Browsing Tag: Niskopodłogowiec

    Niemiecka kolej UBB na wyspie Uznam / German UBB railway on Usedom Island
    Articles, Blog

    Niemiecka kolej UBB na wyspie Uznam / German UBB railway on Usedom Island

    January 23, 2020


    At the beginning of 1990s, German railway network on Usedom island its administrator proposed to liquidate. The cost of operation exceeded the declining revenues from transport, the rolling stock and infrastructure were neglected and motorization in area of former East Germany grew rapidly. Finally, the traffic on ferry crossing connecting island with the continent was also interrupted. However, local authorities and the community strongly protested against liquidation and proposed implementation of a recovery plan, called the Usedom Project (“Uzedom”). Has this plan been bull’s eye and how does railway transport look like on Usedom island? We’ll talk about this in this episode. Let’s watch! Ralway on Usedom island Usedom is a coastal island lying on border between Poland and Germany. It has almost 450 square kilometers, of which over 80% belong to Germany. We can compare the surface of island to the largest cities in Poland – it is one-third larger than Krakow and a dozen or so percent smaller than Warsaw. However, the area is inhabited by significantly fewer people, for a total of about 77,000. The island has an average of 1906 hours of sunshine per year, which gives the best result in the regions in Germany and Poland. For this reason, it is also called the island of the Sun. And indeed, during my stay most of the time it was sunny. 😉 This fact, plus the 110-kilometer coastline along the Baltic Sea, resulted in Uznam being a popular holiday destination. Numerous tourists appearing here in the season required provision of efficient transport along the island and an alternative to the growing car traffic on two-lane roads on island. The alternative in transport of people is nowadays railway network being part of Usedomer Baderbahn – Usedom Coastal Railway and next we will be using German abbreviation UBB. Railway lines on island have a total length of over 54 kilometers. The main route connects the Świnoujście Centrum station with Wolgast. On this route, in small Zinnowitz near Wolgast begins a section with the track to Peenemünde. Lines are adapted for trains moving at speeds of up to 80 km/h. The main line, apart from adapting to regional traffic service, can also be used for long-distance trains. The station in Heringsdorf has an extended 310 meter long platform. Once, there were even connections from Berlin, about 250 kilometers away. However, is it still possible to travel by train from the island of Usedom to Berlin? Closest to island connecting point of UBB network with national railway network in Germany is the station in Züssow, a town located on the mainland, 18 kilometers from Wolgast. In this place there are, among others, DB Regio trains going to Berlin and Stralsund. Getting with a change to Berlin is therefore possible. What’s more, the connections are communicated with each other – the UBB train came to the station earlier and then waited for passengers coming by DB trains from both directions of traffic. Currently, however, more than half of the UBB trains travel from Świnoujście to Stralsund in the season, while the others finish much earlier, mostly in Wolgast, so now important is only connection to Berlin. Is this timetable synchronization also similar on island section of track to Peenemünde? What do you think? Naturally in this case it could not be otherwise. Departures on both lines are synchronized with each other here. Train arriving from the side of Świnoujście provides the possibility of transferring to the train at the station in Zinnowitz in the direction of Peenemünde. On this route, departures take place every hour. I have not mentioned you all about the frequency on the baseline – here we also have departures every hour, but during the tourist season, schedule during the day is expanded and there are periods of day when departures take place every half hour. Did UBB trains have always ended route in Świnoujście? Railway connection between Świnoujście and rest of island existed already in the 19th century. However, during World War II, the city was bombed and railway infrastructure was partially destroyed. Restoration of connection with rest of island has also become a political problem, because under the provisions of Potsdam Agreement, Świnoujście has passed from German to Polish hands. A few years after the war, existing connection was finally demolished. An opportunity to restore connection of German part of island with Polish part was entry of Poland into European Union and so-called “opening of borders”. Immediately in this area, cross-border traffic increased, which became the driving force to extend railway line further from Ahlbeck Grenze stop. The new, nearly 1.5-kilometer section to the Świnoujście Centrum station was opened in 2008. This terminal station is located approximately 1.5 kilometers from ferries connection in city center that you have already known from other episode. In Świnoujście we will not experience a permanent train connection to other shore of Świna, but is there any permanent rail connection with the mainland on the other side of the island of Usedom? We are moving back to the 2000, when a milestone was made for a permanent rail connection with the mainland. The single-wing road-railway drawbridge in Wolgast was then opened. The crossing has its own schedule and specific lifting times, which provides water vessels with a further possibility of sailing by Peene – a strait joining Baltic Sea, among others with Zalew Szczeciński. The bridge provided the possibility of further development of railway network and extension of line to Stralsund. However, before the bridge was built, the wagons were transported by rail-ferry. A souvenir of the old days in Wolgast remained steam railway ferry Stralsund moored at the wharf. Before World War II, the ferry operated even in Świnoujście, providing transport to the other shore of Świna. One or two wagons were carried on board of the ferry that were part of the train connecting Świnoujście with Szczecin. After the war, ferry stations with a track connection were built on both banks of the strait in Wolgast. From that moment, the ferry served freight and passenger traffic. However, the 100-year-old unit in 1990 had to be withdrawn due to the deteriorating technical condition and today the museum of the city of Wolgast operates on its board. At the beginning of 21st century, UBB bought 23 low-floor, diesel GTW 2/6 traction units. Units were built by a consortium of Adtranz, Bombardier and Stadler. Inside, we meet a rather unusual arrangement of 3+2 seats, train space divided into three parts is also interesting. The center member contains motors (it is very loud there) and other parts provide passenger space with control cabins at both ends. 126 passengers will sit on seats in one unit. Inside, a toilet is naturally available, as well as space for bicycles. On most crowded sections railway is served by trains composed of two such units. When it comes to the share of a low floor along the entire length of the vehicle, it is 70%. Before the GTW units appeared on railway, UBB used light railcars of BR 771/971 series. Some of them were combustion wagons and some of them were only control wagons, which had to be connected to the diesel wagon. After delivery of new trains, in 2002 most rail buses of this type were sold to Romania. However, two wagons can still be seen at the train station in Heringsdorf. UBB on Usedom island is not only railway, but also bus transport. Its network is divided into northern region with a transfer point in Wolgast and southern part, among others providing access to railway stops and the city of Usedom (“Uzedom”). These are not frequent connections – usually during the day there are several courses on each line. What future is ahead of railway on Usedom island? The modernization of the infrastructure and the construction of a new connection with Świnoujście – the largest city on island – was surely the driving force. It was also talked about the possibility of connecting the Świnoujście with Heringsdorf airport and then following the former Ducherow – Świnoujście line. Reconstruction of route destroyed during World War II, along with the characteristic bridge raised in Karnin, would allow to shorten travel time between Berlin and Usedom from 4 to about 2 hours. The cost of the reconstruction was estimated at 147 million EUR. However, the report prepared in this case showed the unprofitability of this investment. Railway on island of Usedom is interesting because it is an example of a cross-border railway. The construction of the line and its operation on the Polish side is carried out by a foreign infrastructure manager, which is an unusual situation on the national scale. At the same time, the railway operates on the island and for many years had to bear the consequences when the wagons were crossed by ferries and there was no land connection. Today, the railway operates stably, has a modern fleet, renovated infrastructure and attractive timetable. This seems to be a fairly simple recipe for success, which can take place not only in Germany, but also in Poland, even looking at development of agglomeration rail connections. Meanwhile, thanks for your attention and see you next time. Bye!

    Kolej na Kraków! / Railway for Cracow!
    Articles, Blog

    Kolej na Kraków! / Railway for Cracow!

    January 19, 2020


    Almost 250,000 cars enter Cracow every day (source: report of Municipal Administration Department in City Hall of Krakow), the city is most congested in Poland and vehicle traffic also contributes to formation of smog. However, ecological alternative in transportation is railway and soon it will be even more friendly to the city and its inhabitants thanks to modernization of main railway line running through Krakow. In this episode, we will take a closer look at this investment. Let’s watch! Time on railways for Cracow! E30 railway line is one of two Trans-European transport corridors crossing Poland from east to west. Route also passes diametrically through Kraków and on the almost 20-kilometers-long section between Krakow Main Cargo (Kraków Główny Towarowy) station and Rudzice is currently undergoing a huge modernization. Works will enable to obtain a railway system in the Krakow agglomeration that resembles the human circulatory system, where: – the heart, center of agglomeration passenger service and, above all, long-distance passenger, is Krakow Main Passenger (Kraków Główny Osobowy) station, – aorta, the largest artery, is a 4-track section between Main and Płaszów stations. A part of line will be created thanks to construction of 2 agglomeration tracks and modernization of 2 currently existing for long-distance traffic, which will allow independent servicing of both types of connections. Four-track section runs in dense building area of Krakow, crosses many streets, so it is led on flyovers and viaducts. Longest sequence of extended and renovated objects is 850-meters-long, and viaduct within Grzegórzecka street is over 150 years old! Works are therefore under watchful eye of conservator. Line crosses Vistula River in Krakow and previously existing bridge will be replaced by three parallel arched bridges. Their constructions will consist of 3 arches of different sizes and longest span will be 116-meters-long. New bridges on Vistula are the most spectacular objects of this investment. – remaining arteries of railway system are: three-track section between Płaszów and Bieżanów stations and two-track sections deriving traffic from Krakow. On route, stations and stops are being modernized. Two new stops will also be built in Krakow at Grzegórzecka street and in Złocień. There is no other such investment in Poland today in railway, which would take place on line crossing diametrically large city in half. Scale of the task is huge, it was a challenge to maintain railway traffic during investment and to set up additional tracks that will ensure running of a larger number of trains. For Krakow, this route may become a transport backbone, such as the metro in Capital City. Speed at which trains will move is also important – on engineering facilities in center even up to 100 km/h and on regular route up to 160 km/h. This will ensure a much shorter travel time. The modernized line will improve integration of railway with the city and, as a result, area of Krakow agglomeration – with new and modernized interchanges, adapted to serve people with mobility limitations. The value of the entire project exceeds 1 billion PLN, it is implemented as part of “Connecting Europe” instrument for 2014-2020. Meanwhile, thanks for your attention and see you next time. Bye!

    Kolej HEV w Budapeszcie / Budapest Suburban Railway
    Articles, Blog

    Kolej HEV w Budapeszcie / Budapest Suburban Railway

    November 26, 2019


    Welcome to Csepel and in this episode we will go by HÉV railway, which is a suburban train commuting to Budapest. Let’s watch! HÉV is in short Helyiérdekű Vasút, which in translation simply means a suburban train. This railway can in principle be treated as an extension of metro network, although not all of its lines allow you to change to that mode of transport. Most of the HÉV-routes run on ground level and there are also many intersections with roadways. Railroad covers towns and cities of a total of 220,000 inhabitants and together with Budapest’s Csepel district, nearly 300,000 inhabitants are within its reach. HEV network consists of 4 independent parts, operated with five lines. Their numbering continues metro designation. So we have a line no. “five” leaving city in north direction, lines 6 and 7 in south and 8 and 9 to the east. Total network length is 104 kilometers. Lines run at peak-hours quite often – at least every 15 minutes and most often service is on line 5 with a peak frequency of up to 6 minutes. Within Budapest, city tickets are valid in trains and when traveling outside city, we must purchase extension tickets based on a kilometer tariff. The basic rate is up to 10 kilometers, ticket costs about 80 euro cents and price is rising every 5 kilometers. Lines service a very old fleet consisted of three-wagon electric multiple units, with length of 53-meters. Most busiest departures are handled by compositions created by two such trains. Rolling stock for HEV was produced in 60s, 70s and 80s of last century. Oldest units are over 50 years old. Those are not passenger-friendly trains, there are no electronic gadgets known from modern vehicles and you have to climb two steps to enter to them. For railway functioning good transport links with Budapest’s city transport network are crucial. Residents of suburban areas change to other modes of transport on their way to their destination. At same time, end stations of railways are on interchange nodes with metro, trams or buses. Best linked is route ending in underground station at Batthyány tér or on Örs vezér tere terminals. In both places, passengers can change to second metro line and tram or bus lines. Southbound lines do not have direct access to metro lines, they end their routes at nodes with frequently departing tram lines. Plan for HEV future was connection with state-run railways MAV. This happened to allow company to be capitalized and to allow it to exchange rolling stock or to adapt existing one to HEV lines. And company has already gone under MAV banner. There was also talk of possible use of Stadler Flirt EMUs on lines, they currently service regional connections. Hungarian national railway operator has as many as 123 units of four-segment long train version. A problem would certainly be to adjust units to unusual HEV power supply (1000 volts of DC) or to change line voltage to 25 kilovolts of AC – valid on Hungarian rail network. It would also be an operational problem to apply longer 74-meters-long trains instead of present 53-meters-long units. In Budapest, ideas were also taken to connect lines 8 and 9 with second metro line. Currently, passengers traveling by HEV or metro must cross large intersection at Örs vezér tere to reach platforms of one train from another. It is also an open question whether entire east HEV route would join to metro network with adaptation of method and supply voltage to metro network, or just a fragment of these lines, together with construction of a more convenient passenger hub. HEV is perhaps most forgotten part of Budapest transport system – it is live Hungarian museum of second half of 20th century. There is no lack of passengers on this railway, but at least some of rolling stock should have been replaced or upgraded for a long time. Units on most of lines reach transport speed of more than 30 km/h, so we are at speed of fast tram. However, with suburban nature of routes it seems that possibilities of such connections are higher. The most interesting, however, is future of HEV under flag of Hungarian State Railways and possibility of transforming part of its route into metro line. But second one invest is not promising to happen soon. Meanwhile, great thanks for your attention and see you next time.

    Kolej na makiecie / Model Railway in Poland
    Articles, Blog

    Kolej na makiecie / Model Railway in Poland

    November 16, 2019


    We have holiday season, so I went to National Stadium vicinities (in Warsaw) to see one of the things that sometimes are childhood dream. Let’s go inside to see one of the biggest model railways in Poland. Let’s watch! First challenge is to find entrance to the mock-up model, but I hope that I will do that quickly. Oh, I can already see the logo, so will be good! The world that we see on model was reduced 87-times in relation to our reality. Typical railway wagon is here 28-centimeters-long and normal track gauge is just 16.5-millimeters-wide. Those are characteristic parameters for H0 scale, most common scale used in model railways. The landscape of model is very differential, we have hills, forests, lakes and rivers and in this landscape trains are moving on different levels, bridges, viaducts and in tunnels. Presented world is not any particular segment of surrounding us reality, although it was made with some inspiration based on real places. For example, we can find here station similar to one in Szklarska Poręba city with a characteristic rock wall in background. The entire model has about 10 stations and largest one – Smolno – is split into a passenger and freight part. There is also reconstructed roundhouse with turntable and rolling stock repair works. At stations we observe integration with other public transport means, near one of them we will see city bus from Warsaw or PolskiBus coach. Rolling stock presented on tracks is also highly diverse, although dominated by trains in Polish and German companies’ paintings. Among second group there are Deutsche Bahn trains, including ICE unit, which is high-speed train and even there is set with push & pull wagon. Within Polish trains interesting is set of PKP Cargo train with two-segment locomotive ET41 on head or train with legendary double-deck wagons of Przewozy Regionalne company and with SP45 locomotive at front or PKP Intercity sets, for example, a set of wagons painted in “Twoje Linie Kolejowe” brand of connections, in which for several years were painted wagons used on TLK trains. Near model there are also funny dioramas showing fictitious scenes from life of railways. Well in case of Polish Railways it is very likely that they could happen in reality. These small railway satires have been prepared with special care. That’s all about visiting railway model, in all it’s a very cool thing, it is fun to observe for a while riding miniature trains. In total there were laid 900 meters of tracks, there are 150 switches and about 40 locomotives on the whole layout. Meanwhile, thank you so much for your attention and see you next time!

    Tramwaje i autobusy w Porto / Trams and buses in Porto
    Articles, Blog

    Tramwaje i autobusy w Porto / Trams and buses in Porto

    November 11, 2019


    Porto, apart from transport grid in the form of metro, still has a bus network supplementing rail transport, but also a small urban tram network. About its present significance, gas and electric drives of buses and atypical means of transport that allow to overcome dozens of meter height differences; we’ll talk in this episode. Let’s watch! Porto Almada and Lisbon High Speed Railway Heavy Metro Light Metro Trams Ferries and Buses Transport in Portugal Thanks for your fan $ support! Trams and buses in Porto Porto has a much longer streetcar tradition than light metro network launched at beginning of 21st century. First trams pulled by mules were already running here in 1872 and later also steam trams appeared. After more than 30 years, the network was fully electrified and at its peak in mid-twentieth century it reached length of 82 kilometers of tracks and then it was even longer than today’s metro network. At the time, over 190 trams were in service. At turn of the 1950s and 1960s a slow process of suppressing this mode of transport began in Porto, initially to change on trolleybuses and later mainly on buses. Today, the classic tram essentially has only historical and tourist meaning, and active network has just over 9 km of tracks and is served by 7 trams. Roots of tram network from the very beginning have remained to this day – it is the route no. 1 leading from Infante along the river Duero to Foz (today route ends at Passeio Alegre stop). However, this route was much longer and led via coast of Atlantic Ocean to known to us from the previous episode, the Matosinhos city, Remaining’s of this line have survived to this day and here and there fragments of tracks still appear in roadway. Today, two more lines operate – 18 and 22, penetrating downtown of Porto. Most sections of network are single track, part of routes are ridden only in one direction and on those used in both directions there are short double-track sections. It is quite surprising that tram network is only maintained for historic journeys. Each of the three lines runs every day with a frequency of 30 minutes. Departures on today’s network have touristic meaning and 7 trams are sufficient for servicing a small network. These are restored old wagons from the 1920s, 30s and 40s. An interesting operation here is change of direction at route end. Driver changes direction boards on tram, also switches power collector to reverse direction together with puller, while at the same time passengers switches bocks of the seats to the other side. After all, tram can start another course. Out of curiosity let’s check out, how many passengers are transported on this small network. Throughout 2017, trams carried 730,000 passengers, so 2,000 passengers use them on average every day. As for available number of connections and frequency of running, it seems to be quite a good result, although very distant from metro network in Porto with an annual number of 58 million passengers. I suspect that anyway number regarding the tram network include any journeys and occasional rentals. In addition to possibility of a tram ride for visitors, there is also a museum set up in old depot, where you can see even more wagons once used in Porto. Bus network in Porto is quite big today. Agglomeration network covers almost 500 kilometers of roads with 59 day and 11 night lines. Lines have an interesting numbering, because there are three-digit numbers and first digit is associated with municipality or part of the city, which line is servicing. Basic daily line network operates between 6:00 and 21:00, however two thirds of lines operates longer and ends 30 minutes after midnight. Later, only night lines can be found on streets of Porto. Network is operated by 420 buses, of which 49 are articulated, 15 double-decker, eight minibuses and remaining are standard length buses. Biggest distinguishing feature of bus fleet in Porto is its fuel – compressed natural gas. In coming years, urban rolling stock will be dominated by this type of drive. Today more than 65% of the fleet is made up of CNG buses and there will be even more of them. Currently are held further deliveries of a total of 173 new gas buses that will end in 2020. Eco-friendly drive in new vehicles meets Euro 6c combustion standard and buses are equipped with 6-cylinder engines with 310 horsepower. Latest buses produced for Porto have their Polish episode – their chassis are being built in MAN’s plant in Starachowice (Poland) and theirs body is built by Portuguese company Caetano Bus. In 2017, average age of bus in Porto was 15 years and these purchases will definitely improve this parameter. At the same time as purchase of CNG buses there is a project to implement 15 electric buses. These are Caetano vehicles of the e.City Gold model that take 72 passengers on board. Buses are equipped with lithium-ion batteries, they can be charged only thanks to plug-in connection and on a single charge they are able to travel a maximum of 200 kilometers. One electric bus with a charging station cost carrier approximately 460,000 euro, so it is a price level very similar to the Polish one. From the tourist perspective, most interesting bus line is 500, which runs from center of Porto along quay of Douro River and Atlantic Ocean coast to Matosinhos. There used to be trams on a similar route and today it is an alternative route to the metro line A. On “500” service run MAN double-decker buses. Dimensions of these city buses make a big impression, because three-axle vehicle is 13.7-meters-long and 4-meters-high. Of course, best views are provided from first row of seats on top deck of this bus. “Sightseeing Tour” bus network is very popular in Porto, with an offer especially aimed at tourists who want to quickly get to know city and its main attractions from deck of a double-decker bus. From central square in the city – Praça da Liberdade – buses of three companies dealing with this type of transport depart: Gray Line, City Sightseeing and Yellow Bus. Getting even more pleasure from ride allows an open roof on upper deck of buses of these networks. 5% of road network served by STCP bus transport has designated bus lanes. While on weekends these lanes are not necessary for efficient bus traffic, they are definitely helpful in weekdays in center of Porto. Car traffic in Portugal is generally increased and during rush hour there is a state of high traffic congestion. In Porto, however, this is not yet as shocking as in case of Lisbon, which we will discuss in next episodes. Porto is one of those cities where transport between different levels of altitude is also ensured. Near metro stop of D line at Ludwik I bridge, but on side of town of Vila Nova de Gaia there is a cable car that allows passengers to slide over city’s roofs to coastal promenade. In five minutes, differences of 57 meters are achieved and a distance of 560 meters. In total there are 14 gondolas on the move and each of them can accommodate 8 passengers. In effect, rail is not only a tourist attraction providing possibility of passing over city buildings, but also has practical applications in transport between this level differences. The other specific high-altitude means of transport in Porto is Funicular dos Guindais. It is also a means of transport mainly for tourists, allowing, among other things, for a change between tram line No. 22 moving in upper downtown of Porto, to line No. 1 going along coast of Duero river. Railway route is 281-meters-long and height differences of 61 meters are overcome. At the same time, one cabin on board can take up to 25 passengers and on route there are two cabins passing each other in the middle of route. Protoplast of metro in Porto is city tram network, although today its importance in city’s life is marginal and brought to tourist and historical attractions. Trams have been supplanted by buses that are struggling with heavy traffic conditions on streets of Porto and metropolis. However, their impact on environment is limited to a minimum, today bus fleet is largely made up of gas buses and there is also an experiment going on with electric drive. Buses also serve tourists and most popular are city and private connections serviced by double-deckers. Transport in Porto, moreover, works not only in the plan, but also vertically, where several dozen-meter height differences are overcome. As we have seen, tourist potential of second largest city in Portugal is tried to be used by as many transport means as possible. Meanwhile, thanks for your attention and see you next time. Bye!

    World’s Longest Trams / Najdłuższe tramwaje świata w Budapeszcie
    Articles, Blog

    World’s Longest Trams / Najdłuższe tramwaje świata w Budapeszcie

    November 7, 2019


    Welcome to Budapest, and in this episode we will see a tram network in this huge city. Let’s watch! Trams in Budapest So far we have not said much about the city itself. It is known that Budapest is capital city of Hungary, in it lives every sixth inhabitant of country and in total it is about 1,760,000 people. It is very comparable level with number of inhabitants of Warsaw. Both cities in recent years have been racing in this number. Formally Budapest was established in 19th century as a result of merging three cities: Buda and Óbuda on the right bank of the Danube and Pest on the left. One side of city is situated on plain and other on the hills, which further diversifies its structure. Connection, which merged Budapest was also tramway transport in Buda and Pest, which was launched several years before merger. Trams were launched here more than 150 years ago. It happened exactly in 1866, the same year, but a few months earlier than in Warsaw. Network is about 150-kilometers long, it is a few kilometers longer than in Prague but much shorter than in Berlin. Trams operate in giant part of city, totally in 19 out of 23 districts. A part of network is also considered a cogwheel railway with line number 60, which I will show you in a separate episode. In layout of network you can see characteristic half-rings of tram routes going around the city. In Budapest bi-directional trams rule! Entire city bases on operation of vehicles with two motor cabs and doors on both sides of vehicle – other sets are not used here. The use of one-way vehicles would be here unlikely, because most tram terminals end with blind tracks and cross-sections allowing to change track. Transitions are located densely over tram network, to minimize any obstacles in movement of trams. Interestingly, in case of overcrowding at route end, additional platforms are used before entering the actual ending platforms. View on fleet and lines we will start from tramway line number 2. Route of this line is considered one of the most picturesque in Europe, thanks to the Danube Quay and going right next to Hungarian Parliament building. From deck of classic Ganz tram we admire the views of Budapest bridges, buildings and hills on Buda side. Most of the day, line 2 run every 5 minutes and in rush-hours it is even easier to hit on tram, because departures are held every 2-3 minutes. Ganz trams were built in 1960s and 1970s, though some of them were rebuilt in the 1990s. This tram has three segments and is high floor. These vehicles are showpiece of Hungarian capital and most often they will be seen flowing along banks of Danube and on Freedom Bridge. These trams are 26-meters-long. Distant from city center, district with blocks of flats we will see for example from window of tram number 69. Line like this is a typical “feeder” providing easy access to first metro line. It is also only line of rail transport reaching Ujpalota housing estate, although going to other parts of city people rather use buses. To support aging fleet, operator bought used trams withdrawn from traffic in Hanover. German Düwag and LHB trams are designed to service both high and low platforms. In Budapest there are only low platforms, so to handle stops are used automatically folding stairs – installed in all doors of tram. These trams are 28-meters-long. One of busiest in passenger number routes is half-ring formed by lines no. 4 and 6. They run on section called Grand Boulevard, which forms downtown ring of Budapest. Along tram route there are small separators that impede the possible of entering by car on tracks. An interesting place on route is Margaret Bridge with a stop at its center. Lines 4 and 6 run every 2 minutes in rush-hours. “Sixth” is also the only tram line operating 24 hours a day. Said lines no. 4 and 6 are fully serviced by Siemens Combino trams. These are very long trams, which are 54-meters-long. Units are composition of 6 segments and each side has 8 pairs of doors. They were the first 100% low-floor trams in Budapest. In total, the city has 40 trams of this type and each of them aboard is able to take up to 350 passengers. Second half-ring of Budapest contains route of line number 1. Separated track is here located in middle of two roadways, which on most of route has three-lane cross-section of each roadway. Route crosses Danube river twice and trams ride over 16 kilometers in 47 minutes. Tramway of line number 1 on any section is not shared with other routes, so it is easier to maintain regular departures. In rush-hours, departures take place at a frequency of 3 minutes. The line is operated by 3-vagons sets or 9-segment CAFs. Czechoslovak Tatra T5C5 tram is almost 15-meters-long, specially built for Budapest. Wagons have doors on both sides, but due to fact that they have only one motor cabin, in traffic they are combined into at least two-carriageways. There are even triple-wagons-sets in traffic, on lines 1 and 14. Each of such wagon will take up to 100 passengers on board. In Budapest run also the longest trams in the world! Single-space, low-floor and 9-segments CAF Urbos tram is 56-meters-long, 2 meters longer than Combino. It is also almost twice the length of a standard PESA or Solaris tram in Poland. Such tram on board will take about 400 passengers. Spanish trams were delivered in three parts with help of trucks in the same number and after unloading, trams were joined together. City uses 12 trams of this type. In Hungarian trams have original “villamos” name, which simply means electric. In Budapest only two-way trams are used and route ends generally front-to-side with crossings allowing to change track. Rolling stock is varied – we will find both wagons and articulated trams here. The shortest used wagon is almost 15-meters-long and longest tram is almost 4-times longer. Challenge of running such long trams is to keep regular departures so that trains arrive at stops one by one. In Budapest, problem was solved by creating routes separated from roadways, used only by one or maximum two tram lines. These routes are an important complement to metro network, providing capacity to carry up to 10,000 passengers in one direction at peak-hours. Meanwhile, great thanks for your attention and see you next time!

    Metro w Porto, czyli szybki tramwaj / Porto: Metro or Fast Tram?
    Articles, Blog

    Metro w Porto, czyli szybki tramwaj / Porto: Metro or Fast Tram?

    October 19, 2019


    During last local government elections in Poland, including construction of new metro networks. including construction of new metro networks. But do we always have to build a heavy metro, known to us for example from Warsaw (Prague, Budapest) or the challenge of providing quite a capacious and fast means of transport is able to cope with light metro, which is basically a fast, underground tram? To answer this question, I traveled over 3,000 kilometers, reaching Porto in Portugal, where a light metro network operates under the name Metro do Porto. Let’s watch! High speed railway Heavy metro Light metro Trams Ferries and buses! Transport in Portugal Metro in Porto We are heading to Porto, a city in northern Portugal lying on Atlantic Ocean coast at mouth of Douro River. It is second city of Portugal in terms of number of inhabitants, 230 thousand people live there. From our perspective, however, metropolitan area of Porto is more important, with nearly 1.8 million inhabitants. This is important because the light metro network, which we will talk about today, covers 7 out of 17 municipalities of this metropolis, which in total accounts for about 66% of the population. Metro in Porto is not a typical heavy metro, with which we usually associate this underground mode of transport. It is not composed of coherent multi-car trains, nor does it draw electricity from the third rail and its routes are not only running underground or collision-free on ground. Thinking about means of transport efficient and least dependent on others, grew in Porto at the end of the twentieth century. The metropolis had to face rapid growth of traffic and car congestion. At that time, multi-section trams were already known and this means of transport began to get rid of big shortcomings from its beginning of 20th century, such as a high floor in interior of vehicle or low commute speed. During optimization of construction cost and metro rolling stock purchase, a decision was taken to create a rapid tram network collision-free underground sections and on surface in suburbs – collision ground sections. Parameters of tram with increased speed and high passenger capacity vehicles were specially selected and to the network was given marketing name “metro”, however, we can talk in that case about a light metro. The construction of first line began in 1999 and in first course metro set off three years later. Line A get us to Matosinhos, a city inhabited by about 45 thousand people, with a port, fish industry and high residential buildings. At the other end, line in 2004 was extended from the central Trindade station to the Estadio do Dragao station located under the stadium where the European Football Championship was organized that year. Next in network appeared line B, using a nineteenth-century railway line adapted for rapid trams traffic leading to city of Povoa de Varzim. Today, suburban section is 17-kilometers-long and has 16 stops along the route and entire route of B line is almost 34-kilometers-long. In turn, line C was meant to replace the railway connection of Porto with villages of Maia and Trofa. First stage of route was implemented, however, the second one has not yet been built. On planned route to Trofa there is a bus service in sync with the metro courses. Line D was launched in 2005, similarly to B and C. Unlike the other lines, a completely new route was built, perpendicular to previous axis of metro. New line connected Porto with city Vila Nova de Gaia on the other bank of Douro River. E line again strengthened connections on main metro axis with previously started ABC lines. Main purpose of its creation was to provide the first in Portugal connection of airport with city center by a metro line. This task was not difficult, cause from route of B line a branch with a length of 1.3 kilometers was constructed with two stops. Systematically expanded network along the main axis of ABCE lines saw its final expansion in 2011. Line F linked Porto to the Gondomar region, this time located in the east of the metropolis. This year, the metro expansion has been halted for several years by the financial crisis in Eurozone, which also affected Portugal. In this way, we have already learned basic course of all 6 lines running on 67-kilometers-long network of two-track tracks, of which approximately 50 kilometers were routes adapted from pre-existing railway lines. It is worth knowing that there are only 8 km of tracks below the ground and the others run on surface. Metro running hours are specific for southern countries of Europe, because first courses depart around 6 o’clock and last trains set off on route before first o’clock. Annually, Metro transports about 58 million passengers, more than three times less than, for example, heavy underground network in Warsaw, although it is twice as short. Entire network in one place connects Trindade station. This is the only place where it is possible to change from ABCEF lines to D line. Two-level station is on surface and underground, where metro lines intersect at two levels. At ground level, except for two station platforms, we have an additional platform with a front track, which allows you to change direction of trains coming from north-west. On common section of line ABCEF, departures take place most of the weekday more often than every 4 minutes and departures on independent line D take place every 6 minutes. We adopted idea of naming Porto network as metro, so let’s check how it translates into commute speed of every connection. Slowest is D line, with an average speed of just over 20 km/h. As for metro, it is not much, but you have to know that stops of this line are placed most densely and in large part route runs on surface in a dense urban areas. On average, for network in Porto, however, a decent commute speed of over 26 km/h is achieved, with stops located on average every 750 meters. We meet the threshold of a fast tram, which allows us to talk about efficient rail transport mean of city. So let’s think about what measures have been taken to obtain such travel opportunities in Porto. Metro in center of Porto uses six underground sections with a total length of over 8 kilometers. The oldest one is existing since 1938 500-meters-long railway tunnel Lapa adapted to metro network, which, together with newly built tunnel with a length of 2.3-kilometers between stations Campahna and Trindade, created backbone of metro network in Porto. Longest in network is tunnel on route of D line with a length of 4 kilometers. Very interesting is its southern exit, directly leading metro track to Luis I bridge. Hallmark of Porto is two-level Luis I steel bridge. Bridge connects two banks of Douro river and consequently Porto in north with city of Vila Nova de Gaia on south side. The impressive bridge was created in 19th century and was designed by an engineer from Belgium – Teofil Seyrig – a student of Gustave Eiffel. Cars, buses and pedestrians divide space on lower level; but upper level is definitely most interesting here. At a height of about 50 meters above the water level, common pedestrian and metro traffic takes place here. Pavements on both sides of track are so narrow that trackway is often used by pedestrians. Walking the bridge, however, you have to watch out for the metro, which due to specificity of place goes at a speed limited to 25 kilometers per hour (at night even up to 15) and already from a distance warns pedestrians in front of you with a loud bell. You can be impressed in Porto, however, by the effectiveness with which tram routes on surface are conducted. In addition to fact that among urban buildings we drive at a slower speed than in tunnels, trams are virtually unaffected by crossings in travel time. In traffic lights trams always have an unconditional priority, called long before trams reaching the signals. On surface, metro does not cross any major road junction, which are usually overcome at various levels. Most interesting connection seems to be line B, not only because of long suburban route, but also part of courses performed under banner of express Bx connection. What does this mean for the passengers? Express course in suburban area stops only at more important stops, as a result handles up to 15 stops less. This gives a stop point on average every 1.6-kilometer. Of course, this also translates into a travel time, which is 8 minutes shorter than basic B-line. Thanks to this treatment, Bx reach a very high commute speed of almost 37 kilometers per hour. Express is usually every second course of this line during weekday. Fleet of metro in Porto was built in Portuguese Bombardier factory. First were built seven-section, low-floor Eurotram trams with a length of almost 35 meters. Thanks to the width of 2.65-meters, inside 2+2 seat layout easily fits. These vehicles have 80 seats and together carry 216 passengers. However, in order to increase capacity of trams in some of them, interior configuration was changed to a set of seats facing back to side walls of vehicle. Bombardiers Eurotram reach a maximum speed of 80 km/h. These trams are two-directional and each side wall has 6 wide single-wing doors. In total, 72 trams of this type were delivered to Porto. The new Flexity Swift units for metro in Porto were delivered in 2010. 30 units of vehicles called train-trams are operated on lines B, Bx and C. These trams serve longest suburban routes due to possibility of reaching a maximum speed of 100 km/h. Their design and equipment have also been adapted for longer journeys. They are 2-meters longer than Eurotrams, so they are 37-meters-long. Tram is made of only three sections and has only four pairs of doors for each side wall, without a door in middle section. This allowed to provide up to 100 seats in 2+2 system and in total there may be 248 passengers on board. Most of stops have diode displays of passenger information. In addition to basic information about current time, closest departures and direction of travel; on central section of network, train composition list is also displayed – that is, whether a single tram or a composition of two units will arrive. This is useful information especially during rush hour, when many passengers gather on platforms and in case of arrival of a full single tram, we have information about composition of rolling stock servicing subsequent courses. Ticket system in Porto is based on Andante electronic card. There are no ticket gates in metro stations, only ticket validators set on path to platforms. Similarly, ticket validators are placed at stops on surface and inside metro vehicles there is no possibility to validate the ticket. Card should be applied to validator each time before entering vehicle and during a change between metro lines for example at Trindade station. Ticket system is based on zones, it is quite complicated, and fee for a single journey depends on number of zones crossed. For tourist, however, it is easiest to take advantage of tourist daily or 3-day tickets entitling to travel throughout entire metro network, buses in Andante network and city trains between stations specified in the tariff. Porto plans further extension of metro network. In metropolitan area, three more stations of D line are expected in south. More than 3-kilometers of route will cover next districts of municipality of Vila Nova de Gaia – largest municipality in the metropolis – and will lead the tram to its southern border. Construction is to be completed in January 2021. Also in center of Porto a new metro route is planned. G-line is intended to concentrate access to metro in Center area and to relieve central Trindade interchange point. Almost 3-kilometers-long underground route will connect existing stations of Sao Bento and Casa da Musica and in one course trains will stop at 4 stations. Initially, line is to be operated at a 5-minute frequency with possibility of further increase. Drilling and construction of tunnels and stations would last 2.5 years and cost about 180 million euros. Thinking about trams in Poland in many cities has stopped at urban level as “roadblock”, however, with a separate track, it must run on surface with many intersections and traffic lights. In Poznan, it is even said that tram is not a TGV and on a newly designed route it can ride on some sections with speed limited to 40 km/h. Meanwhile, network in Porto shows what possibilities tram can actually achieve if we really want to provide an efficient urban transport system. Trams run here at a maximum speed of 80, or even 100 km/h, we have underground and ground non-collision sections, and if we are already at intersections with car traffic, unconditional priority in traffic lights is working. Passengers are also transported by large and capacious trams. System is successful and there is a constant need of expansion. Looking at these experiences, it may be worth looking at some ideas of building a metro lines in Poland from a different angle – optimizing the cost of building such an investment. Light solution based on a tram will allow us to build more routes, it is also easier to run such a means of transport in suburbs and metropolitan area. Meanwhile, thanks for your attention and see you next time. Bye! In the next episode of Portuguese series, we will stay in Porto and head on trip using double-decker bus and old trams running in city center.

    Najszybszy Tramwaj w Polsce 2 / The Fastest Tram in Poland 2
    Articles, Blog

    Najszybszy Tramwaj w Polsce 2 / The Fastest Tram in Poland 2

    October 12, 2019


    One of the topics I pay particular attention to are fast tram routes. In Poland, routes of this type are still not very fashionable and are created rather individually. Szczecin’s Fast Tram is unique and the road to the first stage of this investment was quite long. Although, most important are the effects and achieved by trams transport speed. How does it work in case of Szczecin? We’ll talk about this in this episode. Let’s watch! The Fastest Tram in Poland 2 „Prawobrzeże” (eng: Right Bank) is one of the four districts of Szczecin, the only one located on the eastern bank of Regalica River. Area is inhabited by over 80,000 people, every fifth inhabitant of the city. The most densely populated are settlements: Słoneczne, Majowe and Bukowe are quite far from the City Center – about 10 kilometers away. The genesis of construction of these great blocks of flats dates back to the 70s and 80s of XX century. Inhabitants of local villages were expropriated and in the fields were planned residential buildings – even twelve-storey high. Their inhabitants employed among others in the shipbuilding industry, required efficient public transport. Buses have become the main means of transportation to downtown from new blocks. Half of the route covered the area of Międzyodrze, dominated by port areas, forests and wetlands. In its center was running a transport line with railway route to Szczecin Main Station and national road no. 10. The wide two-roadway wide route had 3 lanes in both directions and between the roadways there was a place for a tram line. At this point it is worth mentioning that reached Right Bank of Regalica already in 1927, but after the war, tram traffic returned only to the height of Mining Basin. Next to the east, road drove to the old narrower route, which had two lanes in both directions – going through Duty Bridge. This bridge was part of the only transport corridor between Right Bank and the city center, without the place for a tram track. Hope for building a tram on the Right Bank has brought plans to build a new bridge, which should relieve Duty Bridge. Within the framework of the investment, a new crossing was built on Regalica – Pionier Bridge. Its construction, located about 450 meters south of the Duty Bridge, began in 1999. This was also the first step in the construction of fast tram route to Right Bank. Between two carriages crossing the road, a third bridge with a reserve for the tram track was built. Tracks and traction poles on the bridge appeared only a dozen or so years after opening of a half kilometer-long road bridge. Officially, construction of first stage of fast tram began in 2013. Then a 4-kilometer stretch of the route was built between the Mining Pool and Turquoise loop. Construction did not last long because the route was ready after two years. In the meantime, nearly 4 kilometers of the existing route from Long Bridge to the Mining Basin have been repaired. It was also an essential element of the entire puzzle. It would be silly if the trams drove down the Center from a fast route to an old track with speed limits. During the renovation, the Mining Pool loop was rebuilt. First of all, the track system was moved further towards Right Bank and a tramway back-up loop was left. Interesting is here in general layout of bus standings with direct exit to Gdańska street from each of them. Building after the reconstruction has gained a roof and even a small waiting room. The loop is a transfer point between trams and fast bus lines that connect Center with Right Bank and regular bus lines that run only on Right Bank. From here we continue on the Szczecin fast tram route. First stop of the new route will be seen on the southern side of the Szczecin Airport Aeroclub. To stop the tram here, you have to sign it to the driver – it is a stop on demand. There are not too many objects that generate passenger traffic in its vicinity. The space available here allowed to create a free Park & Ride car park, which allows you to change from a car to a tram. From here we have to overcome almost 6 kilometers to the City Center. The car park will accommodate 425 cars. We were there on a Wednesday, weekday during holidays but it was rainy day and parking was not used too much. Before 14 o’clock there were 19 cars parked there. Szczecin, however, strives to revitalize the center, which may result into increased tourist traffic and parking restrictions, so in time the interest in such a car park in vicinity of city center may grow. It is now also useful during mass events such as the finale of the Tall Ships Races. Part of Szczecin Fast Tram Route was taken in excavation, however, in another construction than in similar route in Poznan. Poznan dugout is unpaved in shape of a trapezium, which makes it very wide. It occupies a strip of land at least 35-meters-wide. The excavation in Szczecin also remained open, however, its sides are vertically cut and encased by retaining walls, forming the so-called bathtub. As a result, it occupies a much smaller strip of land about 10-meters-wide. Due to the screens above the ground level, route was acoustically isolated from nearby buildings as well. The controversial element of the route is the arc that originally was designed to drive at 55 km/h. Overtime, however, there was a buckling of the track at this point, after which the speed was reduced to 30. At present, a proceeding was announced which would lead to the introduction of geometric and structural corrections on this arc and restore as much speed as possible at that point, which is now accepted as 40 km/h. Importance of this place for the whole route is quite small, the change of limitation on originally design will slow down the ride by about 12 seconds. However, the psychological effect of such a limitation is important. Passengers on a collision-free route expect constant speed outside the stops and quite a significant reduction of speed on arc is bad for overall route ratings. Second stop is already in area of Zdroje housing estate. This is the only stop on route section in bathtub. Currently, most passengers of fast tram use it also by using it for bus transfer. They ride the street crossing the tram route via the viaduct, providing access to other settlements of Right Bank. All stops on the tram route have an platform edge length of 60 meters. As far as the word of honor it is enough for two 30-meters-long Swing trams, but for dual articulated Tatra trams it does not give such a possibility and second tram will have to wait for departure of first. At the edge of the Słoneczne estate a 3-track loop was created, which at the moment ends route of fast tram. At the same time, a two-track section was also built to allow for further extension of the route. There is still bus loop in bulding, which will provide a change from bus lines entering Right Bank settlements to trams right here, instead of duplicating tram routes on a 4-kilometers-long section to the Mining Basin. The Metropolitan Railway will be also integrated with the city’s public transport system – the Szczecin Zdroje stop will be moved closer to the loop. Fast tram is also integrated with city bike network. Stations on Right Bank are densely packed, totally there are 29 stations, although they cover only the central part of this area. Interchange on tram will be provided by stations located at Turkusowa loop and Jaśminowa ZUS stop. The bike can therefore supplement our journey with a fast tram and provide access to selected housing estate. Tram route currently is operated by 3 tram lines, crossing the city center in diameter. They provide direct access from Right Bank to western and northern parts of the city. Each of the line is departing on most of weekdays every 12 minutes, which is quite unusual because there is no morning or afternoon rush hours in schedule. It is not easy to find a 4-minute ahead between these lines, although their routes overlap on 8-kilometer stretch to Port Gate. Instead of same ahead time, they depart at irregular intervals every 6 or 3 minutes. Trams within an hour are now able to carry about 3,400 passengers in one direction. Fast Tram, as the name implies, should reach high speed. As in Poznan, trams ride on route in Szczecin with a maximum speed of 70 km/h. As a result, almost a 4 km long section of the route from Turkusowa loop to Mining Basin is overcome with very high transport speed of almost 47 km/h. In this respect, Szczecin is an undisputed leader in Polish tram routes and main reason for the good result is small number of stops. However, it is impossible to judge this route solely through the prism of a new section, because there will still be yet another section to city center. However, if we take into account the whole stretch to the Wyszyńskiego stop, we still remain in place of the leader with a transport speed of over 35 km/h. Cost of building a fast tram route amounted to 165 million zlotys. A kilometer of such a route cost 41 million zlotys, about one fifth more than a kilometer of a fast tram to Fordon. The differences in terms of both investments, however, are significant. In Szczecin, a semi-kilometer-long Pionierów bridge was built as part of an earlier investment, in Bydgoszcz, a half-kilometer flyover over the East Train Station and technical facilities at the end of the route were built. Part of the tram route in Szczecin is placed in the bathtub, the route also intersects car viaducts, footbridges or walking tunnels. In Bydgoszcz along the route new crossings and kilometers of roadways were created. It is difficult to compare the cost of constructing a fast collision-free tram with a collision route, due to the very divergent scope of works in both cases, which are far beyond tramway construction. Most often in route service we will see PESA Swing trams. These low-floor trams were ordered in two orders and as a result, two variants of about 30-meters-long tram ran around the city. Second tram type to meet on Fast Tram is Tatra KT4. These 18-meters-long articulated trams Szczecin brought from Berlin. The biggest disadvantages of these cars are, however, high floor and age over 30 years. Most of these wagons service lines in double sets, providing up to a quarter more capacity than Swing tram – about 250 passengers. Arc problem mentioned earlier was not the only one on fast tram route. During first months of operation trams on route broke off the pantographs and on Pionierów bridge 3 months after opening, a few inches-long rail section broke at site of weld. The reason for this was the errors in welding rails and it was commissioned to carry out expertise for all 950 weldings on new route. It showed irregularities in 3% of welds in this section. Larger defects, however, were detected on the renovated section preceding Fast Tramway – there were 108 mistakes in over 800 welds. The contractors under the guarantee had to correct the mistakes made in the art. In the Right Bank transport scheme there are rapid bus lines. They also provide as fast transport as a tram in terms of transport speed. However, buses are vulnerable to congestion on roadways joint with car traffic. Right now there are 6 rapid bus connections, 3 of them run only at rush hours. What is equally important – fast buses have a separate fare – single pass for a journey is twice as expensive as a regular bus or tram ticket. Despite of this, fast buses do not complain about lack of passengers and the voices of the restrictions on these connections instead of buses feeding fast tram route, have met with great protest. Greatest advantage of these connections is simply their availability and directness – fast buses enter into area of largest settlements of Prawobrzeże and provide access to center of Szczecin. Construction of route section was first stage of Fast Tram construction and tram network of Right Bank. As a basis for its development, many years ago, almost a 3-kilometer route to Kijewo loop was indicated. In meantime many variants of routes have been considered, but city has chosen two further development possibilities – through the Bukowe housing estate and between Słoneczne and Majowe settlements to Kijewo estate. Public consultations are still ongoing, considering which routes should be built and in what order. There will be also built new tram depot on Right Bank. Undoubtedly, on issue of route development – tram should go alongside the most inhabited areas, allowing as much as possible to handle current and future inhabitants of Right Bank. Szczecin’s Fast Tram is one of several such investments in light rail transport that we have observed in recent years in Poland. We’ve got here a collision-free solution, which can directly compete only with Poznań Fast Tram route. The city must cope with all the problems with the quality of execution of previous episodes and the ability to accelerate the journey and increase its attractiveness to fast buses lies in old section to Mining Basin. There is still potential for better priority in traffic lights and tramway separation from cars on Long Bridge. If this is to be the backbone of Right Bank transport network, it must not be as resistant as possible to external interference. There is also a fundamental issue of increasing accessibility to the route by extending it to largest settlements of Prawobrzeże. In second stage, Fast Tram will no longer be built as a collision-free route – so special efforts are needed to ensure the highest priority in installed traffic lights. This should not be difficult – similar effects have already been achieved on the routes in Bydgoszcz to Fordon or in Warsaw to Tarchomin and Nowodwory. Meanwhile, thank you very much for your attention and see you next time!