April 28, 2015

Avignon – Carpentras line reopens

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REGULAR passenger services returned to the French town of Carpentras for the first time in 77 years on April 25 with the reopening of the 17km branch from Sourges north of Avignon.

Initially French National Railways (SNCF) is operating 13 services per day to Avignon, with trains running hourly at peak times, although this will be increased to 17 trains per day from August 31 with half-hourly frequencies in the peak. Services will be stepped up once more to 20 trains per day next year and the line is expected to carry around 4000 passengers per day when the full timetable is operational.

Services from Carpentras call at Avignon Central, continuing to Avignon TGV station via a 4km chord from the Avignon – Arles – Miramas line, which opened in January 2014. The journey time between Carpentras and Avignon Central is 30 minutes, and 38 minutes to the terminus at Avignon TGV, where there are connections to high-speed services to Paris and Marseilles.

The €80m project was financed by Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur regional government, Greater Avignon Urban Council, the department of Vaucluse, and Ventoux Comtat Venaissin local council.

Currently services are operated by AGC regional DMUs but these will be replaced in the coming months by five new bi-mode Alstom Regiolis trains, which will seat up to 220 passengers. The regional government is financing the €37.5m fleet of new trains and is also providing €7.5m for stabling and maintenance facilities.

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