Nantes Châteaubriant

The 64km single-track railway line between Nantes and Châteaubriant in France was reopened for tram-train service in February 2014 after 34 years. The new electric tram line is operated by the French National Railways (SNCF).


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The tram line forms part of the Nantes-Rennes railway route. The Nantes to Châteaubriant section of the railway line was modernised and upgraded for tram train operation in order to facilitate the suburban and regional travel by providing access to a multitude of destinations. The new tram line is expected to have a daily ridership of about 11,200 passengers.

Background of the Nantes to Châteaubriant tram line

The railway line connecting Nantes to Chateaubriand was first opened in December 1877. The passenger services on the line were terminated in 1980 and subsequently the fright traffic on the line was also stopped in 2008.

"The approval for infrastructure modernisation on the line was received in April 2009."

A revitalisation programme to upgrade the line was initiated by Region Pays de la Loire authority in June 2006 in association with partners including Réseau Ferré de France (RFF), SNCF, the General Council of Loire-Atlantique, the State, European Union, and the Nantes Métropole. The approval for infrastructure modernisation on the line was received in April 2009 and the funding for the renovation was secured in June 2009.

Construction and infrastructure details

The early ground investigations were commenced in September 2009. The renovation works involving the track, ballast, traverses, rails, signalisation, sleepers, rails, and signage were completed by 2012, and the electrification works on the line were completed by June 2013.

"The tram-train operation on the line is controlled by a centralised electronic interlocking system."

The infrastructure works relating to platforms and stations on the line were completed by Fall 2013. The test runs of tram-trains on the line and station openings were completed during the end of 2013 and the beginning of 2014.

The Nantes-Châteaubriant tram line comprises of 11 stations featuring new platforms, shelters, ticket machines and car parking, one tram intersection, and 39 road intersections with signal installations. The tram-train operation on the line is controlled by a centralised electronic interlocking system in Nantes along with decentralised control units in the individual rail stations.

The electricity for the tram operations is supplied by a 750V DC power supply system in the urban area and a 25 kVAC power supply system in the interurban area.

Rolling stock for the tram-train line

The line between Nantes and Châteaubriant uses Citadis Dualis tram trains manufactured by Alstom. The trains run at a speed of 70kmph on the urban network and at a maximum speed of 100km/h towards Châteaubriant. Each coach of the tram train is fitted with 98 seats along with luggage space and toilets. The design is friendly for the accessibility of disabled persons. Each tram-train can accommodate up to 250 passengers.

"Each tram-train can accommodate up to 250 passengers."

The Citadis Dualis vehicles were constructed with lightweight materials and consume lesser power when compared to bus and car. The vehicles have 98% recyclability and generate less noise level.

Alstom delivered 24 Citadis Dualis vehicles for the tram line in February 2014 as part of a €650m ($859.07m) contract awarded by SNCF in 2007 to supply 200 Citadis Dualis tram-train units.

Financing for the tram project

The total investment for the Nantes to Châteaubriant tram-train line project was about €198.3m (approximately $264.48m) which was financed with contributions from a number of sources. The Region Pays de la Loire Authority provided €62.5m ($82.60m), while the Loire Atlantique Department and the National Government provided €54m ($71.36m) and €35.3m ($46.65m) respectively.

The project also received €21m ($27.75m) of funding from the EU sources. The Nantes Métropole also contributed €20.3m ($26.82m) and SNCF invested €5.2m ($6.87m).