HELSINKI Transport operator HKL confirmed in May that it had signed an agreement with Bombardier Transport-ation under which the supplier will take over responsibility for maintenance of the city's 40-strong fleet of low-floor Variotrams over the next 10 years. HKL says this means the vehicles will continue to operate in the Finnish capital.
Delivered between 1999 and 2002 by Adtranz and later Bombardier, with some local input from Transtech Oy, the Variotrams have suffered from poor riding on Helsinki's metre-gauge network the cars have already been sent to Hennigsdorf for repairs to the power bogies and articulations at the manufacturer's expense.
The new agreement is a variation on the original supply contract, making Bombardier responsible for the availability and reliability of the cars for the next 35 years. Bombardier has guaranteed a daily availability level of 92% if the three-month average falls below 85% HKL will call in a substantial performance bond.
HKL has now equipped one vehicle with instruments to measure the stresses in the car body. If the independent assessment suggests that the cars will not achieve their target life of 40 years, the city has the right to return the vehicles and seek arbitration on the proportion of the bond to be forfeited.