For the first time Saturday and Sunday, two units of the tram traveled beyond Cuenca’s historic district to Milchichig, less than two kilometers from the end of the line at the industrial park. A 350-meter section of track remains to be installed in Milchichig, the last unfinished section of the 20.5-kilometer route.
According to Mayor Marcelo Cabrera, the Milchichig track will be complete and operational within 10 days. The Milchichig delay was the result of a legal right-of-way challenge by a property owner that was resolved in late September. The delay was one of the reasons the city granted French contractor ACTN an 18-day extension to complete the project.
According to Cabrera, the extension does not change the March 2019 date when the tram opens to the public. “The training, signage installation, public education and connection of the electronic systems have already started,” he said.
The European transportation company Metropolitano de Tenerife, SA, has been contracted to handle tram operations for three years. “At this point, we do not have the expertise necessary to operate the system and this is why Metropolitano will be in charge of this,” Cabrera said. “They are the most experienced company in the world in operating mass transit systems.”
According to city tram manager Jaime Guzmán, the next five months are the most critical for the project. “The hardware installation work will be completed but, behind the scenes, we will be extremely busy connecting and integrating the electronic systems that will run the system,” he said. “In addition, we are beginning the public education component of the project. This involves making motorists and pedestrians familiar with the new signage along the route and making them understand that the tram will always have the right-of-way.”
He adds: “It will be our job to build a culture of respect for the tram. We will do this in conjunction with Metropolitano de Tenerife, following the protocols established for other public tram systems.”