FRANCE: The first of 16 Urbos trams being supplied by CAF has been unveiled in Saint-Etienne. Following testing, the first unit is expected to enter service on the 1 000 mm gauge network in December.

Trams currently carry 23 million passengers/year, 50% of all journeys on public transport in the greater Saint-Etienne area. The city says the new fleet has been ordered to meet the ‘constant’ growth in ridership, each vehicle being 35 m long compared to the 25 m of the existing cars and able to accommodate a total of 238 passengers, with seats for 34.

The five-section bidirectional Urbos trams are 100% low-floor, offering level boarding from the platforms at tram stops. There are two wheelchair spaces on each vehicle. Built at the CAF France plant in Bagnères-de-Bigorre, the air-conditioned vehicles also feature in-car CCTV and wi-fi.

With 20 existing vehicles currently being refurbished, Mayor of Saint-Etienne Gaël Perdriau says that by 2017 the entire tram fleet will have been ‘completely renewed’. Each refurbished vehicle is being fitted with receiving 30 Asiano seats supplied by Saira Seats, combining passenger comfort with resistance to slashing.