Fitting LRT into the Urban Environment: the Lyons Tramway Project
BARADEL B and WINDER A, ISIS, France
Like many cities in France, Lyons abandoned its traditional tram system in the 1960s. Tramways in France, as in Britain and elsewhere, were ripped up in the 1950s and 60s due to several factors, including the age and unattractiveness of the systems compar
Like many cities in France, Lyons abandoned its traditional tram system in the 1960s. Tramways in France, as in Britain and elsewhere, were ripped up in the 1950s and 60s due to several factors, including the age and unattractiveness of the systems compared with personal transport and more modern buses, but also because of the inability of roads to cope with the conflicting movements between trams and other traffic. Trams tended to get caught in traffic congestion and were also seen as a nuisance by other road users.
On the other hand, cities in countries such as Germany, the Netherlands and in Eastern Europe kept their traditional tramways, and in many cases upgraded them into modern light rapid transit (LRT) systems. It has clearly been demonstrated in cities such as Hanover that such systems can lead to a high public transport mode share even in prosperous cities where car ownership is high.
LRT has been very successful in encouraging car owners to use public transport, usually more so than improved bus services, thus often justifying their higher costs. State-of-the-art signalling and traffic management systems also deal more effectively with the conflict with other vehicles, enabling modern tramway networks to fit into the urban environment.
Since the-1980s, however, France has been quick to catch up with its northern neighbours through the introduction of tramways in numerous cities. The first city in France to reconstruct a tram system was Nantes, followed by Grenoble, the suburbs of Paris, Strasbourg, Lille and Rouen, and this year a 15km network in Montpellier was opened. In January 2001, the Lyonnais people will once again have a tram service.
Following Lyons, other systems are planned in cities such as Bordeaux, Toulon, Mulhouse, Caen, Nancy and Nice.
Two reasons for the rapid growth of tram systems compared to Britain are the higher density of housing in French cities, which makes higher capacity rail- based public transport more viable, and the ability of cities to levy a specific transport tax on employers.
Association for European Transport