The future light rail line 550 between Helsinki’s Itäkeskus and Espoo’s Keilaniemi will be operated with equipment designed specifically for the service. The first concept for the light rail vehicle, Artic XL, has been completed. The design is based on the latest Artic tram of Helsinki City Transport (HKL). The tram has been received favourably by passengers.
The concept of Artic XL relies on customer-oriented service design. The needs of families with small children and slow-moving passengers have had high priorities in the design. In order to ensure accessibility, both Helsinki Region Transport (HSL) and HKL have tested the vehicle prototype several times together with the City of Helsinki Council on Disability and representatives of various disability organizations.
Artic XL is a low-floor vehicle over its entire length, and it has places for wheelchairs and service dogs. More of the seats are at floor level than in the trams in use today. There is more space for standing passengers than in the current fleet.
Accessibility serves all passengers, as a vehicle that is easy to move in, doesn’t have to linger at stops. Fast and smooth operation at stops is a crucial part of the light rail concept.
Artic XL has doors on both sides, and the vehicle is air-conditioned. There are more traffic information displays than in the current trams.
The colouring of the Artic XL vehicle is blue and green, so it conforms to the traditional colour scheme of the Helsinki tram fleet, although the metallic colours of Artic XL are not identical with the current tram colours. The hue differentiates the light rail line from the current trams lines.
The light rail vehicle will be the big brother of the current Artic tram car
The future light rail line 550 – Jokeri Light Rail Line – will replace the Jokeri trunk bus line 550, which is HSL’s busiest bus service and a high-capacity line. As a result, Artic XL has been designed for large volumes. The car is 34.5 metres long, it seats 76 passengers and accommodates 180 standing passengers. The capacity of Artic XL is about 20 percent higher than that of the current Artic tram car. Artic XL can accommodate more than three times the number of passengers compared with a triple axle bus.
Artic XL could be extended to 44 metres, which would give the vehicle an 80 percent higher capacity compared with the basic Artic tram.
Artic XL vehicles are energy-efficient and environmentally friendly. They can recover the moving vehicle’s kinetic energy under braking and use it for air-conditioning in summer and for heating in winter.
The new vehicles are designed to travel in the current tram network as well as on light rail tracks. An Artic XL prototype will be introduced by HKL to Helsinki inner city routes in the summer of 2019, allowing HKL and HSL to acquire experience in the use of the vehicle for the finalization of the design for serial production. The Jokeri Light Rail Line is scheduled to go into operation at the beginning of the 2020s.
HSL and HKL have partnered in the design with the Finnish industrial design studio Idis Design Ltd.
HKL procures the light rail vehicles from Transtech Oy, which is a member of Škoda Transportation Group of the Czech Republic. The cars will be manufactured at Transtech’s Otanmäki factory in Kainuu, Finland. The total number of Artic XL vehicles in traffic will be 29.
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