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Sidi Bel Abbès opens for business

Algeria’s fourth modern tramway in the last seven years launches passenger services on 25 July.

Passenger service on the new tramway in Sidi Bel Abbès began on 25 July after an opening ceremony attended by Minister of Transport, Abdelghani Zaalane, Entreprise du Métro d’Alger CEO Aomar Hadbi and President of Alstom in Algeria, Henri Bussery. The city is located in north-western Algeria, 75km (47 miles) inland from Oran which opened its own low-floor tramway in May 2013. With a population of 230 000, the city is possibly most famous as the base of the French Foreign Legion.

The new 14.3km (8.9-mile) tramline links the Gare du Nord with the south bus station in the southern suburbs; 30 seven-section Alstom 44m Citadis operate the route, with 22 stops at an average spacing of 700m. The CITRAL-assembled trams feature a golden yellow livery intended to reflect local wheat fields.

Infrastructure was built by Turkish contractor Yapi Merkezi at a cost of ALD32bn (EUR245m). The first trial run was made in December 2016.

Service is managed by the SETRAM joint venture of RATP Dev and EMA, operator of the country’s other tramways in Algiers, Oran and Constantine; 98 Alstom Citadis are in use across these systems.

Work started in June 2013, when it was hoped that passengers would be carried before the end of 2016. Progress was held up by local protests which also delayed the planned opening for Algerian Independence Day (5 July 2017); 62 000 passengers/day are expected to use the system. A second line is planned.

Yapi Merkezi is also building the Sétif tramway, a 22.2km (13.8-mile) system that is due to open in two phases, with 27 stops to be created for the first section and ten for the second. Two depots and six park-and-ride sites are under construction.

Three more Algerian tramways are under construction, at Annaba, Ouragla and Mostaganem.