Eco-friendly and comfy: Why Moscow trams have won world recognition

November 25, 2020
Transport

Fast and quiet Vityaz trams glide along Moscow streets. Modern Moscow trams are no less comfortable and safe as their counterparts in Europe. In the past decade, Moscow has replaced 70 percent of its tram fleet. This has been noted by international experts as well. The Moscow tram network has won the Global Light Rail Awards. This is the first recognition at this level during the entire 112 year-long history of the Moscow tram system.

How did Moscow trams surpass their counterparts in Spain, Switzerland and even Britain? Why are more and more Muscovites choosing new eco-friendly transport every day?  How will the capital’s tram system develop in the future? We answer these and other questions in this mos.ru article.

Quiet and comfortable

Moscow’s authorities have placed their bets on renovating the tram fleet. Ten years ago, rare Tatra trams and high-floor KTMs rattled along Moscow streets whereas now they have been mostly replaced with modern counterparts. There are 450 modern tram carriages in Moscow, including over 380 Vityaz-Moscow trams. For now, they are running on 25 of 40 routes. However, by 2024, Moscow will have only new generation trams.

Comfortable Vityaz trams hold up to 260 passengers and have at least 60 seats. Low floors, climate control, USB charges and information screens make them more comfortable. Moreover, these trams move smoothly and quietly. Handicapped passengers can press a button on a tram door to call the driver. Each tram has a ramp door and a space for a wheelchair. New trams have become more comfortable for the drivers as well: they are equipped with modern control systems, satellite navigation and video observation.

Vityaz trams are made at the Tver carriage plant. For the first time, the production of new low-floor trams is fully located in Russia. Their expected service life is 30 years.

Another 109 new generation trams will enter service in 2021. Ninety of them will be compact, having only one section. They will be used on routes where passenger traffic is not very high even during peak hours. That said, they will be able to carry up to 150 people. The remaining 19 trams will have three sections.

Without traffic congestion and exhaust

The international jury also noted the separation of the tram tracks from the streets. This is a global trend: the isolation of trams allows them to run more quickly (average speeds increase by 20 percent), bypassing traffic congestion and delays in schedules, which is particularly important for city residents. One more plus is a 60 percent drop in the number of traffic accidents since vehicle traffic is separated from the tram tracks and vehicles simply cannot cross the tracks and crash into a tram.

Smart traffic signals also help trams run faster. Public transit vehicles enjoy priority at grade crossings and intersections. Sensors and the information system can read the location of trams, buses and electric buses, and turn the signals green.

The experts also appreciated the fast development of Moscow’s tram network. Over 250 km of tracks or more than half of all tracks in the city, have undergone major repairs. Now trams produce less noise. Tram trips are becoming even more comfortable and much less irritating for the residents of adjacent buildings.

Eco-friendly ties made of processed plastic have been laid on some sections during track reconstruction. For the first time this technology was tested on a tram line on Prospekt Mira. These track ties make it possible to reuse plastic and save trees. Wooden ties require about 140 trees for one km of tram track. So, about 1,400 trees would have to be cut down for an almost 10 km section of track. Meanwhile ties made of recycled plastic are much more durable and less prone to damage. This technology is used in European and Asian countries, as well as in the US and Canada.

Moscow has its own tram traditions. Thus, Route 27 in the north of Moscow is more than a hundred years old. A horse tram was used there in the early part of the past century. By the way, a horse-drawn tram can be seen in the annual tram parade on Moscow Transport Day. Transport Day had to be cancelled in 2020 due to Covid-19, but in 2019, over 100,000 people watched the parade. Moscow residents and guests could see the evolution of carriages and many display items are still running.

Today, trams are an eco-friendly, safe, comfortable and rapid type of urban transport. The Moscow system has been praised by many besides the international experts. Almost 207,000 Muscovites expressed satisfaction with the Vityaz trams in a vote on the Active Citizen website. Over 700,000 passengers were riding the trams every day before the pandemic.

Source: mos.ru

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