THE FIRST PHASE of the light rail network in the French city of Valenciennes was officially opened on June 16 by Jean-Louis Borloo, Minister of Employment and President of the greater Valenciennes authority.

From June 17 to 30 the 9·5 km route with 19 stops between Dutemple and Université was scheduled to undergo test operations without passengers, opening to the public with free travel on July 1 and 2 before the start of commercial service the following day.

Alstom has supplied 21 Citadis 302 cars which it is maintaining at the depot at Saint-Waast under a 15-year contract. Construction of the 8·5 km second phase from Dutemple to Denain was due to begin in June for completion in summer 2007 under a contract worth €36m. n