ON MARCH 8 Amsterdam's metro operator GVB confirmed that it was to order a fleet of 95 Combino 100% low-floor cars from Siemens Verkehrstechnik, making it the eighth city to adopt the modular design. Placed after a Europe-wide tendering process, the 138bn euros contract works out at 1·45bn euros per car, or DM41000 per m2 of floor area. GVB has an option for 60 further cars, which at one time were to be ordered jointly by RET of Rotterdam.

Delivery of the first car is scheduled for October 2001, after five weeks of testing in Wildenrath. The rest would follow at the rate of two cars every three weeks. 25 of the unidirectional cars are destined to work the IJburg line, which is now under construction. The other 70 will replace older vehicles dating from 1959-67 and 1974-75 - the average age of the 235-car GVB tram fleet is currently 28 years. GVB Managing Director André Testa says a modernised fleet is essential if GVB is to be competitive with other operators following its planned privatisation in two years' time.

The five-module cars will be 28·9m long and 2400 mm wide, weighing approximately 32·5 tonnes. There will be 61 fixed seats and 119 standees at 4·5/m2. The door arrangement is designed to accommodate a seated ticket collector. A 650mm wide entrance door in module 1 is supervised by the driver, and a 1300mm wide entrance in module 4 leads to the conductor's station. There are two exit doors of 1300mm each in module 2, and one exit door at the end of module 5. Both staff compartments are air-conditioned. The cars will follow the styling of the Combinos supplied to Potsdam, but with a redesigned heating and ventilation system and cab.