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Strasbourg light rail expansion resumes

01 Jun 2007

With a series of legal challenges successfully resolved last year, preliminary works are now underway for the next phase of light rail development in Strasbourg. The 2007-08 programme will add 13·5 km to the CTS network, including Line E that will provide a new north-south link across the city

ON NOVEMBER 3 2005 the administrative appeal court in Nancy issued a judgement confirming the legality of the Déclaration d'Utilité Publique for the Strasbourg expansion programme. The DUP had first been approved on April 1 2004, but preliminary works were halted in August of that year following the first of a series of legal challenges from local residents. This led to a new public enquiry in the summer of 2005.

Strasbourg opened its first light rail route in 1994, and between 1992 and 2002 traffic on the city's public transport network, operated by CTS, increased by 85%. The 2007-08 extension programme will add 22 stations and take the combined route length (including shared sections) to 53·7 km, increasing capacity to handle up to 255500 passengers a day.

Line B is to be extended at its southern end from Elsau to Ostwald and then in a subsequent phase to Lingolsheim, involving a total of 5·03 km of new construction with seven stops. The 5 km extension of Line C from Esplanade to Neuhof will have eight stops, and a new tram and bus maintenance depot at Polygone. Line D is to be extended by 1·8 km from Etoile-Polygone to Neudorf, with three new stations; it will share the Line C tracks between Landsberg and Orbay.

Line E will be 10·6 km long, but only 2 km with three stops will represent new construction. Services will start at Baggersee on Line A, then take Line D from Etoile-Polygone to Landsberg where they will use Line C to reach République. Line E services will leave Line B at Wacken where a new branch will run via the European Parliament to Boecklin. The alignment of a subsequent extension to the centre of Robertsau has been safeguarded under local land-use policy.

Bringing light rail to new parts of the city, the 2007-08 extension programme will increase the importance of interchanges at Etoile-Polygone, Landsberg, République and Wacken to relieve Homme de Fer, currently the only stop served by all four lines. CTS is also planning to improve connections with other modes, restructuring its bus network to feed into the expanded light rail network and improving facilities for parking cars and bicycles at some stops as well as interchange with the SNCF TER network.

The extension programme was originally costed at €402·45m, but following the results of tendering launched in 2004 this has been revised downwards to €397·52m, including additional costs of €3·26m incurred by suspending work as the DUP was contested in the courts. Funding at city, département and regional level will be combined with long-term borrowing and a contribution from the French government, reduced from an initial contribution of €69m to €15m but subsequently increased by a further €10m in February 2005. According to Strasbourg city council, this larger contribution from central government is of some importance as it will reduce the proportion of the total project cost to be met by borrowing.

New fleet arrives

Ahead of new infrastructure CTS has started to commission its latest generation of rolling stock, bringing the first Citadis 403 LRV (RG 11.05 p681) into service on Line A on November 22 2005. The complete fleet of 41 vehicles is due to enter service by 2008. The original order placed with Alstom was for 35 LRVs at a cost of £98·3m, with an option for additional cars to be ordered at €2·28m each.

At 45m these cars are the longest members of the Citadis family produced to date, each accommodating 288 passengers of which 64 are seated. Styled by MBD Design, they closely resemble the striking Eurotram LRVs first supplied by ABB Transportation for the opening of the Strasbourg network in 1994. As Citadis commissioning progresses with up to three cars delivered per month from the former De Dietrich plant at Reichshoffen in northern Alsace, CTS is hoping to overhaul its fleet of 53 Eurotrams in time for completion of the 2007-08 extension programme.

Tram-train plan

Under the first phase of a project to introduce tram-train services running on RFF infrastructure from Strasbourg to Gresswiller and Barr, by 2009 CTS expects to open Line F which would run from Place de la Gare, a new surface terminus in front of Strasbourg SNCF station, to Boecklin (on Line E) and Vauban. Comprising 850m of new construction from Place de la Gare to a junction with Line B between Alt Winmärik and Homme de Fer, as well as a 640m section from Observatoire on Line C to Vauban, the infrastructure works required to create Line F were considered by a public enquiry between February 21 and March 23 this year.

At the same time, a separate enquiry conducted by RFF was due to consider proposals to move Entzheim station on the Strasbourg - Molsheim route in order to better serve the city's airport. Under the first phase of the tram-project, the frequency of SNCF TER services would be increased to every 15 min. The first phase is estimated to cost €35m for the railway works and €25m for new construction on the CTS network.

Under the second phase programmed for beyond 2010, the CTS and RFF networks would be linked by a new connection under Strasbourg station, with new tram-train rolling stock running onto Lines B and C as well as F, which would be extended to Koenigshoffen in the west.

Once the RFF routes to Barr and Gresswiller were electrified, tram-train services would operate every 15 min to Molsheim and then serve each destination alternately. Serving a total of 24 stations on the RFF network (including new stations) and 15 stops on CTS, Strasbourg' s proposed tram-train network would be accessible to a population of 360000 and is expected to carry 27000 passengers a day.

Picture caption: The first of 41 Citadis 403 cars assembled at Reichshoffen are already in service
Photo:Alstom

Picture caption: Line B services turn back at Rotonde, where a central reversing siding is located between the Line A tracks, just north of the light rail tunnel under the station

Picture caption: The Eurotram fleet introduced modern light rail services to Strasbourg in 1994