The first  of Brisbane Metro’s much-anticipated vehicle, the lighTram 25,  has arrived in the Queensland capital, two and half years after the contract was awarded,

has arrived in Brisbane.

The 24.5-metre bi-articulated, battery electric pilot vehicle, built and designed by Swiss vehicle manufacturer HESS,  is set to go through an extensive testing and acceptance process, including on-road testing on Brisbane’s busways, and assessment of its flash-charging capabilities.

Alex Naef, CEO of HESS, said the lighTram 25 offers something unique in the Australian transport sector.

“The lighTram 25 is capable of quietly, efficiently and cleanly moving large numbers of people, all while providing a new level of passenger experience. This is a flexible transport system that is not tied to rail infrastructure and that can be easily adapted to different transport routes because of the vehicle’s manoeuvrability.

“Over the full lifetime of the vehicles, the lighTram® 25 offers cities one of the most cost-effective solutions for improving public transport and reaching governments’ sustainability goals.”

Peter Dale, Country Manager for HESS, said the Brisbane Metro pilot vehicle sets new standards for passenger safety, comfort and accessibility.

“Since contract award, HESS has collaborated closely with Brisbane City Council across all stages of the design process to make sure that their requirements and wishes aligned with the ultimate vehicle design.

“The vehicle today incorporates solutions to maximise access, comfort and safety. There are three large and easily accessible mobility aid bays all in one carriage, an electric ramp, hearing loops and the ability to communicate with the driver via microphone and cameras, among other features.”

Naef said that although the lighTram® 25 design had been tried and tested on the streets of Nantes, France’s sixth largest city, there were a few significant differences between that model and the one that would operate in Brisbane.

“Intense rainfall and humidity are part of the Brisbane climate, which meant certain design changes were needed, including new floor materials that resist water ingress and special ducts to channel excess water beyond the vehicle.

“The varying temperatures [compared with France] required a powerful air-conditioning system along with a function known as pre-conditioning. Pre-conditioning automatically prepares the vehicle, raising the internal temperature to a level that is immediately comfortable to the driver and passengers.”

Dale said HESS, which will employ a full-time service engineer in Brisbane to support the pilot vehicle, will partner with local bus manufacturer Volgren.

“Volgren has worked very closely with HESS for more than four decades and has had a long association with Council, as well. The company is an ideal partner, whose local knowledge will be imperative to the success of the project.

“Their Eagle Farm facility is a major asset as far as testing and acceptance goes, but also for education. We will perform driver training and maintenance training in partnership with Volgren. We also intend to learn, in partnership with Council, how the vehicle operates in Brisbane and review their feedback before deciding on any adjustments for the initial fleet of 59 vehicles – Volgren will play a crucial role in that process.”

Brisbane Metro is a new era of connected transport for Brisbane and the largest all-electric, zero tailpipe-emission public transport project in Australia.