The tram turns 20 with the connection along Diagonal on the horizon

These days the workers are putting the final touches on the extension works of the Trambesòs from Glòries to Verdaguer.

Oliver Thansan
Oliver Thansan
03 April 2024 Wednesday 10:30
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The tram turns 20 with the connection along Diagonal on the horizon

These days the workers are putting the final touches on the extension works of the Trambesòs from Glòries to Verdaguer. The tracks have already been installed and the innovative catenary-free power system is now being developed, which avoids overhead wiring in the nearly two kilometers that the service will extend. If nothing goes wrong in the coming months, travelers will be able to get on the tram in this area starting in September, according to the internal calendar with which all the parties involved work, although the date is beginning to tighten and compromises the testing and running deadlines. essential blanks before the premiere. The Autoritat del Transport Metropolitana (ATM), to improve its health, speaks of the entry into service throughout the second semester.

The guarantees that the new section has to be tested correctly and without haste establish a temporal connection with twenty years ago. It was April 3, 2004 when the Trambaix premiered, an inauguration that came preceded by intense controversy due to the twenty accidents that had occurred on the avenues of Baix Llobregat during the weeks of circulation of the trams even without passengers. The opposition demanded more time for testing.

The political discussions of that time, with notable absences from the opening ceremony, reconnect with the present, with the union of the Trambaix and the Trambesòs along the Diagonal becoming one of the great debates of recent years in the Catalan capital. There will be no public event to commemorate twenty years of the modern tram, but if there were, a few current political leaders would also be missing.

This would not be the case with the technicians, who have been relegated to the background despite the enormous documentation they have prepared in recent years to defend the tram connection along Diagonal, a straight line on the map that is also defended by the company. concessionaire that operates the service. “A thousand different routes have been studied, the most suitable route is the Diagonal and here what is needed is a tram to transport up to 6,000 people per hour in each direction,” defends Humberto López Vilalta, general director of Tram, urging us to look at the map. of public transport beyond the avenue itself to understand the importance of the union of the two networks.

The first phase will allow Trambesòs users to interchange with lines 4 and 5 of the metro in Verdaguer and the connection to Francesc Macià will allow it to combine with lines 3 and 5 in Diagonal, with Ferrocarrils de la Generalitat (FGC) in Provence and the future L8 in Francesc Macià. "It's intermodality that gives meaning to everything!" exclaims López Vilalta.

However, the second phase until Francesc Macià is still pending and without a scheduled date. Ada Colau's government intended to streamline the work and begin tackling the most delicate part of the Diagonal as soon as the works that are about to be completed were completed. The truth is that as of today the executive project has not even been finalized, which would have put the commons in serious trouble. On the other hand, it allows Collboni to save time. The document is expected to be ready in July. Then the works will have to be put out to public tender, procedures for which the socialist government does not venture to set a date.

Be that as it may, first it will be time to face the tests of the first phase, which will not be easy due to the technical complexity represented by the underground supply of the tram. For several weeks, issues such as clearance, signaling, energy harvesting will have to be tested... Then it will be time for the blank run, which represents a simulation of the planned commercial service but without passengers.

All of this will be a step forward in the history of the modern tram in Barcelona, ​​which has been going on for twenty years during which positions have remained bitter between defenders and detractors in the Catalan capital. This is not the case in the municipalities of Baix Llobregat, where the tram brought important urban improvements and a new public transport connection. In l'Hospitalet, Esplugues, Cornellà, Sant Joan Despí and Sant Feliu de Llobregat there is unanimity that has been reflected in recent years through motions requesting a union with Trambesòs along the Diagonal.

Users, for their part, are clear about their satisfaction with this means of transport, which obtains the best grade in the satisfaction surveys carried out annually, ahead of the metro, Rodalies, FGC or urban and interurban buses. “It has been shown that it is a good means of transport, that the public-private collaboration model works and that the demand estimates were accurate,” defends López Vilalta when taking stock of a formula without equal in Catalan public transport with public subsidy. in banknotes and private investment in exploitation. The infrastructure concession management company Globalvia, the train manufacturer Alstom and the transport company Moventia are the main private shareholders involved in the tram.

FGC and TMB are also minority shareholders and both are there waiting for 2032, the moment in which the concession will end and the ATM will have to decide which operator assumes its management. With the rescue option ruled out by Barcelona City Council coinciding with the union of the two networks due to the high economic cost that it would entail, all parties involved are aware that it will be one of those two public operators that will take over in 2032. Which of them will be chosen? It will depend on the politicians who make the decision when the time comes.