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above - Salzburg Conference, 2004

Tbus News - Salzburg Conference

There is a common misconception that trolleycoaches or trolleybuses run on rails or are guided by their overhead wires. Trolleybuses do neither but can be guided.

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Promoting quiet, clean urban transport using Overhead Electric, Zero Emission Trolleybuses -
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updated 1/2/06

A conference held from 13th to 15th May 2004 at the Alpenstra?e trolleybus depot in Salzburg, produced unqualified support for the need to spread the message that Trolleybuses are good for the environment. Speakers presented evidence from all over Europe of the widespread popularity of the mode by the public wherever trolleybus systems had been retained. The conference produced solid proposals to extend the take up of trolleybus technology.

Solaris Trollino interior

Manufacturers present at the Conference included Skoda, Irisbus, Neoplan, Solaris, Van Hool and Ganz . Operators present included Arnhem, Bern, Salzburg, Solingen, Zurich, Eberswalde, and Tallin.

Irisbus/Skoda 24TR model with diesel auxillary unit, based on the Renault Agorra

Skoda presented the Tr24 vehicle, representing its new trolleybus building partnership with Irisbus based on the Renault Agorra with Skoda electrical equipment. Neoplan presented an 18m Athens vehicle, straight off the production line and not yet complete (Salzburg is used for testing). Solaris presented its Trollino with Ganz electrical equipment and the latest Salzburg Van Hool trolleybus was present. The Skoda Tr24 and the Solaris provided tours of Salzburg, as did a preserved 1967 'Nostalgia Obus'.

Irisbus/Skoda 24TR tours Salzburg (picture - Mattis Schindler)

Gunter Mackinger, the director of Stradbus, Salzburg, spoke of the problem of convincing management of the need to retain the trolleybus system 15 months ago. His strategy has been to re-brand the operator identity, to donate the overhead infrastructure to the city, (saving costs), to extend the system to, for instance, the Europark (Ikea), to re-number the routes so Obus [trolleybus] routes take precedence over diesel routes and to run the operation as an 'upside down railway', The 'upside down railway' concept was described by Gunter (who also runs the local 600v railway) as meaning the system is managed like a railway and thus is inherently efficient - unlike diesels, he said, that just get sent out of the depot in the morning to fend for themselves! Additional intentions include creating an express Obus route with double wiring for overtaking (route X4) and to convert diesel routes to trolley operation. There is now a 5 year plan of trolleybus expansion, including 2 new routes. Patronage on the bus routes converted to trolleybus has increased by 16%. He wants to see every major road wired. Riding on the system, which radiates in all directions from the centre, demonstrates state-of -the-art operation, with completely transparent direction switching and no perceptible slowing for switches or crossovers or corners. 72 trolleys operate on 141 km of overhead, the oldest vehicles date from 1989. Rush hour headways are 3 minutes on any one route, though as all routes pass between the station and the old city centre, headways on that section reduce to every 30 seconds. Confidence in the system is shown by there being no auxiliary power units [APUs] on the vehicles. There are 15 substations serving 2/3 km sections. Talk of the advantages of having an existing infrastructure were dismissed by Gunter, as virtually the entire system has, or will soon be completely renewed over a five to ten year period. On one route uses 9 trolleybuses which would need 10 if operated by diesel. Trolleybuses have various slogans on the rear window, such as 'we move Salzburg' , 'I work instead of a 100 polluting cars' and 'I am one of 72 trolleybuses, clean, safe and comfortable'. Gunter presented in English a position paper 'Regarding the EU-directive on the allocation of public service contracts for passenger service', which argues for trolleybus systems to be classified as railway systems.

Plileas Tbus concept

Wil Teunissen, spoke of the 17% increase on Arnhem routes converted from diesel to trolleybus on a 'like for like' basis. There were pressures in Arnhem to scrap trolleybuses in 1970, 1980 and 1997. His study, despite showing a need for subsidies, had proved the benefits to the politicians, but the re-branding, 'Trolley2000', on new vehicles, was what had swung the decision and the public acceptance.
Peter Hanz of Stadwerke Solingen mentioned how quality trolleybuses equated with quality streets, and how people in Solingen identified with trolleybuses.

18m Neoplan N6221 for Athens (picture - Neoplan)

Cristian Vana of Neoplan, talked of the emotional appeal of trolleybuses - safe, flexible and moving like a cat - which is why people like them. He believed that a 21m articulated trolleybus, with double axles on the trailer was a particularly good idea as the inherent balance of the trailer would lessen the demands placed on the bellows section. He mentioned that Neoplan is working on a double articulated trolleybus (Bus-Tram). He also thought London would like double deck trolleybuses (Neoplan is currently building new double deck buses for Berlin).

12 metre Solaris Trollino demonstrator

The Solaris, was presented by Trollino Managing Director Kryssztof Olszewski. He mentioned that Rome will need 300 more trolleybuses to implement the plans for expanding the new system.. Aside from Rome's initial order, current orders include 45 for Napoli and 100 for Riga, both with Ceglec electrical equipment. The electrical equipment supplier for the Rome vehicles is Ganz Transelektro.

Unfinished Athens Neoplan N6221 - last of the current order

Tamas Ruzsayi, R&D director of Ganz, explained that the Rome vehicles' batteries are NiMH (Nickel Metal Hydride), similar to those used in the Toyota Prius hybrid car. Rome trolleybuses will operate off wire in the city centre, the batteries are guaranteed for 5 years but have a hoped for life of 10 years in regular daily service. Szabo Tamas, an engineer from Ganz, believes they will last longer if combined with a super capacitor. On the Rome and Landskrona vehicles [where depot access is not wired], batteries are organised in 40x12v blocks with specially developed integrated battery control electronics. They are sized to propel a Rome trolleybus for 10km, on the basis that the 3km gap in the overhead in Rome will include rush hour travel conditions of stop start and the batteries will need to guarantee power to the brake compressor and air conditioning The overhead sections of the rest of the routes were stated to be long enough to recharge the batteries. The batteries add 5-6% to the total cost (400k Euros) of a vehicle.

21 metre 4 axle concept for London

The Salzburg Trolleybus Conference accepted a proposal to form an Obus [trolleybus] pressure group amongst trolleybus manufacturers, operators and burgermeisters of Europe to lobby for increased trolleybus usage, as the EU commission has little awareness of trolleybuses and the UITP, despite forming a Trolleybus Group on April 1st this year, is regarded as too bureaucratic. The Obus pressure group will operate independently and aim to ensure the trolleybus is considered in all new relevant transport

updated 25/11/04
By Ashley Bruce