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The Tramway Revival In France

Currently, eighteen French urban areas have at least one tramway line and by 2014, nine more towns will have opened their first lines. In France, the organisation of public transport is based on a decentralised administrative system established in the 1980s. For thirty years, land authorities have had great autonomy to develop their public transport networks in a context of very heavy car use. Today, the car is gradually making way for public transport systems and tramways have been experiencing a revival for several years now. Tramways have been making their mark over the years because they fit into the scheme of urban renewal, transport planning and environmental concerns. This is a political choice which is firmly rooted in the sustainable development ethos and enables planners to take a new approach to urban mobility and urbanisation projects. Trams have also become a tool for promoting a town, because building a tramway implies a desire to renew the image of the town where it is located. Many French companies are using their expertise on projects to create tramways and export skills worldwide, ranging from studies and construction to operating tramway systems.