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MONTPELLIER
Montpellier logo - used on overhead support poles

INTRODUCTION

The first line of Montpellier's new tramway system is due to open to the public on 1 July 2000 (official opening 30 June).

Not only was it due but it did. The Montpellier official site announced the following: (translated by Alta Vista):

Friday June 30, all the montpelliérains and the inhabitants of the agglomeration are invited starting from 18h, Place of the Comedy, to officially inaugurate the first line of tram. With the menu of this great festival: animations of street, a funambulist, a cuban full orchestra, a country dresser and a popular ball!
As of 18h: animations musical and theatrical on the Place of the Comedy and arrival of the cars.
19h30: the funambulist springs on his wire, of the balcony of the Opera Comedy to the central scene with the basin of the Esplanade
19h45: Orchestrates Cubain Candido Fabré
21h: large country dresser on the Esplanade offered by the trade union of the tradesmen of the Markets and Markets.
22h30: second passage of the funambulist become a bird of fire.
23h: Popular ball with the orchestra Arc in Sky Highly the tram!
Inauguration of the tram: June 30 2000
Startup on July 1 2000 (the day will be free for the users)
Startup of the network tram / bus: July 3 2000
The tram, it is for very soon, and with him, all the District will advance. For you, more freedom. You will be able to use it 5h with 1h, without interruption, with only 4 minutes of waiting between two cars at the peak hours. More calms too; electric, it is at the same time quiet and respectful of the environment. The tram, it is the ideal complement of your car or your bus. In year 2000, you will save time by leaving your car on one of the carparks of exchange and by combining ways tram + bus.

Although the automatic translation is at times rather odd - it does give a flavour of the occasion.

This site gives a brief résumé of the new line, new Citadis tramcars and plans for the future. Much more detailed information (in French) with photos of the construction work can be found at http://trans-montpellier.com a site prepared by M. J-Ch de Boissezon. I am grateful to him for permission to reproduce some of his site content here.

LOCATION/HISTORY

The city of Montpellier has a population of approx. 250,000 but forms part of a conurbation of nearly 500,000. With Roman origins, the city became renowned from medieval times for its university, one of Europe's most important centres for medicine. This tradition continues and the local economy is very much centred around the university and scientific research.

With this background, and an expectation of a rapidly increasing population over the next twenty years, it is not surprising that Montpellier has sought to equip itself with a modern transport system. The mayor, M. Georges Frèche has been a keen advocate of the tramway.

LINE 1

The route starts in the western outskirts of the city in the La Paillade district, an area of high-rise social housing. The terminus is situated adjacent to the Stade de la Mosson, home of the Montpellier-Hérault football club and serves two stops in the estate including St Paul which is adjacent to the depôt. This part of the route has been complete for some time and has enabled test-running of cars.

The route then takes a south-easterly direction to pass the principal university campuses and hospitals. Taking a course to the east of the medieval city centre, the route then reaches the central Place de la Comédie running along new right-of-way created alongside the SNCF main railway line. From the Place de la Comédie the line runs south to the railway station and then crosses the SNCF line to reach newly-constructed (pastiche neo-classical) office and residential developments at Antigone, Port-Marianne and Millénaire.

TRAMCARS

28 Alstom Citadis 301-series double-ended 75% low-floor cars, built at Aytré (La Rochelle). The livery chosen is somewhat unusual - a dark blue relieved (?) with white bird logos all over the bodywork.

Main characteristics:

FUTURE PLANS

Two more lines are planned with a view to opening in 2003 (Line 2) and 2007 (Line 3). Possible further extensions to these routes are shown dotted on the map (originally published in Midi Libre). These are still very uncertain as they serve quite rural areas and communes, some of which are not all that keen to join with Montpellier in an overall transport/planning syndicate for fear of the effect on their local tax burden. Referenda are being held in some of these communes early in 2000 on this subject.

Historically, the routes are interesting as they take over the alignments of two local light railways (CF de l'Hérault and CF de Palavas), both long closed to passenger services.


Information provided by Joseph Pestell

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