The lubricating tram can still be seen by passengers and transport fans on the streets of Prague, even though the new Prague 15T trams are already equipped with a lubrication system, thus effectively replacing the primary task of the "lubricator".
The operation of this service vehicle is therefore far less frequent than in the past, but traditionally during the Christmas festive period, the "lubricator", adorned with Christmas decoration, slides on the wintery tracks. In contrast, in the hot and dry summer months, it helps with sprinkling the grassy tracks.
Here is a live broadcast from this legendary Prague tram.
In order to fully appreciate the significance of Prague’s “Lubrication Tram”, it is perhaps worthwhile to take a brief look back at how it all began. When new – i.e. “not kissed by kilometers” – it was just a regular, ordinary, passenger carrying T3CS tram. New, it arrived at DPP direct from the ČKD Tatra production plant in 1965. In 1990, after it stopped carrying passengers, the life of this vehicle began to change. Its rebuilding into a maintenance “workhorse” type vehicle, involved a wide-range of structural and technological changes and modifications, which have continued being made on an ongoing basis in the intervening years. More detailed information on these changes can be found in the DPP company magazine DP kontakt (February 2015 and December 2016).
In January 2016, after completing 120,000 kilometers of service, the “Mazačka” returned to the DPP maintenance and repair shop in Hostivař (Prague) for what, at the time, was originally planned to be just regular maintenance. Instead, a major rebuilding and upgrading of the Mazačka took place. Among the numerous changes were the addition of a new door, new wiring for cameras and a new driver’s seat. To the naked eye, the most important changes were a new paint job and the addition of a water tank. Why a water tank? The Škoda 15T trams are equipped with lubrication devices. In addition, to better protect maintenance crews working on the tram, a water tank and sprinkler system was added to the Mazačka, which is used to irrigate the grassy areas between tram tracks during the summer months.
The newly updated Mazačka was ceremoniously introduced at the tram loop in Těšnov on Monday, 19 December 2016. To everyone's surprise, it was decorated for Christmas with the traditional symbol of Christmas, an illuminated angel, positioned on its "body". The decorations stayed there until the 6th of January, Three Kings Day, when Christmas decorations are traditionally taken down.
In its latest maintenance and upgrading, a number of additional capabilities were added to the Mazačka in addition to its grass watering system. One of these was new sensors for real-time monitoring of air temperatures and air quality, installed as part of the Kanárci.cz project.
There is also a dust sensor, which is located on the side of the tram. From the outside, this device looks like any other marker light; but inside, there is a laser that measures gives the current air pollution levels in the area it is passing through. The sensors measure the concentration of airborne dust (PM2.5) – i.e. particles with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers (μm). These small dust particles penetrate the lungs very easily and are associated with a range of serious respiratory and cardiac health risks. The largest source of such particulates in Prague comes from vehicle exhaust.