Algiers launches new tramway service

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A new tramway in Algiers began operating on Sunday after a two-year delay in a project that hopes to ease traffic in a city regularly plagued by traffic jams.

The first operational section includes 7.2 kilometers (4.5 miles) of track largely in the east of Algerian capital, the city's most densely populated area.

"A tram equally powerful to those of Paris...," and other French cities, said Eric Lenoir, spokesman for French company Alstom, whose Citadis trams will carry travelers around the hilly capital.

First commissioned in 2009, the tramway initially connects the Bab Ezzouar area near the airport and Bordj el Kiffan, a historic quarter frequented by tourists but parts of which were cleared to make way for the tram route.

At its launch the network consisted of 13 stations and twelve trains, capable of transporting between 10,000 and 15,000 people at a cost of 20 dinar (0.2 Euro, or 0.29 dollars). It will run from six in the morning to nine in the evening.

"There is not a fixed day for the completion of the project. We are proceeding according to the reality on the ground," Lenoir said.

Algiers, a city of around 3 million inhabitants, is serviced by a network of more than 3,400 buses according to the transport minister.

Public transport in the city is largely inadequate and the streets often resemble parking lots, because of the 1.4 million cars clogging up the streets.

© 2011 AFP

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