Running along the boulevards from Pont du Garigliano to Porte d'Ivry, RATP's third light rail route is expected to bring about a 25% reduction in road traffic while doubling the capacity offered by existing bus services. An extensive tree planting programme aims to create a green corridor along busy streets

Paris tram Line T3.

THIS AUTUMN has been set as the opening date for T3, which runs for 7·9 km in southern Paris, serving a total of 17 stops along boulevards named after illustrious figures from France's military past. Costing a total of €311·5m, the first phase of the Tramway des Maréchaux project is being funded by national, regional and city governments as well as operator RATP, which is acquiring 21 Alstom Citadis 402 LRVs for the new route.

For most of its length, the new route runs on a reserved alignment down the middle of the roadway, flanked on either side by two lanes for road traffic. Reducing the space for vehicles in this way is expected to see road traffic fall by 25%. The route runs at the side of the road between Porte de Gentilly and Porte de Choisy.

Construction has involved the use of pre-cast concrete panels at the 35 road crossings along the route, installed complete with rails. A typical crossing requires between four and six panels ranging in length from 6m to 8m, each weighing between 20 and 25 tonnes.

Tracklaying began on January 27 2005 and has been undertaken by six teams working simultaneously from different sites along the route. Rail weighing 50 kg/m is being laid in 18m lengths. The overhead line will be carried by a total of 460 masts, most also equipped with public lighting to reduce the amount of street furniture along the route. Street furniture for the project has been designed by the architectural practice of Wilmotte et Associés, including shelters at stops and the OHLE masts which are positioned to align with the trees planted along the route.

Traction current at 750V DC will be supplied by six substations, the first of which was commissioned within the Lucotte rolling stock maintenance depot to enable test running to begin between Balard and Pont du Garigliano on October 12 2005 (RG 11.05 p674). The depot covers a 1·8 ha site and is connected to the route by a 200m spur. Equipped with a wheel lathe, it will also house the control centre for the route which will monitor CCTV images and the system giving LRVs priority at road junctions.

More trees, more space

Through an extensive planting programme and the creation of wider, less cluttered pavements, Mayor of Paris Bertrand Delano‰ hopes that the project will transform busy streets into a green space where pedestrians will be more at ease. A total of 1000 trees are to be planted, comprising 600 along the alignment itself and 400 in neighbouring streets. Taller varieties such as plane, maple and chestnut trees are being grown in nurseries to a height of between 6m and 8m before planting, with flowering varieties chosen for the stops grown to a height of between 4m and 5m before planting.

Two-thirds or 36000m2 of the alignment will be grassed over, using the Soltram system which incorporates automatic watering controlled by meteorological data. Turf for the project is being supplied from Bouron-Marlotte south of Fontainebleau. Cycle paths are being provided along the route, with cycle racks provided at stops and other locations.

Improvement works at major road junctions have focused on improving public space and facilities for pedestrians. Most of the five metro stations served by the new light rail route will have been refurbished by the end of this year.

Passengers will be able to interchange with a total of 40 bus, metro and RER routes, and the re-routing of some bus routes to better serve the new light rail route has already begun. With Citadis LRVs each accommodating 304 passengers operating at a frequency of every 4 min during the peaks, it is expected that T3 will offer an end-to-end journey time of 24 min, some 38% faster than the existing PC1 bus route with twice the capacity. Initial ridership is expected to be in the region of 100000 passengers a day.

Extensions in prospect

T3 is due to be connected to RATP's existing route T2 by 2·3 km of new construction due to open in June 2009, which will extend T2 from Issy-Val de Seine to Porte de Versailles via Porte de Sèvres and Porte d'Issy. Civil works are due to start in January 2007 with the construction of a tunnel under RER Line C. Construction of the light rail route itself is scheduled to take place between August 2007 and January 2009.

The infrastructure cost of this link is €72·5m, of which 37·85% is being provided by the Ile-de-France region, 22·7% by the government, 21% by the Hauts-de-Seine département, 15·15% by RATP and 3·3% by the City of Paris and other local authorities. RATP estimates that the cost of the 10 LRVs required to work the extension will be €16·8m.

Public consultation for two extensions to route T3 closes on May 15. An extension round the eastern side of the city from Porte d'Ivry to Porte de la Chapelle, between 13·5 km and 14·5 km in length depending on route options, has been costed at €547m. This comprises €188m for the 'transport system', €80m for a depot, €159m for street works including pavement widening, €70m for bridges and other structures and €50m for associated works including landscaping, street furniture and paving. An additional €58m would be required to acquire 23 LRVs.

Also out to consultation is a shorter western extension with two intermediate stops from Pont du Garigliano to Porte d'Auteuil. Serving four major sporting venues in southwestern Paris, this now enjoys lower priority since the city was unsuccessful in its bid to host the 2012 Olympic Games. The project is costed at €60m, comprising €30m for the tram route itself, €27m for street works and €3m for bridges and structures. A further €10m would be required for rolling stock and €8·5m for associated works.