Page 2: Environmental considerations
Today, environmental concerns are at the forefront of any new development. Modern forms of transport, such as the motor car driven by petrocarbons, have tremendous potential to create unacceptable levels of pollution. However, we can change by planning in favour of sustainable ‘green’ city environments. Strasbourg, in choosing the EUROTRAM, has gone for the ‘green’ solution.
Strasbourg was one of the first European cities to recognise the dangers of pollution resulting from car and lorry exhaust emissions. By 1962, the public network system in Strasbourg was based entirely on diesel buses which were very noisy and gave off unpleasant fumes. In 1972, la Communaute Urbaine de Strasbourg (CUS - the local government authority in Strasbourg) officially recognised the dangers of pollution that were leading to the asphyxiation of the city centre. Official studies were carried out to find out the best ways of relieving the city centre from traffic congestion and pollution. Initially, a new reserved-track tramway system was considered as a solution to these transport problems. However, this project was shelved in the 1980s in favour of a new ambitious project for a metro system (similiar to the London Underground).
While this project was favoured in some quarters, it would have been very expensive to put in place and would have caused enormous disruption. The tramway idea began to find favour again and its supporters pointed to the impressive return of tramways in Nantes in 1985 and Grenoble in 1987. The case for trams was gaining momentum! However, it was not until 1990 that the CUS in Strasbourg provided detailed approval for a new tram system. On 17 June 1991, the then French Prime Minister, Edith Cresson, confirmed the scheme’s Declaration of Public Interest, allowing civil engineering work to begin and contracts for the track work and rolling stock to be placed. In effect, this gave the go ahead to the project.