Sunday, September 26, 2010

Brussels - Christmas 2007

Brussels - Christmas 2007, originally uploaded by infomatique.

The Brussels tram (or streetcar) system is a successful medium-sized system, whose development demonstrates many of the quandaries that face local public transport planners. It also has a number of interesting peculiarities.

The development of the system is being pulled in two contradictory directions – towards low-floor street-running trams and high-floor underground railway. This has led to some conflicting decisions. The standard trams – still "PCC"s from the 1950s and 60s – have been followed by the specially designed "T2000" low-floor model, and at the end of 2005 was joined by a variant of the off-the-shelf "Flexity Outlook" from Bombardier (3000 series), and end of 2006 by an even longer version of the same family (4000 series). But in some of the busiest routes the convenience of the low floor is lost because of the anomalies caused by the hesitant upgrade of tram to metro.
The city now has three heavy metro lines and three stretches of premetro or underground tram. The premetro tunnels have been built to allow for eventual upgrade to heavy metro. Thus most of the platform is high, and is connected to the street (at least in the upward direction) by escalator. In the city centre lifts are being installed. But there is a cutout section taking the level down to one foot above ground, to board the trams. The three steps this entails make life difficult for passenger with baby buggies or suitcases (the trams themselves are inaccessible to wheel-chair users).

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