Caen Guided Light Transit

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Caen guided light transit
Bombardier TVR n°523 TWISTO - Boulevard Leroy.JPG
Native nameTramway de Caen
LocaleCaen, Normandy, France
Transit typeGLT/TVR, a type of guided bus
Number of lines2
Number of stations34
Daily ridership42,000 (2008)
Began operation18 November 2002; 16 years ago (18 November 2002)[1]
Ended operation31 December 2017; 17 months ago (31 December 2017)
System length15.7 km (9.8 mi)
System map
Tram Caen.svg

The Caen guided light transit or Caen TVR, locally known as "the Tram", is an electrically powered guided bus system in Caen, France, which uses Bombardier Guided Light Transit (TVR in French) technology.

After a construction time lasting three years, the system opened on 18 November 2002 at a total cost of 227 million euros.[1] The Caen transport company, Twisto (CTAC), is the current operator of the TVR system and calls the system the "Tram".[2]

Service is provide by 24 three-section articulated vehicles, guided by a central non-supporting rail. The entire passenger line is guided, and in normal service the vehicles are powered by electricity drawn from an overhead wire through a pantograph. The vehicles have auxiliary diesel engines and steering wheels and are able to operate away from the guide rail, but only in diesel mode, and under normal operating conditions they run only in electric mode when carrying passengers along the route, using their diesel engines only when travelling to and from the depot (garage). The use of pantographs for current collection means the Caen vehicles cannot move laterally away from the overhead wire when operating in electric mode, and for this reason they are not considered to be trolleybuses, under the English language meaning of that word,[3][4] and the system is sometimes referred to as a "rubber-tyred tramway".[4][5]


It was in 1988 that the SMTCAC (Syndicat Mixte des Transports en Commun de l'Agglomération Caennaise) first considered developing public transport on a large scale. However, the opening of the bus system was not without problems as well as lack of interest in the system by the population with only 23% backing the project[6][not in citation given], in 1994, Viacités, one of the guided bus' network partners closed a contract with the consortium STVR (Société the transport sur Voie Réservée), existing construction company Spie Batignolles and Bombardier Transportation proceeded with infrastructure and vehicle construction. Due to financial contracts the municipality had no other choice but to push the project forward despite a relative lobby against the tram.[citation needed]


The total network is 15.7 kilometres long and comprises two lines, A and B, with a 5.7-kilometre (3.5 mi) common section running north–south in central Caen.[1] The central section, between Copernic and Poincaré, encompasses 15 stops. The entire network serves a total of 34 stops. There are plans for a second line running from east to west.

The tram current serves 40% of the public transport trips, 70 000 inhabitants and 60 000 jobs situated within 400m of the line.[citation needed]

Service frequency is high (3.5 to 7 minutes between vehicles) and operates between 05:30 and 00:30. Speed is 30% higher than conventional buses and stops are never more than 450 m apart.


  • D-850 (April 2000): Beginning of construction.
  • D-730 (15 September 2000): Beginning of trackbed construction.
  • D-120 (May 2002): Rolling stock tests.
  • D-60 (15 July 2002): First test run.
  • D Day (18 November 2002): Beginning of commercial operation (three days after an inauguration ceremony).[1]


The system has been plagued with faults, due to design and operation;[6] on 21 October 2004 a young boy named Nathan was run over and killed by a TVR vehicle in Rue Roger-Bastion. The vehicle, being bus-based, restricted to its guiding rail and lacking grip to brake in time, could not avoid the 11-year-old.[7][not in citation given]

Rolling stock[edit]

Service is provided by Bombardier GLT guided buses, each 24.5m long and 3.40m high, and weighing 38 tons. Their top speed is 70 km/h.

Replacement with light rail[edit]

Viacités confirmed on 14 December 2011 its plans to abandon the TVR in favour of a tramway by 2019, due to its unreliability.

The light rail is set take 18 months to construct and has an approximately €170 million price tag. The conversion to light rail will also mean the termination of two concession contracts that Keolis and Bombardier-Spie Batignolles consortium STVR hold.[8] In late 2014, the French government pledged €23.3 million towards Caen's light rail conversion project, which is now expected to cost approximately €230 million.[9]

It is believed that the replacement rail line will follow the TVR's original route.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c d Tramways & Urban Transit, January 2003, p. 23. Ian Allan Publishing/Light Rail Transit Association.
  2. ^ "Welcome to the website for Caen transport network". Twisto. Archived from the original on 2010-03-25. Retrieved 2010-05-05.
  3. ^ Box, Roland (July–August 2010). "More about the 2000s". Trolleybus Magazine No. 292, p. 79.
  4. ^ a b Webb, Mary (ed.) (2010). Jane’s Urban Transport Systems 2010-2011, pp. "[20]" and "[23]" (in foreword). Coulsdon, Surrey (UK): Jane's Information Group. ISBN 978-0-7106-2915-9.
  5. ^ "A complete listing of Light Rail, Light Railway, Tramway & Metro systems throughout the World". Light Rail Transit Association. January 2006. Retrieved 2011-05-05.
  6. ^ a b Source: Ouest-France, website
  7. ^ Source: Ouest-France, Rue Roger-Bastion à Caen : cinq ans après la mort de Nathan, les riverains veulent plus de sécurité routière
  8. ^ "Caen to switch to light rail". Railway Gazette International. 19 December 2011. Retrieved 2014-12-28.
  9. ^ "€450m for urban transport projects". Railway Gazette International. 18 December 2014. Retrieved 2014-12-28.

External links[edit]