Next-Generation Rail Tram Shown Off By Russian Tank Manufacturer UVZ

The prototype Russia One, an innovative and futuristic rail tram dubbed the "iPhone on Rails", made its public debut at the Innoprom-2014 industrial exposition. Plans are to supply some of Russia's largest cities with 190-270 passenger capacity trams by the end of 2015.

Trams – basically buses running on rails – were a popular and convenient way of getting around urban areas in the USSR's heyday. Though the fall of communism led to many tram systems being scrapped and their rails paved over, Russia still boasts thousands of kilometers of rails though the rolling stock is in serious need of an update.

Enter UralVagonZavod (UVZ for short), Russia's largest main battle tank manufacturer and a major supplier of railway cars, construction vehicles, tractors and consumer goods.

UVZ is promoting the next-generation Russia One tram as the obvious choice to replace current trams because its chassis uses 100% made-in-Russia parts and it's designed to accommodate the country's Soviet-era rail infrastructure.

What surprised many visitors observing R1's debut at the Innoprom-2014 industrial exposition in Yekaterinburg was the tram's jaw-dropping beauty and its cutting-edge design aesthetic. “It takes the form of crystal — a priceless stone in a metal shell,” enthused Alexei Maslov of the industrial design firm Atom, which participated in the tram project.

“Crystal because it reflects the city in which it moves,” added Maslov, quoted in a news release from UVZ, “meaning the tram will assimilate into any landscape — forest, industrial zone, any sort of modern buildings.”

Don't expect Bullet Train-like speed from Russia One – it's not that kind of train. In fact, the tram's average speed is just 24 km/h (about 15 mph) which is ideal for inter-urban public transit. As for the Batmobile-like look, the lead car's canted, overhanging nose gives the driver a 30 percent wider view that substantially reduces the risk of impacting pedestrians.

UVZ has high hopes for Russia One and according to Alexei Nosov, head of UVZ subsidiary company Uraltransmash, mass production of the trams could begin sometime in 2015. The company's news release envisions R1 trams cruising the streets of Moscow, St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Yekaterinburg and Volgograd, to name just a few, in time for Russia's scheduled hosting of the 2018 FIFA World Cup. An ambitious “goal” to be sure! (via The Moscow Times)