The Lille Metro (French: Métro de Lille) is a driverless metro located in Lille, France. It was opened on 25 April 1983 and was the first to use the VAL (French: véhicule automatique léger, English: light automated vehicle) system. This was the first fully automated driverless metro of any kind in Europe. The metro is made up of two lines that serve 60 stations, and runs over 45 kilometres (28 mi) of route.
In the 1960s the decentralisation of the city of Lille was considered; some towns of the Lille region were isolated and were poorly served by existing public transport, while the centre of Lille was congested with traffic and buses. The decentralisation resulted in the creation of the Public Establishment of Lille East development (EPALE) in 1968. In the 1970s, a plan for a proposed four line metro system was developed, favouring the VAL system over conventional rail systems.
Construction started in 1978, and the first section was opened on 25 April 1983 between Quatre Cantons ("Four Townships") and République. On 2 May 1984 line 1 was completed, with a length of 13.5 kilometres (8.4 mi) (8.5 kilometres (5.3 mi) underground), linking CHR B Calmette (centre hospitalier régional: "regional hospital centre") to Quatre Cantons via Gare de Lille Flandres. All 18 stations have doors between the platform and the train.
Line 2 opened on 3 April 1989 and it connects Lille with its two large suburban towns, Roubaix and Tourcoing, reaching CH Dron (centre hospitalier: "hospital centre") near the Belgian border on 27 October 2000. It is 32 kilometres (20 mi) long with 43 stations.
While line one opened in April 1983 between 4 Cantons and République; it was extended, with the extension from République and C.H.R. B Calmette opening on the 2nd of May 1984. The cost of opening the first line in both its phases cost in excess of 2 billion Francs.
Construction of line two began in April 1985. A depot was opened on the second line at Villeneuve d'Ascq, after the terminus of the line Saint Philibert in Lomme. Line one became operational in late 1988 with testing being carried out for four months. In 1989, COMELI which runs the metro merged with COTRALI which runs the bus and tram networks merged creating a unified public transport body
The section between Lille and neighbouring towns of Roubaix and Tourcoing was built and opened in four stages. The first extension was inaugurated on 5 May 1994K; the underground section has a length of 500 metres and connects the Euralille business area to the rest of Lille.
The third part is the longest to be opened, making about 13 km. It became operational in March 1999 and commissioned on 18 August that year. This section goes through the towns of Villeneuve d'Ascq, Wasquehal, Croix, Roubaix and stops in downtown Tourcoing. Though the route is mainly underground, the metro runs on a 1.3 km viaduct between the stations of Fort Mons and Jean-Jaures. The final section was inaugurated on 27 October 2000 by Prime Minister Lionel Jospin.
While a system of four lines was initially planned in the 1970s only two lines have been built. Lille Métropole Urban Community (now names CUDL) indicates in its urban transport plan (PDU) adopted in June 2000 that 'the subway construction cost does not allow new achievements'. In 2003 a third line was estimated to cost €810 million; a cost considered prohibitive so the city explored surface networks instead; making investments in its bus and tram systems. In 2010, the vice president of urban transport, Eric Quiquet confirms this decision by stating that the LMCU 'plans no more new metro lines' and that 'the priority is the development of the network of buses, urban tramway, the tram-train'.
Line 1 is 13.5-kilometre (8.4 mi) long (8.5 kilometres (5.3 mi) of which is underground) and serves 18 stations.
Trains are 2 metres (78 3⁄4 in) wide and 26 metres (85 ft 3 5⁄8 in) long (composed of permanently coupled two-car sets), and are rubber-tyred. Platforms are 52 metres (170 ft 7 1⁄4 in) in length (though only half of the platform length is currently open to the public), long enough for two units. Each unit can carry 156 passengers.
The metro operates from 5:00 a.m. until midnight, with trains every 1½ to 4 minutes (every 66 seconds during rush hour), and every 6 to 8 minutes early mornings and evenings. On Sundays there is a train every 2 to 6 minutes. A one-way ticket costs €1.80.
Since January 2013, work to double the capacity of Line 1 has been ongoing. The platforms are being lengthened to be used with new 52 metres (171 ft) long trains built by Alstom. This expansion should be complete in autumn 2017. The former VAL 208 of the first line will then be transferred to Line 2 to increase its passenger capacity as well.
One of the 60 Siemens VAL 208 trains.
Menés entre 2013 et 2017, ces travaux répondent à la hausse constante du trafic de la ligne 1. Ils visent à anticiper sa saturation future, par une augmentation de sa capacité de transport. [Carried out between 2013 and 2017, these works respond to the constant increase in traffic on line 1. They aim to anticipate its future saturation by increasing its transport capacity.]
Media related to Lille Metro at Wikimedia Commons