Purchase of new trolleybuses announced

Vilnius starts upgrading its trolleybus fleet, which will make it one of the newest and most modern in the capital. At the end of the year, UAB Vilniaus Viešasis Transportas (Vilnius Public Transport) (VVT) launched a public tender for the purchase of 91 double-axle trolleybuses and started the first stage of the upgrade after a new revision of the conditions. After the procurements, autonomous trolleybuses will reach Vilnius in summer 2024. The remaining vehicles will be delivered in the first quarter of 2025.

“We have renewed a significant share of our buses, and now it’s time for trolleybuses – we are buying 91 of them. UAB Vilniaus Viešasis Transportas has already received bank financing, and the procurement procedures have started. A year from now, all double-axle trolleybuses will be brand new. And I would not even call them trolleybuses, but rather electric buses that charge under catenary and can run part of their route without being directly connected,” says Remigijus Šimašius, Mayor of Vilnius.

Vilnius is expected to renew its entire trolleybus fleet by 2026, with the average age of trolleybuses being just over 2 years.

The international procurement announced for the first stage of the upgrade will be financed by the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD), including €10 million from the Climate Change Programme, which the company received back in 2021.

“According to the tender conditions, the trolleybuses will arrive in Vilnius in batches of 20, 35 and 36 units. The total cost of the trolleybuses with delivery will be known after the tender, but the amount will not exceed €48 million, most of which will be financed by the EBRD International Bank. The winner of the tender will be determined not only on the basis of the best price, but also on the basis of the 10-year life cycle costs of the trolleybuses: electricity consumption, operating, repair and battery wear and tear costs,” said Darius Aleknavičius, Director General of VVT.

According to Mr Aleknavičius, this will be the first time that international procurement will be carried out using the Bank’s procurement system. This will ensure a higher international competition, transparency and shorten the duration of procurement procedures.

In the second stage of upgrade of trolleybuses, in 2023, the company will launch another public tender for 68 tri-axle trolleybuses. Thus, the trolleybus fleet will be renewed with a total of 159 trolleybuses by 2026.

Trolleybus or e-bus

The new autonomous trolleybuses are sometimes called electric buses because they can travel part of the way without additional charging. Indeed, these trolleybuses have a major advantage over the old trolleybuses: while the routes of standard trolleybuses are limited by the existing overhead contact network, autonomous trolleybuses can run even in its absence.

“Autonomous trolleybuses can travel at least 20 kilometres without using the catenary. This type of trolleybus is more manoeuvrable, more comfortable, and can bypass obstacles not only at junctions but also on surrounding streets if necessary, making the public transport system even more flexible and efficient. Another distinct advantage is that these vehicles do not require additional electric charging infrastructure, which is required for electric buses,” D. Aleknavičius adds.

The new type of trolleybus places a great emphasis on the safety of passengers and drivers. They feature enclosed, safety-certified cabs for drivers. Under the new requirements, the cab will have to be tested for crashworthiness against side, front and roof impacts, testing the structure itself for rollover hazards.

Putting passengers’ needs first

From November this year, all newly acquired public transport vehicles must be adapted for people with disabilities and/or special needs. In the tender conditions, VVT provided for the acquisition of low-floor trolleybuses, which will ensure equal access to public transport for all people. Currently, 74% of the company’s vehicles are of this type, reading around 90% after the procurement.

“In response to the fact that by 2027 all public transport will have to be adapted for people with individual needs, we set out in the tender conditions at the beginning of the year certain solutions, such as an anchorage ramp, special buttons for announcing the need for assistance, or audible signals,” says Aleknavičius.

The new trolleybuses will be convenient for bicycle enthusiasts, as they will be equipped with at least one bicycle rack inside the cabin and will be able to carry bicycles. In addition, all trolleybuses will be equipped with USB ports, WiFi, scoreboards and multimedia displays providing passenger with up-to-date information during their journey.

Trolleybus compartments will be air-conditioned, heated and ventilated to a high standard. A system to neutralise viruses and other micro-organisms will also be installed, while CCTV cameras inside and outside the trolleybuses will help to ensure the safety of passengers.

Environmentally friendly trolleybuses

With the purchase of new trolleybuses, VVT is promoting the shift to less polluting electric modes of transport.

According to Aleknavičius, the new trolleybus batteries and the intelligent electricity consumption management system will allow to increase energy efficiency of the new trolleybuses by charging the batteries at a lower electricity supply price, thus saving money.

“Trolleybuses with traction batteries and dynamic catenary charging are a highly efficient technology with huge economic and environmental potential. Also, the new vehicles will significantly reduce existing repair costs and passenger inconvenience, thus ensuring faster, more timely and comfortable journeys for both the company’s drivers and our passengers,” D. Aleknavičius emphasised.

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