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Posts tagged ‘Paris Trams’

25
Aug

From Epinay to Saint-Denis by Tram

PARIS TRAMWAYS DATE BACK to the mid-nineteenth century with the first city tram route opening in 1855. At its peak in the 1920s, the tramway network incorporated some 122 lines and upwards of 1,000 km of track. By the 1930s though, the internal combustion engine reigned supreme and the number of motor cars and motor buses on the roads signalled the end of the tramways. The last of the tram lines in Paris, Porte de Saint-Cloud to Porte de Vincennes, closed in 1937, and the last line in the entire Paris agglomeration, running between Le Raincy and Montfermeil, ended service in 1938.

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Carte postale ancienne éditée par Cormault, N°136 Paris 

Paris and the surrounding region had to wait for almost sixty years before a new tramway network began to appear with a new generation of trams. First came Line T1, opened in 1992 followed by Line T2 in 1997, Lines T3 and T4 in 2006, Lines T5 and T7 in 2013 and Lines T6 and T8 in 2014. Some of these lines have already been extended and further extensions are planned. And two further new lines are planned: Line T9 is scheduled to open in 2020 and Line T10 in 2021.

Of the nine tramways currently operating in the Île-de-France region (Line T3a and T3b count as two separate lines) most operate within the suburbs around Paris, with only two lines, T3a and T3b, running entirely within the city limits, although line T2 does so for part of its route.

One of the suburban tramways is Line T8, the latest tramway to be opened, and I went to take a ride on it.

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Image courtesy of RATP

After a trial running of four weeks without passengers, Line T8 opened in December 2014. The tramway runs 8·5 km north from Saint-Denis – Porte de Paris to Delaunay-Belleville, where it splits into two branches, terminating at Villetaneuse-Université and Epinay-Orgemont. There are a total of 17 stops and, in another example of RATP’s joined-up thinking, interchange is provided with metro Line 13, tram line T1 and RER Line C.

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I caught a tram at Saint-Denis and travelled to Epinay-Orgemont in Epinay-sur-Seine.

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The journey took 22 minutes and included 13 stops, the other 4 stops being on the branch line to Villetaneuse.

Villetaneuse is planned to be a future station on the new Tangental North line, a €1.5 billion suburban tram-train line that will interchange with existing SNCF Transilien trains, trams, metro, and Réseau Express Régional (RER) lines A, B, C, D and E. This line is scheduled for completion in 2023.

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Epinay-sur-Seine is no stranger to trams. The tramway Enghien (Cygne d’Enghien) – Trinité (Église de la Trinité à Paris) was opened by the Compagnie des Tramways électriques du Nord-Parisiens on 26th September 1900. The line survived until March 1935 when it was replaced by a bus route.

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Le Tramway Enghien-Trinité sur la route nationale à Épinay, avant 1912

I didn’t have to wait long for a tram for my return journey from Epinay to Saint-Denis. The trams run every six minutes, although along the stretch from the Delaunay-Belleville stop, where the two branch lines meet, to Saint-Denis they run every three minutes.

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Tram Line 8 – Epinay-Orgemont to Saint-Denis – Porte de Paris:

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Tram Line 8 operates with a fleet of 20 low-floor Alstom Citadis trams assembled at Alstom’s La Rochelle factory. Each tram is 32 metres long and 2.4 metres wide, made up of five sections with capacity for 200 passengers. The trams include air-conditioning, CCTV, a passenger counting system and audiovisual passenger information. Some 55,000 passengers use Tram Line 8 every day, which amounts to 16 million passengers per year.

Constructing Tram Line 8 was a formidable task. The project, implemented by GCF, Generale Costruzioni Ferroviarie, in a consortium set-up with Esaf and Laforet, had to contend with a route running through a densely populated residential area characterised by a high volume of traffic. During construction, efforts were made to reduce pollution involving dust, gas and noise, as well as achieving maximum vibration reduction. Steps were also taken in advance over the entire length of the line to ensure the physical protection of trees by masking them to safeguard against the possible effects of shock caused by mechanical equipment.

Today, the tramway network around Paris amounts to some 105km of track with more still to come. The tramway network may be far short of its peak in the 1920s but riding today’s trams is a convenient and comfortable way to travel and I thoroughly recommend it.

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Tram Line 8 Terminus at Saint-Denis – Porte de Paris

10
Jan

Paris Tramway Extended – With New Sounds

PARIS TRAM LINE 3, the orbital tram route or, the tramway des Maréchaux, has been extended and is open for business.

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Tram Line 3 follows the site of the old military road that ran along the inside of the fortified Thiers Wall, the last defensive wall surrounding Paris built around 1840.  The wall was demolished in the 1920s, enabling the building of a series of boulevards encircling the city each named after Marshals of Napoleon’s French Empire, and consequently called the Boulevards des Maréchaux. These boulevards run just inside the city limits with the Boulevard Périphérique, the wall of traffic that surrounds Paris, running just beyond them on the site of the former Thiers Wall itself.

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Tram Line 3 has been running along part of this route, from Pont du Garigliano to Porte d’Ivry, since December 2006. Work began on extending the route in 2009, adding 14.3km of track and 24 new tram stops, and the extended line was opened on 15th December 2012.

The extended route heads northeast from Porte d’Ivry, crosses the Seine to an interchange with Métro Line 1 at Porte de Vincennes. It continues north through the Lilas district where it connects with metro lines 3bis, 11 and 7bis, then curves westwards to terminate at Porte de la Chapelle, where it connects with Métro Line 12.

The cost is said to be €651·9m, of which €433·6m has been funded by the city and €218·3m by Ile-de-France. The city has contributed a further €149m for urban enhancements, whilst RATP has funded the 25 additional Citadis 402 trams at a cost of €77m.

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When the line extension was opened, Tram Line T3 was divided into two separate services, the existing route becoming Line T3a, linking Pont du Garigliano with Porte de Vincennes, while Line T3b covers the eastern and north eastern section from Porte de Vincennes to Porte de la Chapelle.

The Paris City Council has also now given approval for a further 4.7 km extension of T3 from Porte de la Chapelle to Porte d’Asnières expected to open in 2017. It is envisaged that a further extension from Porte d’Asnières to Porte Maillot is possible but, as yet, there is no talk of an extension from Porte Maillot to Pont du Garigliano to complete the circle around Paris.

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Shortly after the new extension opened I went to have a look. I travelled from the very smart tram stop at Porte de Vincennes to the end of the current extension, Porte de la Chapelle and I was very impressed.

The trams are the Citadis 402 model built in France by Alstom. They have a low-floor ensuring easy access for people with reduced mobility and they are equipped with air-conditioning and CCTV.  Each tram comprises seven modules with a total capacity of 304 people. Six asynchronous motors with a rated output of 120 kilowatts drive each tram and the 750 volts of power required is supplied by overhead pantograph.

The trams travel at up to 20km/h (although they can theoretically travel much faster) and they take priority at all road junctions. They are extremely quiet thanks, in part, to the tramway being grassed over for a good part of the route. This helps to reduce vibration and noise to both those inside and outside the tram. Incidentally, to save water the grass is watered automatically at a variable rate depending on the weather.

The trams run every four to five minutes during peak hours and six to eight minutes off-peak, Monday to Friday. On Saturday, the interval between trams varies from six to nine minutes during the day and seven to ten minutes on Sundays and holidays.

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And now for the really exciting news …

For a long time I’ve taken a great interest in the sounds of the Paris mass transit system and so I was especially excited to hear that new, very innovative, tram announcements are being incorporated on Tram Line 3 to coincide with the extension of the line.

The City of Paris and RATP (the Paris mass transit authority) have commissioned selected contemporary artists to create special artworks along the route of Tram Line 3. One of the artists, Rodolphe Burger, former leader of the French rock band Kat Onoma, and head of La Compagnie Rodolphe Burger, was asked to come up with an innovative way of announcing the names of the tram stops. RATP stipulated that it was important that each announcement should have two inflexions and that the sounds should be heard but not be intrusive.

The work took two years to complete and Rodolphe Burger and his team have now come up with 42 different short melodies for each of the 42 tram stops on Tram Line 3 and each of the tram stop names are announced by different voices. The idea was to mix different type of voices, male and female, from any age, any background, any accent, including the occasional celebrity! A call for volunteers met with a large response especially among people living near the line. In total, 602 different voices were recorded.

So when you travel on Tram Line 3, you never know which voices you will actually hear, only the melodies remain the same.

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Thanks to RATP, I am able to share with you some examples of the sounds that Rodolphe Burger and his team created in their original form – before they made their way onto the trams.

Examples of the tram stop announcements:

Sounds courtesy of RATP

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And it’s not only in sound where RATP is innovative. Of the eighteen tram stops on Tram Line 3b between Porte de Vincennes and Porte de la Chapelle, seven of them are named after prominent women:

(Marie de) Miribel; founder of the hospitalières de la Croix Saint-Simon,

Séverine; writer, journalist and feminist,

Adrienne Bolland; French aviator and the first woman to fly over the Andes between Chile and Argentina,

Delphine Seyrig; Stage and film actress and film director,

Ella Fitzgerald; American jazz singer, the “Queen of Jazz”,

Rosa Parks; African-American civil rights activist and,

Colette Besson; French athlete and winner of the 400 m at the 1968 Summer Olympics in Mexico City.

In order to give you a snapshot of what the new announcements sound like from inside a busy tram, I’ve extracted these seven tram stop names from my journey for you to listen to.

Seven station names:

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And, if you would like a more immersive experience, why not join me for the whole journey from Porte de Vincennes to Porte de la Chapelle. The journey takes thirty-five minutes and you can hear all eighteen tram stop announcements in real time just as I and all the other passengers heard them.

Porte de Vincennes to Porte de la Chapelle:

With grateful thanks to Song Phanakem, the man responsible for the sound identity of RATP, whose help is always invaluable and much appreciated.

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4
Mar

Paris Trams

TODAY, THE TRAMS IN PARIS are modern, sleek and efficient but their history goes back to the middle of the nineteenth-century, predating the Paris Metro by almost fifty years.

From 1855 until the end of the 1930’s, Paris enjoyed an extensive tramway network. In the early days the trams were horse powered.

Horse trams though presented a number of challenges. They were relatively slow and several teams of horses were required for each tram each day – not to mention the tons of horse manure littering the streets. Mechanical traction was the answer.

By 1887, trams powered by compressed air had arrived in Paris. Steam driven trams were introduced in the 1880’s and 1890’s but, by the end of the nineteenth-century, electrification of the trams was underway.

In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries trams were prolific in Paris but the advent of the motorcar and motorised buses, without the need for costly infrastructure, marked the beginning of the end for the tram. The last of the tram routes in Paris closed in 1957.

But that is not the end of the story. The increasing need to connect Paris with its suburbs has led to the re-birth of the Paris tram.

Equipped with a new generation of trams, Paris now has four tram lines with more due to be built. Line T1 opened in 1992, line T2 in 1997 and lines T3 and T4 opened in 2006.

Of these tram lines the one that I’m most familiar with is Line T2 which runs south from La Défense to Porte de Versailles. Operated by RATP, the Paris mass transit authority, Line T2 is 13.7 km long, has seventeen stations and is used by some 20 million people a year. Each tram can carry 440 people.

As with the Paris Metro, the names of the stations evoke images from French history.

Stopping at stations like Jaques-Henri Lartigue (French photographer and painter), Henri Farman (French aviator and aircraft designer) and Suzanne Lenglen (French tennis player and winner of 31 Championship titles between 1914 and 1926) seem to add colour to the journey.

And again, like the Metro, RATP have taken trouble with the sound of the announcements inside the tram. Each station name is announced twice and at the terminus the announcements appear in several languages each spoken by native speakers.

Inside a tram on Line T2 from the station Henri Farman to Porte de Versailles:

Today’s Paris trams are remarkably quiet both when listening inside and from the outside. In fact, from the outside, it’s much easier to hear the sound of the traffic than it is to hear the sound of the tram.

A Tram at Porte de Versailles:

The new generation of Paris trams are far removed from their nineteenth-century ancestors. Quiet, sleek, efficient and comfortable they are an integral part of the Paris public transport network.