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Montpellier launches largest-ever tram procurement programme

Montpellier’s original Citadis trams are now over 20 years old; Comédie stop (T1/T2 interchange) in April 2017. Image courtesy of N. Pulling

Tenders have been invited for 77 new trams for the French city of Montpellier, for delivery from 2024. The EUR275m order will support fleet renewals, network expansion and the ambition of offering free transport to all from 2023.

For completion in 2030, 30 trams are intended to replace the original Alstom Citadis 301 dating from the 2000 opening of line T1 (these are now 401 models following an extension programme). T1 currently averages 130 000 passengers per day and will be extended to Sud de France station in 2024.

Work on the future T5 has continued, despite the pandemic. To open in 2025, this 17km (10.5-mile) line will link the north to the west of the city with 27 new stops; 60 000 passengers/day are expected. Twenty-two of the new trams will be dedicated to it. A further 25 vehicles will increase capacity on the wider network, which carried 67.3m passengers in 2019.

Four high-quality bus routes, totalling 50km (31 miles), are also planned; 60 buses are to be ordered – powered by either natural gas, hydrogen or electricity – to offer a ten-minute peak service. Further cycle and pedestrian routes will be introduced to connect the bus and tramway networks, and new park-and-ride sites created.

Montpellier’s Mayor Michaël Delafosse (elected in July 2020) has reaffirmed his commitment to making the city’s public transport network fare-free in a programme to double the modal share of public transport from its current 20%. Residents have been able to travel free at weekends since September 2020; this will be extended to students and senior citizens later this year and to all in 2023.