Swiss trams in Sofia: ‘Cucumbers’ invading the tracks

Written by on April 26, 2017 in Bulgaria - Comments Off on Swiss trams in Sofia: ‘Cucumbers’ invading the tracks

In Sofia, some ‘cucumbers’, used trams donated to Sofia by Switzerland, just started transporting passengers. The green trams, which covered hundreds of thousands of kilometers in the Swiss city of Basel before they were sent to Sofia, will replace even older trams on lines 6, 8 and 12.

Sofia’s Mayor Yordanka Fandakova was on one of the ‘cucumbers’ yesterday, along with Swiss Ambassador Denis Knobel and Malina Krumova, the Bulgarian caretaker government’s Deputy Prime Minister for E.U. Funds.

Ambassador Knobel asked Sofia to keep those ‘cucumbers’ as green as they are now: “This is the only condition of our donation. We are asking Sofia to keep them green, as a symbol of environmental protection.” Mayor Fandakova, who seemed to have liked the smooth ride she was on, promised to do so: “We also have other colors of urban transport, but to them these trams are symbolic. We are grateful for this opportunity with a grant of 85%, to provide replacements for very old trams moving in Sofia.”

The arrival of the second load of ‘cucumbers’ in Sofia, on April 17.

The state of many of the trams in the city, as well as most of the tracks, is terrible. The latter issue does not only decrease the tram’s speed in many parts of Sofia, but it does damage to trams, as the NGO Spasi Sofia has pointed out on numerous occasions.

A total of 28 ‘cucumbers’ will be sent to Sofia. Those donations are part of an existing programme of Swiss-Bulgarian cooperation.

The first green trams arrived in Sofia in early February of 2017. Strapped to freight train wagons, another eight of them got here on April 17. An additional 16 ‘cucumbers’ will be coming soon.

Since Monday, two green trams started circling the city. Over the next few months, their number will increase.

A very sexy replacement for the ‘cucumbers’ sent to Bulgaria, in Basel.

The ‘cucumbers’ from Basel were built in the early 1990-s. They are equipped with CCTV screens and cameras. Technically, they are low-floor trams. The segment in their center allows easy access for physically handicapped and elderly people, as well as parents or grandparents with strollers.

Basel, of course, had to replace the ‘cucumbers’ they sent to Bulgaria. The Swiss city purchased truly elegant and sleek looking trams.

Photos by Basler Verkehrs-Betriebe.

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About the Author

Imanuel Marcus, the founder of foreignersandfriends.com, is Associate Editor of The Sofia Globe.