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Lessons from abroad: French Tramways

Lessons from abroad: French Tramways

Hi, my name is Thomas. At the time of writing, I’m Cabinet Executive for the East Midlands at Sustainable Transport Midlands.

Recently, I have been exploring the European continent, and unlike your typical tourist, I have been using my time to explore the transport networks of the places I’ve been to, primarily in France, Germany and Italy. France is the country I’d like to focus on in this post though, due to the public transport throughout the country, and how it regularly puts shame on the UK. I believe this experience – and the lessons we can learn from France – can feed into the projects STM push forward in the coming years.

The lesson most applicable to STM’s work is related to the trams. This can feed into our projects almost immediately, with past projects such as Derby TramLink coming to mind. While the commonality of tram networks throughout the country is in part due to how France is governed politically, and mainly because each local area can raise money for such projects on their own, the design of these numerous tram systems is something we could learn from in the UK.

The one thing that has stuck out to me so far is, as mentioned above, the commonality of tram networks throughout the country. You can find trams networks in places as big as Marseille and Nice, or as small as Besançon and Caen.

To my mind, if similar criteria were to be applied to the UK, and my East Midlands region in particular, that could mean tram networks appearing in places such as Derby, Peterborough, Grantham, etc.

The other thing to note, is that these tram networks don’t have to be big affairs. As an example, Caen’s tram network only consists of 2 (ok, there is a 3rd stub) lines, albeit with 2 more under construction. So, for these cities I mentioned in the UK, it isn’t obligatory for them to have Manchester Metrolink-sized networks. They don’t need massively complex tram networks… Well, certainly not immediately anyway…

Tram Caen 2019.svg

With that, I’d like to close this blog post by reminding everyone that STM’s projects should be powered by youth (which we are in need of, please check out our volunteering page!), and inspired by the best existing examples, which are frequently found outside the UK’s borders.

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