Old “Cucumbers” Arrive from Switzerland: Tram Replacement in Bulgaria

|A Foreigners and Friends Article|

The first “cucumbers” arrived in Sofia from Basel (Switzerland). Photo source: Spasi Sofia.

The first “cucumber” has arrived in Sofia. It is one of a total of 28 trams which were discarded in the Swiss town of Basel. Sofia is their new deployment site, at which they are supposed to transport millions of passengers across millions of miles of tram tracks, over time.

These trams, the first of which just hit the Bulgarian capital, are greener than grass, greener than frogs, they are even greener than green, which is why they are called “cucumbers”. According to the NGO “Spasi Sofia”, they were built and first used in 1990. The organization says, these vehicles were in pristine condition, equipped with CCTV screens and cameras and, technically, they were low-floor trams. The segment in their center allows easy access for physically handicapped and elderly people.

The “cucumbers” will supposedly be put to work on tram lines 6 and 12, in order to replace trams which are a lot older, slow, loud, dirty and falling apart. The Swiss trams were supposed to be delivered earlier.

While the arrival of the first “cucumber” is good news, there is a problem: “Spasi Sofia” says, in spite of the delivery delay, Sofia Municipality had not managed to repair the tracks on which they are supposed to move back and forth, 365 days per year. In a release by “Spasi Sofia”, it says the following: “These trams were produced and maintained by the Swiss. They won’t stay in the flawless condition they are in right now if they are being used on decaying Sofia tracks.”

Because of this problem, which does appear on other tram lines as well, “Spasi Sofia” demanded a refurbishment of the tracks on lines 6 and 12 from Sofia’s Mayor Yordanka Fandakova.



Hristo Iliev was born in Sofia and graduated European Studies in the University of Sofia with 3 spoken languages - English, French and Spanish and has a masters degree in Territorial Development from Madrid. Despite his initial idea to settle in Spain permanently, Hristo decides to come back to Bulgaria, charged with the enthusiasm to change the country so that it can be a better place to live in. For a start he decides to begin with Sofia. He is hooked on infrastructure and transportation since young, but only in the last few years he started dealing more actively with this problematic for Sofia area. Main goal - turn Sofia into a well-arranged and liveable city.