Tallinn’s trolleys dying out

Praegu on trollibuss oluline sõiduvahend pealinlastele – Kaubamaja peatuses oli eile õhtul troll sõitjaid täis.

PHOTO: Mihkel Maripuu

The «horny» trolleys emblematic of Estonia’s capital are facing a route network reform. In the longer perspective, trolleybus traffic will totally disappear.

Enno Tamm, chief of Tallinna Linnatranspordi AS, the company offering Tallinners their public transport services, is convinced: the current trolleys have no future. «The trolleys, depending solely on haulage plant, are a burden to the city traffic. With blackouts or some accident, in a moment the entire trolley traffic is disturbed. With buses, hybrid buses or electric buses used instead of trolleys, such vehicles could bypass obstacles in case of an accident,» explained Mr Tamm.

As the classic trolley is marginalising yearly the world over, according to Mr Tamm, its definition is undergoing change. «The main feature continues to be environmental friendliness. Even so, a biogas or hybrid bus may also be environmentally friendly,» said Mr Tamm, hinting at perspective replacements. 

The current trolleys are dependent on the plant for transforming and carrying electric power for their haulage. New generation trolleys can go shorter distances without direct supply. Trolleys cost more than double the bus price, maintaining the haulage plant is expensive. «As compared to Tallinn’s trolley network, trams and buses are obviously the prudent thing to maintain.»

Still, Mr Tamm thinks that Tallinn’s electric transport percentage may not decrease. «The proportion must stay the same and even grow, in the future; whether by tram or new-type trolley, that depends on various issues. As compared to diesel transport, the proportion of electric transport definitely may not drop,» said Mr Tamm.

«Tallinna Linnatranspordi AS currently has 91 trolleys at its disposal, over half of these i.e. 51 being the new Solaris trolleys. About 30 are the old Škodas, totally outdated. To get rid of these, we have set a two year deadline,» assured Mr Tamm.

The appearance, often scaring away potential passengers, is not the sole reason for their removal. The larger problem is safety of passengers. «The old Škoda door shutters come from last century. Many accidents, with passengers, are the fault of these very doors,» said Mr Tamm.

Work is underway to replace the oldies; yesterday, for instance, a meeting with Volvo representatives took place.

«Hybrids and gas buses have been introduced by several other companies as well. In February, we are planning to see the gas buses, used in Tartu for two years already (these do, however, ride on natural gas; the environmental friendly ones that Tallinna Linnatransport ought to be interested in should use biogas – edit) – so we are seeking solutions all the time,» claimed Mr Tamm. To the 51 Solaris trolleys currently carrying Tallinners, there will be no increase. The existing ones will, according to Mr Tamm, service the city folk for a long while, but probably on fewer routes.

According to Mr Tamm, proportion of electric transport might increase in city centre. «Gradually, probably, tram traffic will dominate the city centre more. The city has purposed to take the trams to the airport; the next needed step would be trams to the port,» specified Mr Tamm.

Mr Tamm hopes that next week Tallinna Linnatranspordi AS will sign reconstruction contract regarding tram routes 4 and 3; weather willing, construction would commence at the end of March. 

According to procurement contract, the sample tram should reach Tallinn on November 1st. «That tram can only ride the reconstructed rails. The new trams are heavier, wherefore the old tracks will not do; so, for instance, they cannot go towards Kopli, from Viru [Hotel] Circle,» he noted. During the first months of 2015 and 2016, the remaining 19 new generation trams will arrive in Tallinn, to ride routes 3 and 4.