Charleroi Metro

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Charleroi Metro
TEC Wallonne logo.png
Overview
Owner Société Régionale Wallonne du Transport
Locale Charleroi, Hainaut, Belgium
Transit type Premetro/Light rail
Number of lines 4
Number of stations 48 (incl. 10 underground)
Website TEC Homepage
Operation
Began operation 21 June 1976 (as light rail)
Operator(s) TEC Charleroi
Technical
System length 33 km (21 mi)
Track gauge 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge
Network map (as of 22 June 2013)

Map of the Charleroi premetro network.png

Charleroi Metro (French: Métro de Charleroi;[1] previously known as the Charleroi Premetro (French: Métro léger de Charleroi)) is a 33-kilometre (21 mi) light rail network in Belgium, consisting of a loop line around central Charleroi and two branches towards the suburbs of Gilly and Anderlues. A third branch to Châtelet was partially built but never entered service.

The current system was opened in seven phases ranging from 1976 to 2012, which included 28 stations, of which 24 were in service as of 2012 along with 6 regular tram stops in Anderlues. On 22 June 2013, 18 more stations were to the metro system added when line M3 to Gosselies went into service.[2]

The original plans for the network were much more extensive with 8 branches radiating from the central loop, but had to be abandoned due to high costs and low prospective passenger numbers.

Operations[edit]

As of June 2013, the network consists in a central loop running around the centre of Charleroi and comprising 8 stations, from which three branches radiate towards suburban areas:

  • A 14 km (8.7 mi) branch with 10 stations and 6 tram stops runs west to Anderlues. This branch runs on the street as a normal tram after Pétria station, following a line of the old Vicinal network.
  • A 4 km (2.5 mi) branch with 6 stations runs northeast to Gilly.
  • A 7.5 km (4.7 mi) branch with 18 tram stops runs north to Gosselies.[3]

In addition, another branch is currently inactive:

  • A branch running east towards Châtelet was built during the 1980s. A first section comprising 4 stations was completed but never entered service, while further sections are in various stages of completion.

The network allows transfers to the national railway network at the main Charleroi-Sud railway station as well as at the secondary Charleroi-Ouest station.

Lines[edit]

The completion and opening of the central loop in 2012 led to a significant reorganization of the premetro/tram lines previously operating on the system. The five former premetro lines – 54, 55, 84, 88, and 89 – that operated on the network were replaced on 27 February 2012 by three new lines (M1, M2 and M4); a fourth line (M3) went into service on 22 June 2013.

Lines of the Charleroi Metro network
Line Route Opened Length Stations
M1 Anderlues-Monument — OuestSudParcWaterlooBeaux-ArtsAnderlues-Monument 27 February 2012 32.1 km (19.9 mi) 28
(18 distinct)
+ 12 tram stops
(6 distinct)
M2 PétriaBeaux-ArtsWaterlooParcSudOuestBeaux-ArtsPétria 27 February 2012 32.1 km (19.9 mi) 29
(18 distinct)
M3 Gosselies-Faubourg de Bruxelles — Beaux-ArtsWaterlooParcSudOuestBeaux-ArtsGosselies-Faubourg de Bruxelles 22 June 2013 19.5 km (12.1 mi) 11
(9 distinct)
+ 27 tram stops
(18 distinct)
M4 SoleilmontWaterlooBeaux-ArtsOuestSudParcWaterlooSoleilmont 27 February 2012 12 km (7.5 mi) 21
(14 distinct)
Destination display on trams prior to 2012.

Line numbers are used alone on maps and station signage,[citation needed] while the prefix "M" is added on timetables and on destination indicators of trams, to avoid confusion with similarly numbered bus lines.

The system is run by TEC Charleroi, a subsidiary of the Walloon public transport operator (Société Régionale Wallonne du Transport). Intervals between trains depend on the period (weekdays/weekends, holidays, etc.). The standard interval is 30 minutes for lines M1 and M2, ensuring a 15 minutes interval on the common Charleroi - Pétria section. This interval becomes 60 minutes (30 minutes on the common section) on weekends and holidays, and during the July–August period. On line M4, the standard interval is 10 minutes (15 minutes on Sundays and public holidays); similarly, line M3 also runs with 10-minute intervals.[3]

From 2012 on, all trams have been equipped with orange colored LED destination indicators, displaying the line number and final station. Prior to that, mechanical destination indicators were used, using various layouts. The most common display showed two distinctly colored rectangles indicating the most important stations of the line, with the line number displayed on a white square between both rectangles. Rectangle color used the following code:

  • Pale yellow : used on lines originating/terminating in Anderlues.
  • Bright yellow : used on lines originating/terminating at Gilly.
  • Dark blue : used on lines originating/terminating at Sud.
  • Dark green : used on lines originating/terminating at Parc.

Beside this system, it happened that trams only displayed the terminus station as one of Charleroi-Sud (dark blue background) or Parc (green), without line number. Line 84 used a completely different display with black characters on a full white background and line number on the right.

Trams drive on the right track, except on the Soleilmont branch and the not operated Châtelet branch. Some small sections on the street in Anderlues (and in Gosselies on the newly opened Gosselies branch) are single track. Theoretical maximum speed on the network is 65 km/h (40 mph), but actual speed is generally lower, especially in curves.[4] Speed limits are displayed on panels along the track and can take one of the following values : 10 km/h (6.2 mph), 17 km/h (11 mph), 25 km/h (16 mph), 35 km/h (22 mph), 45 km/h (28 mph), 55 km/h (34 mph) and 65 km/h (40 mph). An onboard system warns the driver in case of overspeed, and will stop the tram abruptly in absence of reaction. A similar system will stop the tram immediately in the event of a red signal being ignored. Rail switches are controlled directly by tram drivers using a remote control unit sending a signal to a receiver along the track.

Stations[edit]

Station entrance sign, identical to the one used in Brussels.

As of 2013, the Charleroi Metro network comprises 48 metro stations (28 premetro stations, and 28 tram stops_ served by the four Charleroi Metro lines.

Station entrances are marked with a stylized white "M" on a blue background, identical to the symbol used by the Brussels metro. Access to the platforms is unrestricted (no gates/barriers) and most stations are not staffed. Some stations are equipped with automatic ticket vending machines, otherwise tickets are sold by machines inside the trams (tickets used to be sold directly by the tram driver until 2012).

Rolling stock[edit]

Passenger cars[edit]

A Charleroi Pre-metro BN tram in TEC Charleroi livery.

Charleroi's LRV cars are reversible articulated tramways which were supplied by La Brugeoise et Nivelles (BN) (with ACEC providing the motors and the electrical/electronic components) from 1980 to 1982.[5] They are similar to the trams operated on the Belgian coast tram line (although those have doors on only one side) and, to a lesser extent, to the first generation trains of the Manila Light Rail Transit System yellow line.

According to an official statement by TEC Charerloi,[6] 44 of these trams are operational, the future network with the completed downtown loop and the Gilly branch extension requiring 22, then 35 when the Gosselies branch opens.

Each unit has a length of 22.88 m (75 ft 1 in) for a width of 2.5 m (8 ft 2 in), and is capable of carrying 44 seated and 148 standing passengers (6 pax/m2) for a grand total of 192 passengers.[Note 1] It is powered by two electric engines providing a total power of 456 kW (612 hp). Their maximum speed is 65 km/h (40 mph).[7] They can theoretically be coupled to form trains of up to three trams, however the single tram configuration is the preferred one on the Charleroi network, with only a few peak hour services on line M4 being operated by 2 trams coupled together.

Most trams wear the distinctive bright yellow, red and grey livery of TEC Charleroi and are identified by a 4 digit number starting with 74. Six trams (7404, 7426, 7428, 7448, 7453 and 7454) wear a temporary special livery to celebrate the new lines created on 27 February 2012. Prior to that date, several trams were still wearing the old SNCV livery with an orange bottom and beige top separated by a blue line (wearing a 4 digit number starting with 61).

Work cars[edit]

  • Type S - SNCV Hainaut - work car
  • Type SJ - SNCV Hainaut - passenger cars - acquired 1984
  • Esslingen/Schorling tram - track scrubber - acquired 1981

History[edit]

Original plan for Charleroi Metro network.

The Charleroi Pre-metro was planned in the 1960s as a 52 km (32 mi) network, consisting of eight branch lines radiating from a central downtown loop and no less than 69 stations.[8] If completed as planned, this would have been the largest metro system in the Benelux region.

In the 1960s, Charleroi already had an extensive tramway network, operated by both SNCV and STIC, but trams were starting to be replaced by buses as those offered better flexibility, were cheaper to operate and were perceived as more modern. The pre-metro network was meant to offer trams a second life by providing a fast and comfortable mass transit system, while removing them from the street.

Full completion of the initial project was envisioned between 1992 and 1994. As a general rule, plans called for tracks to be at ground level, on dedicated infrastructure (separated from the street). If not possible, priority was given to viaducts, and tunnels were considered as the last option, except in Charleroi downtown or in densely populated areas.

The first section opened on 21 June 1976, between Sud and Villette (which was the first metro station in Belgium to be built on a viaduct). These were served by what would eventually become line 89 of the original premetro system.

Piges and Ouest were opened 4 years later, on 30 June 1980. Each time a new section was inaugurated, trams would transit through it before going back to the street for the remainder of their journey.

Stations Beaux-Arts, Dampremy, and the section between Morgnies and Paradis were opened on 24 May 1983. Pétria followed on 24 May 1986. The same year, works were completed on a first section of the Châtelet branch (until Centenaire station), however this branch has never been put into service.

The remaining stations on the Anderlues branch (Providence, De Cartier, Moulin and Fontaine) were opened on 22 August 1992. One week later, on 28 August, a first section of the Gilly branch (from the downtown loop until Gilly)) was inaugurated, along with the Waterloo station on the downtown loop. At the time, infrastructure beyond Gilly to Soleilmont was in various stages of completion, but not in service. 54 was created to serve the new branch.

On 30 August 1996, two additional stations were opened on the downtown loop (Janson and Parc). Lines 55 and 88 were created to duplicate the two existing lines while using the northern part of the unfinished loop.

2008 and 2009 saw the resumption of metro construction, following a 75 million Euro loan from the European Investment Bank,[9] out of a total estimated cost of 150 million Euro. Work to complete the downtown loop started on 20 October 2008, building of the Gosselies branch on 16 March 2009, and the lengthening works on the Gilly branch toward Soleilmont started on 30 March 2009.

The finished downtown loop was put in service on 27 February 2012 with the completion of the Sud to Parc section. The same day saw the opening of the Soleilmont extension of the Gilly branch. The completion of the downtown loop involved a comprehensive reorganization of the lines and the introduction of new numbers (M1, M2 and M4) and colors, and the inauguration of the now "Charleroi Metro".

Expansion plans[edit]

Unfinished Sart-Culpart station on the Gilly/Soleilmont branch
Unused section between Waterloo and Neuville stations

Gosselies branch (Line M3)[edit]

This project created a new branch starting at Piges station and running as a regular tramway line toward Gosselies. A large section of the line already existed to the Jumet tram depot, but as it is only used by empty trams going to and from the depot, and was not equipped for commercial passenger transport, it had to be completely rebuilt. The Jumet to Gosselies section is new, although it is built on the site of former SNCV tramway lines.

The project included full renovation of the Chaussée de Bruxelles (Brussels Road) which is used by the new line.

Because of the narrowness of some streets in Gosselies, the line uses single track in different streets for each direction.

The Gosselies branch was scheduled for completion in 2011, however multiple delays have delayed its opening until 2013.[10]

The fourth line of the Charleroi Metro thus entered service on 22 June 2013. This Gosselies branch is served by a new line, dubbed "M3" (yellow color), which is how it is now depicted on official maps and on station signage.

Châtelet branch[edit]

The original pre-metro project envisioned an eastern branch from Waterloo station (then Nord) to Châtelet, comprising 8 stations. Construction of this branch began in the 1980s and resulted in a first 4 km (2.5 mi) section in various stages of completion.

The Waterloo to Centenaire part has been finished, but was never put into service. As a result, the finished Neuville, Chet, Pensée and Centenaire stations remained closed and were vandalized.

Only structural work was completed on the Centenaire to Corbeau part, with no tracks installed. The rest of the branch has never been built.

Although there are no immediate plans to put the Châtelet branch into service, preliminary estimates give a cost of 5 million euros to refresh the Waterloo-Centenaire section, and another 20 million to complete the line to Corbeau (serving a nearby popular shopping mall).[11]

Plans to build the intended line to the Châtelet terminus are currently not planned.

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ An original SNCV brochure mentions 98 standing pax at 4 pax/m2, however indications inside trams mention a total capacity of 192, which equates to (192 total - 44 seats = 148 standing pax).

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Métro de Charleroi" (in French). Transport En Commun Charleroi (TEC Charleroi). Retrieved 2014-05-03. 
  2. ^ "Ouverture de la ligne M3 vers Gosselies" [Opening of M3 line to Gosselies] (in French). Métro Léger de Charleroi. 17 June 2013. Retrieved 2014-05-03. 
  3. ^ a b "Charleroi light rail returns to Gosselies". Railway Gazette International. 24 June 2013. Retrieved 2013-06-24. 
  4. ^ "Antenne d'Anderlues". Metrocharleroi.over-blog.com (in French). 13 April 2010. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  5. ^ "Transport Database and Photogallery". Phototrans.eu. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  6. ^ "Le TEC Charleroi sera prêt techniquement à accueillir son nouveau métro". La Nouvelle Gazette (in French) (Charleroi). 2 June 2011. 
  7. ^ "Les vicinaux - Ses autobus, ses tramways" (pdf). Brussels: SNCV. 
  8. ^ "Charleroi Planned Network" (gif). UrbanRail.net. Retrieved 2014-06-01. 
  9. ^ "European Investment Bank 2007 press release". Eib.org. Retrieved 2013-07-10. 
  10. ^ "Le métro léger de Charleroi accuse un lourd retard". La Nouvelle Gazette (in French) (Charleroi). 29 June 2011. 
  11. ^ Mathieu Colinet (26 July 2011). "Le Tec rêve de son métro oublié". Le Soir (in French) (Brussels). 

External links[edit]