We designed a special 90-foot trailer, and provided two units just for this project.

What do you do when you are given the task of carrying two streetcars from Bremerhaven, Germany, to Tacoma, Washington in the US and on to Vancouver Canada especially for the Winter Olympics, and then back again—and the trailer to carry them onboard ship simply doesn’t exist?
“We  designed a special 90-foot trailer, and provided two units just for this project,” says Abu Nasser, General Manager of Marketing & Sales, Europe for Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics (WWL). Trailers that now augment WWL’s ability to carry all kinds of cargo.

Based in Bremen, Germany, Mr. Nasser explains that it was a team effort in creating the needed equipment and safely carrying the streetcars to Vancouver for manufacturer Bombardier Transportation. “We were first contacted by freight forwarder FRACHT AG from Nuremberg, who in turn had been asked by a company called Prangl, a partner company of Bombardier’s, about this project. All of us, together with our stevedore company in Germany, Atlantik Hafen Betriebe, who would actually do the trailer modifications, came up with the concept of how we would handle the move, presented it to Bombardier, and were selected to do the job.”

The job certainly was a unique one. Two Bombardier streetcars loaned from Belgium’s Brussels Transport Authority STIB were to be shipped to Vancouver not only to provide free transport for visitors to the Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, but also to highlight an upgrade of Vancouver’s rail system, and the start of an expanded urban rail system for the city. The streetcars are Bombardier’s FLEXITY model, with low floors making for easy access, even for wheelchairs and prams.

And, while their business is in making these streetcars, this was a first for Bombardier as well, says project manager Christian Ranzenberger.

“For the Business Unit Light Rail Vehicles at Bombardier Transportation, an overseas transport of streetcars is something out of the ordinary. Having assessed many different options, shipping the vehicles was the only solution that catered for our needs. The most important concern for us was to get the vehicles safely to Vancouver in time for the opening of the Olympic Line.”

However, Mr. Ranzenberger says, one concern was that the streetcars were built with anti-corrosion protection designed for Brussels, far from salt spray, but would be crossing the ocean onboard a ship. “In terms of safety, the lashing concept also turned out to be a challenge as well, both for our engineers and the people responsible at WWL. In highly productive meetings, bringing together the expertise of tram engineers and mariners, we managed to develop a lashing concept that guaranteed a safe trip.”

And, in the end, Mr. Ranzenberger says, the worries were unnecessary. “After almost one month traveling on ship, neither corrosion nor the lashing were an issue for our streetcars. Both vehicles arrived in perfect shape in Tacoma, and we were able to start our amazingly successful promotion during the Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games in Vancouver.”