French rediscover love for streetcars

July 18, 2008 at 3:45 PM
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PARIS, July 18 (UPI) -- France is rediscovering historical streetcar lines as a key part of new, high-tech urban redevelopment, planners say.

Trams have become part of the transformation of almost two dozen French cities, including Nantes, Grenoble, Bordeaux, Clermont-Ferrand and Marseille. Lille and Lyon are now looking into the idea along with Caen, Brest, Nancy, and Toulon. Throughout the country the network of streetcar tracks is expected to grow to 358 miles by 2015, Der Spiegel newspaper reported Friday.

A new system in the Alsace city of Mulhouse highlights a tram painted bright yellow with black stripes like a tiger that has become a source of civic pride as well as a means to help get citizens out of their automobiles.

"We wanted a tram that called attention to itself," says Deputy Mayor Michel Samuel-Weis, "as a symbol of economic vitality, environmental awareness and civic improvement -- transportation as an integrated cultural concept."

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