A cross-border tramline once again links Strasbourg to KehlMay 2017
It was at 4.52 in the morning of 29 April 2017 that the first tram of Line D set off from Strasbourg in the direction of neighbouring Kehl, with the two cities now even more closely linked, within the framework of a project that has profoundly changed the urban landscape.
The irony of history is that this tramline is also reviving a service discontinued after the First World War which already constituted an important transport link between the two sides of the Rhine. The project has consisted in extending Line D of the Strasbourg tram network by 2.6 km to reach Kehl railway station, serving the emerging new neighbourhood of Deux Rives on its way.
The initiative required the construction of a new bridge and many technical meetings to decide on the arrangements regarding the management of pricing, rolling stock and operating costs, and connections to existing public transport networks. One of the essential conditions for the success of the project was also the sharing of its overall cost of nearly €100 million, allocated proportionally to the length of the route in France and Germany. On the eve of the launch of the tram, there was an inaugural crossing bringing together officials from both countries, during which the name of the new bridge was unveiled – Beatus Rhenanus – as a tribute to a Franco-German humanist (1485-1547).
The stretch of the line between the tram stops "Port-du-Rhin" and "Kehl Bahnhof", the temporary terminus before the line's extension to Kehl town hall scheduled for 2018, was then given over to a cross-border Tramfest in which the inhabitants of the two cities, during a weekend devoted to Franco-German friendship and gatherings around numerous events where use of Line D was free, could take ownership of this new area that paves the way for a binational conurbation. This extension of the tram network proved extremely popular, with 100,000 people per day using it during the inaugural weekend. The cross-border tramline between Strasbourg and Kehl constitutes the backbone of a new space of coexistence confirming this territory's role as a European testing ground.
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