First commuters test new ForCity tram in Prague

15T ForCity tram

The past few weeks have seen commuters in Prague able to test – for the first time - the brand new 15T ForCity tram, designed by Škoda Transportation. The 15T, still undergoing trial runs, is boxier but arguably more refined than previous models, offering more room for passengers (up to 61 seated and 239 standing) as well as a slew of improvements. It is, for example, the first 100 percent low-floor tram in the Czech Republic) making it very user-friendly.

A little earlier I spoke to Škoda Transportation’s Vojtěch Plateník, assistant project manager of the new 15T.

“It is quite different because it is a 100 percent low-floor tram and this concept is the first of its kind designed and produced in the Czech Republic.”

Which means it will be more user-friendly?

“It is definitely an advantage for parents with strollers or for the disabled or elderly, but also for people with seeing problems. The design of the interior is user-friendly for people with poor sight, using different colours for handles and bars for better orientation inside the tram car.”

What about the exterior? The 15T looks very different from designs that have come before.

15T ForCity tram, photo: Jan Groh, Wikipedia
“The tram is very different. The reason is that it uses turn-able buggies which allow for a square design which you can see when you look from the front and above. The shape meant there was no need for stairs inside the vehicle: you can walk straight from the front of the tram to the very back. That makes getting on and off quickly much, much easier.”

I imagine that must have been greeted quite positively by the first members of the public who were able to try it?

“So far the feedback has been positive and certainly as the manufacturer we are very happy about that. One of the things which they told us they liked is that the tram is very quiet.”

A point of discussion in the past has often been seating and upholstery. Originally, tram seats were wooden, later plastic and most recently upholstered. Is it true that the latest design goes back to wood?

“Yes, it is. In the development stage we came back to wooden seats because upholstered seats are a little more difficult to keep clean. Wood is easier in that respect.”

15T ForCity tram, photo: www.prazsketramvaje.cz
When will the final trams be completed to be delivered to Prague’s Transport Authority?

“This will depend on final testing and we will have to now complete the homologation process, which means we have to get a stamp of approval from the Railway Authority. We expect this to take place by the end of the year and would like to deliver the first four vehicles by the end of 2010. After that, there will be an additional 50 or so by the end of 2011; we want to provide 250 trams in all.”