They’re here. The bright red Airport Trams have been spotted on the newly cobbled tram tracks near the Promenade des Anglais.
Better still, they look seriously cool. Variously described as ‘chic’ and ‘racy’, the new trainsets were given the once over by mayor Christian Estrosi in February 2018.
This June they will zip towards the seafront when the first section, from Cadam to Magnan, opens to the public. By Christmas trams will whizz from the airport all the way Jean Médécin. The final underground section, from the city centre to Nice port, will be with us in summer 2019.
So what’s all the fuss?
Firstly, parts of central Nice have been a construction site since 2010, with the loudest works in the harbour. (By next summer trams will speed from port to airport in 26 minutes, or faster if you live in one of the 18 stops in between). Soon those travails will be a thing of the past, with post-tram investment already pouring in. This is particularly true in the property rental sector, where summer 2018 marks the last season to be affected by noisy tram works.
Secondly, city dwellers are already imagining a life without traffic. By next summer 140,000 daily passengers will use the new East-West tramway, alongside the 100,000 who use the existing Tramway 1. As both lines connect intermodal hubs like Nice-Ville train station and the ferry port, it should encourage even more travellers to commute by tram. To this end 2,400 trees have already been planted along the new route, many along former tarmac roads. In further good news, the tram section from Nice airport to Saint-Augustin train station will be completely free.
Thirdly, the airport overhaul performed in conjunction with the tram is complete. Both terminals have been renovated with authentically Cote d’Azur restaurants. This year Terminal 2 welcomes l’Estivale by Mauro Colagreco, one of the world’s top five chefs, from Mirazur in Menton. Plus Le Bar by Thierry Marx, head chef of the Mandarin Oriental in Paris. Voyagers can sink proper cocktails before they board for new easyJet destinations Berlin, Biarritz, Catania and Seville, and new Volotea routes Malta and Split.
And finally? The trams are seriously sexy. Since 2017 Sydney has used the Citadis X05, the most advanced tram in the world, made at the Alstom factory in La Rochelle. These boast special low-to-ground frames and roomy interiors. The Citadis X05s used in Nice will be seven carriages long, as opposed just five in Sydney. Sorry Aussies, but size does matter…
Through March the new trams will be tested on the bendy tracks around Nice airport. The project has become reality. All aboard!