in the Swiss capital, will replace by 2025 the 12 trams (731 – 742 series) built by Vevey in 1990 and the 9 RBS 81-89 series trams from the 1980s in service on the suburban Line 6 from Bern’s Fischermetteli district to Worb Dorf, which have been modernised and extended several times, with the addition of a low-floor box, and are reaching the end of their operational life; the new trams will ensure the increased need for vehicles for the extension of Line 9 to Kleinwabern. The contract provides options for up to 50 new vehicles. For the Vevey trams of the 1990s, at that time the first generation of low-floor trams in the Swiss capital, the sale to Lemberg/Lviv in Ukraine could materialise.

The Berne tram network currently consists of five lines: line 3 from the railway station to the Weissembuhl district, lines 6, 7, 8 from Brunnen Westside Bahnhof to Saali, and line 9 from Wabern to Wankdorf station.

The tram fleet now consists of 57 cars: 21 Siemens Combino XL, numbered 651 to 671, delivered between 2009 and 2010, 41, 4 metres long; 7 Siemens Combino Advanced 5-carriages numbered 753 to 759 built between 2002 and 2004; 31.4 metres long, they can accommodate 175 people of whom 59 are seated; 8 Siemens Combino Advanced, numbered 751,752, 760-765, built between 2002 and 2004; originally 5-carriages, in 2009 two more cars were added thus being able to accommodate up to 233 passengers. Completing the fleet are 12 Vevey cars from 1990, 31 metres long, the first to be fitted with a lowered floor, 70 % of the surface area, and capable of transporting up to 242 people, and 9 Schindler trams from 1987-88 of the 81-89 series, which, thanks to their low-floor bodies (red while the other bodies are blue), can transport 305 people, without having the comfort of the Tramlink.
By the end of 2023, eight Tramlink trams will be in regular service. In the first period of operation, they will run mainly on Line 7 from Bumpliz to Ostring.

The introduction of bi-directional vehicles on Line 6 – and the consequent retirement of the Schindler trams – will take place from mid-2024. The new tram is 42.5 metres long and has 56 seats in the bi-directional vehicles and 71 seats in the one-way vehicles, for a total of 254 people. The entire interior is completely lowered to ensure optimal passenger flow and optimised for standing passengers. The generous multifunctional areas provide ample space for wheelchair users, prams and luggage. The interior is bright and spacious. The passenger compartments are also barrier-free, with wide, obstacle-free aisles and several multifunctional areas for wheelchairs, prams and luggage. The unique interior design favours the comfort of passengers and tram drivers.

Each door, 7 on each side for single-direction trams and 6 on each side for double-direction trams, is equipped with a sliding step to fill space at stops and allow barrier-free boarding and alighting.
The Tramlink is one of the most energy-efficient and safest trams currently in production. Thanks to its innovative continuous-axle bogies, it operates very smoothly and offers excellent ride comfort. In addition to low energy consumption and an environmentally friendly air conditioning system, the vehicle is also equipped with an anti-collision brake assist system.

Staff training takes place on a special driving simulator. With the commissioning of a driving simulator from Lander Simulation & Training Solutions, tram training at Bernmobil has reached a new level. The driving simulator is equipped with a control panel for tram connection and offers tram drivers the opportunity to train 1:1 in unusual situations on Bernmobil’s digitally visualised route network.
Among other things, the Bern Tramlink won the international Red Dot Design Award 2023.
Deliveries of the new trams will continue until 2025. The Berne network, which has various network extension projects in store, will be able to rely on the latest generation of modern trams for decades to come.

by Stefano Alfano

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