Trolley bus starts testing

An electric trolley bus is back in Prague after 45 years

Electric trolleys buses have returned to Prague after almost 45 years. The official launch was on Oct. 15 on a route from Palmovka and Letňany, with a one mile overhead cable on Prosecká Street. The last trolleybus, a Tatra T400, ended service Oct. 16, 1972, so the official celebration of the renewed service was one day ahead of the 45th anniversary. Some testing actually took place a few days ahead of the official launch when the overhead cables were completed.

The new buses are completely electric, unlike electric-diesel hybrids uses in other parts of Europe.

The battery will be charged at Palmovka and while under the cables on Prosecká Street. The rest of the route is without the help of cables.

The technical director of the Prague Transport Company (DPP), Jan Šurovský, said the traction line was built on a kilometer section of Prosecká Street because the sharp climb was too much for the battery. The track will charge the battery, power the direct drive of the vehicle and allow a water tank to be heated so that it is not cold in winter.

The two new electric trolley buses traveling between Palmovka and Letňany will be models SOR NS12 and the articulated SOR TNB 12.

Prague has been promoting greener solutions to public transportation to lower pollution in the city.

“Support for electromobility is very important for the city, especially in urban public transport. I believe that this project will prove successful, and more electric buses will be gradually added, as well as infrastructure for recharging,” Prague Mayor Adriana Krnáčová said at the launch ceremony, according to press reports.

Some people who came to the opening ceremony took a symbolic ride on a borrowed hybrid electric trolley.

Initial testing on the new electric-only trolleys will be with drivers for a short while until the technical problems are worked out. Then passengers will be allowed on a regular basis.

The opening ceremony on Sunday introduced a new concept of electromobility in Prague's public transport system, and also reminded people of the tradition of Prague trolleybuses. The historic Tatra T400 appeared at Prosecká Street as a representative of the last generation of classical trolleybuses.

DPP board chairman Martin Gillar said that the testing was an important milestone in Prague's public transportation. Only about 10 percent of the route will have overhead cables, as opposed to 70–90 percent that was required in the past. This will make more routes possible.

The project was announced in August. The route is from the Klíčovská to Kelerka stops, part of the 140 bus line. Construction on the route took two months and was to cost under Kč 5 million, according to previous information.

Data from the testing will be evaluated in the spring to see how the buses did over the winter, the toughest season for driving.

Trolleybuses started in Prague in 1936 as a supplement to the tram network. The first track went from Střešovice through Ořechovka and Hanspaulka to Baba. More lines were added after World War II. In 1959, trolleybuses covered 59 kilometers. The next year the Škoda 8Tr was introduced, the last new model, but then lines began to close until service ended in 1972.

DPP's Šurovský told public broadcaster Czech Television the cancellation was partly for technical reasons and partly political. Oil shortages meant that electricity for the overhead lines was unreliable, and there was no capacity to build better infrastructure. Also, due to the Cold War, the authorities wanted to rely on buses that were more flexible in terms of routes and could be used to evacuate people in case of emergency. Most people did not own private cars.

Plans to reintroduce trolleybuses were discussed in the 1980s and '90s but did not come to reality. Just five years ago on the 40th anniversary, the DPP said that there were no plans to reintroduce trolleybuses as regular buses met the highest EU emission standards.

The DPP began experimenting with electric buses again in 2014. An electric bus was recently tested on the 213 line from Háje to Želivského. Two free privately run electric buses have been operated by Passerinvest Group, ČEZ Group, and Arriva between BB Centrum and the Budějovická metro station since early 2016.

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