Tailwind for Bernmobil: compressed air by the kilometre

Bernmobil shines, with its punctuality, reliability and safety. The maintenance of the vehicle fleet plays a key role in this. With a comprehensive refurbishment of the compressed air system, the company has brought its workshops in line with the state of the art. And all this without interrupting operations.

In the Bernmobil tram and bus workshops at the main Eigerplatz depot in Bern, the trams and buses are regularly cleaned, serviced and brought up to speed for daily use. This requires an enormous amount of compressed air, mainly for the operation of the «Sponge-Jet» high-pressure cleaning systems and the trickle charging of the bus fleet.

A compelling need for modernisation

After the legacy compressed air system of the tram and bus workshops had become outdated, it was inevitable that it would have to be comprehensively refurbished. Michael Tièche, Head of Facility Management: «Ad hoc adaptations over the past few decades meant that the network of pipes had become a little out of control. The comprehensive renewal of the compressed air supply system offered us the chance to clean up the mess and implement a neat solution.»

Replacement of all building services systems during ongoing operations

The main challenge in planning the new compressed air supply system was that the replacement of the complex system had to be carried out during ongoing operations. This demanded a strong willingness to cooperate from all those involved and also placed special demands on the pipeline system. At an early stage of the project, Bachofen suggested using the Transair pipe system, which, thanks to the pipes and connectors being supplied ready-to-fit, is quick and easy to install.

Amstein + Walthert, the consulting and engineering firm commissioned with the project planning for the entire renovation of the construction and building services, developed Bachofen’s recommendation. Project Manager Thomas Gerber: «From our point of view, the main criteria that spoke in favour of Transair were the light weight of the components and simple assembly. For Bernmobil, the Transair system has the advantage that it can be expanded and adapted at any time by in-house staff without the need for external fitters.»

Die Tramwerkstatt von Bernmobil. In luftiger Höhe ist das Druckluftversorgungssystem Transair installiert (am blauen Rohr erkennbar).
Bernmobil’s tram workshop. The Transair compressed air supply system is installed at a lofty height (recognisable by the blue pipe).
Michael Tièche,  Leiter Facility Management Bernmobil
Michael Tièche, Head of Facility Management

Ring line with a record-breaking length of 1.5 kilometres

To ensure the availability of compressed air without any interruptions, the old compressed air supply system remained in operation until the new system was completed. The main pipelines were laid in a ring around the entire area, in two pressure stages, with a total length of 1.5 kilometres. After that, the supply lines to the various extraction points were installed. Only when the new system was ready for operation was the old system switched off and dismantled.

A flexible solution with a flexible partner

Bachofen’s technical competence and good advice went down well with the clients. Since the construction work had already begun when the system was evaluated, the ability to deliver at short notice also had to be guaranteed – no mean feat with quantities of this magnitude. Michael Tièche: «Bachofen was fully committed to ensuring that the installations were completed on time.»

«If building services equipment such as the compressed air supply needs to be replaced during ongoing operations, good coordination is essential. Bachofen’s flexibility was a significant factor in our ability to execute this complex renovation project on time.»

Michael Tièche, Head of Facility Management- Developer

Bernmobil Städtische Verkehrsbetriebe Bern

The public transport operator of the city of Bern has an impressive track record: with 57 trams and over 150 buses, it transports over 100 million passengers on its networks every year, and the trend is rising. Bernmobil is one of the leading public transport companies in Switzerland in terms of social and environmental sustainability: virtually all the vehicles in the tram, trolleybus and bus fleets have disabled access. The fleet is powered by electricity from renewable sources and in some cases by biogas. Around 95 per cent of passengers are satisfied or very satisfied with Bernmobil.

opening of the Bern Municipal Tramway as a private company: 1890, takeover by the city of Bern: 1900

Number of employees
around 940

René Schmied (since 2006)

Investments in 2018
CHF 42.5 million

On the road together

Bachofen customer
since 2002


Technology partner