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Caen opens after 19-month build

The first passengers are about to board specially-wrapped Alstom Citadis 1009 to ride the new tramway in Caen on 27 July. Image courtesy of J. C. Vaudois

The new 16.2km (ten-mile) tramway in the French city of Caen was formally opened at 11.30 on 27 July at Blvd Maréchal Leclerc by Joël Bruneau, Président of Caen-la-mer. Services were free for the rest of the weekend (the tramway had been carrying passengers from start of service), and there were numerous celebrations along the line, lasting into the evening.

Following just 19 months of construction, the city’s new tramway opened six weeks earlier than forecast, despite the disruption to worksites caused by the gilets jaunes riots in January 2019.

Twenty of the 26 33m 100% low-floor Alstom Citadis 305 (1001-26) are in use on three lines running 05.45-00.30, with a ten-minute service on each line planned for most of the day, requiring 144 drivers. The three lines are T1, Hérouville St-Clair – IFS Jean Vilar; T2, Campus 2 – Presqu’Île; T3, Château Quatrans – Fleury College Hawking. The depot and maintenance facility is at Fleury-sur-Orne. All lines operate through the city centre and both T1 and T3 serve the city’s main railway station.

Service was to be boosted from 26 August, and the bus network reorganised to feed the new tramway from 2 September when the schools re-opened after the summer holidays; 64 000 passengers/day are expected across the 36-stop network. A single ticket costs EUR1.50 and is valid for transfer for 75 minutes.

The EUR260m tramway replaces the 15.7km (9.75-mile) rubber-tyred TVR guided busway that opened in 2002 but which was abandoned on 1 January 2018. This service carried 42 000 passengers/day. The city paid EUR17.3m to release itself from its 30-year TVR contract. The new vehicles cost EUR52m; feeders and substations were re-used.

The conversion project has drawn finance from various sources, including EUR27m from the French Government, EUR45m from Calvados département and EUR15m from the European Union.

The city of Caen has a population of 108 500 (greater Caen 265 000) and is located in Normandy, around 15km (nine miles) inland.

The city’s public transport operation, Twisto, is operated under contract by Keolis Caen Mobilités until 2023.