The past year was certainly a good one for the opening of new tramways around the world, with 11 new cities inaugurating their first lines. Some of those that opened in 2019 faced delays (ranging from a few months to years), while others – notably those in Australia – seemed to meet their opening targets and budgets and hit the ground running from day one.
The full 2019 listing was: Canberra, Newcastle (Australia); Ottawa, Waterloo – Kitchener (Canada); Foshan, Sanya (China); Cuenca (Ecuador); Avignon, Caen (France); Port Louis – Curepipe (Mauritius); Utrecht – Uithof (Netherlands).
It is worth noting that the inauguration of the 10.2km (6.3-mile) line in Cuenca, Ecuador, should really only be treated as a soft opening. The new standard-gauge line from Parque Industrial to Control Sur – with a 4km (2.5-mile) catenary-free section in the city’s historic city centre using Alstom’s APS ground supply technology – carried invited passenger groups in 2019, but with no fares charged. Indeed, this issue is one of the key barriers still to be overcome before full service can begin. The fares suggested by three separate reports are too high, the city argues, but it is yet to agree the framework of a multi-year subsidy agreement.
City authorities are also still negotiating with other urban transport providers on how to best integrate the new tramway into the existing public transport network, while final regulatory sign-off and the agreement of a maintenance contract with Alstom – or perhaps an alternative supplier – are reportedly close to conclusion. It is hoped that opening can be achieved early in the New Year, although no date has been confirmed.
The Cádiz tram-train project in Spain failed to achieve passenger service in 2019 (again) and is therefore rolled forward into our 2020 list. This seems to be the victim of institutional problems to do with introducing lines in new environments, and is now running several years late, despite extensive testing during that period.
After a busy few years (12 systems opening between 2015 and 2019, four alone in 2018), North America is taking a break in 2020, but is expected to return to the listings in 2021.
There were no significant tramway closures in 2019, just the Łódź interurban in Poland, and right at the end of the year (hopefully temporarily) the Loop Trolley in St Louis, USA. A USD90 000 loan in November 2019 kept the troubled 3.5km (2.2-mile) loop line, which opened in November 2018, operating until the end of the year and it is hoped that negotiations between the city and Bi-State Development – the agency which already oversees the city’s MetroLink light rail system – may find a solution to funding future operations.
We have identified 12 new tramways that could open in 2020. They cover some far flung parts of the globe and also include two or three in Europe.
Algerian tramway development was covered in our recent two-part series (TAUT 983-984) and the next to open should be in Mostaganem (population 250 000), a hilly port city on the country’s Mediterranean coast around 80km (50 miles) east of Oran.
Although works on 14.5km (nine miles) of lines have been underway since 2013, delays can be ascribed to bankruptcy of the original contractor, flooding and subsidence. A roster of 25 Alstom Citadis 402 43.9m double-ended trams with all bogies motored have been delivered from the CITAL joint venture factory in Annaba. Photographs show the infrastructure approaching completion, and it is hoped to carry passengers before the end of 2020.
The city of Annaba itself (population 260 000), is another seaport in the north-east, close to the Tunisian border. As well as hosting the joint venture tram factory since 2015, the city has long planned a two-line 21.7km/13.5-mile tramway of its own (a large loop and a branch to the railway station and northern suburbs) – 72 trams will be required. Progress has been slowed by national financial difficulties resulting from the fall in oil prices, but the tramway is still under construction.
Batna, 120km (74.5 miles) inland with a population of 290 700, used French consultant SYSTRA to develop plans for a 15.5km (9.6-mile) east–west line between Cité–Hamla via Université and Gare SNTF. Work began in 2014, but was suspended in 2015 for financial reasons. Despite some realistic computer-generated images, a completion date is unclear.
The fourth-largest city in Bolivia, Cochabamba lies in an Andean valley and has a population of 630 500 who enjoy the ‘eternal spring’ climate. Although served by a comprehensive bus network and with high public transport usage (over 50% of the estimated two million daily journeys), city streets are still described as ‘suffocating’ from traffic congestion.
In August 2017 work started on a USD447.6m, 42km (26-mile), light rail system known as Mi Tren. The project connects the six municipalities of Sipe Sipe, Vinto, Quillacollo, Colcapirhua, Cercado and Sacaba and consists of three lines with a common city terminus at the main rail station: Red (5.3km/3.3 miles) to the University of San Simón; Yellow (7.7km/4.8 miles) to El Castillo, and Green (27.4km/17 miles), partly on elevated infrastructure to Suticollo.
Work began in August 2017, with tracklaying and civil engineering works undertaken by Spanish construction specialist JOCA and project management handled by Swiss company Molinari Rail. Credit Suisse is providing the project finance.
Stadler Rail was awarded a build and maintain contract for 12 33.76m three-section trams, built in the company’s factory in Minsk, Belarus, to the Metelitsa design (that can already be seen operating in Sankt Peterburg). Each can carry 221 passengers (66 seated).
After delivery through the port of Iquique in Chile, trial runs started in September 2019 and passenger service should begin in 2020, possibly on 26 August, after the 6 August Independence Day holiday. It should be noted that this project started under the sponsorship of President Evo Morales, who recently left Bolivia for Argentina; the consequences of which are still uncertain.
Cochabamba’s first-generation tramway closed in 1948.
The development of rail schemes in China is always rather opaque, with news of openings often only available days in advance.
Delingha is the capital of the Haixi Mongal Tibetan autonomous prefecture, with a population of 80 000 and built 2982m above sea level; due to its altitude it is served by trains equipped with oxygen supply. A 14.4km (8.9-mile) two-line tramway is under construction and CRRC Qingdao Sifang is building two-section 100% low-floor 168-passenger trams featuring supercapacitor and battery energy storage specially adapted for the high altitude. After missing earlier deadlines, a 2020 opening is now possible.
We have already illustrated (TAUT 945) trial operation in Mengzi City/Honghe (population 417 000 in south-east Yunnan province) where a four-line tramway totalling 62km (38.5 miles) is under construction at a cost of CNY6.6bn (EUR845m) to serve the population of 330 000. Debugging trials were in progress in 2018. Regular passenger service was supposed to start in 2019 using 34 CRRC-supplied trams, but 2020 now seems more likely.
Tianshui started building its 12.9km (eight-mile) tramline in summer 2018 and the first test runs were carried out on a 600m section of line in March 2019. Opening is predicted for 2020. Rolling stock is coming from China Railway Signal and Communication, which will supply 17 five-section cars of its Pioneer design. This 100% low-floor car can carry 370 passengers (58 seated) and uses onboard energy storage with a pantograph recharging the vehicle at stops.
The project seems to be a PPP joint venture between the city and CRSC, valued at CNY2.5bn (EUR320m).
The tramway revival in Paris began in July 1992 with the opening of line T1. The network has expanded steadily since, now reaching 104.7km (65 miles), but mostly with the addition of standalone lines. Even where a track connection exists (T1/T2), incompatible rolling stock means there are no through passenger services.
December 2020 will see the addition of another such line with the inauguration of T9, 10.3km (6.4 miles) from metro station Porte de Choisy to Orly Ville (Place Gaston Viens). Its introduction will relieve RATP’s second-busiest bus line (183, Porte de Choisy – Aéroport d’Orly, terminal Sud) by giving non-airport riders a choice for local journeys in the fast-developing suburbs. T9 will also connect with T3a at Porte de Choisy, and RER line C at Choisy-le-Roi.
When the Grand Paris Express orbital metro line 15 opens, it will cross line T9 at Vitry Centre. A future link may run from the outer terminus to a connection with T7 (Villejuif – Athis-Mons).
Competitive tendering has seen the 66-month contract to operate T9 (and seven local bus routes) awarded to Keolis – making it the first tramline in the Île-de-France region not to be run by RATP.
In November 2016 Île-de-France Mobilités awarded Alstom a EUR70m contract for 22 air-conditioned Citadis X05 trams for T9, with delivery starting in November 2019. The seven-section 45m trams can carry up to 314 passengers with eight double doors each side. The new design is reportedly 99% recyclable.
The tiny Gulf state of 2.8 million is using its vast resources of liquefied natural gas (the country is one of the world’s leading exporters, recently announcing plans to increase production by 64% within the next decade) to fund massive infrastructure development – including public transportation projects. A key driver of this investment is also the nation’s hosting of the 2022
FIFA World Cup football tournament.
After a long gestation period, the Education City Tram in Doha opened at the end of 2019 (see page 44). The next major project to open for passenger operation is the Lusail tramway, designed to serve new waterside development (eventual population 200 000) in the northern suburbs of the Qatari capital. The new tramway will join the expansive driverless metro, the first phase of which was completed with the opening of the third (Green) line in December.
A 20-year concession to operate the 28km (17.4-mile) four-line standard-gauge light rail system (7km/4.3 miles in subway and 1km/0.6 miles on viaduct) has been awarded to RKH Qitarat, a joint venture of Hamad Group and French transport companies Keolis/RATP Dev.
The system’s at-grade stops feature various platform configurations, while the underground stops all utilise platform screen doors. As with other Gulf rail projects, manufacturers have had to deliver materials and products that will be resilient to the operating climate of the country’s hot, desert environment.
Alstom was awarded a EUR750m contract that includes the design and supply of electrification systems and the delivery of 28 100% low-floor 33m Citadis X05 trams (with an option for 32 more). APS surface current collection is used, except in the subway, which employs rigid fixed overhead, and in the depot which uses traditional overhead contact lines.
The first tram rolled out of the La Rochelle factory at the end of January 2018 and arrived at Hamad Port in March. Test running – including official rides for dignitaries – started in June the same year. The system will connect with the metro at Lusail and Legtaifiya stations.
The five-section trams are capable of 60km/h (37mph) and feature both ‘family’ (24 seats) and ‘commuter’ (40 seats) carriages.Tickets will be available from vending machines at stops, with fares also payable via contactless bank cards and through a dedicated mobile app.
Minor delays have been experienced due to the Qatar blockade, but project sponsor Qatar Rail has managed to mitigate many of these by helping to facilitate co-working between its network of global design and construction partners with local companies.
Qatar has a third tramway, a simple 2km (1.2-mile) loop using battery trams provided by Californian manufacturer TIG/m. It serves the MDD (Msheireb Downtown Doha) property development zone and has achieved the highest environmental certification for its design and construction.
The capital may also see ‘trackless trams’ – in reality rubber-tyred optically-guided buses, described as Autonomous Rail Rapid Transit (ART) – supplied from China in 2020, making it the most interesting Gulf city to visit for transport purposes. The ART system, developed by China’s CRRC Zhuzhou Electric Locomotive Institute in 2017, was given its first overseas trial in the Qatari capital in July 2019.
In Cádiz, one of the oldest continuously-inhabited cities in western Europe (population 117 000), the Bahia de Cádiz tram-train project dates from 2008. It involves 10.3km (6.4 miles) of shared track with RENFE broad-gauge trains from the city station at Plaza de Sevilla to La Ardila (Río Arillo), then 13.7km (8.5 miles) of new tramway through San Fernando to La Chiclana (with a depot at La Hoya).
CAF has supplied seven 38.1m three-section dual-voltage (750/3000V dc), 1668mm-gauge cars, capable of 100km/h (62mph) running. With a 55% low-floor, they were delivered in 2016 and tested in north-east Spain. Different door heights (760mm/380mm) accommodate both the railway platforms and street stops.
The service will be operated by RENFE and it was hoped to carry passengers before the start of summer 2017. However, despite 16 hour/day testing there have been significant delays, and additional expenditure of EUR116m, mostly focused on the interoperability over the ADIF section of track, where Thales has been retained to complete the adaptation of interlocks. This was due to be completed in December 2019.
Since the line was built using EUR134.6m from the EU’s European Regional Development Fund, but has as yet failed to carry passengers, an argument has developed between the promoter Junta de Andalucia and the EU about repaying the funding. In the meantime a TAUT reader who visited in November found everything complete, but no sign of a date for entry into revenue service. Will 2020 produce results?
Looking further ahead, there are plans for a second line linking to Jerez airport (Cádiz does not have its own airport).
Lund is a city of 121 500 inhabitants in the southern Swedish province of Skåne, famous for its towering cathedral and its highly-respected university. The population is expected to increase
to 160 000 by 2040 and so in 2015 the city took the decision to aim for completely pollution-free traffic by 2050. As part of that plan it was decided to build a tramway to replace buses on the city’s most heavily-patronised corridor.
Today the buses using routes 6 and 20 between the city centre and the science village research facility (ESS) in the north-east suburbs are marketed as Lundaläken, carrying about 7000 passengers/day. In August 2020 they should be replaced by trams running every 7.5 minutes Lund CS–ESS.
Construction of the tramway began in February 2017 by contractor Skanska in what will be the first new tramway city in Sweden since 1911. The SEK776m (EUR91m), 5.5km (3.4-mile), standard-gauge line will run on the surface (along St Laurentiigatan), mostly on non-signalled reserved track, with
40 000m2 of grass laid where possible plus 300 new trees, and with 750V dc overhead. Nine stops with 35m platforms are being built. Finance is being split between the Municipality of Lund and the Swedish Government.
Service will be provided 05.00-24.00 by seven five-section 33m Urbos 100 trams (2.65m-wide) ordered from CAF for SE175m (EUR16.8m), working from a depot at Brunnshög beyond the outer terminus. They will carry up to 218 passengers (70 seated), giving a capacity of 1300 passengers/hour/direction.
The fleet is due to be delivered in March-June, but completion of the depot is the critical path for the opening; infrastructure work along the line was completed on 16 December. The line will have stub termini, requiring double-ended trams.
An opening date of 16 August 2020 was announced, to coincide with the start of the university term, but construction delays may see this pushed back to October. A future extension from Brunnshög to Dalby is being considered.
Lund did not have a first-generation tramway.
While it is easy to focus on new tramways, with over 400 existing systems worldwide, modernisation and expansion is a constant process, particularly in Europe (where the last weeks of 2019 were extraordinary for new lines).
In the UK, Manchester Metrolink trams will start carrying passengers on the 5.5km (3.4-mile) branch to the Trafford Centre in April (for more on this see TAUT 980) and the coastal resort of Blackpool may even open its extension to North Station in late 2020 (provided agreement can be reached with the tenant of the store currently standing in the way of the new terminus).
On the other side of the world, the Australian city of Sydney will open the Kingsford branch of its new South East Light Rail line early in the new year, while the Japanese port city of Toyama will open a link between its Portram light rail system and the city tramway in May.
In France, Bordeaux will complete line D of its tramway to Eysines-Cantinelle, following the introduction of the first 3.5km (2.2-mile) section to Bouscat in December 2019. The additional 6.3km (3.9 miles) should open in February.
The German city of Chemnitz is also building 2.2km (1.4 miles) of new tramway to permit further expansion of its tram-train network, while in Freiburg-im-Breisgau a new tramway link will form a connection to Messe (Exhibition Halls). Karlsruhe is also due to open a 1.5km (0.9-mile) extension of line 2.
In Greece, trams should start running on the extension of the Athina (Athens) system from Faliro to Akti Poseidonos; the Turkish city of İzmit is also expanding its tramway in 2020.
In the USA, plans to extend The Hop streetcar in Milwaukee have run into difficulties. Two short extensions of 0.65km (0.4 miles) apiece were due to open in 2020, but while infrastructure works on the lakefront line are in progress, delays with a major private development have seen this slow significantly. Plans for the line to the convention centre, alongside a proposed route to Bronzeville and Walker’s Point, are still on the drawing board.
Article appeared originally in TAUT 986 (February 2020)