For the first time since construction of Cuenca’s tram system began in 2013, a unit of the European-designed electric train will reach the city’s historic district Thursday morning.
The unit will leave the train yard on Av. Mexico, move north on Av. Las Americas, turn on Gran Colombia and complete its trip at iglesia Corazón de Jesús.
According the city’s tram project coordinator Jaime Guzmán, the six-kilometer journey has both practical and symbolic significance. “It is part of the construction schedule and one of the dynamic tests we are conducting for system quality control,” he says. “At the same time, it is important that the people of Cuenca see the progress that is being made. Because of the disruption the project has caused in the historic district, people need to see the proof that we are finally nearing completion of the project.”
Guzmán says that work by the French consortium ACTN is on schedule to complete the project by the end of the year and says that the progress will continue to be visible. “We will conduct dynamic tests through the entire historic district in July and to the end of the line, in Milchichig, in October,” he says.
Once the project is complete, Guzmán says, there will be three to four months of testing before the tram begins full operations in March 2019.
Thursday’s test run begins at 6 a.m. and will finish at about 11 a.m., according to an ACTN spokesman. On April 9, 10 and 11, the tram will make a night runs on the same route from 10 p.m. until midnight.
On April 12, the public will be allowed to board the tram at Corazón de Jesús as part of the Cuenca foundation festival.
During his Tuesday news conference, Guzmán said that the city transportation department is holding a series of meetings to address traffic safety issues associated with the tram. Among the issues being discussed is whether to erect retractable gates on streets that cross the train tracks or whether to post transit officers at the crossings once operations begin.