Page 3: Public transport
As well as improving public transport, the light rail system is intended to act as the catalyst for change to the entire city centre. The associated pedestrianisation work, together with better transport links, are expected to reduce the use of private cars. The use of electric traction on the LRVs (Light Railway Vehicles) will also remove noise and pollution from the city centre. In essence, Strasbourg was keen to create an integrated transport system linking together the various ingredients of a modern transport system - i.e. a modern rail and road system to bring passengers into and out of the city, combined with a modern tram system to move people around the city and an extensive pedestrian system in the city centre. The name of the game was integration.
The arguments put forward for the tram system were:
- it provided the opportunity to restructure the urban environment and would make the city a more pleasant place to live
- its introduction would reduce the use of private cars in the city centre and raise public transport patronage
- the operation of quiet, electrically powered vehicles in the city centre, especially pedestrianised areas, would significantly reduce pollution levels.
The route chosen for the first line was to be a 12.65km double-track tramway with 24 stops, entirely on reserved track or in pedestrianised areas. The track would link important suburbs of the city, the hospital area, key communities and the city centre. Trees were planted along the route and the track area was turfed to make it attractive. Civic leaders recognise that any city needs a reliable and accessible public transport system. Strasbourg needed a form of transport that would enhance its status ‘at the heart of Europe.’ With its advanced, proven, water-cooled a.c. traction equipment, the EUROTRAM is quiet, clean and pollution free.
Its modular construction requires the minimum swept path for its tracks and permits the addition of extra modules to accommodate future growth in ridership. The civic leaders recognised the need for a system which was more than just purely functional but a work of art as well. They turned to the experienced industrial architect Phillippe Neerman’s design agency IDPO (whose work includes the tramways of Brussels, Nantes, the Hague, Amsterdam and Grenoble) and engineering consultants Mertram to develop the concept design for the new vehicle.
In effect, they had to create a vision of Europe in the 21st century, something for the citizen of Strasbourg to be proud of - something which has become the focus of the city’s identity, its community spirit and its self-confidence. Work is in hand to extend the system, with an additional line to be completed in 1999.
The light rail vehicle was carefully developed to appeal to the passenger. Since there are limits to the acceleration and deceleration forces a passenger will tolerate, journey times on an urban transit system are principally affected by the duration of stops.
The EUROTRAM has a low floor over 100% of its length, no obstructions below seats in the saloons and no steps to negotiate. Facilities for the mobility impaired are superior to those found in previous vehicles. Powered wheelchair ramps are fitted to the centre passenger saloon to assist disabled passengers. These ramps are controlled by the driver from the cab with closed-circuit television allowing the driver to monitor all passengers entering and alighting from the vehicle.
The body structure is comprised of welded wide aluminium extrusions, stiffness being provided by a deep keel in the centre of the roof. This method of construction gives a body shell which is both light and strong. The large windows are bonded to the structure in a manner similar to many car windscreens, so giving a light and pleasant interior. The seats are of the tip-up ‘cinema’’ type. They are cantilevered from the body-side to ensure that there are no litter traps which would make cleaning the vehicle difficult. Units are air-conditioned throughout by two roof-mounted air-conditioning units fitted to each passenger module, as well as one in each cab.
Each tram is made up of a number of interlinking modules. Faults which occur can be isolated at module level and an exchange unit quickly substituted. Equipment is reliable and easily accessible from outside, helping to cut repair times and keep the interior free from dirt and grease.