One can see why the ever growing number of French towns and cities opening or expanding new electric tram systems have opted for the Alstom 'Citadis' design. Now a common feature across France, as well as further afield in North Africa and
Ireland - this eminently successful tram design is easily sampled in the raw in the UK by a visit to Nottingham. Here two long cross city lines have both Bombardier built trams and Alstom's Citadis class in service alongside each other. The Bombardier cars are not however the same design which was developed subsequently for the Toronto and Blackpool orders.
Winford Lane Station stop with safety measures between platforms - note the wide spacing of tracks on this recent extension. Shelter and ticket machine out of view.
Without ability to compare capital costs of individual units it is impossible to know which model brings best lifetime value. But just on aesthetics alone the French designed tram is the more impressive when viewed up close in an urban setting. As far as I know no Citadis types are operating in North America. The United States has strict rules governing the percentage of significant value added content which must be incorporated within any mass transit contracts involving Federal funds. A pity our Department of Transport and politicians can't take similar positions favouring local industry and employment (in the UK that is). Canada's two systems in Alberta (Calgary and Edmonton) opted for the Siemens designed (and built) U2 design which was an 'off the shelf' version and also launched the San Diego Trolley system in the 1970s. The U2 tram/light rail vehicle originated in Germany (West) with prototypes built for Frankfurt (Main). All this was before Bombardier - a Canadian based conglomerate originally focussed on snowmobile and snow traversing equipment, moved into transit equipment and aircraft construction. It is noteworthy that Blackpool's order for 16 new trams in 2009 was tagged on to the pending large contract awarded by Toronto for replacement cars to replace its 1980s bogie cars and articulated units designed for that city by a Swiss company. Thus Blackpool served as a sort of 'test bed' site for the Toronto fleet now beginning to enter service. One wonders if the mostly street running version in Canada will have the same wheel noise and vibrations of the trams now running on Blackpool promenade.
In any event we are where we are. It is of course entirely possible that lessons may be learned when the Blackpool system expands further (if ever) but don't hold your breath. A poignant reminder of which company is most proud of its products is the prominence given by the Alstom corporate logo on the exterior of the NET fleet it has delivered. Below : Viv Anderson MBE together with Alstom logo and fleet number 229. Note tinted section of glazing around the driver's position.