Here’s a million-dollar question for you: which city is home to the most beautiful tramway in the world?
Well, we think we might have found a potential contender. Stashed neatly away in the small but beautiful city of Tours, France, and nestled on the lower reaches of the River Loire, lives Le Tramway de Tours – a 14.8km, 29-station, North-South cross-city tram route home to some of the most beautiful architecture and interesting vehicles you’ll find in any city on the planet.
Aside from the beauty of the city and the architecture through which the route traverses, the Tours tramway vehicles themselves are something really special.
The Tours tramway is home to a fleet of 21 Alstom Citadis 402 light rail vehicles, custom-designed by Tours-based French design house RCP Design Global especially for the streets of their home city. The vehicles feature a ‘mirror-like’ outer cladding, designed to reflect the surrounding urban environment, and striking, full-height luminous strips of white and red head/tail lamps aligned with the rails at either end of each set. RCP are responsible for the design direction across a multitude of other tramways and systems, including those of Paris, Angers and Le Mans.
Through the city centre section, the route is catenary-free, making use of Alstom’s proprietary ground-level power supply system (‘APS’, also used in a number of other French cities). APS is effectively a ‘third rail’ embedded in the ground, which transfers power only when covered by the full length of the tram – ensuring that there is no risk of inadvertently frying humans or animals. The vehicles are equipped with standard pantographs which are utilised within the suburban outer sections of the route.
The route connects with the city’s Tempo 2 Bus Rapid Transit (BRT) scheme at several points along its length, with both routes converging in the city centre, as well as providing connections with SNCF’s TGV and rail network at Gare de Tours, the city’s main railway station.
Do you know of any prettier tramways than this? Personally, we can’t think of any! We’d love to see your nominations. Let us know in the comments, or drop us a tweet – @transportdsn.
Image credits: Wikimedia Commons and Sylvain Naudin on Flickr.