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Pesa low floor streetcar for the Krakow Tram System

There is quite an assortment of rolling stock at the Innotrans 2016 show, but I have selected one in particular to serve as an example of what is being built for other cities. It isn’t necessarily something that should be grabbed as a complete design and immediately put to use in Seattle, as it has a number of features that were requested by the operator. It does illustrate what features other cities have asked to have on their transit equipment and some of these features may be useful to consider when looking at what might one day operate in Seattle.

The particular car I have selected is the Krakowiak, built by Pesa for the Krakow, Poland tram (streetcar) system.

Some basic numbers:
Length: 141 feet in four car sections
Number of seats: 93
Full passenger capacity: 284
Maximum Speed: 43 mph

By the numbers it doesn’t seem so impressive I suppose. It sounds like a fairly typical streetcar, though obviously a bit longer than what is currently in use in Seattle, Tacoma or Portland. Though, it should be pointed out that in the not too distant past streetcars in use in Krakow weren’t this long either, but the transition to longer cars proved desirable for a number of reasons.

Taking a look inside gives an impression the numbers don’t necessarily reveal:

The bike rack section of the car is an unusual design that prevents people from lifting the bikes onto hooks, and keeps one bike from blocking another.

While most of the doors have a fair amount of space for passengers to move around, one door is the designated bike door and pictured above is their solution to bike storage.

A view of the bike rack area from a different angle.

While this particular method of stowing a bike on transit equipment takes up a bit of space, it also eliminates some of the issues with having people lift their bikes into a hook. The door is equipped with a sign that indicates bikes need to board at that particular door.

Even though most passengers will be traveling short distances, the car has small tables.

I found it interesting that some of the seats were equipped with these very small tables.

Those small tables come with two USB power outlets.

I found it especially interesting that these tables were each equipped with USB power outlets.

USB power outlets seems to be an extremely popular thing for transit equipment these days. At least two of the battery buses on display at the show have them, as well as a number of rail transit cars.

The 100% low floor design means the wheels protrude into the passenger area, but it is still possible to use the space.

The car is essentially 100% low floor, and there are no stairs at all from the entry to the rest of the car floor. While this does mean that the wheels protrude into the passenger area, it is still possible to utilize the space.

The ticket validator on the far right is a touch screen that is able to display messages in any of six or so languages.

Destination displays are so much more than LED signs.

As with pretty much all of the transit equipment at the show, the car is equipped with LCD screens that give the next several stations, and otherwise is a much more useful display than what is typically seen in the USA.

Tomorrow the outdoor displays are open to the public, and this is usually an extremely popular day. Visitor counts on Saturdays have been in the tens of thousands. Thus, this is my final article about Innotrans 2016, unless someone has special requests for more.

My hope is that you have enjoyed a little bit of a window into what is currently being built for other transit systems elsewhere.


Glenn Laubaugh (“Glenn in Portland”) is part of the engineering staff for a small company in Portland that builds electrical equipment for railroad passenger cars.

6 Replies to “Innotrans Day 5: Krakowiak”

  1. Among other things, there were three different competing “ropeway” (gondola and cable hauled train) manufacturers at the show. Berlin will be getting a new gondola line soon.

  2. That Polish tram looks comfortable and spacious. I’ll bet the HVAC system doesn’t roar like a jet engine, either. But we can take comfort in knowing that Link has the most control cabs. Nowhere else in the world do they understand the superior utility of having eight control cabs in a four-car train.

    1. HVAC noise depends a lot more on the duct work design than a lot of other things. Your trying to cram a lot of cooling capacity through a fairly small space.

      This is one reason why the company I work for uses variable speed fans, but it also makes the control system more complicated and thus more expensive.

  3. That looks like luxury transit to me. Something to add when you’ve already solved the basic mobility problems of the area. The thing spends a lot of space on bikes, which simply don’t scale. USB chargers are very nice as well. I think this would really appeal to city leaders that believe that running a streetcar will magically transform their city or a particular neighborhood. It sure is pretty. To be fair, at least it carries more riders than one of our buses (which you can’t really say with our streetcars).

    1. It isn’t necessarily a waste of space if it gets used. In some places, where biking is a common way to get around, bike spaces are pretty important.

      It may be a luxury, but sometimes you have to provide passengers what they want. Otherwise, you wind up with wooden slat benches in a box with a wood burning stove for heat, and the passengers are hot or cold based on where they are in the car. Such cars met basic mobility needs in the 1880s.

    2. This is Poland. They probably have already solved the basic mobility problems of the area. Poland was and may still be poor compared to the rest of the EU, so that probably means a lot of people don’t have cars and thus the transit network has to be comprehensive.

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