The E2-class design enhancement marks the next generation of E-class trams and an evolution of the trademark E-class design DNA. The design has enhanced the overall vehicle quality by utilising the latest in virtual reality technology from Swinburne University to optimise driver sightlines and enhance driver and passenger safety.
The original E-class tram was designed by Bombardier’s Australian based Industrial Design team and was inspired by one of Melbourne’s most loved icons, Luna Park’s “Mr Moon”. In this next phase of Bombardier’s state of the art vehicle production, the use of the latest technologies, materials and manufacturing techniques have enhanced the overall vehicle quality while the original design intention has been retained. An interplay of tension has been created through the bold day light opening graphic which forms an elegant back drop for the modernised lighting units and creates the distinctive face of the vehicle.
The E2-class design enhancement has improved functionality by increasing driver visibility in crucial areas. Visibility has been achieved through the driver side windows and at the front of the tram through wider side windows, thinner and more vertical A-pillars and lower console equipment. Glare has been reduced by modifying the glass curves, interior material,colours and back-window tinting.
The enhancements will be implemented on current and future orders, of which there may be up to 80 under the initial contract with PTV. Furthermore, the approach to decreasing blind spots can be used as a template for further developments and the design has been shared throughout our Australian and global design teams.
Minimising driver blind spots and window glare is critical for pedestrian safety. 80% of Melbourne’s trams operate in ‘mixed traffic’ (shared car and pedestrian traffic) which presents a variety of safety challenges. Trams and pedestrians are in close proximity as the vehicles depart boarding platforms, and because of this, pedestrian-tram interactions are a primary safety concern. Driver visibility through the front and side of the cab is essential to maintaining safety.
In addition to the E2-class design, additional CCTV cameras have been retrofitted to the base vehicles with monitors attached to the A-Pillars inside the cab. This measure will ensure existing blind spots that drivers may have are covered.
Some of the more complex elements of the original design have been updated to increase manufacturing efficiency. the time consuming fiberglass nose cone process has been removed, and reference points have been added to the design to assist with quality checking and installation. In the bumper, complex bracketry has been simplified by brackets that are more cost effective and easier to maintain, and structural ribbing which was initially made from metal tubing, has been replaced by foam rib reinforcements are simpler to manufacture. The windscreen design has been flattened to enhance wiper functionality and reduce manufacturing, install and maintenance time.
The design has enhanced the overall quality of the vehicle through improved safety and more efficient quality control elements. An increased number of datum and reference points have been included in the designed parts to allow for for more effective quality control, and an overall higher level of finish. Tolerance for vehicle structures, interior and exterior components have been designed to ensure this high level of quality and fitment is maintained. The vehicle has been designed to the highest level of fit and finish by using special manufacturing techniques such as super forming, cold pressing, extruding, moulding of composites and fabrication, all within the price point of the vehicle design cost model.
Bombardier partnered with Swinburne University on a 3D cab room utilising virtual reality (VR) technology. The information gathered informed the design solution. This technology allowed Bombardier, PTV and drivers to test the safety and effectiveness of the new design before production commenced.
Improvement in sightlines and visibility in the cab was achieved through enhancements such as:
• Pushing the A-pillars towards the front of the cab
• Optimising the shape of the A-pillar, reducing width by 16%
• Fitting light clusters along the A-pillar; increasing sightline and reducing maintenance
• Lowering equipment console: reducing windscreen curve and inserting tint for glare, and improving visibility
The E2-class design continues Bombardier’s environmentally conscious approach to design. Where possible, the use of recyclable materials like aluminium, stainless and mild steels have been used. Lightweight materials and energy efficient systems were selected to reduce the environmental impact of the vehicle. Hazardous materials were restricted from both the production methods of subsystems and the vehicle itself. Disassembly has also been a consideration from early in the design phase to maximise the overall recoverability of the vehicle at the end of its service life.
Broader sustainability benefits include enhanced driver visibility which reduces the probability of collisions and improved public safety.