The tram story
The history of a mode of transport like no other…
March 1937, the Parisian press celebrated the closure of Paris’s last remaining
tram line (Porte de Saint-Cloud • Porte de Vincennes). This mode of transport
could not withstand the rise of the automobile and the new emphasis on
individual mobility. The higher performance levels and modern image of buses
made the tram unfashionable and condemned it to a long period in the
The tram made a tentative return in France in the mid-seventies, with the oil crises, traffic jams and pollution of the period sparking resurgence in interest. In 1986, RATP decided to reintroduce this mode of transport in Ile-de-France. The T1 tram line (Saint-Denis • Bobigny–Pablo Picasso) entered into service in 1992, followed by T2 (La Défense • Issy–Val-de-Seine) in 1997. After two years of construction work, the extension of T1 from Bobigny to Noisy-le-Sec at the end of 2009 should increase the number of journeys made on the line each day from 85,000 to 100,000.
The tram has also made a successful comeback in other regions of France. In 1950, only Lille, Marseille and Saint-Étienne still had a tramway, each with only one line in operation. Today, many towns and cities across France once again have a tram service, including Orléans, Strasbourg, Nantes, Lyons, Grenoble and Montpellier.
The tram is now perceived as an environmentally friendly means of transport, a way of rebuilding the city landscape and creating a new relationship between urban planning and transport. Despite being narrower than a bus, it can accommodate more passengers, transporting 20,000 to 60 000 people per hour, depending on its location and the local geography. The re-introduction of trams into our towns and cities is forcing us to reconsider the place of cars, pedestrians and cyclists.
Did you know…?
The first electric trams were equipped with motors of approximately 40 hp and accommodated 40 people, giving a ratio of 1 hp per person.