Prague buys first trolleybus since 1960, plans to electrify more bus routes

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 18.08.2020 15:32:53 (updated on 18.08.2020) Reading time: 4 minutes

As part of its green policies, Prague is now adding electric trolleybuses to its fleet. The last purchase of a trolleybus by the Prague Public Transit Company (DPP) was 60 years ago.

DPP has now purchased a used Škoda 24 Tr Irisbus and put it into operation on line 58 between Palmovka and Letňany. The vehicle has been repainted in traditional Prague colors of red and white.

The trolleybus will be used primarily for training drivers and technical staff, as well as for the continuation of infrastructure tests, The results will be used to prepare the planned electrification of more bus lines. Every Saturday afternoon, DPP will also deploy it at regular hourly intervals on line 58 from Palmovka via Prosek to Letňany and back.

The trolleybus, manufactured by Škoda Electric in 2005, was purchased by DPP in May from the Plzeň City Transportation Company (PMDP).

Škoda 24 Tr Irisbus / via DPP

DPP transported it to Prague on May 21, and made alterations in the DPP Central Workshops in Hostivař, changing it from the original Plzeň green and white decor and equipping it with a standard Prague check-in and information system. On July 27 the trolleybus underwent a technical inspection and passed a technical safety test.

“The purchase of this trolleybus, which can be characterized more as a company and training vehicle, is another logical step in the preparation of the electrification of selected bus lines. Unlike other trolleybuses, which have so far been tested on line 58, the Škoda 24 Tr is equipped with an auxiliary diesel drive unit for driving off the overhead contact line,” Jan Barchánek, bead of the DPP buses operation unit, said in a press release.

“Thus, the vehicle does not have traction batteries, which is an advantage for the purpose of training drivers and technical personnel, as it is possible to ensure complete deactivation of the high-voltage part of the vehicle wiring. In addition to teaching and training, the trolleybus will be used to continue tests on railway infrastructure and other technological purposes,” he added.

Prague last invested in new trolleybuses in 1960, when it acquired 35 Škoda 8 Tr trolleybuses. After 12 years, on the night of October 15-16, 1972, trolleybus operation ended in Prague.

DPP renewed it again on October 15, 2017, on the first line in Prosecká Street, symbolically 45 years after the end of trolleybus operation in the capital. The new trolleybus line between the Palmovka and Letňany terminals is five kilometers long, while the overhead electric line is 1.6 kilometers long from Palmovka to the end of the climb in Prosecká Street.

After initial tests and irregular operation without and with passengers, a regular line 58 was established here from July 1, 2018, which complements the parallel bus line 140 leading further to Čakovice and Miškovice. It was the first to be included in the project of electrification of selected bus lines in Prague.

Over the past three years, DPP has tested four different trolleybuses from all three companies manufacturing these vehicles in the Czech Republic on the new trolleybus line. The first was the SOR TNB 12 (Accumario), followed by Škoda 30Tr (SOR) and Škoda 27Tr (Solaris), and as the last Ekova Electron 12T, which ran on line 58 until March 15.

DPP is currently preparing to implement projects to electrify bus lines 140 and 119 with a dynamic charging system. The projects include both the construction of trolleybus infrastructure and public contracts to purchase new vehicles.

For line 119, DPP plans to purchase 20 large-capacity three-section battery trolleybuses up to 25 meters long and for line 140 a total of 15 articulated 18-meter battery trolleybuses. DPP plans to announce both tenders for the purchase of vehicles later this year.

The start of operation of new trolleybuses on both lines is expected at the turn of 2022 and ’23. Electrification projects for 131, 137, 176 and 191 are in the initial phase of preparation.

historical trolleybus
Historical photo of a trolleybus in Prague / via DPP

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.

Plans to reintroduce trolleybuses were discussed in the 1980s and ’90s but did not come to reality. On the 40th anniversary of the last trolleybus in 2012, the DPP said that there were no plans to reintroduce trolleybuses as regular buses met the highest EU emission standards.

Under the previous City Hall administration of Mayor Adriana Krnáčová (ANO), the city announced it intended to reduce reliance on fossil-fuel vehicles. The DPP began experimenting with electric buses in 2014. “Support for electromobility is very important for the city, especially in urban public transport,” Krnáčová said in October 2017 when trolleybus testing started.

Aside from buses, DPP also operates trams, metro trains, cable cars and ferries.

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