Prague plans more air conditioned trams

Retrofitting the original Škoda 15T will be a long and costly process

Summers have been getting warmer and trams getting more crowded with tourists. The good news is that the Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) will be adding more air conditioning to trams. The bad news is the installation will likely take until the end of next year and be costly.

The equipment will be installed in 124 of the city’s Škoda 15T ForCity vehicles. Some 250 Škoda 15T trams were ordered without air conditioning, as that had been common practice. Partway through delivery the order was changed and the remaining 126 trams were made with air conditioning included.

Adding the air conditioning later is more costly than if it installed when the tram is initially built.

Škoda Transportation originally asked for Kč 434 million for the retrofitting, or about Kč 3.5 million per tram. This was later lowered to Kč 396 million, which is still Kč 3.2 million. The retrofitting will come with a two-year warranty.

Due to the high installation costs, DPP is seeking expert opinions. “We need to know whether the proposed procedure by Škoda Transportation is correct and whether Škoda is really the only supplier that can perform the additional installation,” DPP CEO Petr Witowski said, according to daily Pražský deník.

The installation plan must be approved by the City Council. After approval, the pace is expected to be about two trams per week.

The air conditioning in the Škoda 15T ForCity will work in an almost automatic mode due to the manufacturer's settings. The driver can only increase or decrease the passenger compartment temperature. Tram windows can be opened, but this will affect efficiency.

Škoda ForCity was selected in a bidding process for 250 new trams in 2005, at a cost of Kč 17 billion, or Kč 68 million per unit.

In 2011, during the administration of then-mayor Tomáš Hudeček (TOP 09), the DPP started negotiations regarding the installation of air conditioning in the passenger compartment.

In May 2014, due to Prague’s financial problems, the DPP and Škoda Transportation again renegotiated the contract to provide for four extra years for delivery and for adding full air-conditioning and WiFi in the last 125 trams of the order.

DPP also expects to continuously add air conditioning to the driver's cabs in older trams.

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