Technology & Innovation Dimension

A key feature of Sintropher is the focus on development and take-up of cost-effective, user-friendly technologies. These include tram-trains and alternative fixed-route transport technologies, especially relevant for regions with smaller urban areas, ecomomies, and population size.

Some regions in North-West Europe have already begun to develop innovative solutions, notably the tram-train developed first in Karlsruhe and more recently in Kassel (both Germany) and the Randstad (The Netherlands). This allows city trams to run directly on to the conventional railway network and so serve the wider city region without the need for interchange. In Kassel, the main city in North Hesse, connections are also made to the high-speed line.

Other areas such as West Flanders (Belgium), faced with issues such as incompatibility of rail and tram gauges or an unsuitable rail alignment, have developed alternative investment solutions.

Light rail can represent a cost-effective approach to linking relatively peripheral areas to core areas and national/transnational networks. Project partners investigated the technical feasibility of options for their regions including conventional light rail connected to good multimodal interchanges (potential Kusttram extension in  West Flanders, extensions to Blackpool Tramway) single-track tram systems (new system built in Valenciennes) and tram-train systems (extensions to the Nordessen RegioTram system and possible applications in other partner regions such as Arnhem-Nijmegen.

The project seeks to support knowledge transfer between these different solutions and to consider their possible relevance for similar regions in North-West Europe and the seven demonstration regions. It will also investigate the urban/regional territorial development impacts of such transport investments to help demonstrate the business case and wider future urban regional benefits.