ABB traction motors help to boost tram travel in Poland’s city of parks and gardens

ABB traction motors help to boost tram travel in Poland’s city of parks and gardens

Gorzów has upgraded its tram network with modern, low-floor vehicles, providing a fast, comfortable and environment-friendly public transport system. The new trams are powered by ABB motors.

In 2011 the city of Gorzów in western Poland faced a tough decision on the future of its trams. Electric trams had been running in the city for over one hundred years, and by the early 2000s the system’s aging infrastructure and rolling stock made it very expensive to operate. The choice was either to scrap part - or even all - of the network, or invest in modernizing it for the 21st century.

The news that Gorzów could lose its trams shocked many of the inhabitants. They drew up petitions demanding that the city should not only keep its trams but also further develop the system for the future. “People power” won the day and a major project was launched to upgrade the infrastructure and buy new trams.

Special trams with tailor-made motors

The trams that run on Gorzów’s network are non-standard in length, and they need the capability for two-way operation. The order to design and supply the trams went to Pesa, a Polish company that builds trams and railway vehicles.

“This was an opportunity for us to produce a new type of tram, a totally new solution,” says Marcin Grzyb, Sales Director, Tram Market at Pesa.

Pesa’s design for Gorzów is a new version of its low-floor Twist model. Each tramcar has a passenger capacity of 170 with 48 seated, and the spacious interior ensures excellent ride comfort. Providing more space in the passenger compartment, however, means there is less space for the motors. Pesa’s design needed motors that are compact and tailored to fit the space available, while delivering a high power density and meeting strict requirements for efficiency and reliability.

“Pesa approached us to design and produce the motors. We were happy to take up the challenge,” says Paweł Banach, Principal Sales and Marketing Specialist, ABB Poland. “Each vehicle is powered by four 105 kW traction motors. One bogie has two motors mounted on both sides, driving each axle via a gearbox. This was a completely new type of product for us on the Polish market. At the same time, we were also dealing with a new power range, because we had previously focused on motors for railway locomotives with powers between 800 and 1400 kW.”

Engineering the motors to fit into Gorzów’s trams involved very close collaboration between ABB and Pesa’s design office. Joint work extended from electrical engineering, through optimization of the motors for the new trams’ drive cycles, to coordination of mechanical interfaces for the gearbox, bogie and brakes.

“This project is the first time Pesa have used our traction motors in trams,” Paweł Banach adds, “but they have used ABB motors in compressors and cooling fans, and they have also used low voltage electrification components and safety devices from ABB.”

  • Trams are an environment-friendly form of transport
  • Gorzów’s low-floor trams have proven extremely popular

Traveling in comfort and safety

The extensive upgrade to Gorzów’s tram infrastructure meant that services had to be suspended for almost three years. The new trams started trial runs in mid-April 2020, with regular services commencing in July.

“In 2011 we had reached the moment when we had to make a final decision – either scrap the system or modernize it. Doing nothing was no longer an option,” says Roman Maksymiak, CEO of MZK, Gorzów’s public transport operator. “We wanted a tram tailored to Gorzów… and we wanted the people of our city to be able to feel the difference.”

Gorzów’s citizens have certainly noticed the difference from the city’s old, worn-out trams, and the low-floor design has proven extremely popular. It ensures easy access, especially for disabled passengers and people with reduced mobility. Because they are easier to board and exit, low-floor trams help to keep services running on time. High levels of comfort and safety, and fast journey times make the trams an enjoyable traveling experience.

“Trams are an environment-friendly way of getting around. Using the tram means there are fewer cars on the road, which eases congestion and cuts emissions,” explains Paweł Banach. “We are pleased that our traction motors are playing their own part in improving the local environment.”

A city of 123,000 people

  • Official name Gorzów Wielkopolski
  • Located 400 km west of Warsaw on the River Warta
  • Known for its many parks and gardens
  • Electric trams were introduced to Gorzów in 1899. The total length of the city’s tram tracks is 25 km. Pesa has supplied 14 low-floor Twist 2015N trams with an option for a further six. Each tramcar is driven by four ABB 105 kW traction motors.


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