The new tram system in the Tenerife capital of Santa Cruz hast carried its first fare-paying passengers on June 2th in 2007. The route of the new service means that more than half of the 350,000 population of the two cities will have no more than a five-minute walk to their nearest tram stop. The trams will run every five minutes, with a journey time of 37 minutes. Stops are situated every 500-600 metres and the whole line has double track.
The new light rail system, or Tranvia, as it is more generally known on the island with its tramcars are already a familiar sight on Tenerife, especially in the business centres of Santa Cruz and its near neighbour La Laguna, the two areas linked by the new service. The metro system was designed to relieve congestion in these two cities. A 7.5-miles line operates between the island capital of Santa Cruz and the neighbouring city of La Laguna. Trams run from 5am-midnight during weekdays and 24 hours a day at weekends and during festivals.
The Tranvia was involved in its first accident during trials being carried out in the run-up to the opening when a woman was struck by a moving tram while she was distracted by her mobile phone. Fortunately she was only slightly injured. The incident led to a number of safety concerns being voiced by some citizens, who claim the trams will be a threat to pedestrians walking along previously traffic-free streets. The incident has prompted the operators of the new service to embark on a safety campaign, reminding citizens and shoppers of the need to be vigilant when walking near the tramlines.
But how does the tenerife tram “Tranvia” function?
The overhead electricity power supply to the tramcars of tenerife’s tranvia is generated by ten specially-commissioned wind turbines, making it a totally zero-emission system. The operators are “Metropolitano de Tenerife”. The tramcars, built in Barcelona, have been specially adapted to cope with the steep gradients along the route, the track climbing 600 metres in 12km. The 32-metre trams are driven through all six wheels, enabling them to average 20km per hour on the journey. They have a top speed of 70km per hour. The system had 20 tramcars available at start up, each capable of carrying 200 passengers, 60 of them seated.
Future plans for the system include an extension taking the line from La Laguna to Tenerife’s north airport at Los Rodeos and a branch line to serve the district of La Cuesta, another heavily populated area.