FINLAND: Helsinki city transport operator HKL has signed a contract to sell 40 withdrawn Variotram trams which have been in storage since 2018.
The first 20 trams were delivered by Adtranz and a further 20 by Bombardier Transportation in 1998-2003, but all suffered from problems with the track profiles and operating conditions on Helsinki’s metre gauge network.
Modifications to the articulation and bogies were undertaken in 2006-07, with Bombardier taking responsibility for maintenance. However, it was later agreed that it would not be possible to make the vehicles fully compatible with the Helsinki network.
In July 2017 two trams were sent to Germany for testing in Mannheim, Heidelberg and Ludwigshafen, and in November that year HKL and Bombardier agreed to co-operate to try to find the fleet a new home on a network where they would be a better match for the infrastructure.
The trams have been in storage in the Koskela depot and at Hamina since being displaced by new ForCity Smart Artic cars from Škoda Transtech. Under the agreement signed on January 27, they will be shipped to Germany later this year for modification to suit the needs of the unnamed buyer.
‘The agreement safeguards the position of HKL and Helsinki taxpayers so that the early withdrawal of the trams does not cause any financial disadvantage’, explained HKL CEO Ville Lehmuskoski.
‘Over the years, we have learned a lot about the suitability of different types of tram bodies and bogie structures for the challenging conditions of our city. These lessons have been utilised, among other things, in the procurement of Artic trams, which have been available to us since 2013, and will continue to be utilised in our new procurements.
‘Co-operation with Bombardier has been smooth and we have succeeded together in finding the best solution to resell the Variotrams.’