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New tram inaugurated in Avignon

Avignon's new tram in front of the city's medieval wall in Avenue Saint Ruf I © Bernhard Kußmagk

The inauguration of Grand Avignon’s new tramway was definitely a very special one. Among local politicians and many journalists, the opening took place in the presence of an exceptional godmother: the singer Mireille Mathieu. The 73-year old, Avignon-born singer is has recorded over 1200 songs in eleven languages, with more than 150 million albums sold worldwide.

When talking to our photograph, Bernhard Kußmagk, who was taking part in the inauguration ride, Ms. Mathieu was amazed about the German tramway culture in comparison to France where all trams disappeared after World War II.

Avignon’s new tram

The 92,000-inhabitant Provençal town inaugurated its new tramway on 19 October 2019. 5.2 km long line T1 started operation with 14 Alstom Citadis X05 trams that day. A second line T2 is currently in the planning phase. Work is to start in 2021 for an opening planned in 2023.

The history of the tram project

The creation of the new tram network has been voted by the Greater Avignon on 27 September 2010. Public consultation took place in 2011 and the final route was unveiled in May 2012. Line 1 was foreseen as a 9.2 km East-West connection and line 2 as a 5.2 km connection to the south-west of the city. The total budget planned was of 250 million €. The call for tender was launched in September 2012 and won by Alstom with 24 so-called Citadis Compact trams with a length of 24 metres and a width of 2.4 metres.

In 2014 a new mayor, Cécile Helle was elected and decided to cancel the tramway project. Following the negotiations between the townhall and and the agglomeration, the tram project is continued with some modifications. The tram project is now accompanied by several bus rapid transit lines (BHNS in French for Bus à Haut Niveau de Service), called Chron’hop in order to complete the tramway.

Line 1 was decided to be built as a 5.2 km line from St. Roch in the west to St. Charmand in the southeast of the city. Further extensions to Ile Piot in the west and as “line 2” to the east are planned.

Construction of line 1 was launched in October 2016. The infrastructure work was completed at the end of December 2018 so that testing and driver training started in the beginning of 2019.

The rolling stock

The contract for the delivery of 14 Alstom Citadis Compact trams was signed in March 2017 for a total amount of 25 million Euros. It included the delivery of ten 24-meter long Alstom Citadis Compact trams and further four trams at a later date.

All trams have been named with famous personalities of the city. The first tram, numbered 101, has of course been named after the tram’s “godmother”, Mireille Mathieu.

Bus Rapid Transit to open

Chron’hop will be a Bus Rapid Transit network. It will be under the authority of Grand Avignon and will be managed by the Orizo network.

The start of operation of the two lines C2 and C2 was also on 19 October 2019, however the infrastructure work has been delayed. The right-of-way routes will be only ready be the end of November 2019. In the meantime the existing bus lines 2 and 3 will be operated on the routes. Further lines, C4 and C5 are planned to be inaugurated in 2023.

A map of the now opened tram line and future extensions can be found here:


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