September 11, 2007

The trams are back in Paris!


There used to be trams in Paris. From 1855 to 1938 there was an extensive tramway network. Originally horse-powered, trams later used steam, pneumatic engines and at last electricity. They largely preceded the metro which started in 1900.

There have been some tram services reopened in the suburbs the last decade, but Paris ”intra-muros” got a first new modern type of tram service only in December last year.

The metro does not propose any around-Paris-circle line, like e.g. London. This was previously offered by a train service, the so called “Petite Ceinture” (=small belt?), which also connected with the major long distance railway stations. The “Petite Ceinture” started in 1854 and more or less stopped service in 1934, meaning that it was in operation during the same period as the trams. When it was closed, buses replaced and offered the transport around Paris, slowed down by traffic jams.

I may revert to the “Petite Ceinture” one of these days, but today I will just mention that the railway tracks basically followed the Paris border. The Paris border is today rather represented by the ring road, the “Périphérique”, built in the 60’s and 70’s. Just inside the “Périphérique”, you have large avenues also surrounding Paris, going under the name of the “Boulevards des Maréchaux”.The new Paris tramway will follow these boulevards and separate grass covered tracks are constructed to be used for trams only. For the moment only the southern part of the circle is ready, but there is a decision to continue the line until Porte de la Chapelle, possibly Porte d’Asnières (see map). It will take years and create a lot of disturbance during the construction and there will still be a missing piece in the west of Paris.

I tried the new trams this weekend. Very comfortable, silent - and also fast; they have absolute priority over all other traffic. The boulevards are quite empty, it was Sunday afternoon.

34 comments:

Neva said...

They call it progress...but at a slow pace!!! nice pictures...
and I still like the dog 100%....but maybe not when I was cleaning so hard!!!

Annie said...

I think city dwellers will all be happier and healthier when we have non-auto transit opportunities available.

Kate said...

The new trams look sleek, modern, and efficient.

richard said...

Three cheers I say! It's a big risk for the planners to take I imagine, because it's slow, will cause inconvenience, expensive also I guess. But it's the future of city transport in my opinion, so a forward looking decision. Paris looks more attractive every day (or is it just Peter's blog?)

Nathalie said...

Glad to see Paris authorities taking steps in favour of public transport. Tramways are definitely the popular choice in French cities nowadays.

Agree with Richard, three cheers for the Tramway!

Olivier said...

j'aime beaucoup les anciens tramway, je trouve qu'ils avaient de la 'gueule'. Je ne suis encore jamais monte dans le nouveau tram, il parait que le long de son itinéraire il y a des sculptures modernes ?

hpy said...

Il me semble qu'il y avait un bus qui suivait les maréchaux! Je ne me rappelle plus s'il fallait changer de bus ou si c'était le même qui faisait tout le tour. La vieillesse s'installe.

Peter said...

So far, we all seem to agree on a number of cheeres for the tramway!

olivier:
Oui, il y a des "ouevres d'art" le long de la ligne. Je vais puet-être en parler unde ces jours.

hpy:
Il y bien le bus PC, toujours là sur les autres morceaux (sans tram). Oui, il faut changer de bus pendant le parcours.

Cuckoo said...

The new trams definitely look sleek and modern unlike the old ones.

I missed them during my trip. :(

SusuPetal said...

Trams are a good way to travel. In Helsinki we still have trams, in Turku the the lines stopped in the begining of '70's.
Public transportation is the answer, the amount of cars can't grow any larger -soon people spend most of their lives in cars going to or coming from work. Traffic jams are horrible.

Peter said...

cuckoo:
It wasn't your last trip to Paris!

susupetal:
I know the Helsinki trams quite well. In my native town, Gothenburg in Sweden, they are and have so been for some hundred years, the main transport mean. Yes, if you live in a big city, I would recommend to do as I have done, get rid of your car, use metro, bus, tram, bike, taxi, FEET... and lease a car now and then.

lasiate said...

métro, bus, tram on ne va plus savoir ou faire dodo. toujours passionnant tes découvertes parisiennes

Abraham Lincoln said...

The trams look modern and are probably efficient.

hpy said...

The problem with the smaller cities is that you need your car - or your feet - to go anywhere.

Shionge said...

That's cool Peter but sadly I have yet to hop on a tram ride in Paris as well as all the other European countries I visited...Hmm...I shall make it a point to try this out next time :d

Matritensis said...

Maybe is an ecological solution but i prefer the subway.
Trams are beautiful in Lisbon os S. Francisco but not in Paris or Madrid

Chuckeroon said...

...like all the rest I'm a great lover of the "romance" of tram. But it seems that the "economists" are never totally convinced.

This week I discovered that London introduced electric buses in 1906, but a fraudulent money raising scheme ruined the company and electric power never recovered!

Ash said...

Thank you Peter. It was a lovely ride!

Marantita said...

I tried to take them once, and they were too slow. Frequency is not high enough (more than half an hour!) and their speed is really low (all traffic lights, crossings, stops...).
They are nice though and they have been placed in a wide area.

Lisbon, S Francisco... grew up with the trams, so they took them into account when the cities grew up.
There are some tram lines in Madrid, but in the outskirts. I do not know how they work, because I have not used them yet.

Peter said...

lasiate:
Merci! Ta viste en Ind est encore plus passionante!

abraham:
Seem to be, so far!

hpy:
When I refer to getting rid of cars, I refer of course to bigger cities with a well developed transport systems.

shionge:
And what about trams in Singapore?

matritensis:
In Lisbon and San Francisco trams are part of the image. But, I'm convinced that trams could have a new future eslewhere.

chuckeroon:
Let's see when we get trams in central London?

ash:
Thanks!

marantita:
I'm surprised by your remarks. Actually I tried the tram again today (Monday) at 6 p.m. There was one departure about every five minutes (quite full). The traffic was quite heavy, but thanks to priorities and separate tracks we made some ten stations in 15 minutes.
Yes, I agree about Lisbon and San Francisco, but other cities (and citizens) could learn!

Sonia said...

Lovely pictures and great writing, as usual, Peter! Thanks for sharing Paris with us!

Sonia said...

I forgot to say that the map is great, too! You did a good job!

catherine said...

I'm sure you'll like the "petite ceinture" I 've always wanted to go walking following it but I never had a moment to do it !

JoAnn - NL "My digital eyes" :) said...

Hi peter,

GOOD FOR PARIS!
I don't know about the trams ... the good thing is that we see more while sitiing inside, my Question is : Are the trams absolutely free of other traffic? Here in Amsterdam ( I livenearby Amsterdam) thats very important, they even made stairs to wlak over the tramrails on some places because they drive SO FAST! And do you know that these trams are very very HEAVY???

:) JOANN
Thanks for visiting my blog a couple of times, I like your comments.

Peter said...

sonia:
Double thanks!

catherine:
You are right; I started and have "made" part of it, but it's a long walk! Would you join me?

joann:
Amsterdam is of course also a reference for trams - and for bikes!! The tracks are basically well seperated, but thhere are of course SOME crossings. It's not easy to build a line like this when you cannot start from scratch, you cannot completely close the streets during the years of work...
I'm happy to have found your blog!

Glenn Standish said...

Hi Peter! Nice pics!! Pleased to say that Torun Daily Photo is back!!! Best wishes, Glenn

Glenn Standish said...

Hi Peter! Nice pics!! Pleased to say that Torun Daily Photo is back!!! Best wishes, Glenn

Peter said...

glenn:
Happy to see you back! I thought you had taken an early retirement on the Bahamas! Good for Torun and for us all to see you actively blogging again!

Marantita said...

Maybe I went in the very beginning of the tram, so there weren't enough trains and so on. Everything needs a little bit of time and maybe I got my prejudices too early with those tram lines. We all deserve a second chance...

JoAnn - NL "My digital eyes" :) said...

HI Peter,
Good that there are 'just some' crossings and not too much!Yss well you're right its a JAM to build the tramrails, but as soon as they are there other 'problems' will raise, such as in the autumn, .... Leaves will faal on the rails and that makes them slippery...

Uumm its not so easy, but NEVER a reason for Not to make a tram outside . So I hope that Paris will continue this idea!!!! Its very nice to travel by tram, so came and look at the tams in Amsterdam!

JoAnn :)

Cergie said...

Enfin, le tram !
Mais ils auraient utilisé la ceinture exisatnte et cela aurait été plus vite

J'aime le contraste fer-vert des rails au milieu du gazon.

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