French Delights – Part 4: Le Mans Trams for small cities.


LM 1

Le Mans, with a population of 150,000 and an urban population of 300,000 (with a density of 2,806 per km/2), opened its first tram line on 17 November 2007. The north-south route, about 15 km long, serves the city center and the railway station, besides other major urban transit destinations including the university and the main hospital.
An eastern branch-line joins popular residential suburbs and many public structures. The choice for classic ‘tram’ choice (modern rolling stock with steel wheels) was made despite stiff opposition from proponents of guided bus, a sort of tram-on-tires.

Ridership is now over 50,000 Pass./day, a significant number considering the small population of Le Mans and shows that a true modal switch from car to tram is possible with LRT, including classic traffic calming measures to reduce congestion in the city center.

Le Mans new light rail operation belies the home grown myth that the Fraser Valley does not have the density to build with LRT. It also belies the myth being perpetuated by TransLink and the Minister of Transportation that light rail cost just a little less than SkyTrain to build! After many years of intensive study, modern LRT has become the predominant transit mode to alleviate traffic congestion and pollution, while at the same time providing a quality public transit service that attracts the all important motorist from the car.

The cost of the Le Mans LRT was about $31.2 million/km. to build, with the higher cost attributed for the French passion of making modern light rail a people/pedestrian friendly linear park, with lawned rights-of-ways, bike paths, trees, shrubbery and art along the route.


Country France
Inhabitants City 150.000, District 530.000
Date opening 2007
Future development: Line 2 (Gare Nord-Bellevue)
Length (km) 15
Track sections
Stops 29average distance 535 m
Platform doors
general characteristics
n. of vehicles 23
n. of cars per vehicle 5
Type steel wheels bidirectional
Vehicle dimensions (m) length 32 – width 2.40
Vehicle capacity (pax) 209 (64 seated)
Current/Voltage 750 V DC overhead
Speed Km/h
Accel./Decel. (m/sec2)
System capacity
Ridership 50,000 pass/day
Total cost 20 M Euro/km
System builder ALSTOM
Model Citadis 302

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