Tampere light rail
|Tampere light rail planned route map|
The Tampere light rail is a public transport system under construction in Tampere, Finland. Studies on the viability of a light rail system in Tampere have been conducted since 2001 as parts of regional plans for public transport alongside heavy rail and bus solutions. In November 2016 the Tampere city council approved the plans to construct the 330-million-euro system, aiming at 2021 completion for the first phase (city centre to Hervanta and TAYS) and 2024 for the second (city centre to Lentävänniemi).
Unlike Turku, another Finnish city that is planning a new light rail system (see Turku light rail), Tampere has not had a previously existing tram or light rail system. The construction of a tram system in Tampere was seriously studied between the years 1907 and 1929, but left unrealised due to the high price of constructing such a system.
TASE 2025 light rail plan
The intermediary TASE 2025 report published in 2007 recommended the creation of a light rail system running alongside major roads linking central Tampere to the suburbs of Vuores and Hervanta in phase 1 (by 2015), Lielahti and Lentävänniemi in phase 2 (2015–25), with links to Koilliskeskus, Ojala-Lamminrahka and Pirkkala in phase 3 (after 2025). In addition to the light rail system the study recommended the creation of a commuter rail line utilising pre-existing railroad lines as well as improvements into pre-existing bus connections in areas not covered by either rail option. According to these recommendations the initial parts of the light rail system would be opened in 2015. Although technically a light rail system, the system proposed in the TASE 2025 is referred to in Finnish as katuraitiotie, "street tramway", as opposed to the term pikaraitiotie, literally "rapid tramway", which is a commonly used word for all kinds of light rail systems in Finnish, but which has been used almost exclusively for TramTrain-esque systems with a tunnel in the city centre in Tampere.
The length of the proposed light rail system would be 17.6 kilometres (10.9 mi) in phase 1, 24.2 km (15.0 mi) in phase 2 and 43 km (27 mi) in phase 3. The total cost of the system would be €298 million. The light rail system is projected to make approximately €10 million of yearly profit, whereas the current all-bus based system generates average losses of €10 million every year. A subsequent intermediary report submitted on 5 March 2009 proposed four different alternatives for the future development of public transport in Tampere, all of which included the realisation of a light rail system. The initial phase in all four alternatives was the same, but the precise routes and lengths of the subsequent extensions were different. The map in this article is based on the first alternative presented in the 5 March 2009 report.
The city of Tampere asked for tenders from consultants with experience in designing light rail/tram systems during the summer of 2010. The deadline for submitting tenders was on 16 August 2010, after which a consultant was chosen. The plan was that the consultant's report should be ready by the end of April 2011, after which the city council will make the decision on whether or not to proceed with the construction of a light rail system.
A final decision was made in the city council on 7 November 2016 to start construction and to purchase trams. The tram supplier will be Transtech, a Finnish subsidiary of Skoda Transportation. The rail gauge will be 1435 mm, which will make vehicle purchase easier, because producers generally have developed trams for this gauge. Construction will start in 2017 and the first phase (city centre to TAYS and Hervanta) is expected to be ready by 2021. The cost including rolling stock is estimated at 330 million euros. The operator of the light rail system is not yet decided.
1907–29: tram system
The first official plans for a tram system in Tampere were made in 1907, when a committee was formed to study the construction of the tram system. The study completed in 1909 found the construction of a tram system relatively expensive, but during the first years of the next decade it seemed that Tampere would get a tram system. Eventually the plans were shelved due to World War I. Around the same time plans for tram systems were also made in other Finnish cities: Turku tram was opened in 1908, Vyborg tram in 1912, while Lahti (1907–17) and Riihimäki (1922) also made serious studies into the matter though their systems too were left unbuilt. After the war, subsequent plans for a tram system in Tampere were made as late as 1929, but these again were not realised.
The construction of a light rail system for Tampere had been discussed since the 1970s, but the decision-makers of the city were hesitant to make any decisions without collaboration with other cities in Finland to keep down costs. In 2001 the city took the initiative in planning a light rail network for when a rail traffic project group was formed to study the construction of such a system by the Finnish Ministry of Traffic and Communication, VR Group and various cities in the Greater Tampere area. The group completed its work in 2004, recommending a tram-train system utising pre-existing railroad sections, newly built track and a tunnel section under central Tampere to avoid traffic jams. The proposed system was named TamTrain as a pun on Tram-Train.
The TamTrain proposal created some criticism as existing urban areas in the region are around major roads, not railroads, and the proposed system would have in fact worsened public transport connections in many areas. The tunnel under the center of the city was also found problematic: constructing the tunnel would have forced the light rail lines to completely bypass important traffic hubs such as TAYS (Tampere University Hospital). Additionally the 1.5 km (0.93 mi) tunnel section, which would have included only three stops, would have constituted 29% of the total price of the 83 km (52 mi) system.
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- Transtech to supply Tampere trams
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