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Tramway openings worldwide

July and August see four new tramways opening around the world. On 20 July Queensland's Gold Coast cities of Southport, Surfers Paradise and Broadbeach became the first Australian conurbation to benefit from the opening of a new tramway since Sydney joined the list in 1997 (and the first new city since Geelong in 1912). The 13km line serves fast-growing communities with a fleet of 14 G:Link-branded 43.5m Bombardier Flexity trams built in Germany, and was built under an AUD 1bn 18-year PPP contract with the GoldLinQ consortium.. Trams run every 7.5minutes for most of the day (10 minutes at weekends) and 15 minutes in the early morning and evening. A second stage is planned to take the line north to an interchange with the Brisbane rail line at Nerang. This could be built in time for the 2018 Commonwealth Games.

Tucson in Arizona, is one of several US cities that has been building a short tramline to act as a downtown circulator. The 6.2km Sunlink line linking the University Medical Center with the university, city centre, convention centre and the Mercado district opens on 25 July. The USD 196M line is served by eight 20.1m trams delivered by United Streetcar from Oregon. Three days of free rides were offered, before revenue service started. A 24-hour SunGo card costs USD 4. Next year Old Pueblo Trolley, a museum group that previously operated on part of the SunLink alignment, hopes to introduce 'closed door' tours of the line with a preserved tram. The group has taken delivery of a pantograph for its ex-Lisboa tram.

Málaga in Spain started passenger service on its 'metro' on 30 July. Essentially this is a two-line 13.6km tramway with 80% in subway, and is opening three years later than planned at a cost reaching EUR 760M. Both lines start from a common underground terminus at El Perchel-Maria Zambrano (near the RENFE station), then split with line 1 running west to Colegios Mayores (the outer end features surface tracks) and line 2 south-west to Palacio de los Deportes. Trams leave every 7.5 minutes, providing a 15-minute service on each line. Service is provided by TRAVELSA using 14 five-section 32.4m CAF Urbos 3 low-floor cars. A 1.8km extension to Hospital Civil nearer the city centre will follow in 2017.

The latest French tramway to open is in Besançon with inauguration planned for 30 August. 14.5km of tramway has been built at a cost of EUR 256M linking Hauts-du-Chazal and Chalzeule via the city centre (line 1), with a short branch to the railway station (line 2). The cost/km of EUR 17.6M brings it into the category of a low-cost tramway. Service is provided by 19 CAF-built 23m three-section trams. After two days of free rides, 1 September sees the launch of revenue service, and a revised bus network by operator GINKO.

21 July 2014

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