Construction and Delivery
In January 1997, two bogies were installed and tested on a ST55-tram trailer. On 10 February 1997, a mock-up of the driver's cab was made in Italy and sent to Oslo to try to optimize the layout. On 8 April 1997, Oslo Sporveier decided to order an additional 13 trams. The full options were not realized due to lack of funding. At the same time it was decided that all SM91-trams would be retired, while some SM83-trams would remain in service after the full delivery of the SL95s. By 1998, delivery date for the first vehicle, no. 141, was set to 23 May, with plans to put it into scheduled service on 23 June. The mock-up was scrapped on 12 February. However, the tram was not completed until October, when representatives for the tram company could operate it for the first time at Firema's plant. This delay was caused by the roof having blown off the plant. A NOK 1 million discount per tram was granted due to the incident.
Tram no. 141 arrived at Oslo on 5 January 1999 in three parts. They were connected together and tried within the end of the month on the entire network, prior to the delivery of tram 142. Delivery frequency was set to every two weeks. During periods from April through June, the current along sections of the Lilleaker Line was raised from 600 to 750 V; this included trials with the SL95 to ensure that it could operate under this current as well.
Tram 141 was first used in scheduled traffic on 30 May, when it was put into service on the newly extended Ullevål Hageby Line. This line had been extended 1.6 kilometres (0.99 mi) to Rikshospitalet, where it would serve the new national hospital. Unlike all the other lines of the tramway, this terminus does not have a turning loop, so only bidirectional trams can operate. SL95 was the only bidirectional tram in Oslo Sporveier's fleet. Delays in the delivery caused the line to terminate at John Colletts plass, where there is a turning loop.
Tram 142 was first used in schedule service on 1 June 1999, and 143 was delivered to Oslo on 3 June. To be able to use the trams on the desired lines, Oslo Sporveier had to upgrade its infrastructure several places. The SL95 need a vertical curve radius of 500 metres (1,600 ft), requiring upgrades at Wessels plass and Gamlebyen. The curves would also need to be fixed at Geita Bridge, but this was not done since the trams exceed the bridge's permitted load. The minimum permitted horizontal curve radius is 17 metres (56 ft), making it impossible for the trams to operate through the intersection between Riddervolds gate and Inkognitogata, where the radius is 16.5 metres (54 ft). This means the trams cannot operate on the Briskeby Line, and all trams to Majorstuen are therefore operated with SL79. Restrictions on two trams passing was issued on several shorter sections, including the S-curve from Kirkeristen to Stortorvet, but these sections were quickly rebuilt.
By 2000, deliveries were delayed, and in June all trams were taken out of service for three weeks to modify the gearboxes. In October, ten of thirteen trams were taken out of service due to radial run-out. The problem was large enough that some trams got a new radial run-out the day after they were fixed. From 6 January 2001, SL95 could be used on the Grünerløkka–Torshov Line, and from 6 February, on the Ekeberg Line. However, the latter still had too short platforms.
Operation proved to give several major difficulties, and by March 2001, Oslo Sporveier was threatening to terminate the purchase agreement unless the manufacturer—who by then had merged to become AnsaldoBreda—fixed the problems. These included the noise being 15 dB too loud, and trams being out of service during the January–February cold spell, when batteries and rectifiers would not operate. It was agreed that AnsaldoBreda would have to replace all 256 motors to satisfy the criteria in the contract. By 1 June, AnsaldoBreda had delivered one tram that met all the contract's criteria. Tram 155 was by then still undelivered, and was being used for testing by the manufacturer. At the same time, 149 was being used for tests in Oslo. The trams were taken out of service, and gradually put back as they were upgraded. In February 2002, tram 155 was equipped with new motors, and a new agreement was made where all motors would be replaced by December 2003, if Oslo Sporveier was satisfied with six months of trials with 155.
The last day with SM91 in service was on 1 November 2002. By then, 27 of the SL95-trams had been delivered, and Oslo Sporveier was able to operate its entire network with only articulated trams. Until 2003, trams 142 and 149 were not in service for long-term repairs. On 8 July 2004, a computer error caused tram 161 neither to be able to run nor open the doors, even with the emergency system. This was caused by the computer indicating that the tram was running at 12.5 kilometres per hour (7.8 mph) while it stood still. All trams were later altered so the motorman could override such incidents. The final trams were delivered in 2004, and no. 142 was put into service in January 2005. At the same time, corrosion was discovered inside the articulation of tram 141. In 2006, Oslo Sporveier introduced a program to upgrade all the SL95-trams, including removing corrosion from the bodywork and the inside, as well as simplifying the lubrication of the joints, which prior to the upgrades required the entire trams to be de-hooked. These upgrades are planned to be completed by 2009. The trams have also had problems with the air supply freezing during cold spells, making it impossible to retract the side mirrors when changing direction, and terminating the secondary suspension. This requires the trams to be operated at walking speed without passengers.
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