FIRST vehicle to be trialled on the 1·1 km test track commissioned at the Adtranz Litchurch Lane works in Derby was the launch unit in a follow-on order for 27 all-low-floor trams for Strasbourg. The vehicles are similar to the original 26 cars supplied from Derby in 1994, but 17 have nine rather than seven modules, giving a length of 44m. The extra modules will provide higher capacity on Line 2, which will serve the university.

The second build incorporates around 150 changes, of which many are minor, although some were made to iron out sources of unreliability on the original cars that have now amassed 4·5 million km in service. For example, the cooler group for the hub traction motors is now entirely on the bogie, whereas the water tank was previously body-mounted.

Traction equipment comes from Mannheim in Germany, from where it goes to Italy for further work and onward shipment to Derby. The first car will arrive in Strasbourg fully fitted, but later cars will have seats and panelling installed by Lohr Industrie at Duppigheim, 15 km west of Strasbourg.

The Derby test track was completed on April 23. It is equipped for trials with a variety of rolling stock: the overhead supply can be switched for 750 and 1·5 kV DC and 25 kV 50Hz. A third rail is provided for trains running on Railtrack’s southern England network, and a fourth for London Underground vehicles. o