Porsche tram started on its own

The already troubled 14T tram model displayed a new safety issue

One of the older model trams in Prague unexpectedly started on its own, and all trams of that design have been inspected by the Prague Public Transport Company (DPP).

One of the 14T trains, popularly known as Porsche, started to move unexpectedly after the restart of its system. This poses a potential safety problem to the public. The bullet-shaped tram model has had a number of technical problems since it was introduced, and most have long been out of service.

DPP spokeswoman Aneta Řehková said the spontaneous starting incident was isolated to a single case. The tram had a driver in at the time and it responded to the emergency brake and other braking systems.

“At the moment when this happened, the car was in the end loop [of the tram track] and was without passengers,” Řehková said, according to daily Pražský deník.

Some technicians reportedly said a similar incident occurred at Palackého náměstí, but the DPP denied that saying the recent incident in the loop was the only one.

The specific tram car that displayed the technical fault was taken out of service after the incident. It has been subjected to a thorough analysis by both the DPP and manufacturer Škoda Transportation. The problem was due to communication failures and a fault in the electronics system.

The tram underwent an all-day stress test without passengers to see if it was operating normally before being returned to service. A preventive inspection of all of 14T trams was also made.

This is not the first time that the 14T tram model has faced technical issues. The DPP bought a total of sixty of these trams, but the majority are not in operation.

There was much ballyhoo when the Škoda 14T tram was introduced into service in 2007, but that quickly turned to disappointment.

Two-thirds of the trams have been out of service. Since February this year they have been being renovated to be reintroduced to the streets. Some 15 modified Škoda 14T should go back into service during the year.

All of the 14T models 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 14T has 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.

One issue 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. By 2012 some 400 complaints were registered.

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.

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.

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 trams, which date to the communist era, and is modifying some of them to have low floors.

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