In the presence of presidents Nicolas Sarkozy and Abdelaziz Bouteflika, RATP President Pierre Mongin signed a €130m contract with Alger metro company EMA on December 4, under which the Paris operator will run Line 1 for eight years after it opens in 2009. The 9 km line with 10 stations will be worked by 14 six-car trains, carrying 110 million passengers/year.
After some delay, signing of a federal Full Funding Grant Agreement for the Northstar commuter rail project took place on December 11. The US Federal Transit Administration will contribute $158·8m toward the $320m capital cost, finalising the financing package for the 64·5 km line from Minneapolis to Big Lake (RG 4.07 p187). Revenue service is projected to start in November 2009.
A referendum in the Canton of Zürich has approved the Tram West project, which is expected to cost SFr136m. This involves extending Route 18 by 3·1 km from Escher-Wyss-Platz to Altstetten station to serve a new entertainment and leisure complex west of the city centre, including the planned Grasshopper stadium at Hardturm. Services should begin in 2011.
Seattle's South Lake Union Streetcar opened on December 12 following dedication ceremonies led by Mayor Greg Nickels and local civic leaders. The 2·1 km, $52·1m light rail line carried hundreds of passengers on three Inekon-supplied cars on the opening day, and free travel was offered throughout December. The 11-station line connects Westlake Center with Fairview Avenue in the expanding South Lake Union redevelopment area; it is expected to carry 330 000 passengers in its first year.
The first test train over Perth's Mandurah line ran on November 10 from Narrows Bridge to Rockingham carrying engineering staff. Suburban services from Clarkson began using the low-level station at Perth Esplanade on October 15, and passenger trains over the entire route to Mandurah were due to start on December 23.
A sod-turning on December 8 marked the formal start of work on The Tide, a 12 km light rail starter line in Norfolk, Virginia. Siemens will supply nine S70 LRVs (RG 10.07 p679).