Thursday, July 5, 2012

Bordeaux light rail, France

at the Gare St Jean - pantograph collection
in Rue Vital Carles - third rail collection
Bordeaux has a great tramway (or light rail according to definition preference) system of 44 km with 86 stops, which you experience as soon as you step outside the main Bordeaux St Jean station.  It consists of 3 lines which intersect in the central city and spread to outer areas of the city.

One of the first things you notice is that the 750 Volt current collection is either via a traditional pantograph or a less conventional third rail - APS (Alimentation par le sol) - at the level of the pavement like the two running rails, used in different parts of the system.  The third rail is only energised in sections when the tram is over it. Given the amount of dirt, ice and extraneous matter the third rail must be subject to, we assume the overhead wire is superior, so the visual reasons for the third rail in some city streets must have been compelling.

Tramsets consist of 12 x five-car articulated sets of 480 kW output and 62 x seven-car articulated sets of 720 kW output, running on standard gauge, and made by Alstom.

Significant extensions to the system are underway. (Geoff Churchman)

parallel departure at the Porte de Bourgogne - third rail collection

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