Charleroi Pre-metro

The Charleroi Pre-Metro ("Métro Léger de Charleroi") is a 25 km express tram network in Belgium, consisting of a horseshoe-shaped line around central Charleroi and two branches towards the suburbs of Gilly and Anderlues. It was built between 1976 and 1996 with 26 stations. The original plans were much more extensive, but had to be abandoned due to high costs and low prospective passenger numbers, and some largely completed sections have never been opened.

The metro today

An unfinished loop line currently runs around the city centre, from Sud (at the main railway & bus station, Gare du Sud) to Parc, as well as two branch lines to Gilly and Monument (in Anderlues). The branch towards Monument runs on the street as a normal tram after Pétria station, following a line of the old Vicinal network, and this section is not always mentioned as a part of the Métro [ [http://www.subways.net/belgium/charleroi.htm Light Rail In Charleroi ] ] .

Four tram lines (54, 55, 88, 89) operate over metre-gauge track, on a mixture of tunnel and overhead alignment in the centre, and in cuttings or at ground level on the branches. They run from 5 AM to 8 PM every day, with longer intervals between trains at the weekend. [http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/cha/charleroi.htm UrbanRail.Net > Europe > Belgium > Charleroi Prémétro (Belgium) ] ]

*54 : Sud - Gilly, every 5-10 minutes
*55 : Parc - Gilly, every 5-10 minutes
*88 : Parc - Monument, every 10-30 minutes
*89 : Sud - Monument, every 10-30 minutes

All lines except 55 serve Beaux-Arts station in the city centre.

The system is run by TEC, the Wallonian public transport operator, as part of its [http://www.tec-charleroi.be/Files/TECCH/NetPlan/Agglomération.pdf Charleroi network] .

List of stations

The following is a list of Metro stations in Charleroi.

Central Loop

*Sud (for Charleroi-Sud rail station and main bus interchange)
*Villette
*Ouest (for Charleroi-Ouest rail station)
*Beaux-Arts (for the city centre)
*Waterloo
*Janson
*Parc

The loop should be completed in 2010 with an extra station at Tirou, between Parc and Sud [http://www.railwaygazette.com/news_view/article/2008/01/8067/eib_loan_for_charleroi_light_metro.html Railway Gazette: EIB loan for Charleroi light metro ] ] .

Gilly/Soleilmont branch

*Samaritaine
*Gazomètre
*Gilly

Two more stations at Marabout and Soleilmont were planned, and should open in 2010 along with the half-finished station at Sart-Culpart.

Monument (Anderlues) branch

*Piges
*Dampremy
*Providence
*de Cartier
*Moulin
*Morgnies
*Leernes
*Paradis
*Fontaine
*PétriaThe line contines from Petria to Monument as a normal street tram:
*Coron du Berger
*Surschiste
*Route de Thuin
*Jonction
*Rue de la Station
*Monument

History

The Charleroi Métro is equally famous for the parts of it which were never built, partially built, or fully completed but not opened.

It was planned in the 1960s as a 48-km network, using heavy rail metro trains, consisting of eight branch lines radiating from a central loop downtown [http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/cha/charleroi-planned-network.gif] . If completed as planned, this would have been the largest metro system in the Benelux region. Funds ran out during construction, however, and only one complete line (to Monument), part of another line (as far as Gilly), and three-quarters of the loop were actually built and opened to traffic, all between 1976 and 1996.

Another branch line towards the suburb of Châtelet (Châtelineau) was almost finished, to the extent of installing track, power cables, escalators and still-working electric signals to the first three stations [ [http://diggelfjoer.swalker.nl/index.php?main=aband&sub=abandcharl&page=abandcharl2 Diggelfjoer: Abandoned ] ] , but never opened as the expected passenger numbers were too low to pay for the extra staff and rolling stock.

A fourth branch towards Gosselies, on the street following a former Vicinal tram route, is in use as far as the Jumet tram depot but does not carry passengers. [http://www.trams-trolleybus.be/pmc4.html (French)]

The high costs of construction, together with a decline in Charleroi's traditional "smokestack" industries, and questioning of the scope of the whole project in proportion to the actual demand for it, are all cited as reasons for the original plan going unfulfilled.

Future plans

Completion of the central loop (to connect Parc with Sud via an extra station at Tirou) and the extenstion of the Gilly branch to Soleilmont are planned within the next five years, with funding from the European Investment Bank. The Gosselies branch will also start to carry passengers again. There are no plans to open any part of the Châtelet branch.

ee also

* Transport in Belgium
* Vicinal tramway
* List of rapid transit systems

External links

* [http://www.tec-charleroi.be/index.aspx?Language=english Official site of the TEC]
* [http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/cha/charleroi.htm Urbanrail.net Charleroi site]
* [http://diggelfjoer.swalker.nl/index.php?main=aband&sub=abandcharl Photos from a 2003 trip along the Châtelet branch]
* [http://www.trams-trolleybus.be/metro0.html Trams-Trolleybus.be - Métro léger de Charleroi] (French)
* [http://sporvognsrejser.dk/belgien/charleroi/ Tram Travels: Charleroi]

References


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