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City-News Archive

Valparaiso [CL] - Luzern trolleys finally on trials!

K. Budach - 16.02.15

After several months of bureaucratic delays and an arduous authorization process, the Chilean Senate finally approved a new certification regime for trolleybuses in early January 2015. The new regulations, however, do not apply to diesel buses! Having cleared this political hurdle, the official operations permit for the 10 pre-used, Swiss-built trolleys was issued on 14 February 2015. Trials and driver training commenced shortly afterwards and the introduction to revenue service is planned for late February.

The first of these former Luzern units arrived in Chile in summer 2014 and the last two (272 and 273) were delivered on 6 January 2015. Since then, all have been repainted into the green and cream livery, which is characteristic of Valparaiso. A change in the certification regime, or rather, a special exemption from it, became necessary, as the Swiss trolleys are older than 10 years and Chilean law normally only allows for the import of vehicles that are newer. Given the excellent technical condition of the trolleys, their obvious longevity and economic value, the decision was made to grant the exemption. The vehicles are now expected to form the backbone of the local fleet for the next few years.

From the still existing, iconic Pullman trolleybuses, unit 116 was forced to receive structural modifications in early November 2014, as no spare parts could be sourced for the original wind-shield. Rather than one large, partially streamlined glass pane, the front-end of the vehicle is now divided into two smaller windows.

The American-built vehicle actually can look back on a rich and colorful past. Originally delivered to the trolleybus operation in the Chilean capital Santiago in 1947, the vehicle first ran under the number 820. It was transferred to Valparaiso in the 1970s, only to return to the capital in 1991 with a totally rebuilt body frame. After the Santiago network was once again shut down in 1994, the trolley returned to Valparaiso in 1996. Presently, the bus is the only Pullman still in regular service.

(Translation: Andrew Thompson)

Top: Trolleybus 116 (Pullman/GE 1947) shows off its new front-end while running through the streets of Valparaiso on 5 January 2015.
Bottom: One of the repainted Luzern units is seen during some of the very first trial runs of the Swiss buses in the city. Photos: Samuel Fuentes