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The Train Tram Concept - The Future  and the future of Public & Private Transport with particular relevance to the Tramways Alpes Maritime

A new multi-technology train location system:

The principles used for the new train location system are:

This approach is drastically different from the recently emerged train-aided satellite location systems.

In LOCOPROL, the safe location is directly based on satellite signals, on which no specific integrity requirements are imposed. As a major output, the study will cover the validation of location principles and systems in railway applications. Safety is based on the concurrent use of satellite signals and information from additional sensors, combined with Kalman filtering techniques. LOCOPROL allows inputs from existing vehicle equipment such as tachometers, radios, and traction/braking control without modification, a considerable saving in cost and reduction in time needed for fitment. See "Requirements and first results of the LOCOPROL system architecture on CP line" by  Yves Cautain, JL Franchineau, JP Seiler, G.Alzeal, J.Niro 25 Jan 2005.

Train-Taxi Service

A trial service has been tested by the PACA region for reserving a taxi in connection with a regional train (TER) in rural areas between the passenger's home and the station at an inclusive ticket price. There are opportunities for further developments and extension of this idea.

Through Ticketing and Journey Planning

Rudimentary systems exist in most EU countries for journey planning and ticket purchase, but almost all are limited to one mode of transport and for railways often do not work where more than three changes of train are needed (eg SNCF).

We should eventually be able to plan a multi-segment, multi-mode journey and buy a through ticket from one operator for that journey, which might include taxi, train, bus, plane, metro etc. As yet such does not appear to exist.

RMV Near Field Communication

Developments in the RMV (Rhein-Main Verkehrsverbund - Frankfurt) will allow travellers to use a smart card in their mobile telephone to access the RMV ticketing system. Nokia 3220 handsets fitted with NFC enable passengers to use their telephone as if it was a 'travelcard'. Nokia are introducing the scheme initially in the Hanau district of Frankfurt and are providing the ticketing application program which will be stored in the integrated smart card controller in the handset.

11. Tram-Train in Alpes-Maritime and Rhone-Alpes

The section of line between Cannes and Nice is very heavily patronised with many trains overcrowded with passengers having to stand. With the large number of long distance trains and freight traffic it has not been possible to greatly increase the number of local regional trains (TER). Consequently, a third reversible line is being added to this section which will allow many more trains of different categories to operate over this section.

The initial tram routes in the urban area are about 6km from St Sylvestre to the centre (N-S), and 17km from Centre Administratif to Ariane (E-O) in length. Trams are expected initially to operate from St Sylvestre to Ariane. The existing Chemins de Fer de Provence railway (GambettaColomars) may be incorporated giving a total urban network of about 31km. With regional tram-train extensions the network could reach over 1210km.  

The Concept

The concept adopted is one that has proved highly successful in other cities similar in size and density to Nice. It will provide:

The new light railway between Sarreguemines and Saarbrcken follows the success of the tram-train concept in Karlsruhe.

The light railway concept is able to provide high performance services on the longer distances outside the urban area and also can safely access the inner urban areas with the same vehicle.

This combination eliminates changes of travel mode and significantly reduces end to end journey times. It makes public transport more attractive and competitive for the private motorist. It is ideal for use in pedestrian urban areas such as that in Rue Massena.

Specification of Nice trams.

The longer term aspirations of CANCA tram operation include tram-trains between Nice centre and surrounding regions. For this reason the widest body profile has been specified for the trams (2,65m). The first deliveries of Alstom Citadis TGA 302 type trams are expected near the end of 2006. One TGA 302 has been undergoing track and endurance testing at the CEF test track at Valenciennes since March 2005.

It is possible that trams for tram-train services will not be TGA 302, but of the general arrangement adopted by Bombardier for the Saar-Saarguemines line.

CP and TAM Services to Colomars - Staged Development Options

A staged introduction of a metro line uses a large part of the existing infrastructure of the Chemins de Fer de Provence. At the same time this option provides routing which serves one of the key urban passenger flow axes in the Nice urban area. It does this without interrupting the current CP services to Colomars/Carros, La Vesubie, and  onwards to Annot and Digne. A possible scenario of stages is:

  1. St Augustin Gare Modal to Lingostiere (tramway);
  2. Lingostiere to Colomars and Carros (tramway);
  3. Conversion of CP to tramway Nice to Colomars;
  4. Conversion of CP to tramway Colomars to Vesubie Plan du Var.

The CP Terminus

The existing CP route into Nice is, whilst useful in itself, an indirect route into the north of the central urban area. The former Sud de France railway terminus in Avenue Malaussena has closed and connections with SUNbus routes are now not convenient. The new terminus is in a minor road (Rue Alfred Binet) with no bus routes. The nearest bus routes (4&5) stop in Bd Joseph Garnier at the Auguste Reynaud stop. The Malaussena terminus connected with 6 routes (1,2,4,5,22&23).

A natural re-routing of this antenna is from Gambetta along Boulevard Joseph Garnier to Place De Gaulle, where it can join the proposed N-S axis for direct connections to the city centre. Other tenuous plans have been proposed for re-routing the railway along the former standard gauge alignment to the SNCF station.

Single Line Operation Pl De Gaulle Lingostiere

Experience of TSOL (Lausanne) demonstrates that a service of the required frequency and capacity is practical and economical. The double track layout at La Madeleine should be retained in the upgrading to standard gauge Metro standards, but with increased length starting at approximately the 3km post to the 4km post. The section between Lingostiere and St Isidore should also be double track, app 5,9km to 7,8km. This allows flexible timings to be achieved without significant civil engineering works over single line bridges and through single line tunnels.

Performance calculations have been done based on double line through La Madeleine between 3,115km and 4,025km, and beyond the 0,700km and 5,845km points. The shortest practical time to pass through the Parc Imperial and St Philippe section (0,700-3,115km) is 170 seconds including 2 stops of 20 seconds duration and acceleration from a stand and braking to a stop. The time taken from entering the loop at La Madeleine and stopping at La Madeleine and Zygofolis to returning to the double line at 5,845km is approximately 176seconds. Therefore, it is possible to operate at a 6minute frequency providing that the headways are closely regulated, this method of operation has been proved to be a practical solution on the TSOL in Lausanne. In practice, this could be timetabled for a 12-15 minute interval normally, reduced to 6-7minute intervals at peak times.


Features of the CP LOCPROL tests:

Tests on Equipped Trains (X304 & X306) :

Tests on Non equipped Trains :

These tests were done between Colomars and  Plan du Var  and St Martin du Var was the location of the loop station tests.

Regional Tram-Train possibilities - Puget Thenier - Gap

From 2015 extensive commercial and technical development is envisaged at La Vesubie Plan du Var. The line of the CP railway may then be given over to a tram route from Nice via the St Augustin 'gare modal', centre administratif, Lingostiere, Colomars and St Martin. Puget Thenier is within the Alpes Maritime department and could possibly later be a destination for this service. If so, the CP would then operate a shortened service between Puget Thenier and Digne. A remote possibility is extension of the tram-train service to Gap via Digne, Chateau Arnoux and Sisteron, or another route via Barcelonette.

Regional Tram-Train possibilities - Vence and Grasse

Grasse has since early 2005 received an urban service of electric trains running through Nice to Monaco and Vintimille. Ideas have been expressed for augmenting this service with tram-trains which would serve directly the centre of Nice over the tramway east of St Augustin.

The Maire of Vence is understood to be supportive of a tram service between Vence, Cagnes and Nice.

Regional Tram-Train possibilities - Saint-Dalmas de Tende

A fairly frequent service of diesel trains (usually operated by FS - TrenItalia?) operates between Nice and Tende. At one time part of this line was electrified (by FS), and if re-electrified would be a natural extension of a Nice tram-train network, the potential traffic demand being within the capacity of a frequent tram-train service.

The 'WALL OF TRAMS' Argument

The Bostrae regulations in Germany restrict the permitted length of coupled trams (which may be one unit) to 75 metres. This is judged to be a reasonable maximum length which, if longer, would effectively block the road to pedestrians who wished to cross by a 'tram wall'. One argument for the proposed Karlsruhe tram subway has been the wall of trams created by several 75metre long tram-trains stopping in the area of the Post Office.

12. Ferroutage and its Effect on Passenger Transport

Vulnerability of dependence on the coastal railway

The collapse of the tunnel at Monaco in the winter 2004, and the lanslide blocking the cote d'azur autoroute in summer 2005 demonstrated the vulnerability of dependence on the coastal railway and autoroute. The railway was closed for several months and the autoroute for a week.

Valle de la Roya et Col de Tende - The railway

Just at 11o'clock on 28th January 2003 two trains collided at 50km/h in the obscurity of the tunnel de la Biogna, just before the gare de Saint-Dalmas de Tende. The report was bad : two dead and sixty injured.

The train from Nice had 5 passengers on board and the other from Coni (Cuneo) for Vintimille (Ventimiglia) had 200 passangers including 73 turinois schoolchildren travelling to the centre mditerranen de Cap-D'Ail.

The Italian driver of the train from Coni, Attilio Bandiera, 34 ans, from Vintimille, and his collague second man, Giuseppe Bessone, 50 ans, from  Coni, were both found dead.

In the afternoon, the prsident of SNCF, Louis Gallois, said such an event was extrmement rare .  The maire of the commune, Jean-Pierre Vassallo said : never has this line (SNCF Nice Cuneo) had an equal catastrophe since its opening (re-opening) in 1979 .

Later enquiries found that a junior chef de gare had erroneously authorised the departure of one of the trains.

Col de Tende - The road

The road between Coni and Breil has seen an enormous increase in traffic since the EU was created and particularly since the common currency was introduced. The level of traffic is judged to present an inacceptable risk for the existing road and tunnel. Options exist for a lower lever large road tunnel, or compulsory ferroutage for commercial vehicles and economically attractive ferroutage for private vehicles. A frequent high performance tram-train service to Coni might discourage private car traffic.

LAutoroute Ferroviaire Alpine (Lyon-Torino)

This project, to convey TGVs, regional trains, freight traffic and 'ferroutage' is now under construction and an initial 'ferroutage' service has been started using the 'classique' conventional railway.

Ferroviaire via Montgenvre - the Durance route (Marseilles-Torino)

The existing val de Durance railway (Aix-Brianon) and a new tunnel below Montgenevre (Brianon-Oulx) constitute a priority in the list of GLAT projects (grandes liaisons d'amnagement du territoire), realising a link between Marseille and Torino. It would be an essential part of the paneuropen corridor n5 Lisbonne-Kiev (RTE-T) and be a much shorter central link between Montpellier and Torino.

If this link is a railway it would comply with the purposes of the 'Transports de la Convention alpine' Protocol, the EU White Paper on Transport (Livre blanc de septembre 2001, dcision 1692/96/CE), and the national directive of multimodal schemes (dcret 2002-560 du 18 avril 2002, annexe 5).

The international agreement 'Convention Alpine' between 8 alpine countries was signed by France 31 oct 2000. Article 10 states that railway infrastructures are favoured for the principal alpine links, and article 11 states that member states should refrain from constructing new transalpin roads.

On 23 mars 2000, the Conseil Rgional PACA adopted the 4th part of the plan Etat-Rgion (CPER) 2000-2006. This said the state and the Rgion had dcided to start priority studies concerning "la modernisation de la ligne actuelle du Val de Durance (...) et son lectrification dans la perspective d'une perce ferroviaire sous le tunnel du Montgenvre".

Study by SODETEG / GEODE - November 2000

This was ordered by Conseil Rgional Provence-Alpes-Cte d'Azur (PACA) and concluded the project with electric traction would be a positif benefit to the environment. Through trains from Briancon to Paris would take about 3 hours using the new tunnel whereas they now take 81/4 hours. Regional trains (TER) would also operate from Gap to Lyon and Torino by the tunnel. Ferroutage services will be provided beteen Chorges and Orbassano. Traffic forecasts for 2020 expect 40 to 60 ferroutage trains per day, 2Mt/a of freight, and 850000pass/a. Costs are calculated to be between 822M and 1554M depending on the options chosen.

Study by SETEC TPI - January- Niveaux intermdiaires

A further study by SETUMONT (Syndicat Mixte d'Etude pour le Tunnel du Montgenvre) looked at the feasibility of the intermediate level option with gradients limited to 2,5%. Costs for the basic project (single line with passing loops and evacuation tunnel) were found to be between 760M and 840M.

Study by GEODATA SETEC - May 2001 - Deep Tunnel

Requested by the Province of Torino, this proposed:

 Study by SETEC TPI -2002- Project Impact

This recommended alignment 1 of the deep tunnel.

Study by Transaudit - Avril 2003

Ordered by the Chambre de Commerce et d'Industrie Marseille-Provence, it recommended 4 phases for the project :-

A ferroutage terminal is being constructed at Orbassano (near Torino) so no terminal investment is required at the north-east end of the link. This study acknowledges the possibility of a Bourgneuf-Aiton (near Lyon) to Chorges (near Gap) ferroutage service thus avoiding most of the need for the A51 autoroute between Grenoble and Gap.

13. The LGV PACA

Public Consultation

During the spring and summer of 2005 numerous public meetings were convened including experts from government and RfF to sensitize public opinion on this project. Three principal options existed, mainly concerning the alignment or alignments between Avignon, Aix, Toulon and Draguignan. The option providing the most time saving between Nice and Avignon is slightly more expensive and probably has the highest net present value. The most northern route is the shortest between Avignon and Nice and may have a station serving the 'pole scientifique' close to Cadarache, where the ITER is to be constructed.

Publication of Preferred Route

Public consultation was concluded in July to collate all the comments and a decision publishing the prefered option will be made in December.

Coincidentally, the northern route would follow the general direction of the now closed metre gauge line of the CP between Draguignan and Meyrargues.

14. Near Term and Longer Term Studies and Options

What can we expect in the future?

‘Green Fuels'

Do they help to reduce greenhouse effects?

They burn organic material that if not burnt would fix atmospheric carbon so it is arguable that given there will be some kind of fuel burnt, they do not reduce the output of greenhouse gases.

We can also argue that organic material grown for bio-fuels displaces agricultural production capacity for foods, and thus may indirectly lead to greater risk of famine and hunger in third world countries.

A EU directive has authorised the use of bio-fuels (sunflower, colza etc) but paradoxically this directive has not been implemented by all community countries.

Hybrid drives and vehicles

They are in limited use now, and their application is expected to grow. For urban journies they effectively reduce energy consumption through the ability of the electric drive to smooth out the peaks and troughs of energy consumption by regenerative recuperation of energy, and allow the IC engine to be designed to operate more efficiently at one optimal speed and torque output.

Consequently, they reduce but do not eliminate consumption of mineral/organic fuels. If used for short distances with shore charging between journies, they effectively become electric vehicles.

Currently, the Toyota 'Prius' is now widely available for the private motorist market.

LPG (GPL) Fuels

Methane, propane and butane have a lower carbon content than liquid petroleum fuels but are not 'carbon free' and therefore cannot be considered as candidates for a fuel economy that will reduce greenhouse gases. It is possible to use these fuels either in conventional internal combustion engines or in fuel cells.

Electric drives?      

Very limited use so far, the battery capacity is limited, but have found a niche for uses where the daily distance is predictable and within the capacity of the battery, and where the annual distance is high thus justifying the present high capital cost.

Hydrogen for fuel cells present high risks of explosion, there are many places where LPG fuelled vehicles are prohibited (eg all underground car parks in France), and restrictions on vehicles fuelled with hydrogen are likely to be at least as restrictive as for LPG vehicles.

Other kinds of battery (e.g. sodium-sulphur) also exist, but again they present a safety risk due to the material or the high operating temperature.

Peugeot SA currently market the Citron Saxa either in the saloon car form or the small delivery van form.

A Railway for Cars

Could this be a possibility, would it be electrically powered?

Mains supply via conductor parallel to trajectory of vehicle exist only for railed vehicles, but very efficient and low risk, energy can be sourced from nuclear power stations or from renewable sources


Vehicles autonomous off the 'highway', probably electrically driven from a battery which with an extensive 'highway' network would generally be adequate. If longer 'off-highway' distances are anticipated then the drive might be hybrid.

Off the 'highway', vehicles might behave exactly as conventional road vehicles with manually operated steering and speed control, and be able to traverse most flat hard surfaces.

On-highway Guidance

A wheel which is compatible with a road surface and a rail on a conventional railway is not known to exist, since the guiding flange is required to project below the rolling surface of the tyre. Most solutions to date have used different wheels which can be raised and lowered as required for either road use or rail use. As the highway would probably be specifically designed for road/rail vehicles it would not have to be in the form of a conventional railway.

A steel/steel rolling interface is arguably preferable for reasons of energy consumption, wear resistance, noise and safety. As the road rolling interface would probably still be rubber/asphalt, it is likely that two different rolling surfaces will be required. Provided that junctions are designed accordingly, a rubber tired wheel on the same axis as a smaller steel tyred flanged wheel is possible. This has implications for the traction drive, as the on-highway speeds may be greater (and with a smaller wheel) it will be necessary to specify a drive with a wide speed and torque range.

On-highway Longitudinal Spacing and Electronic or Mechanical Coupling

Electronic coupling might be the more economical as it might be combined with the software for vehicle speed control. However, the coupling can be either direct, by an on-board function controlling the distance from the proceeding vehicle, or it may be indirect, each vehicle synchronising its position within an electronic moving cell (not to be confused with the misused term 'moving block' in railway signalling). These moving cells can be envisaged as an electronic river, getting longer as the line speed increases and shorter at junctions and exits. Any vehicle unable to maintain its speed and position within the river of cells would set the limit for the system speed.

Route Selection at Diverging Junctions

If a high capacity highway is envisaged with the ability to negotiate junctions en-route without significant delay it would be preferable (essential?) for route selection to be activated from on-board the vehicle and not at the trackside. This eliminates the inherent delay that occurs on conventional railways in unlocking, driving, re-locking and proving point drives between two trains taking different diverging routes. A possible means to achieve this mechanically is a pair of guide wheels engaging either a left or a right guide rail as required before reaching the junction. Alternatively, an electronic means of steering the vehicle either right or left might be considered.


Acknowledgements for information from and research published by:-

Nice Matin;  GIR-MARALPIN;  Mairie de Nice and CANCA;  CCI de Nice et Cote d'Azur;  Voies Ferrees (EPF);  Lohr Industrie;  Central Railway;  Editions du Cabri;  Alstom Transport SA;  Bombardier Transportation Inc.; also see recent EU research papers on website

Train Tram 1

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