On 27 July at 11.30 am, the Caen la Mer tramway and its three new lines were inaugurated, following 15 months of conversion work. Egis acted as the representative of the project owner for this exceptional project in which the former tyre mounted tram system was converted into a steel wheel tramway. A first in France!
In July 2013, Caen la Mer appointed the consortium “Egis et Normandie Aménagement” as project owner representative for the operation “Tramway 2019” aiming to convert the existing segregated transport system, known as TVR, into a conventional track tramway.
In 2014, the project was reoriented towards the conversion of the tramway and the subsequent addition of two line extensions: one towards the future tram maintenance centre, and the other towards the Presqu’Île sector. The network as a whole now has 16.2 km of infrastructure and 37 stations and operates 23 trams.
This in-depth modification of an existing system in operation is a first in France. The design of this project faced an array of challenges, such as modifying the clearance gauge of the rolling stock, upgrading it to safety standards, adjusting its turning radius (from 13 to 25 m) and its ability to deal with gradients (reduction from 10% to 8.5%), and the reuse of existing equipment.
The trials and tribulations of a city centre redevelopment initiated barely 15 years ago are still fresh in the minds of the Caen population. Together with the highly sensitive issue of the impact of the works, this represented an additional challenge, compounded by the ambition to cut construction time to a minimum: approximately 15 months of works for the line conversion and extensions, and 11 months to build the maintenance centre.
The project organisation had to factor in the introduction of 50 articulated buses as replacements for the TVR during the works, running alongside the former route and consequently throughout the duration of the project. These two substitution lines were of central importance as the TVR line used to carry 40,000 passengers per day, representing half the total ridership of the Greater Caen transport network.
Alongside the usual challenges of creating a tramline, the Egis et Normandie Aménagement consortium faced many additional technical issues relating to the renovation of an existing permanent way which it efficiently addressed by drawing on his expertise and know-how to accompany this fast developing local authority.
Given that many existing systems are ageing, this type of conversion or overhaul may become more frequent in the coming years. On this unconventional project, Egis fully assumed its role of project owner representative and once again proved its ability to take account of different technical specificities and plan and coordinate a project of this scale.