Nuremberg’s municipal pubblic transport company, VAG operates the city U-Bahn system, tramway network and bus services.
VAG has it’s origins in the Nuremberg-Furth tramway, opened as a privately-owned “Pferdebahn” (a horse-drawn tramway) on the 25th of August 1881. The network was gradually expanded and later electrified between 1896 and 1898, coming under direct municipal control in 1903. Over the following decade the network grew greatly, with up to 20 lines in operation. Bus services were introduced by the company in 1923 and by 1929 the city had already a sizeable fleet.
In 1934 the Nuremberg-Furth Tramway was consolidated into the Städtischen Werke Nürnberg agency, the “City Works” company of Nuremberg tasked with the operation of pubblic utilities such as water, gas, electricity and sewage. Finally, VAG itself was created as an entity in 1959, when pubblic transportation operations were separated into a different entity from (but still tied as a subsidiary to) the Städtischen Werke.
The U-Bahn, opened in 1972 is 38,2Km long and formed of three lines, with identical technical specifications to the nearby Munich U-Bahn (same 1435mm track gauge, loading gauge and bottom-contact 750v DC third-rail electrifications) – in fact the two systems were designed at the same time, thus to be as similar as possible as a way to reduce construction costs for both.
The Nuremberg U-Bahn is notable as it has Germany’s only driverless subway lines: Line U3 (actually two branches of Line U2) wich has been operated without drivers since it’s opening in 2007 and Line U2 itself, originally opened in 1984 as a conventional driver-operated line, was later convered to driverless operation between 2009 and 2010 after an unusual brief period of coexistance between driver- and driver-less operated trains in the U2/U3 shared section.
On the other hand, the tramway network is also sizeable, at 33Km roughly of the same lenght as the U-Bahn network, and formed of five routes, mostly serving the eastern part of the city. The network is operated by a fleet of 48 fully-low floor trams: 14 ADtranz GT6N built between 1995 and 1996, 26 ADtranz GT8N built between 1999 and 2000 and 8 Stadler Variotrams delivered between 2006 and 2007.
Finally, the bus network is formed of 59 lines (16 of wich continue beyond municipal borders into neighbouring towns) served by 199 vehicles, most of wich are MAN Lions’ City type, along with a hadful of Solaris Urbinos and a small minority of CNG Mercedes-Benz Citaros.
Togheter with the S-Bahn (operated by Deutusche Bahn, the federal railways) and the small bus networks of neighbouring towns, VAG is part of the Verkehrsverbund Großraum Nürnberg (VGN) integrated tariff zone, introduced in 1986 for the greater Nuremberg area.
The two driverless lines, U2 and U3, are operated with DT3 Series trains, introduced in 2007, of wich two varieties exist: the “standard” DT3 are for strict driverless operation, while the DT3-F (from “Fahrerkabine” – driving cab) are equipped with a standard enclosed drivers’ cab, and as such can be used also on the manually-driven Line U1.
However, DT3-Fs are also compatible with driverless operations, and as such do regularily (and for most of the time) operate on Lines U2 and U3, resulting in the very unusual sight of a train fully equipped with a driving cab but operating without a driver – a truly driver-less operation! (as opposed to the standard DT3s or other driverless subway trains, wich do not have any cab at all).
Furthemore, both types are compatible and operable in multiple, therefore it isn’t rare to see a train formed of both DT3 and DT3-Fs running in regular service (obviously, “driver-less-ly” operated!)
& (pre-driverless conversion)