|Number of lines||2|
|Line number||T1, T2|
|Number of stations||48|
|Began operation||3 July 2006|
|Operator(s)||CTVH (RATP Group)|
|System length||33.8 mi (54.4 km)|
|Track gauge||1,435 mm (4 ft 8 1⁄2 in)|
The Valenciennes tramway (French: tramway de Valenciennes) is a tram system serving Valenciennes and part of its surrounding areas, in the Nord department of France. Since 2014 the network consists of two lines with a total of 33.8 mi (54.4 km) of track and 48 stations.
The modern tram network, reintroducing this transport mode after its abandonment in 1966, is launched on 3 July 2006 with a first 9.5 mi (15.3 km) section from Université to Dutemple. An extension from Dutemple to Denain Espace Villars was opened on 31 August 2007. The second line between Vieux-Condé Le Boulon and Université was put into service on 24 February 2014.
The Valenciennes tramway is integrated into the wider local multimodal public transport network and its commercial brand "Transvilles". It is owned by the Syndicat intercommunal de mobilité et d'organisation urbaine du Valenciennois (SIMOUV), the Transvilles network's organising authority. Since the 1st January 2015, the RATP Group, through its subsidiary Compagnie des Transports du Valenciennois et du Hainaut (CTVH), is in charge of operation and maintenance.
The former Valenciennes tram network was opened in 1881, and at the peak of its development during the early 20th century, it reached the Belgian border. The region suffered from a steep decline in several of the local industries, these being mining, steel production and textiles; it was amid this climate that the original tram network was closed in July 1966.
Despite the tram network's closure, the road infrastructure of the region was not heavily developed to take over its role. Officially, buses had been adopted as the replacement for the region's former tram system. However, there was a chronic lack of a coherent road network for such services to be operated upon, the development of which having been reportedly hindered by the region's post-industrial infrastructure, and road congestion had risen to concerning levels over the years. As such, there was some level of demand for a suitable regional commuter system be deployed. During the late 1980s onwards, there was a wider revival of interest in the topic of tramways and their potential deployment, the planning authorities in Valenciennes soon became keen to embrace this notion themselves.
Opting for a revival of the tramway was not a clear-cut option; a study performed in 1991 concluded that Valenciennes could benefit from the adoption of a structuring Public Transport system, and that trams were likely to be the most suitable option. Jules Chevalier, the President of SITURV, was also personally convinced of the usefulness of a modern tramway. A project, known as Transvilles, involved a major reorganization of the public transport network across the urban area of Valenciennes, centred around the adoption of a modern tram network and a redeployment of bus lines.
It would take nearly a full decade between the official proposal for the modern tramway being released and its adoption as an active policy; this delay has been attributed to have been the result of the various bureaucratic steps required for its authorisation, including the multiple local councils that had consent to its construction. The light rail scheme was primarily sponsored by Syndicat Intercommunal des Transports Urbains de la Région de Valenciennes (SITURV) and the European Investment Bank (EIB) emerged as an important source of financing for the relaunched tram system. There was considerable anti-railway lobbying from some members of the community as well. According to railway publication Rail Technology, the automotive industry was a key source of support for the re-launch of tram services, both Peugeot Citroën (PSA) and Toyota have manufacturing plants in the area.
During 2000, approval was given to proceed with the construction of the first phase of the network, which had an estimated cost of €242.8 million. A consortium, led by French rolling stock manufacturer Alstom, was awarded the contract to build the system.
The first section of line A (Université - Dutemple, 19 stations) opened on 3 July 2006 under the name of line 1. It is 9.5 km long, services five cities or villages of the Valenciennes area. Citadis 302, produced by Alstom, was adopted as the network's rolling stock and used to transport the first passengers.
The line starts in a nearly rural area in the grounds of the University of Valenciennes and Hainaut-Cambresis, then goes north through a commercial mall and the poorer housing areas of La Briquette. It runs through the center of Valenciennes, from Porte de Paris stop to the railway station. Originally the line was to go through the Place d'Armes in front of the city hall, but instead it uses the nearby Rue de la Vieille-Poissonnerie. Beyond the railway station, the line reaches the suburban city of Anzin, where it runs through former industrial areas, now abandoned, and then reuses the former Abscon - Saint-Waast railway line from St-Waast stop to Dutemple terminus.
A study on a single-track extension from St-Waast stop to Valenciennes hospital was carried out; however, this option was ultimately dropped in favour of an electric shuttle bus alternative.
During this phase, Line A was extended during Phase II from Valenciennes to Denain (Dutemple - Espace Villars, eight stations) and this extension was formally opened on 31 August 2007. Commercial services began three days later. It is 8.8 km long.
The second largest city of the Valenciennes area, Denain has historically sought to improve its transportation capabilities. The line reuses a 6.5 km long section of the former railway alignment from Denain to Valenciennes, which was one of the oldest railways in France (line Abscon - Saint-Waast: opened in 1838). The cost of the Phase II extension is €69 million.
One additional intermediate station, Les Grémonts, could be added in a second phase. The station Solange Tonini was added in September 2008 and the Allende station was renamed Jean Dulieu. In July 2009, the station La Plaine was added north of Dutemple. In August 2010, the line 1 was re-designated, becoming line A.
In October 2010, Alstom won a contract to supply seven Citadis trams for use on line 2. Ultimately, Alstom delivered nine additional Citadis vehicles for used upon the second line of Valenciennes tram network during December 2013.
In advance of each journey on the tramway, passengers purchase tickets via purpose-built ticket machines that are present at each tram stop; these tickets are checked by onboard revenue protection inspectors. All tram stops feature real-time display units which provide travellers with up-to-date service information. Auditory and visual service alerts are routinely given onboard the tram vehicles as well; onboard CCTV systems also allows for the activities onboard each tram to be inspected.
The Citadis tram vehicles, manufactured by Alstom, feature low-floors and double doors, which are claimed to enabled rapid boarding and disembarking of passengers. In their usual service configuration, each vehicle comprises five sections and is capable of holding up to 295 passengers; additional sections can be added should additional capacity be required at a later date. For reasons of driver comfort, the cabs are air conditioned. To date, all tram vehicles are identically configured, later-built units have no demonstrable difference in fittings or operational practice from the original vehicles purchased for the network.
The signalling and control systems are completely integrated. Signalling has been provisioned for on the trams, despite the fact that the vehicles are run upon entirely reserved tracks and absolute priority is granted to the tramway over all other forms of transport at any crossing; signs and warning signals to this affect have been installed at each of the network's multiple road intersections. As a rule of thumb, akin to many of France's other tramways, the routes of the Valencienne tramway has intentionally mad use of dedicated alignments wherever reasonably possible; as such, lines often run over grassed areas and minimal contact with the road network is made.
Deliberate efforts have been made by the region's transport planners to integrate the tram network with other transport facilities distributed across the area, such as the stops for the regional bus networks and the heavy rail station operated by SNCF. In line with this practice, many of the tram network's stops have been intentionally aligned to be located alongside these other services, along with several park-and-ride sites to encourage commuters to transition from their cars to public transport. Both maintenance and management operations of the tramway is centered around a purpose-built combined depot and control centre, which is located close to the Saint Waast stop.
Transvilles has developed several marketing strategies for the purpose of increasing passengers, including active customer relationship management via their own website and personalised messages on social media. It has issued various scholarships, bursaries and mentoring to students at the ENSIAME school of engineering. The organisation has also given concessions to various local, cultural and charitable concerns. In one case, jobseekers registered with the Pôle Emploi unemployment agency are given a free monthly transit pass upon securing a new job; Anne-Lise Dufour, president of SITURV, stated of this policy: "It's a priceless help that first month before the first paycheck rolls in".
Beyond lines C and D, the following extensions are envisaged:
- from Denain to Douchy-les-Mines: the terminus of line A at Espace Villars in Denain provides the right orientation towards the city of Douchy-les-Mines.
- towards Raismes: along avenue Anatole-France to place de Raismes. The three-way junction in Anzin may be difficult, so it will be necessary to use either the Raismes branch or the Vieux-Condé branch (Line C) as a shuttle.
- "Les tramways de Valenciennes". transporturbain.canalblog.com (in French). Retrieved 22 February 2019.
- "Le tramway fait son retour à Valenciennes". lesechos.fr (in French). Retrieved 22 February 2019.
- The first section of the modern tram network was inaugurated on 16 June 2006 but revenue service did not start before 3 July 2006.
- "Valenciennes : la RATP va remplacer Transvilles". france3-regions.francetvinfo.fr. 19 November 2014. Retrieved 26 April 2018.
- "Valenciennes Tram System." railway-technology.com, Retrieved: 27 May 2018.
- Richer, Cyprien and Sophie Hasiak. "Territorial opportunities of tram-based systems." halshs.archives-ouvertes.fr, 6 March 2015.
- "Valenciennes tramway extends". Railway Gazette International. 10 October 2007.
- "More Citadis LRVs for Valenciennes". International Railway Journal. 6 October 2010.
- "Metropolis of Valenciennes - France." ratpdev.com, Retrieved: 27 May 2018.
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