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110th Lajkonik hit Kraków's tracks

posted on 12th Nov 2023 16:05

Kraków's residents already have 110 Lajkonik trams at their disposal. The last 110th Lajkonik, HY722, rolled out onto the line on 9 November from the Nowa Huta depot. One of the largest deliveries of new trams in Poland and Europe, worth a total of more than one billion zloty, was thus completed.

This is the last of the batch of modern, low-floor trams ordered by MPK Kraków, manufactured by Stadler Środa and Stadler Polska. This milestone signifies the fulfillment of tenders won in 2018 and 2020. With these trams, every third tram in Kraków is now a new Lajkonik, contributing to a remarkable shift with over 90 % of trams featuring low floors.

The delivery of this second batch of 60 Lajkonik II trams started in November 2022. The batch is designated HY701 to HY745 for trams in the Nowa Huta depot and RY875 to RY889 for trams in the Podgórze depot.

The departure of the last Lajkonik precisely from Nowa Huta is no coincidence. It is there that the largest number of these trams is stationed, as many as 80 (the remaining 30 are stationed at Podgórze depot). As a result of the deliveries, all old Type 105N trams, i. e. high-floor and non-air-conditioned, have already disappeared from the Nowa Huta depot.

Exceptionally, the event was attended by the Lajkonik (zwierzyniec horseman) with his procession and the orchestra, who travel the streets of Kraków only once a year during a traditional parade. They could not miss them at the Nowa Huta depot, and not only because the tram is named after the Lajkonik and the route of the procession leads through streets on which trams also pass. 

The symbol of the Lajkonik has been placed on the outside of each of the 110 trams, and is also found inside - on the upholstery of the seats. The presence of the Lajkonik had another purpose - according to Kraków custom, it is supposed to bring good fortune to the new trams and the drivers who run them. It is for this reason that both the tram and its driver were symbolically hit with a mace by the Lajkonik before leaving.

Rafał Świerczyński, President of the Management Board of MPK Kraków,emphasised: „For our company, the implementation of the contracts, which included the delivery of 110 new trams, was a major challenge. This would not have been possible without the successful acquisition of EU funds. We managed to obtain funding for the purchase of new trams in the net amount of almost 193 million PLN. The Lajkoniks will carry passengers on 10 out of the 23 existing lines in Kraków." 

The production and delivery of the Lajkoniks ordered under the 2018 and 2020 tenders came at a turbulent and difficult time - the COVID-19 pandemic broke out in late 2019 and early 2020, the war in Ukraine in February 2022. The impact of these events was challenging for many companies - the drastic increase in energy costs, high inflation, disruptions in supply chains and the increase in the price of production components negatively affected the operations and performance of many companies. Despite the numerous difficulties, the manufacturer of the Lajkoniks worked uninterruptedly to deliver all to Kraków. 

All these TANGOs were produced at Stadler's Polish works - the steel bodyshells were built at Stadler Środa, and the final assembly was executed  at Stadler Polska in Siedlce. It is worth to add that four trams out of 110 are adapted for operation without catenary power supply and the remaining ones have been designed to use this solution in the future.

The completion of the delivery of 110 Lajkoniks does not mean that no more new trams will appear in Kraków. MPK is planning to purchase more new low-floor trams equipped with air-conditioning, passenger information systems, monitoring and facilities for people with reduced mobility. The aim is to deliver a total of 60 modern trams in the coming years, with the purchase of 30 cars being planned in the first instance. MPK Kraków, when planning the purchase of new trams, will be looking for external funding to cover part of the amount needed to order them.

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