Trams are integrally linked to Helsinki and its townscape. The yellow-green trams have long served the city and will continue to play a role in Helsinki’s environmentally friendly public transport rail traffic.
HKL has ordered 40 trams for the city’s expanding tramway needs. These will be supplied by Finnish rolling stock manufacturer Transtech. The tram design is at a point when solutions can be presented to city residents, the future users of the trams.
A model of the tram is on display this summer at the Cable Factory’s HI Design exhibition, part of the events at World Design Capital Helsinki 2012. The model is built to the same proportions as the new tram but is shorter. The materials and colours on display are much the same as in the new tram. You can board the model tram, try out the seating, and get a sense of how the tram feels.
The new tram design is exceptional because it is made specifically for Helsinki. It takes account of the city’s unique tramway infrastructure. This is the first low-floor, hinged-bogie tram of its kind on the market. The structure adapts to curves and to differences in elevation better than other trams. Additionally, this tram has few constraints, making it especially convenient as a means of transport.
HKL designed the tram in close conjunction with various user groups. Additionally, the drivers and maintenance staff at HKL contributed feedback used in the design solutions. The aim was to make the best possible tram from a standpoint of technical design and utility with low maintenance costs over a 40-year life cycle.
Helsinki’s new tram is also environmentally friendly. It uses less energy, and any energy generated when braking is used to heat the trams in winter. In summer, the excess heat from the sun’s rays is reduced by means of a spectrally selective glass that lessens the need for cooling.
The first of the new trams will be seen on Helsinki’s streets next year. The trams will be introduced for passenger use in 2014.