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80 years of Pilsen trolleybus / Chapter 8


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8   The Vehicle Fleet


Hundreds of vehicles operated in Pilsen over eight decades. Each new type was a characteristic reflection of the time, technical discoveries and skills of design engineers. The West Bohemian metropolis is also associated with the production of trolleybuses, as many of them were tested there. [51]

8.1      From Three to Twenty-Seven

Three-axle beginnings

Pilsen’s trolleybus operation was launched by three Škoda 3 Tr vehicles in 1941. They were robust, three-axle trolleybuses with metal bodywork welded from steel profiles. Just as all electric vehicles at the time, they were fitted with resistance (contactor) hardware. Trolleybuses with resistance hardware were distinctive for their characteristic yanking movements and clicking noises, giving away the moments at which gears were changed. The third pedal was an emergency brake pedal, which was a new feature in the 3 Tr. The previous 1 and 2 Tr types were only operated with two foot pedals. Thanks to compound motors, the 3 Trs were able to regenerate (recuperate) when braking, which made them ahead of their time by decades. The 3 Tr trolleybuses were reliable and easy to maintain. The last vehicle No. 128 went on its last journey in August 1970.


In 1953, the Public Transport Company of Pilsen (PTCP, in Czech PMDP) also purchased used Škoda 2 Tr trolleybuses from Prague. They were used as extra vehicles to boost services at times when workers commuted to and from work; however, they were not very popular among transport workers. Apart from the fact that steering them was physically strenuous and that they were obsolete, their driving position was on the right side, which was impractical.


(p. 230) A brand new 3 Tr1 after the launch of the service in spring 1941 in the City Spa terminus. The blacked-out front headlights tell us it was wartime. [52]


(p. 231) The two doors in the 3 Tr were operated electro-pneumatically. The entrance to the driver’s zone was a single-leaf door on the left-hand side of the vehicle. [48]


(p. 231) The 3 Tr1 series had upholstered seats that were fitted longitudinally. The floor was made of wooden lath matting. There was no permanent space designated for conductors, who sold tickets while walking through the vehicle. [57]


(p. 232) Each vehicle was tested in the presence of the Ministry of Transport of the Czechoslovak Republic. [54]


(p. 232) The differences in the styles of front ends are represented here by vehicle No. 130 (3 Tr3, on the left-hand side of the picture) and 108 (a 3 Tr1, refurbished in the 1960s), standing in front of a garage hall. [45]


(p. 233) The 3 Trs went through a lot of changes over the course of their operation. On the left is No. 102 soon after the service was launched in 1941 [52]; on the right is No. 101 after two decades in service [47]. A middle door and trolley retrievers were added, and the roof air vent was removed.


(p. 233) After they passed tests in 1949, articulated trolleybuses with trailers remained in operation until 1971. After Zlín, Pilsen was only the second city in Czechoslovakia to use such trolleybuses. On working days, as many as twenty of them provided services on routes 10 and 12. In addition to the D 4 type (Sodomka and Karosa), Sodomka DR 6, Karosa B 40 and Jelcz PO 1E were also used. [6] The Karosa D 4 trailer trolleybus reg. No. 52, in the last stage of its life, can be seen here hitched to an 8 Tr 174 in Heldova Street on 24 April 1971. [74]


(p. 234) On 18 August 1966, a 3 Tr3 122 is approaching Pilsen’s most complex trolleybus intersection at the Skyscraper. Only some vehicles in this series were equipped with protective bars on their sides. [31]


(p. 235) The only known image of the Škoda 2 Tr in Pilsen: by 29 March 1959, vehicle No. 98 parked in Cukrovarská Garage was no longer in operation. [43]

Here comes the unibody

The only commissioned Škoda 6 Tr vehicle brought about a revolutionary change: it had only two axles, an integral structure and only one serial quadripolar motor. It included a new feature a semi-automatic, indirect traction circuit regulation system which semi-automatically regulated the dynamics of steering and was no longer just dependent on the amount of pressure exerted on the accelerator or brake pedals. The vehicle started and braked smoothly, and was free of yanking, though the regulation was not very reliable. That is why it was modified in 1958, and a simpler non-automatic regulation system was installed. The vehicle is now exhibited in the Technical Museum in Brno.


Vehicles with the same Škoda 7 Tr concept were supplied to Pilsen from 1952 onwards. They differed from the 6 Tr type mainly in the different style of the bodywork and electrical hardware. Originally, all Pilsen trolleybuses were painted green and cream, which was changed to red and cream in July 1955. As part of the remodelling of the vehicle, the PTCP replaced the unreliable semi-automatic regulation system with a time-tested, non-automatic indirect regulation system. Vehicle No. 146 operated in the streets of Pilsen for almost 25 years.


The Škoda 8 Tr trolleybuses were added to the fleet in the second half of the 1950s, and with the remodelled 7 Trs soon made up the majority of the fleet. The 8 Trs proved reliable and easy to maintain. Two used vehicles, Nos. 98 and 99 from Mariánské Lázně, were also new additions to the fleet. They were in use until 1978 and were withdrawn after large volumes of 9 Trs were acquired.


(p. 236) Škoda 6 Tr2 135 in Masarykova Avenue, Doubravka, on 27 March 1950. [57].


(p. 237) The 6 Tr vehicle was equipped with a dedicated area for conductors in front of the third door. [57]


(p. 237) Vehicle No. 135 in Cukrovarská Garage on 5 August 1971, accompanied by a 7 Tr 152 and 9 Tr 203. The trend where the bodywork was made rounder is noticeable here. Decommissioned vehicles and those waiting to be inspected are parked at a coal depot. [76]


(p. 238) This diagram of interconnected brake valves in the Škoda 7 Tr type outlines the basic principle behind the steering of trolleybuses that use three pedals. Next to the pedal regulating movement is an operational brake pedal, which is a combination of an electric and pneumatic brake, and a pneumatic emergency brake pedal. Before the first 7 Tr series were introduced, pneumatic/hydraulic brakes were used, which were then replaced by pneumatic brakes. [40]


(p. 239) The first representative of the 7 Trs 136 in Pilsen, here seen in the Bolevec turning bay. The protruding window above the back door, used for displaying the route number, was eventually replaced by a wider box above the back window, where the destination of the route was displayed. [63]


(p. 240) On 14 August 1975, a Škoda 7 Tr 155 trolleybus, a T2 tram, Romania’s Bucegi TV71R bus and a T 211 motor locomotive are crossing paths near a station. [32]


(p. 240) In front of Pilsen’s Brewery Gate is one of the first 7 Tr trolleybuses, remodelled in 1960. Its unusual colour scheme consisted of yellow paint with two blue stripes and a grey roof. [46]


(p. 241) The last 7 Tr 161 in Moskevská Avenue. By then, the plate with the route number was displayed in the back window only. [42]


(p. 241) From 1 October 1961, the letter ‘S’ was displayed on the front end of trolleybuses, indicating that the vehicle had a self-service system where passengers had to board the vehicle via the front door and insert coins in a money box. [63]


(p. 241) 7 Tr4 145 in Moskevská Avenue on 5 August 1974, which was the last year of its service. The original mechanical direction indicators were replaced with indicator lights. The protective wooden, tin-sheathed bars disappeared from the sides. The front end with a missing bumper became the symbol of the ‘effective’ maintenance of Pilsen’s vehicles after accidents. [76]


(p. 242) Škoda 8 Tr 171 with a trolleybus trailer is leaving a garage just after midday on 29 July 1968 to boost the service on route 12. The covered ‘S’ plate indicates that two conductors may have been on board. Route 12, which was the most frequent line, was the last to facilitate the self-service system on 19 August 1972. [31]


(p. 242) By August 1971, the 7 Tr and 8 Tr articulated trolleybuses with trailers were still stationed in Černická Street. Trailers were used by buses only for two more years. [76]


(p. 243) When extra trolleybuses were leaving the garage to boost services, it involved a complicated process of re-routing the trolley poles, which was done directly in Dukelská Avenue. Škoda 8 Tr 164 on 25 March 1977 at noon; RTO and ŠM buses can be seen in the background. [32]


(p. 243) Trolleybus No. 99 had a colourful history. It was a prototype from the Škoda 8 Tr range (named 8 Tr1, and 7 Tr5 before that) from 1956 with a more powerful motor that had an output of 120 kW. It was used as a demonstrator. As it was intended to be presented in Cairo, it was fitted with thicker thermal insulation. When it passed tests in Pilsen, it operated in Prague in 1956 and 1957 in order to compare its properties with rival three-axle Tatra trolleybuses. After that, it provided service as No. 7 in Mariánské Lázně for 18 years, after which it was brought back to Pilsen. Once withdrawn, it was used for storage and as an apiary near Tachov until 2000. [77]


(p. 244) On 28 August 1976, approximately a year after it was put into service in Pilsen, 8 Tr 98 (Mariánské Lázně’s former No. 9) is driving over a level crossing in Hornická Street. [32]


(p. 244) As many as three 8 Trs, headed by Nos. 180 and 163, are gathered in the Božkov turning bay on 14 September 1972. [78]


(p. 244) Unlike the other 8 Trs, the 8 Tr 162 had protective bars on the sides before it was withdrawn from service. The City Spa turning bay on 5 August 1971. [76]

Getting rounder and rounder

Pilseners could see the Škoda 9 Tr trolleybus prototype on their streets as early as 1958. The first 166 represented an intermediate stage between types 8 Tr and 9 Tr. Tests with passengers started on 18 June, primarily on route 11, which included a long ascending section. The second, improved prototype has already been fitted with the characteristic design of the ‘nines’. The new semi-automatic regulation of starting the vehicle propelled a lighter quadripolar Škoda motor that had an output of 115 kW. When the accelerator pedal was pressed down, an electromagnetic clutch ensured that the vehicle started moving off smoothly. By contrast, the regulation of the electric brake remained non-automatic and fully dependent on the driver’s ability to engage it sensitively. Among the vehicles used between 1961 and 1965, Nos. 192 and 193 type 9 Tr0, intended to be exported abroad, stood out, and so did the only representative of the 9 Tr4 203 series in Pilsen and spa prototype No. 194. The unique vehicle No. 213 was dubbed Sahara due to its atypical design adjusted for tropical climate. Exotic trolleybuses appeared in Pilsen thanks to deliveries that were centrally governed by the State Planning Committee. Because Škoda, as the only remaining Czech manufacturer, could not satisfy all the demand, the PTCP was eager to accept atypical vehicles as well.


After overcoming initial teething problems, the contactor 9 Trs became the symbol of modern trolleybuses in Czechoslovakia in the 1960s. They were reliable vehicles that were very easy to manoeuvre and maintain. They weighed less and performed better. In contrast with the preceding Škoda types, they offered more comfortable seats and lower steps, and were less noisy. However, they soon started to fall behind the competition in the West. In the second half of the 1970s, the production of trolleybuses in this country was supposed to stop following a government decree, which would end their development at Škoda Ostrov. Luckily, it did not come to that, and trolleybus production caught a second breath. Starting with vehicle No. 279 (the 9 TrH25 series), hydraulic power-assisted steering replaced the original auxiliary pneumatic servo-control. They were also newly fitted with tilting collector shoes, which replaced the original ones that contained wooden parts. The 9 TrH25 series introduced in 1978 was historically the biggest single batch of trolleybuses delivered – a total of 34 vehicles No. 279 to No. 312. Consequently, this led to the elimination of all the other types, except for T 11 248.


The Škoda T 11 trolleybuses represented the outcome of the efforts to unify bus and trolleybus bodywork designs. The reasoning behind this unification was to simplify and reduce the costs of the manufacture of new vehicles and their subsequent maintenance. The T 11 trolleybus matched the Karosa ŠM 11, a mass-produced modern urban bus, to the maximum extent. The T 11 214 prototype started providing services to Pilsen’s passengers in September 1966. Other T 11 vehicles were made as part of a so-called T 11/0 testing series. The trolleybuses were operated with three pedals, whereas the prototype only with two. Resistors were located on the roof. Vehicle No. 220 was used for testing the automated lowering of trolley poles, which was evaluated as too sensitive. The T 11 type with the multitude of innovations it contained represented an important trend in the development of Škoda trolleybuses. They were not produced serially due to the high cost of their components, the already full capacity of their manufacturer, Karosa, and the insecure future of trolleybus transportation.


(p. 245) The 9 Tr 166 prototype differs in fenders and ornamental features placed in the front end and panoramic front glass windows. [74]


(p. 245) The second 9 Tr prototype in the Doudlevce turning bay. Its service as No. 191 for the PTCP was soon terminated due to a serious accident. [57]


(p. 246) The 9 Tr2 191 trolleybus originated from an untaken delivery intended for the Soviet Union. [32]


(p. 246) A comparative view of the interiors of the ‘nines’: No. 166 on the left brings the 8 Tr to mind; No. 191 in the middle has atypical fibreglass seats; No. 194 on the right has upholstered seats in a 2+2 arrangement. [57]


(p. 247) 9 Tr 194 spa prototype, lit up by neon lights, posing in Moskevská Avenue in 1961. [57]


(p. 247) The same vehicle, No. 194, now in its standard colours, in Republic Square in 1973. [38]


(p. 248) To this day, the colours of the Škoda 9 Tr 192, 193 and 195 trolleybuses have remained shrouded in mystery. They were most likely painted orange [372], then in the 1970s switched to the classical combination of red and cream. [38]


(p. 249) Starting with the 9 Tr2 series, some of the vehicles had their sides experimentally covered with aluminium sheets below the windows. However, the water between the sheets and the steel framework with no insulating paint made an electric cell, which caused fast corrosion and colour fading [15]. The appearance of the 9 Tr3 199 (passing through Mikulášská Avenue on 25 August 1976) suggests that aluminium plates may have been put on this vehicle too. [76]


(p. 249) The front and back end of the 9 Tr 213, dubbed ‘Sahara’, used some features from the T 11 type. Its large sliding windows are an atypical feature. At the garage in Heldova Street. [32]


(p. 250) A comparative view of the differences in the bodywork of the 9 Tr3 202 during a trial drive in Černice and 9 Tr8 206 at the Central Cemetery in pictures from 5 August 1971. The lower grilles behind the front axle in 206 were supposed to ensure better ventilation for resistors. The 9 Tr8 series was the last to have under-floor resistors; they were moved to the roof in newer vehicles. [76]


(p. 250) An encounter of vehicles Nos. 232 and 271 in Dukelská Avenue on 28 September 1976. [32]


(p. 251) The system in which trolleybuses, buses and trams are given numbers in parallel, using identical number series, is specific to Pilsen. This scene shows an encounter of a 9 Tr trolleybus and a ŠM 11 bus that both have the same number 266 on 13 April 1981. [32]


(p. 252) British photographer Peter Haseldine took this photo of vehicle No. 229 on Roosevelt Bridge in June 1977. [79]


(p. 252) Another British photographer, David Pearson, encountered a 9 Tr 282 in Kopeckého Gardens waiting to carry on to Černice on 25 May 1984. [77]


(p. 252) One of the last contactor 9 Trs, 309, is leaving Skvrňany on 25 November 1982. [76]


(p. 253) The Škoda 9 Tr 304 vehicle ended its service and was used for storage as seen in this image from 6 April 1991. [82]


(p. 254) Originally, both the front and rear windows in the T 11 214 prototype were single-piece; however, the front was given a two-part window after an accident. [32]


(p. 255) Škoda T 11 219 is leaving a garage to boost the service on route 10. [32]


(p. 255) Vehicle No. 220 with red ends is waiting in the City Spa turning bay in March 1975. [41]


(p. 255) T 11 248 on a test drive going through the Košutka terminus on 5 August 1971. [76]


(p. 256) The T 11 248 vehicle had six fewer seats. [76]


(p. 256) A working T 11 sample returned to Pilsen after many tests for the last time in 1975. [32]


(p. 256) T 11 248 near the Skyscraper, painted for presentation purposes, on 14 August 1975. [32]

The arrival of thyristors

Thyristor pulse regulation saved a quarter of electric power. A disadvantage of this new feature was the need for more specialised maintenance which had to be carried out with special devices and equipment. When driving, the vehicles produced an unmistakable melody because of the two-value regulation that was opening the thyristors with variable frequency. The first ones were installed in vehicle No. 247 as early as in December 1970, but they were not serially fitted in vehicles until 1979, starting with vehicles No. 313. Thanks to the acquisition of 9 TrHT vehicles, the PTCP managed to maintain its fleet in a reasonably good technical condition. The streets of Pilsen saw more than 150 ‘nines’ over the span of 36 years.


(p. 257) The front box of a 9 TrBKR with a block of thyristors. We should mention that contactors did not quite disappear from the vehicles – they were used for connecting the convertor to voltage, engaging the electric brake, switching over shunting stages, switching the heating, etc. [57]


(p. 258) 9 TrBKR 247 in the Škoda Ostrov production facility on 5 August 1971, before its autumn journey to Kiev. [76]


(p. 258) Thyristor vehicle No. 314 is leaving Hamburk entering Šumavská Street. [77]


(p. 259) An encounter of ‘singing’ nines Nos. 316 and 317 in the Doubravka turning bay. [77]


(p. 259) Vehicle No. 336 is showing a lot of signs of wear and damage on 4 April 1987. [32]


(p. 260) The last 9 Tr trolleybus delivered is seen resting in Cukrovarská Street on 13 April 1981. [32]


(p. 260) 9 Tr 332 on route 12 driving to Božkov on 17 May 1991. [82]


(p. 261) Trolleybus No. 339 covered in snow in the garage layby area in February 1993. [87]


(p. 261) More comfortable red and brown seats were a characteristic feature of thyristor 9 Trs (here No. 314). [82]


(p. 262) Houškova Street on 17 June 1994. 9 Tr 314 is carrying Pilsen passengers for the last time. [87]


(p. 263) The mechanical check-in system (MOC) introduced in Pilsen in November 1981 is still in place today, although it only plays a marginal role. [97]

The Square Age

The story of the Škoda 14 Tr type is the longest of them all. This vehicle is engraved in the memory of several generations of Pilseners. The vehicle was first introduced there briefly in September 1973. It had its second premiere there when prototype No. 340I was tested. Before the serial production of the ‘fourteens’ was launched, the 14 Tr0 testing series was made, whose representatives, Nos. 340II, 346351, were acquired in early 1982. Their distinctive features were square-shaped side windows and door windows inserted into aluminium frames. However, the bodywork soon started to show signs of fatigue failure due to the narrow window pillars. Vehicle No. 349 had to be withdrawn just after thirteen months of operation and 47,392 kilometres on the clock. The spaces over the doors were subsequently reinforced and covered with metal plates in vehicle No. 346 in 1984 and No. 350 in the following year, but it was to no avail. By the mid-1980s, most vehicles from the zeroth series were not in use, and usually just stood somewhere outside their garages. The vehicles in the new series, 14 Tr01 352 to 370, had windows with round corners and doors vertically rounded to echo the shape of the bodywork. Despite this, problems with bodywork stiffness re-emerged, and that is why the vehicles were sent to Škoda Ostrov between 1984 and 1987 to be strengthened.


Between 1984 and 1991, new vehicles from the 14 Tr series were arriving every year, so they eventually made up the majority of the entire fleet. Following their regular overhauls, their colour schemes underwent gradual changes, until they were settled on the final combination of green and white after 1997 to reflect two out of the four colours (red, green, yellow, white) featured in the Pilsen City coat of arms. At the end of the 1990s, their 11-year lifespan was coming to an end; however, Pilsen City Council had already decided in 1996 that it would only be procuring low-floor vehicles [188]. Due to financial reasons, the PTCP resorted to modernising 14 Trs itself. The first full remodelling took place in 1997 on vehicle No. 457, which had its front end adapted to accommodate DOT-LED signs, its interior refurbished with a nonslip floor and upholstered seats. After 1999, vehicles were fitted with lighter, laminate ESKO trolley poles. From 2002 onwards, the Pilsen City Transport Company (PCTC) adopted a more radical approach to modernisation and essentially began to re-build the vehicles altogether, using new skeletons supplied by Škoda Ostrov, including frames designed for the 14 TrM. All that was left from the original trolleybus design were axles, steering, pulse regulation and a traction motor, but even those had already undergone general overhauls. The first modernised vehicle was No. 412 in 2002, followed by a further 41 vehicles, where No. 457 was the only vehicle to undergo the modernisation process twice. On 1 May 2010, a dynamic traffic control system was launched that regulated the city’s public transport service. In autumn 2009, all vehicles were fitted with new onboard computers, GPS devices and communication units. With the arrival of new trolleybuses, 14 Trs were eventually withdrawn from operation. Most of the modernised vehicles had more than a million kilometres on the clock. No. 437 was a record holder since it had clocked up 1,113,058 kilometres over 27 years of service.


The articulated version that was derived from this vehicle was type Škoda 15 Tr. The second prototype was tested under Pilsen’s trolley wires in 1984 and 1985. The third prototype designated 15 Tr02/6 appeared in September 1987. Pilseners had to wait for more articulated trolleybuses until 1993, which was the year when five vehicles (Nos. 461465) arrived, originally intended for the former countries of the Soviet Union. In 1995 and 1996, a total of thirteen 15 TrM 466478 were supplied. In January 1997, trolleybus No. 462 was involved in a serious incident which saw one passenger get an electric shock when she was boarding the vehicle. It was found out that it was caused by ‘the high content of salt in the snow stuck to the insulators’ [317]. In the wake of this affair, the PTCP had the winding of traction motors and insulators impregnated, the sealing of its side boxes improved, etc. Devices monitoring the voltage of the vehicle’s framework were gradually added. Keeping in with the 15 TrM design, vehicles 461465 were given a green and white colour scheme and laminate trolley poles. All ‘fifteens’ were phased out between 2010 and 2012. Vehicle No. 473 went on its last regular ride on 20 December 2012 on a 16/16 shift.


(p. 263) A rare picture of a presentation ride of prototype 14 Tr in the streets of Pilsen in September 1973. [39]


(p. 264) One of the five brand new prototypes, No. 340I, posing in front of a trolleybus hall on 11 March 1981. [32]


(p. 264) A representative of the zeroth series parked in Černická Street in May 1984. [77]


(p. 265) The 14 Tr0 vehicles were allocated to set groups of drivers, which was evident from the “tuning” adjustments done at the time. [84]


(p. 265) The last vehicle from the 14 Tr0 testing series is turning into the old U Prazdroje Street. The added red stripes were meant optically to divide the large areas of its sides. [77]


(p. 266) A 1986 reliability analysis justified the early withdrawal of the 14 Tr0 vehicles which were just four years old (except for No. 340II). [51]


(p. 266) Vehicle No. 340II was ‘semi-painted’ as a bonus during a big service inspection in February 1986. This paint was used for speeding up repairs, because synthetic paint needed up to two days to dry. [359] [41]


(p. 267) The sad end of the zeroth series before it was scrapped in 1992 and 1993. [86]


(p. 267) Fairly new 14 Tr01 355 and 359 in Cukrovarská Street in May 1985. The windows above the doors were glazed only in the first years of service. [84]


(p. 267) A new feature in the 14 Tr01 series was single-panel windows on both ends. No. 356 is in Cukrovarská Street after its second big service inspection in summer 1991. [82]


(p. 268) The picture on the left shows vehicle No. 353 after its bodywork has been reinforced with metal plates fitted to the side windows and spaces above the doors. The picture on the right shows the vehicle after a big service inspection in 1988, in the ‘semi-painted’ design. Due to its atypical metal sheet design, it was dubbed a mail van, armoured truck and removal van. [38, 82]


(p. 268) Another atypical design of a remodelled vehicle in Černická Street. [82]


(p. 270) Due to the wider pillars between the windows, vehicle No. 376 was designed with pivot windows with large sliding panels at the driver’s seat. [99]


(p. 270) One-year-old trolleybus No. 380 on Wilson Bridge, with the Culture House in the background. Starting with the 14 Tr07 series, the arrangement of the outer lights was altered. [32]

(p. 271) This unique image of a 14 Tr trolleybus pulling a broken-down 9 Tr 320 in Mikulášská Avenue was taken on 11 September 1988. [32]


(p. 272) Vehicle No. 415 was used as a test-bed in the Škoda Research Institute in the Pilsen Borough of Bolevec, testing the noise level reduction in the Rába rear axle. [57]


(p. 272) The last 14 Tr series acquired, here seen in the Cukrovarská Garage layby area on 6 April 1991. [82]


(p. 273) After the Velvet Revolution, public transport vehicles became ‘mobile billboards’. The first advertisement covering the entire vehicle was from the Škoda Company. Vehicle 393 commemorates the 50th anniversary of trolleybus operation in Pilsen. [82]


(p. 273) Vehicle No. 417 is entering Nádražní Avenue on 14 October 1992. [35]


(p. 274) A trolleybus whose advertisement posters have been taken down is passing through Heyrovského Street on 10 January 1995. [90]


(p. 274) Vehicle 447 with unusual indicators is passing through Mikulášská Avenue below the construction site of Millennium Bridge (most Milénia). [78]


(p. 275) The evolution of destination signs displayed on Pilsen’s trolleybuses.


(p. 276) Trolleybus No. 380 with “tuning” adjustments in Mikulášské Square. [86]


(p. 276) Vehicle No. 404 posing at the Central Cemetery in the January sun. [87]


(p. 276-277) The metamorphosis of the legendary 14 Tr type driving over the tram tracks in the U Práce intersection in 1984, 1987, 1991, 2001, 2002 and 2011. [77, 82, 82, 87, 91, 96]


(p. 277) Vehicle 438 was fitted with a silent Škoda NH rear axle, which became a model for its future production at Škoda Ostrov. [88]


(p. 277) The first modernised 14 Tr is serving the Skyscraper stop in October 1999. [76]


(p. 277) By contrast, No. 406 was the last vehicle to keep its red and cream colours and heavy metal trolley poles, right up to its withdrawal in April 2005. [90]


(p. 278) Vehicle No. 449 painted white was often used for advertisements that covered the entire vehicle, such as this example for a printing company in Pilsen around Christmas 2002. [35]


(p. 278) The original bodywork of the 14 Tr trolleybus was replaced with a new 14 TrM skeleton after the extraction of power generators (shown on the right-hand side of the picture, in front of the PCTC central workshops). [33, 91]


(p. 279) From 2002, different types of air-conditioning systems for the driver’s cab were tested in Pilsen. [35]


(p. 279) Modernised vehicle 417 with a new skeleton, Railtech retrievers and a large single-piece glass rear window is pulling out of the Doudlevce ETZ stop in April 2009. [97]


(p. 280) On 19 June 2016, metaphorical storm clouds are gathering over the 14 Tr era. Tenements in Hálkova Street can be seen in the background. [96]


(p. 280) On 9 April 2018, 14 Tr trolleybuses are saying goodbye to Pilsen in the Božkov turning bay. The special journey of 457 is supported by historic vehicle No. 429, renovated to imitate its appearance when it was first acquired. [97]


(p. 282) During the modernisation of the 14 Tr, the interior for passengers was completely changed as well. [92, 97]


(p. 283) The design of the second 15 Tr 500I prototype matched the 14 Tr01 series. Because the reinforcement of the bodywork was not of a satisfactory standard, it was scrapped in 1987. [85]


(p. 283) The third prototype is passing through the Skyscraper junction on its test drive on 14 September 1987. [81]


(p. 283) When it was entered in the PTCP system, it was renamed No. 414. [82]


(p. 284) Trolleybuses Nos. 461 to 465 had their premiere on 27 October 1993, exceptionally operating on route 11 going to the Central Cemetery. Normally, they operated on the most frequent line, i.e. route 16. [90]


(p. 284) A 15 Tr vehicle decorated with celebratory flags is turning into Husova Street since the city centre is currently closed to traffic. [90]


(p. 285) One of Pilsen’s future vehicles 15 TrM 472478 is tested by its manufacturer, Škoda, on a test drive between Ostrov and Jáchymov. [82]


(p. 285) A new 15 TrM 474 is entering the Doubravka turning bay at Zábělská Street in August 1996. [78]


(p. 287) Vehicle No. 462 on a trial drive in Štefánikova Street in February 1999, displaying a ČSOB Bank advertisement. [87]


(p. 287) A representative of an older series, after it had been repainted, is turning into Šumavská Street. [88]


(p. 287) A 15 TrM has arrived at the Husovo Square turning bay on 30 March 2002 to help boost services on route 11 going to the Cemetery during the Easter holidays. [91]


(p. 287) Vehicle No. 467 is undergoing a service inspection in the central workshops at Cukrovarská Garage in February 2000. [92]


(p. 288) Trolleybus No. 464 was given a new front end during a big service inspection, but due to financial reasons, it had to wait for eight months, i.e. till May 2006, to have a digital sign installed. [91]


(p. 288) A 14 Tr and a 15 Tr, which had not been modernised, are seen in the Božkov turning bay on 29 December 2005. Both would be in operation only for a further year and a half, after which the era of plastic destination signs in Pilsen would come to an end. [96]


(p. 289) A comparative view of the interiors of vehicles No. 414, 461 and 464, the last of which demonstrates what it looked like after its second big service inspection. [92, 92, 97]


(p. 289) Vehicle 15 TrM is taking a diversion route through Radiová Street due to some construction work in Doubravka. [49]


(p. 289) Saying goodbye to articulated trolleybuses 15 Tr on Friday 21 December 2012, after 16 years of service. [97]

Lose a pedal, add a low floor

The 19951996 trial period of the 22 Tr prototype operation signalled the arrival of low-floor vehicles that had two pedals only (the electrodynamic and pneumatic functions were fully integrated into a single pedal). Škoda 21 TrACI could be branded as a typical Pilsen type of vehicle. What set it apart from the serially produced 21 Trs was that it had an asynchronous motor with IGBT regulation and an auxiliary diesel generator. After four decades, it was the first trolleybus to be assembled in Pilsen again.


Test drives with passengers began on 13 March 2000, after which the vehicle was sold to Hradec Králové. Successful test results meant that serial deliveries could start in April 2001 (Nos. 479II482). Due to financial reasons, the second series (Nos. 483486) was only fitted with manually operated Lekov-Esko trolley poles instead of the semi-automatic Kiepe poles that were in the previous batch. An alternative drive option meant that road closure situations could be tackled with more flexibility. The date of 1 July 2002 marked a milestone in the history of Pilsen’s public transport system, as it was the day on which the first guaranteed wheelchair accessible vehicles appeared on route 11 and 16 timetables. In November 2004, vehicle No. 496 was added, which also became one of the last trolleybuses made in Škoda Ostrov. Large deliveries of 26 Trs in 2017 and 2018 put an end to the service of the 21 TrACI vehicles.


(p. 290) The 21 TrACI prototype went on its first test drive on 9 June 1999, and was presented to the public at the end of June, during the celebrations of 100 years of Pilsen’s public transport system. [37]


(p. 291) A power generator with an air-cooled four-cylinder ignition engine is hidden in the back end. [97]


(p. 291) The first delivered vehicles had semi-automatic Kiepe trolley poles. They could be pulled down by pressing a button and had to be manually repositioned by the driver back on the wires that were not fitted with inverted troughs. [91]


(p. 292) These fairly new 21 TrACI vehicles are posing in the Tyršův Bridge turning bay facing the opposite direction of traffic on 24 April 2003. [87]


(p. 293) Neither torrential rain nor voltage outage could stop this 21 TrACI trolleybus in Českých bratří Square. [97]


(p. 294) Thanks to the auxiliary diesel generator, the disused terminus at Jiráskovo Square saw trolleybuses once again, albeit just for a birthday ride for a transport enthusiast. [91]


(p. 295) The interior of the 21 TrACI. The driver’s space attracts attention with the multitude of control features and an onboard computer which was a new feature at the time. [97]


(p. 295) Vehicle No. 484 with advertisements at the Skyscraper stop. [96]


(p. 296) LED lights were fitted during service inspections, whereas its white decorative stripes disappeared from the lower part of the vehicle. Vehicles Nos. 483496 were given semi-automatic Lekov trolley poles between 2004 and 2006. [91, 97]


(p. 296) On 25 September 2018, a 21 TrACI was seen on a farewell ride going through Černice and Čechurov accompanied by two buses from the Škoda 21 Ab unified range. [97]

Asynchronous motors and convergence with buses

Škoda Ostrov decided that it would not be developing its own bodywork, but would procure it from other manufacturers instead. The first types were 24 Tr and 25 Tr which had the Citybus (Agora) bodywork. Prototype 24 Tr was introduced on 25 September 2003. Numbered 999II, it was providing services on standard routes for Pilsen passengers from February to April 2004. The first Škoda 24 Tr vehicle in the PCTC fleet was trolleybus No. 497, which was added in December 2004. The same vehicles Nos. 498503 followed next year. A small fridge and air-conditioning in the driver’s cab were now provided as standard. The vehicles that were supplied from that point came with a new version of bodywork, Citelis. Vehicle No. 507 was a prototype in terms of a new electric generation and control software. Deliveries of these vehicles continued until 2009, and some of the vehicles were subsequently fitted with diesel generators. Pilsen transport workers appreciated the good dynamic driving properties and strong diesel generator with which the 24 Tr was equipped. One of its weak points was that the electronic system could play up sometimes. Thanks to the auxiliary drive, these vehicles clocked over 800 thousand kilometres. From 2019, they began to be phased out slowly.


The articulated version of the Škoda 25 Tr appeared for the first time as early as in July 2004, but it was not until 2009 that the PCTC procured five vehicles, Nos. 520 to 524. All of them had an auxiliary diesel generator. Just as its successor, type 27 Tr, it had a single traction motor with an output of 240 kW, which gave power to the third axle. After that, all trolleybuses supplied to Pilsen were fitted with bodywork made by Polish manufacturer Solaris.


The first Škoda 27 Tr vehicle was presented on 27 August 2010 at the new Bory Fields (Borská Pole) branch opening ceremony. Among the new features were a camera system and semi-automatic trolley poles, which had been included even in vehicles that did not have an alternative propulsion system. Vehicle No. 541 was used for testing an automated passenger counter system. 12-metre-long Škoda 26 Tr trolleybuses were acquired in parallel with articulated vehicles. Delivery of the first seven vehicles Nos. 565571 equipped with traction LTO batteries was a breakthrough. They were charged via trolley wires and had a guaranteed driving range of twelve kilometres even after seven years of use. They quickly started to push out diesel generator vehicles used in regular services.


(p. 297) A prototype of the Škoda 24 Tr trolleybus is waiting to drive across the U Práce junction during a test drive. [91]


(p. 298) Two weeks into service, vehicle No. 497 is approaching the Central Cemetery. [91]


(p. 298) A diesel generator with an output of 100 kW is fitted in the back. [33]


(p. 298) Semi-automatic trolley poles are guided to the trolley wires with the help of inverted troughs as shown here on route 13 in Černice. [35]


(p. 299) During the 2008 repair works in Americká Avenue, trolleybuses returned to J. K. Tyl Theatre after 50 years, albeit without overhead trolley lines. [91]


(p. 299) Beside its electrical hardware, trolleybus No. 507 and other representatives of 24 Trs 1B differed in a more compact covering of the equipment on the roof. Zborovská Avenue in Doudlevce. [97]


(p. 300) In 2008 and 2009, this vehicle was used to test current collectors and Ganz-Škoda retrievers in place of the usual Lekov+Esko. [33]


(p. 300) Vehicle 24 Tr 516 is driving beyond Pilsen’s boundary during a traffic closure in summer 2019. [96]


(p. 300) The arrangement of the roof components in vehicles 24 Tr 501 and 26 Tr 551: in the front is the driver’s air-conditioning system, then a container with the traction equipment, trolley poles and brake resistors. [97]


(p. 301) Prototype 25 Tr paid a visit to Starý Plzenec as part of an ordered ride. [33]


(p. 302) In September and October 2004, it carried passengers on the trunk 16 route. [91]


(p. 302) To this day a unique experience, the 25 Tr provided a special service on route 13 on 26 September 2009. [97]


(p. 302) The Museum of West Bohemia is the backdrop to a 25 Tr trolleybus on a diversion route along Anglické Embankment. [96]


(p. 303) The popular Simt Simulator game quickly adopted the modern types of trolleybuses that operate in Pilsen.[259]


(p. 304) The bare (bus) bodywork of a future 27 Tr vehicle for Pilsen arrived in front of Škoda Electric in Průmyslová Street, Doudlevce, in April 2010. [97]


(p. 304) The first two 27 Trs had a different shade of green, which was lighter. [97]


(p. 304) Buses with the same bodywork, Solaris Urbino 18, were helping out during voltage outages. [97]


(p. 305) A 27 Tr trolleybus on another diversion in Anglické Embankment. [97]


(p. 305) A brand new 26 Tr 531 on its debut ride operating on route 11. [97]


(p. 306) The interior of most 26 Tr trolleybuses is adorned with plastic seats with fabric-covered padding. [93]


(p. 306) One of the two 26 Tr vehicles fitted with a diesel generator on diversion in Nepomucká Avenue. [97]


(p. 306) The newer vehicles are equipped with orange LED panels and fog lights on the bumper. [96]


(p. 307) The back ends of 26 Trs: on the left is a motor tower with a diesel generator, in the middle is the classic version with no alternative propulsion, together with a new 26 Tr NU battery model; on the right is an older battery-powered vehicle. [97]


(p. 307) The PCTC is the biggest Czech operator of trolleybuses that have the Solaris bodywork. Passengers are boarding three 26 Trs at a temporary bus stop in Tylova Street. [97]


(p. 307) On the right is a rear box holding a traction battery; on the left is a distribution board with a control unit. [97]


(p. 308) On 3 February 2019, trolleybuses are driving on a diverted route along Samaritská Street, due to tree branches touching overhead trolley lines. [97]


(p. 308) Upon an agreement with fire-fighters, all battery-powered vehicles are now designated with an orange registration number. [97]

The presence of a battery

New models are built with New Urbino (NU) generation IV casings. The vehicles capture attention with their square-shaped design and novel light fittings in the door areas. On 22 March 2019, seven Škoda 27 Tr NU vehicles Nos. 583589 became Pilsen’s first trolleybuses to be air-conditioned throughout the whole interior. Their standard equipment now included a traction LTO battery, an APC system and an online communication system between the control electronics and the manufacturer. Drivers took to the new vehicles quickly, also thanks to the separated driver’s cab. The trolleybuses coming in autumn 2021 will be the first trackless vehicles used in Pilsen’s public transport system to have front-sliding leaves of the second door, which will improve access to the platforms for wheelchair users and people with pushchairs. Standard Škoda 26 Tr NU vehicles have also been acquired since autumn 2019. In summer 2021, the number of vehicles in the fleet reached a total of 95 and contained the largest number of articulated vehicles in its history. The continual renovation and gradual electrification of bus lines is a priority for the next decade. In the period of 20252030, the number of vehicles may increase up to 110 due to zero-emission transport projects. From now on, all newly-purchased vehicles will be expected to have air-conditioning throughout the whole interior, a passenger counter system and an alternative battery drive as standard.


(p. 309) This image taken in Anglické Embankment illustrates the transition of the Solaris bodywork from generation III to generation IV. [97]


(p. 310) The interior of the new 27 Tr NU trolleybuses. [97]


(p. 310) The new-generation articulated vehicles are providing extra services on route 11 on All Souls’ Day. [97]


(p. 311) A 26 Tr NU 593 is passing a 208+198 articulated tram in Milady Horákové Square. [97]


(p. 311) With the New Urbino bodywork, a separated driver’s cab returned to Pilsen. [97]


(p. 312) The newest vehicles, operating on a trial route numbered 19, are paying a visit to new territory near Křimice Chateau, which is gradually being renovated. [96]


(p. 313) One of Pilsen’s most modern vehicles, No. 589, is posing in the Bory Fields turning bay. [97]

8.2      Trolleybus care

The quality of public transport is the cachet of every city. New vehicles need adequate maintenance as well. It has become essential to have a facility with floor pits, crane tracks, and particularly in this century, vehicle hoists and catwalks. The level of maintenance available in Pilsen was at its worst in the 1970s and 1980s. Trolleybuses parked around garages were affected by vandalism and by the fact they could not be taken in for repairs. Deliveries of spare parts were sluggish. This led to situations like that of vehicle 9 Tr 330 which had to be withdrawn just after nine months of service following an accident in July 1981. The state of affairs improved in the 1990s when a new paint workshop and vehicle wash were acquired. Proof of this was the successful modernisation of the 14 Tr trolleybuses and repairs of the 15 Trs(M). Today’s maintenance process cannot do without computer diagnostics and the ever-increasing levels of expertise of the maintenance staff. On the other hand, new vehicles now provide valuable data on their condition. Since 1 January 2013, Bammer Trade, a member company of the Škoda Transportation group, has been providing vehicle maintenance for the PCTC as part of a contract for the construction of a new garage in Karlov. The maintenance provider is obliged to ensure that there are enough vehicles in working condition. In the garages, data from the information systems in vehicles are automatically updated and downloaded via wireless network on a daily basis. The interiors of the vehicles are manually cleaned every night, and their bodywork is washed every other day.


(p. 313) In the Czech Republic, the trolleybus is considered a railroad vehicle, and therefore stricter legislative requirements apply. Each vehicle is issued with its own certificate of roadworthiness. [51]


(p. 314) Vehicle 3 Tr1 from 1941 is being renovated in the PTCP central workshops in 1956. [63]


(p. 314) The modernisation of trolleybus 14 TrM 435 in January 2006. [93]


(p. 315) This scene shows a recovery vehicle responding to the breakdown of trolleybus 15 TrM in Bory. [97]


(p. 316) Lorry LIAZ 100.45 is towing away vehicle 21 TrACI 480 which has broken down. [97]

8.3      Withdrawal need not be the end

The fate of some withdrawn vehicles is not lacking in adventure, emotion and excitement.

From beehives to museums

Over a third of Pilsen’s 3 Tr vehicles were sold off. The robust bodywork of this type, as well as the other types, predestined them to be re-purposed as shacks, apiaries and garden sheds. They were also used by various businesses as storage rooms, caravans and changing rooms. The records of written-off vehicles, which over time became overgrown with vegetation, were kept by transport enthusiasts even during the socialist times. This contrasted with the attitude of Czech transport companies, except for the Prague company, for they failed to keep any of the vehicles for museum purposes. Only the Technical Museum in Brno housed a complete trolleybus collection preserving Pilsen’s vehicles 3 Tr, 6 Tr and T 11. Since 2009, an association called ŠKODA-BUS Club has been managing the Transport Museum in the village of Strašice in the Rokycany region. At the same time, the PCTC began restoration work on vehicle 9 Tr 323, which the company had on long-term loan. Unfortunately, its efforts to acquire the unique 14 Tr0 vehicle from Plovdiv came to nothing. In 2015 and 2016, the company presented the renovated 15 Tr 414 and 14 Tr 429 vehicles. The fleet of historic trolleybuses includes the 21 Tr trolleybus 496, and it is expected that the 24 Tr 497 will also be preserved. More treasures, headed by a 9 Tr2 195 made in 1963 which makes it the oldest surviving representative of this legendary type, are hidden in private depositories situated south of Pilsen.

(p. 317) Pilsen’s 3 Tr 122 in Spořilov, Prague, in the 1970s. [31]


(p. 318) Despite the masking coat of green paint, the Pilsen City coat of arms beneath gives away vehicle No. 329, stationed in the fields near Nebřeziny between 1993 and 2004. [82]


(p. 318) A 9 Tr 339 in the garden of driver Miroslav Marek: ‘We took care of the vehicle, so that it would look a little presentable. It was a nice place for barbecues and parties…’ [87]


(p. 318) Wrecks of Pilsen’s famous vehicles are waiting to be moved from Zruč to a museum depository in Pilsen after their recovery on 16 May 1997. [34]


(p. 318319) The long story of the recovery of No. 323, starting in 1997 and ending in its presentation at the celebration of the 70th anniversary of trolleybuses in Pilsen. [34, 93]


(p. 319) The restored 3 Tr 119 vehicle is on display in Pilsen’s Techmania. Hopefully, its electrical hardware will be put back into operation one day. [97]


(p. 320) A few beautifully restored PCTC vehicles have gathered in the Čechurov turning bay. Prototype No. 414 can boast the title of the oldest preserved articulated trolleybus with the Škoda bodywork. [97]

One city’s trash, another’s treasure

Starting with type 14 Tr, many of Pilsen’s withdrawn vehicles were still able to provide services to passengers in the Baltics, Ukraine, Russia, Bulgaria, Romania and elsewhere in Czechia. Between 2002 and 2005, Pilsen’s ‘fourteens’ made it as far as Almaty, Kazakhstan.


(p. 321) After they were repaired in April 1995, trolleybuses 14 Tr 362, 363 and 369 were sent to Riga. Vehicle 369, with its new number 2-237, is driving through the streets of Latvia’s metropolis in June 1996. [78]


(p. 321) Ternopil’s 15 Tr 152 (formerly No. 465) is still operating in Pilsen colours. [98]

8.4      In Pilsen just for a while

The first trolleybus drove through the streets of Pilsen in the first half of 1936. The tram track leading to Doudlevce was used to test the 1 Tr for Prague. One of the trolley poles was positioned on the trolley wire that had positive polarity, while negative polarity was provided by a single-axle collector skate that was pulled behind the trolleybus along the tracks. In order to test 2 Trs, a short trolleybus test line was built in the Doudlevce branch of Škoda.

The latest technology trends

Other prototypes with passengers on board were then tested in the streets of Pilsen, such as prototype 9 Tr 166, vehicle 14 Tr 340 and prototypes 15 Tr 500 and 501, as well as 22 Tr, etc. Type 17 Tr was the only Škoda-made vehicle that was not tested in Pilsen at all. Trolleybuses with a dual drive system made by Škoda Energo looked exotic with their Neoplan bodywork and were intended for export to Boston.


(p. 322) Between 15 and 25 July 1985, the Škoda-Sanos S 200 Tr articulated trolleybus appeared in Pilsen as well. [81]


(p. 323) The first Czech low-floor trolleybus, i.e. the second prototype 22 TrS, was presented in Pilsen in May 1995, and began carrying passengers from 28 October. It was admired for its microprocessor regulation of pulse convertors, computer diagnostics, an on-request door opening facility and its electronic information system. Unfortunately, these vehicles were not supplied to Pilsen after that. [76, 94]


(p. 324) In July 2006, asynchronous prototype 22 Tr is driving over Wilson Bridge before it is sold to Szeged. [26]


(p. 324) Test trolleybuses made for Boston, USA, in the streets of Pilsen: on the left is prototype ETB No. 998 in Americká Avenue on 6 November 2002; in the middle is working sample DMA No. 997 in Domažlická Avenue in May 2004; on the right is prototype DMA No. 995 in Šumavská Street. [91, 33, 49]


(p. 324) The presentation Solaris Trollino 12 AC from Ostrava visited Doubravka in April 2003. [91]


(p. 325) Trolleybus 31 Tr, intended for Hradec Králové, is driving below the District Court on 6 March 2011. From 1977, trolleybuses turned around this building. [97]


(p. 325) In April 2020, Ekova Electron 12T 990 became only the third trolleybus (after Trollino and Tatra T400) with non-Škoda hardware to carry Pilsen passengers. It was driving mainly on trial route 19 for a month, but occasionally went to Doubravka as well. [97]

Repaired or modernised in Pilsen

The first trolleybuses were repaired in Pilsen in 1946 and 1947. They were vehicles seized by the Germans in Milan, Italy, and were intended for the newly established trolleybus services in Most and Litvínov. Out of fourteen vehicles, the Škoda Works reconditioned eleven working vehicles (four of them were Type I, one of them Type II and six Type III). The bodywork extracted from Type I had been kept in a garden shed in Ejpovice until 2002.


From 1994, extensive service inspections were conducted in Pilsen’s transport company workshops, during which trolleybuses 14 Tr, intended to start a second life in the Baltics or Ukraine, were overhauled. Other inspected vehicles were from Pardubice and Mariánské Lázně, and were meant for Sarajevo where they helped restore their war-torn transport system. Pardubice’s transport company took advantage of the successful modernisation programme in Pilsen between 2005 and 2007. In the new Karlov Depot era, Bammer Trade has been in charge of external contracts, such as the repair of the wrecked 24 Tr 54 from Mariánské Lázně and the renovation of Chomutov’s 15 Tr 008 intended for museum rides.

(p. 326) Repaired ‘trophy’ trolleybus OMS-Isotta-TIBB type I (Most No. 102) in Masarykova Avenue. [57]


(p. 326) Vehicles from Pardubice intended for Sarajevo are waiting outside a new paint workshop to be inspected at the PTCP. [34]


(p. 327) Freshly repaired 14 Trs painted in Sarajevo colours in the Cukrovarská Garage in 1996. [81, 90]


(p. 327) One of the eight vehicles that have been modernised for Pardubice, here seen in Americká Avenue on 6 June 2007. [96]



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