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Lyon inaugurates its 6th tram line and invests 1.2 billion Euros in public transport

Lyon opened its sixth tram line T6 on 21 and 22 November 2019 I © Yvon Brument

For years, Strasbourg used to be only French city to operate a tram network with six lines. Paris has eight tram lines, but they are not connected. The south-eastern city of Lyon now joins this league as it inaugurated its sixth tram line on 22 November 2019. Since the return of the tramway in the Lyon conurbation in 2001, the tramway network in Lyon has grown considerably. Until now it had a length nearly 66 km of lines and handles more than 365,000 trips every day. With the sixth tram line the tram network now has a length of 73 km. In addition, there is a seventh light-rail line called “Rhônexpress” which is a fast tram service between Part-Dieu train train station and Lyon’s airport St. Exupéry.

With more than 140 metro, bus, tram, funicular and trolleybus lines, the Lyon transport network, which has 1.8 million trips each day, is the largest in France (after Ile de France, the Paris region). SYTRAL is the local transport authority and has a strategy to reduce car utilization in Lyon and is investing 1.2 billion euros in its 2015-2020 plan which includes three major infrastructure projects, one being the construction of the tram line T6.

  • The extension of metro line B to Hôpitaux Sud (2.4 km) – currently under construction
  • Right-of-way lanes for trolleybus line C3
  • Extension of tram line T3 to Grand Stade (inaugurated in 2016)
  • Park + Ride parking in Mermoz
  • Construction of a new bus depot at Perrache train station

The new tram line 6

The public consultation for the line took place in February and March 2015. The declaration to build the tram line was given in November 2016 with the „Déclaration d’utilité publique“ (Declaration of public necessity) published in January 2017. The infrastructure works were launched in September 2019 and were finished only two years afterwards, in Summer 2019. An opening gala took place in the evening of 21 November 2019 with the official ceremony and start of revenue service on 22 November 2019.

The total cost of the project is 161 million Euros including 12.7 million Euros for the rolling stock. Line T6 has a length of 6.7 km with 14 stations between Debourg and the Eastern Hospitals. The journey time from one end to the other of the line is 22 minutes, giving a commercial speed of 19km/h.

The construction of the line made it possible to rethink the space usage between the different modes (pedestrians, cyclists, motorists, public transport users) and thus improve the quality of life. Throughout the route, the project has been accompanied by a redevelopment of public spaces with significant number of plants, parks and improvements. Pedestrian surfaces have been maximized and bike paths created.

The strategy behind line T6

Line T6 Debourg is a continuation of the extension of the T1 tramway line in the Confluence district of Debourg, commissioned in February 2014. With its “ring line” layout running through densely populated areas and neighborhoods undergoing profound change, T6 aims to encourage the usage of public transport between large centers of activity, without passing through the city center, and improve the living environment. The new infrastructure crosses the 3rd, 7th and 8th arrondissements of Lyon as well as the cities of Bron and Vénissieux.

Map of the semi-circular line T6 with grass track marked in green I © SYTRAL

SYTRAL’s objective is to build an interconnected network. Therefore, it has connections to the tram lines T1, T2, T4 and T5, the B and D metro lines and the Mermoz-Pinel Park & Ride with 418 spaces. The new T6 links directly and rapidly important business clusters as well as many public and private facilities. T6 completes the closure of a “ring line” which will eventually extend the line by 6 km to Doua via Villeurbanne in the north, to connect many peripheral areas without going through the city center of Lyon.

With the introduction of T6, the TCL network will have an additional 1.5 million passengers. Ridership is to be expected 24,000 passengers per day. The modal shift of the car in favor of public transport, will allow a reduction of 70 000 Tonnes Carbon Equivalent, as of 2020.

The rolling stock

On the occasion of the inauguration, Lyon’s new tram livery has been launched. All of Lyon’s trams will carry this livery by 2025. It is still white with red and grey graphics of the city of Lyon below the windows. Line T6 is operated with seven five-section Citadis 302 Alstom trams with a length of 32.4 metres. Until now these were used on tram line T4 were they will be replaced by 7-car Citadis 402 trams like on line T3. Currently there are 92 Citadis trams in service in Lyon.

The green line

70 % of line runs on a grass tracks, giving the image of a real green line across the city. Varied species have been chosen to decorate the line. 650 trees of 40 different species were planted along the line as part of this plant project, adding to the 230 trees that were already accompanied the line. Each landscape sequence has its own plant identity: maple trees on Simon Fryd Avenue, oak trees on Challemel Lacour Street, elms in addition to the plane tree line on Professor Beauvisage Street, hackberry trees on Michelet Boulevard, plane trees on avenue Mermoz, linden trees on Pinel South boulevard, and mixed trees on Pinel North boulevard.

SYTRAL has also designed this project in order to de-waterproof the soil as much as possible. So-called infiltration trenches were dug along the line of the T6 line. Filled with pebbles or other porous materials, they allow rainwater to reach the ground directly without going through the sanitation networks. This solution avoids the saturation of the treatment plant and also limits the risk of flooding in case of strong thunderstorms.

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