Waiting for the off. The first one was that on the right
The T6 tramway from Chatillon to Robert Wagner was opened today - it is free all weekend. An extension to Viroflay will open some time next year. It was cold and wet which probably helped to keep the crowds down to manageable proportions. I arrived at Chatillon around 1030 expecting things to start up at 1100. Instead I found out that the festivities were due to start at 1100 with Brazillian drummers, there was to be a formal inauguration at 1130 and the first tram was due to leave at 1200.
To kill some time, warm up and make myself comfortable I found a cafe. Back at the event France TV3 were broadcasting from a makeshift studio. Both tramway platforms were beginning to fill up by 1100 and the numerous security personnel were herding people around in a somewhat random fashion. The drummers started around 1115 and the crowd began to sway to the beat. The people seemed mostly local with a large proportion of elderly although there were a great number of small kids.
The dignitaries tram arrives
|The first service tram out arrives at the platform
Finally, at 1155 the first tram entered the platform and shuddered to a halt. It then jerked forward a couple of feet and finally came to a stop (laughter). The crowd surged forward and everyone chanted "Ouvrez les portes". After several minutes the doors opened and we all rushed inside. I didn't really have a choice as there would have been no moving against this crowd. As it was I found myself going through the front door of this 6 car tram. Once inside everyone was hooting and cheering but after a couple of minutes this changed to a chant of "Fermez les portes". There was a security guard on the platform at each door keeping people out so the tram was not overfull. Finally the doors were closed (intense clapping) and the driver welcomed us (loud cheering). We set out a few minutes late (more clapping and comiserating with those poor souls who were left out in the cold).
These trams are rubber tired with a single rail for guidance. Straight away there were jerks at both starting and stopping. The acceleration and braking is good but the ride was not very good being rubber tires on concrete. This is a cheaper form of construction that gives nowhere near as good a ride as a two rail system with steel wheels. These trams do not hold as many as a steel wheel tram and the narrow corridor connections create serious bottlenecks in crowd flow. The ride to the end of the line took 39 minutes and many people were getting off before the end to go home.
Several people were surprised at how fast the tram was going compared to the bus. This tramway replaces the number 295 bus route, which was still running today to iron out the gaps in tram frequencies due to heavy overcrowding of the first ones out. The itineraries and timetables of some 30 bus routes have been changed to take advantage of the new tram, something Ottawa has still failed to do with the introduction of the OTrain.
I caught the first available tram back to Chatillon and came straight back to warm up. Tramway T6 has been enthusiastically opened.
At Robert Wagner
The connections between cars are quite restricted.
This evening we went to Le Relais de Venise. We arrived about 20 minutes before it opened and were seated quickly. The service was, as usual, quick and efficient and we were out by abut 2015. it was a good dinner.