The first tram bearing the Škoda logo but manufactured at a plant in Otanmäki has been rolled out in Finland, news website iDnes reported Monday. The tram, called the Artic, was not developed by Škoda but by Transtech, in which Škoda Transportation bought a controlling stake just three months ago.
The acquisition of a controlling stake in Finland’s biggest rail carriage and tram producer was described as a significant step by Škoda Transportation into the Scandinavian market: now, the first new tram bearing the Czech company has been rolled off the factory floor. Forty of the Artics will eventually run in Helsinki; serial factory production of the model will begin in 2016 and all 40 of the vehicles ordered are to be delivered by May of 2018, Transtech director Matti Haapakangas told Czech news site iDnes.
The new trams, developed by Transtech, were already tested for two years and are unusual in terms of technical design, based on free-turning bogies which sources report are far from common in low-floor trams. The reason for the design and innovation is for the vehicles to be able to fare successfully and run smoothly along Helsinki’s often difficult tram network, which features numerous sharp turns and switches. iDnes points out, the design allows the tram to shift on sharp inclines.
Škoda Transportation has focussed on tram and rail contracts in China, Russia, the USA, Turkey and parts of eastern and central Europe; but it has hoped to expand in Europe more and entry onto the Finnish (and broader Scandinavian market) has made that possible. Zdeněk Majer, vice president of Škoda Transportation and Transtech chairman of the board called Helsinki a case in point and stressed the importance and success of the move for the future of the firm.