A bright view of German public transport
Known for its original design solutions aligned with each city’s specific public transport infrastructure, HeiterBlick is a specialist supplier of customised light rail vehicles, gradually growing its influence across Germany
Trams are the epitome of electromobility in public transport. As calls for the prioritisation of urban electric transport get louder, Leipzig-based developer of light rail vehicles, HeiterBlick, is experiencing a heightened demand for its services. Specialised in producing both low-floor and high-floor vehicles, the company has constructed a variety of tram models that now run daily in the cities of Leipzig, Halberstadt, Bielefeld, and Hannover. Alongside building new trams, HeiterBlick also carries out retrofitting measures for existing vehicles and offers engineering and assembly solutions for vehicle components, as well as complete after-sales service.
“Our trams are characterised by individual vehicle concepts, specifically adapted to the infrastructure of each individual customer, as well as by their own robust and reliable bogie technology,” Managing Director, Samuel Kermelk discusses. “Furthermore, the development focuses not only on compliance with safety regulations and customer requirements, but also on the comfort of both passengers and drivers.”
Reflecting on the company’s core strengths, Samuel considers its flexibility and agility in responding promptly to emerging customer needs as two all-important qualities that have contributed to HeiterBlick’s success. “In addition, due to our consistent and comprehensive quality management system, we are able to maintain a high level of operation at all times. We have also made sure to create a pleasant working atmosphere with special benefits for our employees, which positively affects their work, and therefore, the quality of our products.”
The ‘Vamos Bielefeld’ project is one of the most significant works HeiterBlick has delivered to date. Teaming up with Kiepe Electric, the Leipzig manufacturer developed 16 GTZ8-B high-floor trams for the city of Bielefeld, taking into account its infrastructure specifications. “In the consortium, we were responsible for the creation of the entire body of the car and the bogies,” comments Samuel. Facing the challenge to build a vehicle that would continue to serve Bielefeld’s platforms, which were designed for 2.30 metres wide light rail vehicles, and at the same time carry more passengers, HeiterBlick came up with the idea to construct the trams in a bulbous shape, which is only 2.65 metres wide above the platforms. This way, the vehicles can accommodate up to 230 people, allowing plenty of room for wheelchairs and bicycles, too. Following the success of the first consignment, contractor moBiel ordered another 24 vehicles for its fleet in December 2017.
Another significant project undertaken by HeiterBlick was the development of TW3000 trams for Üstra Hannover. Having won its first contract in 2011 to supply 50 light rail vehicles, two years later HeiterBlick, again in partnership with Kiepe Electric, received an order for another 50 trams, and in May 2017, the consortium was commissioned to manufacture further 46 TW3000 vehicles. Evidently happy with the quality of work displayed, Üstra announced that it would expand its fleet by another seven vehicles, taking the tally to 153, with the final delivery expected to take place early in 2020.
HeiterBlick-made trams will also soon serve the citizens of Dortmund, thus expanding the geographical area of activity for the company. In April 2018, Dortmund public transport operator DSW21 awarded the consortium of HeiterBlick and Kiepe Electric a contract worth 195 million euros. “The job consists of constructing 24 new high-floor trams with six axles, as well as the refurbishment of a total of 64 existing B80-C vehicles. Of those, 43 are six-axle and 21 are eight-axle,” Samuel explains. “We will design and build the complete car body, including the bogies, and all the trams (new and refurbished) will have the same design, exterior and interior, so the passenger should not notice a difference between new and old vehicles. The trams are scheduled to begin their passenger service in the period from 2021 to 2028, starting with the new vehicles.”
Samuel is aware that the development of the ‘tram of the future’ will occupy the industry’s thoughts in the years to come, and he is more than willing to see HeiterBlick be an integral part of the process. “The concept should always be focused on the various needs passengers might have,” he maintains. “For example, the desire for free Wi-Fi has to be satisfied, security aspects should be addressed, autonomous driving might be considered, and intelligently-designed seating concepts need to be developed. I would even venture to think that the conventional ticket machine will soon be replaced by a mobile app that triggers the ticket purchase when entering the tram.
“In the more immediate future, we will focus on processing the orders we have received, while continuing to follow the developments in the market and acting upon them,” Samuel outlines his plans for the coming years. “As time progresses, we would like to cement our position in the market as a provider of high-quality light rail vehicles, thereby controlling the company’s growth.”