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The Bordeaux tramway network (French: Tramway de Bordeaux) consists of three lines serving the city of Bordeauxmarker in southwestern France. The first line was opened on 21 December 2003; further extensions have increased the route length to . The system is notable for using a ground-level power supply of the Alimentation par Sol (APS) system in the city centre. It is operated by Keolis Bordeaux under a five year contract awarded on 1st May 2009.


Old network

Tramway at place de la Comédie in the 1900s
The first tramway line of Bordeaux, with cars towed by horses, dates back to 1880. In 1946 the public transportation system in Bordeauxmarker had 38 tram lines with a total length of 200 km, carrying 160,000 passengers per day. A rudimentary system of ground-level power supply was used on some stretches with mixed success. As in other French cities at the time the mayor, Jacques Chaban-Delmas (first elected in 1947), embraced anti-tram arguments and decided to terminate the operation of the tramway. He found the tramway to be old-fashioned compared to the bus and its attachment to set tracks on the ground hindered the increasing flow of cars. The lines were closed one after the other. In 1958 the last line of tramway was terminated.


By the 1970s the failure of the "all car" transport policy had become obvious, but Chaban was not prepared to backtrack. A grandiose automatic light underground railway (VAL) scheme was promoted; it even received the backing of a majority of the city's councillors, but fell victim in the end not just to the fierce opposition of the local transport users' association TRANSCUB but to the hard reality of the fine sandy nature of the city's soil. The VAL idea was dropped. Chaban remained.

Bordeaux had to wait until 1995 and the election of Alain Juppé as mayor – as well as the total strangulation of the city by its transport problems – before the situation was tackled. Following two years of studies, the Bordeaux Urban Community adopted the tramway plan in 1997. Recognized by the central government in 2000 as a Public Interest Project, the scheme got under way and by 21 December 2003 was carrying passengers on three routes, one of which was extended on 25 September 2005, with further extensions opened in 2007 and 2008.

The system today

September 2009 network map on official website - link[286008]
A particular feature of the new Bordeaux tram network is its ground-level power supply system which is used in the city centre to avoid overhead wires spoiling the view of buildings. This was the source of many difficulties and breakdowns when first introduced. Improvements since then, however, have increased reliability and the network is now one of Bordeaux's principal plus points, valued not just for enabling the people of the city to get about easily but also for its contribution to the aesthetics of the city and its quality of life. The new trams are an essential part of Bordeaux's current tourist redynamization strategy. The three lines were extended in 2007 and 2008 to reach several housing estates as well as the suburb of Mérignacmarker. The whole system is under video surveillance, with a camera installed inside each vehicle.

The network

As of July 2009, the network has a total route length of with 89 stops.

The first line (Line A) was opened on 21 December 2003 in the presence of President Jacques Chirac, and the mayor of Bordeaux, Alain Juppé. It ran between Mériadeck and Lormontmarker/Cenonmarker. It was extended on 26 September 2005 to new termini at the Pellegrin Hospital and Saint-Augustin. Further extensions opened in 2007; from Cenon to Floriac on 27 February 2007; and from Saint-Augustin to Mérignac Centre on 21 June 2007. A new extension from Lormont Lauriers to Carbon Blanc opened in May 2008.

Line C was the next to open between Quinconces and Gare St Jean, on 24 April 2004, following delays. The final northern section to Les Aubiers was opened in February 2008, as was the southern extension from Gare St. Jean to Terres Nueves.

Line B was partially opened on 15 May 2004 and throughout on 3 July 2004. 29 May 2007 saw the opening of the first phase of its 2007 extension of when it began to serve Pessac Centre at its western end. On 23 July 2007 a further extension of the line from its previous terminus at Quinconces, along the left bank of the Garonne, to a station at Bassins à Flot opened. The final extension to northern terminus of the line at Cité Claveau, near to the Pont d'Aquitainemarker on the Bordeaux ring road, opened in October 2008.

The current routes of the three lines are:

  • A - Mérignac Centre <-> La Gardette Bassens - Carbon Blanc and Floriac Dravemont (20,6 km)</->
  • B - Claveau <-> Pessacmarker Centre (via the University campus) (15,2 km)</->
  • C - Les Aubiers <-> Terres Neuves (via the main railway station Bordeaux Gare St Jean)(8,1 km)</->

The main depot for trams is at Thiers Benauge (off Line A) and a secondary depot has opened on Line B at Rue Achard on the new extension towards Claveau.


Trams operate on all lines from around 430am until midnight, seven days a week with later service on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays until around 1.30am. All stops have panels showing the waiting time until the next tram. On Sunday and holiday mornings, trams run every 30/40 minutes until around 1000am then every 20 minutes. Weekday and Saturday services operate every 10 - 12 minutes with additional service during 'rush hour' and for special events. However there is no service at all on May 1st, Labour Day holiday!

Planned extensions and projects

Line C will be extended from Terres Neuves Bèglesmarker southwards towards Villenave D'Ornon but not until at least 2012.

Initial discussions are taking place about a fourth line, also a 'tram-train' concept for the Medoc route. The fourth line, Line D, is in the early stages of discussion and is intended to serve the suburbs of Le Haillan and Saint-Médard en Jalles. Local politics are deeply involved. The 'tram-train' concept will provide local service along the existing SNCF Medoc line as far as Parempuyre. Neither of these projects is likely to be realised before 2015.

Further as yet vague plans include the extension of Line A to serve the airport.


The overall system sees some 300,000 passenger journeys daily, 165,000 on the Tram :

On average, 45% of journeys on the combined bus and tram network of the TBC are by tram.

In 2008 the trams carried 54.7 million passengers.

Technical aspects


Drivers compartment

As of June 2008 the fleet is composed of 74 type 300 Citadis trams constructed by Alstom:
  • 62 Citadis 402 — length: 43.9m, width: 2.4m, weight: 54.9 tons. 7 segments with 4 bogies and 3 motors and 720kW power. These trams can transport from 230 (at 4 passengers per m²) to 345 (at 6 passengers per m²) with 70 sitting. These trams are used on lines A and B.
  • 12 Citadis 302 — length: 32.8m, width: 2.4m, weight: 41.3 tons. 5 segments with 3 bogies and 2 motors and 480kW power. These trams transport a maximum of 265 passengers with 48 seated. These trams are used on Line C.

All trams are air conditioned and have a low floor. The rails are standard gauge (1,435 mm) and power is 750V DC. The maximum speed is 60km/h with an acceleration of 1.15 m/s². The deceleration obtained from emergency braking is 2.85 m / s².

Electric power / Ground-level power supply

Central rail of the APS system

By demand of the CUB part of the system uses ground-level power supply (APS).


  2. Revue Connaissances du Rail : Trams de France 2007

See also

External links

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