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Passengers laud new trams

Tapani and Ritva Halla-Seppälä first used a tram some 50 years ago. “There was a lot of creaking and squeaking. In the summer, the trams had no sides at all.”

“Ten points for the ride,” Osmo Ketola summarised his impressions of the new low-floor trams in Helsinki. Similarly to Ketola, other passengers aboard the new Artic trams, currently in service on tramlines 6 and 8, lauded the passenger experience on Sunday.

“There's nothing jarring: there's no rattle or clatter,” Ketola commented.

“The seats are softer, and big enough for any bottom,” said Ritva Halla-Seppälä.

“And for shoulders!” added Tapani Halla-Seppälä. “You don't have to stoop.”

Manufactured by Finland's Transtech, two Artic trams have been trialled on the testing streets of Helsinki since last autumn and thus far experienced no major problems. “We have received an unusual amount of praise,” says Ollipekka Heikkilä, the head of development at the Helsinki City Transport (HKL).

In particular, passengers have been impressed with the smooth and silent ride.

Others, in turn, have pointed out that it is impossible to enjoy the night scenery due to the brightness of the lighting inside the tram. The lighting will duly be dimmed moderately and the seats made even softer.

Minor adjustments are also to be introduced in the cab, with the drivers calling for tweaks to their seats and other details. Receiving money from passengers, for example, has proven complicated due to the small size of the hole in the partition, driver Jarmo Hartonen tells.

Hartonen has driven the new Artic trams for roughly 30 hours and is pleased. “You can monitor what goes on in the tram through cameras. It makes our job a lot safer.”

It is also easier to bring the tram to a stop, he points out, acknowledging also the smooth ride provided by the Artic.

A few weeks ago, the new trams came out with flying colours from the more official acid test, reaching the mark of 6,000 kilometres in service without any problems in an exceptionally short time. New vehicles are typically pestered by problems following their introduction.

The third Artic tram is scheduled for delivery by early 2016, whereon HKL will introduce one tram roughly every 30 days until all 40 are in operation. The trams are introduced gradually in order to be able to test them thoroughly in all conditions and thus to avoid any unpleasant surprises.

Päivi Punkka, Maija Aalto – HS
Aleksi Teivainen – HT
© HELSINGIN SANOMAT
Photo: HS