The testing period formally began on the morning of Monday 17 August. Before the trams for line 25 can carry passengers in December 2020, all the new tram infrastructure needs to be tested and the Municipal Transport Authority (GVB) will carry out training and practice activities. This will help the drivers to get to know the new line route and any teething problems can be resolved.
Testing and practice process
In general terms, the testing and practice process will be done as shown in the above picture (click on the image to enlarge it). The rest of this month will be devoted to preparations and occasionally, a testing tram will be running. The next step will be to test the technical infrastructure, which will start in early September. In October, the GVB will start training the drivers and testing the new 15G trams on the tracks. The trams are 30 metres long and 2.4 metres wide, but two trams will be linked together, giving a total length of 60 metres for each vehicle. Tram line 25 will actually start running in December 2020. Additionally, preparatory work on extending the line from Amstelveen down to Uithoorn got underway in May 2020. This completely new stretch of track will be finished in 2024.
Once the Zuidasdok project is complete, all trams that stop in Zuidas – including the new Amsteltram – will call at a new high-quality tram station on the south side of the station. In the future, the new-look Amsterdam Zuid station will have two wide station passages, with a bus station on the north side and a tram station on the south side. Both the bus station and the tram station will be built on top of the highway tunnel, which the widened southern carriageway of the A10 will pass through. The whole project will take some time to complete. Until then, the Amsteltram will stop at four locations in Zuidas: Zuid Station (Strawinskylaan), Parnassusweg, Van Boshuizenstraat and A.J. Ernsstraat. The De Boelelaan/VU stop was taken out of service on 20 July 2020 and the Spinnerij, Gondel, Marne and Amstelveen centre stops on the rest of the line have been removed. The reason for this is to make journey times quicker. Travellers to and from VU University will be able to get on and off at the new stop at A.J. Ernsstraat.
From metro/express tram to high-quality tram
The Amstelveen line, which used to be served by express tram 51, has been completely renovated in recent years. In September 2018, major modification work began on the tram stops along the line. Hazardous road junctions have also been made safer and new tram sidings and stabling have been built. The tram infrastructure has been thoroughly overhauled too: instead of an express tram that would need to be able to run on both a metro and a tram system, the new 15G tram was chosen. One important change for travellers is that there is no longer a direct connection from Amsterdam Central to Amstelveen. Passengers will now need to change at Amsterdam Zuid station. Metro line 51 is still running, but it no longer goes to Amstelveen. The route between Amsterdam Central and Amsterdam Zuid station remains unchanged, but since March 2019 the metro line has been running from Amsterdam Zuid to Sloterdijk station and terminates at Isolatorweg station. More information about the Amsteltram can be found on amstelveenlijn.nl.