Keolis launches Caen la Mer’s new tram system in France

On 27th July 2019, Keolis, which operates the Twisto public transport system, launched the new tram system on behalf of Caen la Mer’s urban community, in Normandy, in the north of France. Following 19 months of works, this new mode of transport will replace the previous rubber-tyred tram system. The tram network is made up of three lines totalling 16.2 km of track. It serves 36 stations with 26 trams and forms the backbone of the new Twisto transport system.

Alongside the launch of the tram, the entire bus network is undergoing a major overhaul with the introduction of a circular route running around the whole urban area and the extension of several existing bus routes. It supplements the new e-bikes and electric shuttle services rolled out in early 2018 for a more global and sustainable mobility offer.

Thanks to this bolstering of the urban area's transport facilities, Keolis is expecting an increase in ridership (+19.5%) and in revenue (+27%) across the whole network between now and the end of the contract in December 2023.

Keolis has been operating the Twisto network in Caen for several years now and the Group’s contract was renewed on 1st January 2018 until the end of 2023. As a result, Keolis will continue to cater to the mobility needs of the 270,000 residents of Caen la Mer’s urban community in 47 municipalities covering 362 km².

A new tram to boost the urban area's appeal 

On 27th July, Keolis started operating Caen la Mer’s new tram service, replacing the rubber-tyred tram system which were retired on 31st December 2017.

26 tramsets, each capable of carrying 210 passengers, will operate over the network which consists of three lines and 36 stations. They will run on dedicated tracks at 10-minute intervals between 5:45 am and 12:30 am, Monday to Saturday, and between 7:45 am and 12:30 am on Sundays and bank holidays.

Built by manufacturer Alstom, the new tram (Citadis X05) features six double doors and wide areas facilitating passenger movement inside the tram. The low floor tram features two areas reserved for wheelchairs, six seats for people with reduced mobility and noise amplifiers for the hard of hearing. The new tramsets also have USB ports offering additional services to passengers.

A unique substitution operation in France

For the first time, a heavy mode of transport (rubber-tyred tram system) has been completely replaced by another (tram on tracks). The major challenge for the project was to maintain the service throughout the 19 months of works which were initiated on 1st January 2018. In addition to bolstering the existing lines and bringing 42 replacement buses into service, Keolis recruited 120 employees for this transition period. 

To ensure that there were enough drivers available to operate these three tram lines, 170 of them received training in using the new rolling stock. 250 employees deployed at tram stations and bus interchange hubs were on hand to help passengers get to grips with the new Twisto network during the opening weekend on 27th and 28th July.

A restructured network for more effective coverage

A major component in the restructuring of the bus network is the newly-created route number 6 – a circular route around the urban area. Called the Ellipse, it enables passengers to travel between neighbourhoods and links up Caen, Hérouville Saint-Clair, Colombelles and Mondeville, Monday to Friday, with services every 15 minutes at peak times and every 20 minutes off-peak.

In parallel, denser coverage of the urban community has made journeys easier in Caen’s Beaulieu/Venoix neighbourhoods and Ouistreham, Verson/Bretteville-sur-Odon, Ifs/Cormelles-le-Royal/Fleury-sur-Orne and Mondeville. These sectors are now better served thanks to the extension of several bus routes  and better connections linking them and the tram routes.

In addition, the Twisto network now has six main bus routes (as opposed to only four previously), which now run for longer (5:45 am to 12:30 am). There are buses every 10 minutes on routes 1 and 2, and every 15 minutes at peak times (every 20 minutes during off-peak times) on routes 3, 4, 5 and 6 (Ellipse). 

A network geared towards the energy transition

These new services supplement the fleet of 630 bicycles (including 400 e-bikes) and electric shuttles which run throughout the Caen city centre. These two services were rolled out when the new contract started in January 2018 and – together with the tram – are evidence of Caen la Mer and Keolis’ commitment to promoting more sustainable forms of mobility.

Restructuring and modernising the Twisto network should help reduce individual car usage and encourage people to use public transport for their daily journeys.

The new Twisto network – key figures

  • 11.5 million kilometres covered in 2019
  • 24.6 million annual journeys predicted on average
  • 3 tram lines and 26 tramsets
  • 71 bus routes with 191 vehicles and 11 for people with reduced mobility
  • 630 bicycles (230 self-service and 400 e-bikes for hire)
  • 1 free city-centre shuttle service operated with 6 electric vehicles
  • 47 municipalities served
  • 1,700 stopping points
  • 700 employees, including 130 hired in 2018