Škoda 14T ‘Porsche’ trams getting a second chance

The trams were taken out of service but now will be renovated

There was much ballyhoo when the Škoda 14T tram was introduced into service in 2007, but that quickly turned to disappointment, and the model was taken out of service. Two-thirds thirds of the trams have been sitting idle but now are getting revamped to be reintroduced to the streets.

The original interior design by Porsche, which became the nickname for the model, was considered cramped and there were technical problems.

One Škoda 14T was modified in early 2016 as a new prototype. A second modified Škoda 14T is now going back to service, and 15 of them should go back into service during the year, according to the Prague Public Transit Company (DPP).

All 57 of the 14T model should be back in operation by 2020. The trams will have new interiors and modifications to the chassis. The new interior design makes it easier and faster for people to get on and off.

The DPP tried to modernize its aging fleet of mostly Cold War–era Tatra T3 trams by purchasing 60 new 14T trams from Plzeň-based Škoda Transportation, not to be confused with the similarly named but completely separate carmaker.

The 14T had a major advantage of a low floor, which made it easier for people with mobility issues and parents with baby carriages to use. About 50 percent of the tram is low floor.

A disadvantage though was the tram model’s lack of flexibility. It could not bend sufficiently at some intersections and was threatening to damage the tracks by grinding on them. There were other technical problems with brakes and transmissions, and by 2012 some 400 complaints were registered.

The front door is only for the driver, not passengers, and people complained that since they never knew what model tram was coming, they never knew where to stand at the tram stop.

The seat layout made it hard to reach the exit when the tram stopped if people or luggage blocked the aisle.

In August 2014, all of the 14T models were taken out of service, and the DPP considered selling them.

But after some repairs, one-third went back into service. Currently, 20 of the originals are in operation as well as the two modified ones.

The 14T trams were ordered by DPP in 2004. As of 2006, three trams were delivered to Prague. By 2008 there were 40 and as of

2009 there were 60.

Škoda Transportation worked with the Porsche on the design, which resulted in a bullet-shaped nose with a distinctive lighting pattern. Similar models with slight variations went into service in Brno and Wrocław.

While Prague is upgrading the 14T, it is not going to buy any more of them. The city is already interested in newer models such as the Škoda 15T, also known as Škoda ForCity Alfa. It now numbers 196 in the fleet. Some of these are equipped with WiFi and contactless vending machines for transit tickets.

The city also still heavily relies on the aging T3, and is modifying some of them to have low floors. The DPP has a total of 826 trams in service.

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