Cuenca Welcomes First Tram System
In 2015, the way to get around in Cuenca will take a decidedly European turn as the city embraces a new culture of mobility. In that year Cuenca will have the largest and most modern network of trams in all of Ecuador, thanks to agreements signed today between officials in Cuenca and the French industrial group Alstom, who will be in charge of creating Cuenca’s first tramway.
Alstom will be responsibile for electrification, power supply and system integration of the tramway that will become a first in Ecuador as well. The project is ecological and sustainable, and will consist of four Alstom-made Citadis trains and a tramline stretching 10 kilometers with 20 stations that will pass through the historic part of Cuenca.
The project is funded primarily by the French Treasury through a loan facility for emerging countries. The contract is worth $91 million.
Michel Boccaccio, Alstom’s Vice President for Latin America, said the new tram will improve the quality of lives of about 500,000 people in Cuenca. He said the company’s Citadis tram is one of the cleanest, most comfortable and most efficient transport systems in the world.
The tram’s monthly operating costs will be approximately $60,000. Service will be provided from 6am to 11pm, with a slated cost to passengers of 25 cents. The price will be maintained by a subsidy from the Ecuadorian government that will provide $170,000 each year. The tram will have a capacity to transport up to 120.000 passengers per day.
In order to reduce any negative visual impact on the city, whose historic center was declared a World Heritage site by UNESCO in 1999, the tramway will be catenary-free and will use modern third rail technology where the power supply is installed at ground-level, which provides completely secure electricity only when the train passes over it. This avoids the installation of traditional overhead cables and equipment.
This third rail system will be implemented in the historic center from Gran Colombia street, sector Corazón de Jesús, to its intersection with Av. Huayna Capac. Outside this area the tram will require an aerial cable, which according to experts, will not make a visual impact.
Cuenca mayor Paul Granda stressed that, according to studies, the system can operate in adverse weather conditions, and in the event of an electrical blackout, the tram and its stations will be supplied with power directly from Empresa Eléctrica substations. Brownouts would not affect the operation of the tram.
Cuenca is the first Latin American city with this type of tramway system. The system is already in use in the French cities of Bordeaux, Angers, and Reims, and will soon be operational in Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
Each of the trams running on the Cuenca line will be 33 meters long and will carry about 300 passengers.
The project’s next phase will last approximately 45 days to coordinate the start of construction and the expropriation of real estate in Milchichig.
Mayor Granda sought to reassure residents that the project would not inconvenience citizens. The section of Gran Colombia, between Miguel Velez and Abraham Sarmiento, will be the sole movement of the tramway, and the rail system will not obstruct vehicular traffic.