THE FIRST of 24 Citadis 302 low-floor cars being built by Alstom for Montpellier’s second tramline was unveiled by city officials and TAM representatives on April 3.

Tracklaying is nearing completion on the 19·8 km line, which is expected to open at the end of this year. Running from southwest to northeast, Line 2 will cost €400m to complete. Of this, 84·75% is being financed by Montpellier, 5·75% by the Hérault district and 5·75% by Languedoc-Roussillon. Although the French government had been expected to provide 25% of the funding, its final share will be just 3·75%. Line 2 is forecast to carry 52000 passengers per day, compared to 110000 per day using Line 1.

Planning for a third line, linking the city’s northwest districts with the Mediterranean is underway, for completion in 2010 (MR05 p35). A fourth route under consideration is likely to be an improved heavy rail service.

Opened in July 2000, Line 1 is worked by a fleet of 30 part-low-floor Citadis 401s, 40m long. The five-module Citadis 302 cars for Line 2 are 100% low-floor, with Arpège trucks under the first, third and last modules. Each 32m, bi-directional vehicle will carry 64 seated and 146 standing passengers; they are designed to be extended to 42m as traffic develops.

The new cars have a distinctive identity, developed by independent designers Garouste and Bonnetti. The front end is more rounded, with modified headlights and a colourful livery with green and red flowers. Three extra Citadis 302 cars being built to boost the Line 1 fleet, will wear that line’s blue livery with white swallows.