French tramways: a 21st century phenomenon, St Albans

13 October, 2016 | 18:00 - 19:45

Tramway in the heart of Grenoble
Tramway in the heart of Grenoble

About this event

Like Great Britain, French cities had closed down most of their traditional tramway systems by the 1960s, only three isolated lines remaining in existence. But from the mid 1980s there was a major initiative to develop new tramway systems in the main cities and in many smaller ones too.

Today France has over two dozen cities with systems ranging from a single lines to dense networks, with extensions to these and further new systems under construction. Paris now has an almost complete circle of lines round the city edge. Today France is one of Europe's prime tramway countries.

The talk will outline the history of the fascinating volte face. It will examine the causes and effects of the development, especially the importance of strategic planning and the role of city and regional authorities, focussed through a case study of Grenoble. It will then take a pictorial tour of various French systems to illustrate the various factors in play.

To conclude, the talk will also briefly consider the potential of the French approach for Britain's smaller growth cities and metropolitan fringes, outlining recently published proposals for Hertfordshire (Herts Orbital Transit) and Oxford (Oxford Metro).


For more information, please contact:

Andy Palmer


Reg Harman

Reg Harman has spent nearly fifty years in transport development, the last twenty as an independent consultant. His wide ranging professional interests include railways and public transport development, getting about locally, the interfaces between transport and land use planning and transport development on the Continent.

Largely retired, he is currently engaged in promoting the development of tramways in smaller growth cities and the evolution of local railway lines into modern transit.