fr-Alstom NEOMMA Marseille metro car (8)

FRANCE: The first of 38 rubber-tyred trainsets being built for the Marseille metro was unveiled at Alstom’s Valenciennes-Petite-Forêt plant on November 9.

fr-Alstom NEOMMA Marseille metro car (7)

The trains are being supplied under a €426m contract awarded by Aix-Marseille Métropole in November 2019 for Alstom to modernise the two-line metro network and convert it to fully automated operation. This includes an option for up to 22 additional trainsets.

fr-Alstom NEOMMA Marseille metro car (6)

Branded as NEOMMA, the four-car walk-through trains are 65 m long and 2 600 mm wide, with capacity for up to 500 passengers. They are equipped with CCTV and passenger information displays, as well as an HVAC system. Delivery of the three first trainsets is expected during 2023, with the trains entering service from 2024.

The trains have been styled by designer Ora Ito with a focus on Marseille’s bright sunlight and the blue of the Mediterranean Sea. This is represented by a blue trim on the outside and a harmonious interior in warm, natural tones, ‘colouring the muted spaces with a convivial touch’. The designer has also asked for a ‘blue halo’ around the headlights at the front of the train.

fr-Alstom NEOMMA Marseille metro car (5)

As part of the conversion to driverless operation, Alstom is installing its CBTC Urbalis 400 train control system to replace the existing PA CTDC technology. This will allow the headway between trains to be reduced from 4 min to 2 min.

fr-Alstom NEOMMA Marseille metro car (4)

The new trains are initially expected to enter service operating under Grade of Automation 2, with drivers to supervise boarding and alighting and initiate departure from each stop, although the door opening and closing will be automatic. Following the installation of platform screen doors at all 29 stations, the whole network will be switched to fully-automated operation, and the driving consoles will be folded away to free up additional passenger space in each train. The changeover is predicted to take no more than a week, and is currently expected to take place in 2027.

As part of the contract, the maintenance depot at La Rose will be comprehensively renewed to accommodate the new trains. Including the modernisation of principal stations including Gare Saint-Charles and Castellane, the total cost of the modernisation programme is put at €580m.