January 16, 2014

Besançon begins city centre tram testing

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Besançon begins city centre tram testing Emile Joly

THE FRENCH city of Besançon celebrated a milestone in the construction of its low-cost light rail network on January 15, when test operation began on the city centre section between Planoise and Viotte stations.

Commercial services are due to begin in December on the 14.5km line from Hauts du Chazal to Viotte Station and Chalezeule, which is being built at a cost of just €17m per km, significantly less than the average of €25-30m for light rail construction in France. This was achieved by limiting spending throughout the project with standardised and simplified stations, structures, and equipment. The city cut the cost of its fleet of 19 LRV to €35.2m by opening the request for proposals to seven bidders, when most French cities would allow no more than three or four.

The winner of the tender was CAF, a newcomer to the French LRV market. CAF is supplying a standard 23.6m-long three-section version of its Urbos low-floor LRV, which accommodates up to 132 passengers. The contract includes an option for additional sections, which if exercised would increase the capacity of each vehicle to 230 passengers.

The 31-station line is expected to carry around 50,000 passengers per day.

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