Visitors to the city of Tampere can experience the wonders of trams this week, as a prototype tram goes on display in the city’s main concert hall. The city plans to host the country's first modern light rail system outside Helsinki when its new tram network opens in 2021.
Tampere residents reluctant to venture to Helsinki to see what a tram is like in real life, can board and view a test tram at Tampere Hall this week.
The project has long been controversial, with some politicians and residents opposing the 330 million euro venture on grounds of cost and some equally strident voices supporting it as a bid to reduce car usage.
A 2016 discussion in the city council included so many outlandish and poorly-grounded opinions from elected councillors, and was ridiculed so widely, that it was made into a short film the following year to showcase the ‘best’ of Tampere’s elected representatives.
In that debate Aamulehti reported that comic schlager singer Mikko Alatalo reportedly expressed the concern that ‘Audi men’ would not leave their cars far from the city centre to be vandalised, dashing the hopes of those planning a park and ride system.
His Centre Party comrade Timo Vuohensilta proclaimed that if the tram system is built “only unemployed people will move to Tampere. If the tram comes, there will only be unemployed people riding around in the tram out of boredom.”
Christian Democrat councillor Satu Sipila was also worried that people might use the tram as a means of ending their own lives, and that “trams are dangerous, because they are silent and deaf people won’t hear them”.
The model has been christened ‘Maketti’ and is just under half the length of a full tram at 16.8 metres. It’s situated next to a ramp simulating a platform, and the everything from the drivers’ cab to the seats is as close to the finished article as possible.
They are available to view from Thursday 21 February until Tuesday 26 February, with the exhibition open from 2pm-6pm on Thursday and Friday and 10am-7pm on the other days.
Tampere has ordered 19 of the ForCity Smart Artic X34 trams from the Transtech factory in Kajaani.