La renaissance du tramway en France


The French (Tram) Renaissance is amazing!

17 brand-new systems opened since 2000.

A single line in Montpellier, line T1, carriess over 130,000 weekday riders! And that’s with no tunnels, mostly street running.

Systems in Nantes, Bordeaux and Montpellier have ridership at or near 260,000 riders a day! That exceeds Boston.

The French do it right! What you get is: Simple OCS systems; grassy trackways; frequent headways (7½>10 minutes or less); most of the important urban trip-generating venues served; most systems connect with the railway stations; much peripheral development along tram lines; tram/pedestrian-only zones; and clean, attractive trams.

Compared to metro Vancouver’s poor planning, it is impressive.



“La renaissance du tramway en France”

This is a course you can take on line based in France. More information at
the website.

Hello everyone. In this video I talk about the tramway revival in France.
What are the strengths of the tram? What it can promote in terms of use of
means of transport and the attractiveness of urban centers. Since the
1980s, new tram networks have flourished throughout Europe, over fifty of
them. The trend was initially shy, then it has undergone a much faster pace
since the 2000s, to the point that it is no exaggeration to speak of real

It was in France that this phenomenon was born and tram networks have been
developed the most over the past two decades, as the graph shows you on the
screen. In 1983, there was in France only three tram networks left, or
rather three tram lines, one in Lille, one in Marseille and one in
Saint-Etienne. There was in 2012, 24 operated networks. The first network
to have been achieved is the Nantes network, which was commissioned in
1985. It was followed by the Grenoble network in 1987, and the modern
tramway, which was developed in Île-de-France in 1992, then in 1994, the
Strasbourg network was born. It was the first tram networks that have been
made in France again.

Why such enthusiasm for the tramway? The modern tram, as rebuilt in many
European cities, is part of a double movement. The one that first aims to
promote the use of other means of transport that the car as part of
everyday life, but also on the other hand, the desire to reclassify urban
centers to make them more attractive to frequent, as well as live in. Thus
in most urban areas where it was reintroduced, the tram was accompanied by
an important urban requalification in the city center and a sharing of the
road favorable to other modes of transport than the car.

Research on the introduction of a tram in a public transport network, show
that it allows a growing number of users. Tram Assets are indeed many for
the user: a much higher speed than the bus, high frequency shift during the
day, evening and weekend, a smooth ride that allows to use one’s travel
time to deploy activities, provided that we have a seat, usually quality
foot paths to go to stops because of efforts to improve the ergonomics of
the public space, and finally, easier memorizing the path of the lines due
to the materialization of the tramway in the public space via the rails.

In France, in many cities that have reintroduced trams, there is also an
increase in the number of inhabitants in the city centers. On the one hand,
it appears that the tram favors real estate investments in the city,
through the redevelopment of public spaces that accompanies it, on the
other hand, there is also that the tram contributes to make more desirable
to live in the city because the tram limits the dependence on cars by the
quality of transport service it offers to residents. The effect of the
introduction of the tram on the use of public transport is however very

Statistics on the use of public transport update consequent differences
according to the considered cities, and in particular, these figures show
that the increase of the number of users five years after commissioning of
a tram overall a network varies for France between + 18% and + 50%. This is
what you see for example for a number of cities in the table you have
before you. This suggests that the use of the tram is not mechanical. That
is to say it is not enough to introduce a tram that it is used, even if in
all agglomerations in which it was introduced in France, there is an
increase in the use of public transport.

How can we explain these differences in the use of public transport
following the commissioning of a tram? There are a number of factors
related to the offer and the interaction of the offer with the context and
the provisions of the resident population in a city that explains these
differences. In the offer, there is first of all the commercial speed,
following that it is low, 14 to 16 km / h or higher, more than 20km / h,
there are differences in the use of the tram network, and more generally of
public transport. There are also differences depending on the frequency if
the frequencies are quite low, from 8 to 10 minutes, or high, from 3 to 5
minutes. This is also a factor which has an influence on the use.

The fact that the network is unified in its quality, that is to say, we
offer almost the same frequencies, the same amplitude sideboards the
evenings and weekends throughout the network, or only on the tram network,
and that therefore there would be a public transport offer of two speeds, a
high-quality service on tram lines, and a lower quality of service on the
bus network, it also has an impact on the use of public transport. Another
effect that has an impact on the use of trams: is that the lines are
saturated or do they offer the comfort of a seat, This allows using one’s
time. This is particularly the case when using public transport during
off-peak hours. Finally, the link with urban planning and urban
development, the question is also to know if the tram lines that have been
developed, serve the agglomeration in which the offer was extended,
completely or only partially.

Or in other words: how is made the joint between the public transport
system and urbanization, Can we go anywhere with public transport, or
otherwise, are only some parts of the metropolitan area available? That is
also a factor that plays a central role in the greater or lesser use of
public transport, especially when there is introduction of a tram. And of
course, last factor that plays a role: the issue of reliability. Does
generaly, schedules are respected. You understood through the examples I’ve
shown you, tram networks in France were often allowed to revalue cities and
it is even often their main function. This is the case for example in
Bordeaux, a city that is often considered as exemplary of this view. A high
quality in the fields which have been cited in this video makes it possible
for people to deploy its lifestyle using public transport and it makes
attractive the attendance of urban spaces, whether recreational or for

In this sense, the redeployment of tramway networks in France as much about
the planning issues that of transportation issues, although of course and
as I noted in this video, there is also an interest in the field of
transport to develop these infrastructures since in all the cities where
these networks have been redeployed, there is an increase in the use of
public transport.

Given by Vincent Kaufmann est professeur de sociologie urbaine et d’analyse
des mobilités à l’Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL).




2 Responses to “La renaissance du tramway en France”
  1. Haveacow says:

    Tour’s LRV’s have a uniquely french feature. The vertical side’s of the LRV’s front and back ends have vertically mounted multi colored lights which glow a different colour based on whether the vehicle is traveling towards you or away from you. What makes the light features different is that the lights are the same distance apart as the width or the gauge of the track. This gives the LRV a distinctive look at night making sure no one needs to guess what kind of vehicle it is and no one doesn’t see it coming.

  2. Haveacow says:

    What’s really interesting is that of the 28 LRT/Tram systems in France 12 of them are in cities of 250,000 or less. 2 are in cities of less than or just at 100,000!

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