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Skoda - how popular brand trolleybuses appeared

Skoda - how popular brand trolleybuses appeared
When we hear the name Skoda, most people immediately think of one of the most popular car brands on the Russian market. Older people, perhaps, will remember the trucks of the same name that have proven themselves as Soviet long-range trucks. Of course, passenger locomotives of this brand are known to many. In fact, the products manufactured by the Czech concern have a very wide range. These are machines and various equipment. And yet, last year marks exactly 85 years since the day when Skoda released its first trolleybus. It is about this product of a well-known brand that will be discussed today.

In general, the very history of the Pilsen giant began with the fact that Count Waldstein decided to relocate some areas of the foundry from the suburbs directly to the city itself. It was mechanical engineering, engaged in the manufacture of equipment for various industries: sugar production, steam engines and breweries. The latter is not surprising, because the Czechs are the most avid beer lovers in the world, and Pilsen is a universally recognized center for the production of the world's best variety of this foamy drink.

Skoda – как появились троллейбусы популярной маркиLegendary drums on Skoda booms. Photo: youtube.com

Perhaps the project would not have become so successful if the talented 27-year-old engineer Emil Skoda had not been involved in its implementation. He showed himself so well that already at the age of Christ he became a full-fledged head of the enterprise. Moreover, as we see today, the concern itself, over time, began to be named after him. By the beginning of the XNUMXth century, when Emil died, the production of locomotives, cars, aircraft and many other types of equipment was launched in Pilsen. Before the start of production of trolleybuses, there were still three and a half decades.

The first Skoda trolleybus

In the Czechoslovak capital city of Prague, by the mid-30s, the population was approaching 900 thousand. Such a large city needed a good transport interchange. Therefore, on August 28, 1936, it was decided to open a regular trolleybus service in it. The Skoda concern was involved in the technical support of the project. Having no experience in this direction, the factory workers proceeded from the existing designs.

The chassis of a left-hand drive truck was taken as a basis. This is how the Skoda 656P appeared. Then such a numbering was used, but after the production of trolleybuses was put on stream, it was assigned a different serial number - “1Tr”.

The color of the novelty was made in red and cream colors, it was visible from afar and many Praguers (especially children) admired the vehicle outlandish for them for a long time. The car served faithfully for almost 20 years, after which it was transferred to the local technical museum. But she stayed there for only a few years, after which in 1961 she was disposed of for scrap. Of course, as you understand, the history of Czech trolleybuses has not ended yet. On the contrary, it has only just begun.

The corporate badge "winged arrow" distinguished the brand's trolleybuses from others. Photo: youtube.com

The capital's engineers and specialists who conducted sea trials received positive results. They concerned both the technical performance of the Skoda 1Tr and the reduction of traffic and passenger traffic on the streets of Prague. Trolleybus production received a “green light” and already in 1938 (on the eve of the fascist occupation and the forced partition of the country) five modernized Skoda 2Tr cars appeared at once. The changes were both constructive and technical:

✅ reduced floor level in the cabin
✅ added second engine
✅ rechargeable batteries installed for autonomy

The third generation of trolleybuses appeared at a time when the Second World War was in full swing. It was 1941, but there was a peaceful life in the Czech Republic, which even made it possible to introduce a trolleybus service in Pilsen and send 6 cars of this series there at once. But, martial law still affected the production of peaceful products. The next two generations of cars, which appeared with a difference of one year, remained as prototypes. Unfortunately, time required only military equipment.

The model, which got the opportunity to enter the series, was created already in peacetime. She received the ordinal index 6Tr. The post-war technical upsurge brought the production of Czechoslovak trolleybuses to a qualitatively new level, introducing some useful updates:

✅ self-supporting steel body
✅ improved quality of operation
✅ transverse benches for passengers
✅ branded drum rod catchers

The operation of this model lasted more than 20 years, and it was clear from everything that the designers were set up for the long term. Indeed, in 7Tr, which appeared the very next year, they tried to take into account the wishes of consumers to the smallest detail. For example, icing on windshields in winter created a lot of inconvenience for the trolleybus driver and limited his view. The problem was solved with the help of small heaters installed next to the dashboard.

Driver's workplace: not too spacious, but comfortable. Photo: youtube.com

Such scrupulousness brought a well-deserved reward. Since 1954, an international market has opened up for Skoda trolleybuses. The first client was the Polish capital Warsaw. But even greater fame awaited the brand ahead.

Skoda trolleybuses for large Soviet cities

The first model of the plant, which received worldwide fame, was the Skoda 8Tr. Of course, the majority of consumers were countries of the socialist camp. Poland was joined by East Germany and Romania. 28 buses were sent to two Chinese metropolitan areas. They even reached Egypt, but the huge Soviet Union became the main consumer of the products.

The beginning of this cooperation was laid by the visit of the then head of the Soviet country Nikita Khrushchev to Czechoslovakia. This happened in 1957, just a year after the start of production of the "eighth" trolleybus model. The fresh car was presented to the First Secretary, who appreciated its quality and appearance. Therefore, very soon the first batch of 8Tr went to Soviet cities. They were the capitals of some republics (Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic countries), as well as the center of the resort Crimea.

Production volumes increased noticeably and the concern, for which the most important was the production of automotive and railway equipment (and trolleybuses, rather, as a hobby), faced a lack of resources. The exit was found very quickly. In the second half of the 50s, a decision was made to close the Jachymov uranium mines, so the local infrastructure and the freed workforce were quite suitable for moving trolleybus production here.

Even compared to modern vehicles, the Skoda 15Tr looks good. Photo: youtube.com

So Ostrov nad Ohri, a small town with a few thousand inhabitants, became for several decades the place where the Skoda-Ostrov enterprise was located. Such changes contributed to the fact that by the beginning of the 60s the local population had increased several times, exceeding 16 thousand. It was at the local production facilities that the famous Skoda 1961Tr appeared in 9. It has become the most massive model of the enterprise and the entire foreign world. For twenty-one years of production, more than 7 thousand vehicles were manufactured (only the Soviet ZiU-9 had more).

Rise of stagnant times and further decline

The lion's share of 9Tr trolleybuses, modernized and new models, was exported to the Soviet Union until the early 90s. Most of all they were distributed in large Ukrainian cities. For example, in Kyiv, the main part of the park was precisely Czechoslovak cars. In some cities, their number approached 100% of the entire trolleybus fleet.

In many Czech cities, trolleybuses of the brand can still be found today (Chomutov). Photo: youtube.com

Later, the release of two more successful models of articulated trolleybuses - 14 Tr and 15Tr, which were also supplied to the Union, followed. Their successful modifications were also created for the American city of San Francisco. They also had to work on the longest Crimean trolleybus route in the world. It is interesting that today modernized machines of these models are working in such Ukrainian cities as Ternopil and Rivne.

But, in 1989, Czechoslovakia switched to capitalist rails, two years later the USSR disappeared, and the country itself, a year later, experienced a “velvet partition”. Since 1993, a commercial enterprise for the production of trolleybuses has appeared on the territory of a new state - the Czech Republic. The political situation has changed, the main consumer of the products has disappeared, so production began to gradually curtail. It was completely stopped in 2004. Since that time, all new models of trolleybuses have been produced by Skoda-Electric in Pilsen.


Photos used: youtube.com

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