By one single word – a phenomenon. It’s one of the most successful engineering products from Czechoslovakia, which found its place of operation in different designs in 20 countries – from China to the United States. However, its development was not easy at all.

 

The development of the new type of trolleybus (which was named as a follow up to older types as 14 Tr) started in the factory “Škoda Ostrov” at the end of the 1960s. The project of prototypes construction began in 1970. By 1974, two prototypes were completed. Both vehicles used modern components which weren’t used before on the Czechoslovak trolleybuses. The most important was the new electric equipment with thyristors or the using of big glass surfaces with narrow window pillars. The design of the vehicle belonged to the most marked elements of the new trolleybus because the square shapes were used instead of formerly typical rounded shapes. The proposed vehicles represented at that time the absolute cutting edge which exceeded all production of trolleybuses in the Eastern Europe but it was also at least on the same level of quality like the trolleybuses which were produced in the Western Europe.

 

Trolleybuses Škoda 14 Tr are still the backbone of the fleet in many Ukrainian cities. In the photo we can see a trolleybus in the town of Ivano-Frankovsk in the west of Ukraine in June 2018. (photo by Libor Hinčica)

However, already the second prototype which was completed in 1974 didn’t finish the test rides according to the proposal. The leadership of Czechoslovakia made a decision that the production of trolleybuses will be stopped gradually. It seemed that the new type of trolleybus would not be produced. However, as a result of oil crises the development started again at the end of the 70s. The next prototypes were built in 1980 and after these vehicles followed the production of testing series and the series production. Later, the modernized and modified versions arose for different customers. From 1995 the version marked as Škoda 14 TrM was offered but there were also the special versions for the USA – 14 TrE for Dayton a 14 TrSF for San Francisco. Apart from the standard version, the prototype of the so-called trolleybus train (two connected vehicles) arose and we can’t forget the articulated version with the name 15 Tr.

Trolleybuses Skoda 14 Tr were delivered even to San Francisco, in the version marked 14 TrSF. There, the vehicles are still in operation, as shown in this picture from August 2018. (photo by Honza Tran)

The production of the trolleybuses 14 Tr was formally terminated in 2004 after the closure of the factory of Škoda in the city of Ostrov. But afterwards, the production of the spare parts (whole bodies) existed for some years. These bodies were used for the complete modernization of older vehicles. In total, there was to be built more than 3.500 trolleybuses 14 Tr between 1972 and 2004 in different designs. These trolleybuses were delivered to the Czechoslovakia, USSR, Bosnia, Germany, Hungary, Bulgaria, China or USA. The trolleybus 14 Tr is – after the type 9 Tr – the second most successful trolleybus of the brand Skoda.