The Vitoria-Gasteiz tramway to reach Salburua on 11 April and will serve its nearly 20,000 residents
Euskotren, the publicly-owned company of the Basque Government's Ministry for Territorial Planning, Housing and Transport, is undertaking the last testing phase for the Vitoria-Gasteiz tramway to start its commercial service to Salburua on 11 April. During the first day that the new branch line comes into service, travel will be free so that passengers can get acquainted with the route (stops, timetables, etc.) of this extension to the tramway network. The Euskotren team will also provide information on the destinations and the running of the tramway, both on route and at the stops, throughout April.
The empty train trials will be held over a ten-day period in the run up to 11 April. They will simulate the new commercial service without passengers to check the real times and that all the systems are working correctly. The opening of the branch line to Salburua involves a reorganisation of the terminals and destinations. Therefore, the tramways will run from Abetxuko to Unibertsitatea and from Ibaiondo to Salburua from 1 April, although there will still be no passengers on the Florida - Salburua section. The empty train trials will not affect the frequency of the service – which will continue to be every 15 minutes –. However, there will be minimum changes to the regular tram times, as the aim is to bring the timetable in line as far as possible with the one that will be in force from 11 April.
The empty train trials are the last phase of the tests that Euskotren has been conducting since Euskal Trenbide Sarea (ETS), the manager of the rail infrastructures, signed off on the construction work of the new branch. On 10 January, the gauge checks began in order to ensure there were no problems with the running of the tramway units on the new lines and facilities. Since then, the following work has already been carried out:
• Rail signalling: tests aimed at optimum and safe management of the traffic, of trams, pedestrians and the other users of the streets of Vitoria-Gasteiz.
• Dynamic tests with the Series 600 units of the Vitoria-Gasteiz tramway service to check that those units run safely on the new section. The Series 500 tests will take place at the end of March.
• Tests of the passenger information systems, checking that the on-board system properly provides the general public with information about the tram service.
This process will end on 11 April with the coming into service of the new 2.5 km section that will add five new stops (Santa Luzia, Iliada, Nikosia, La Unión and Salburua) to the tram network of the capital of Álava.
Following on from the Unibertsitatea branch coming into service in February 2020, it is now the turn of Salburua, a young neighbourhood, with a current population of around 20,000 people and which is growing. The extension of the tramway will improve transport links between Salburua, Judimendi and Santa Lucía and the centre and northern area of the city, and will make it easier to get to the new bus station and the university area. The branch line to Salburua will mean that 3,700 residents have a tramway stop at under five minutes from their home and 18,300 at under ten minutes.
The arrival of the tramway to this neighbourhood has involved a total investment of nearly €25 million, 65% funded by the Basque Government and the remaining 35% split equally between Vitoria-Gasteiz City Council and Álava Provincial Council.