2023 is fast coming to a close and the end of the year always makes us Mainspring elves nostalgic. We have been delving back into the archives to explore the predictions that we have made across the years fregarding tramway openings and this time is the turn of good old 2013. The year of horsemeat burgers, Prince George's birth and the end of HMV in the UK, what did we see in the year ahead for the tram and light rail industry? Read on to find out and to see how clse we actually were! 
Tramways & Urban Transit's 2013’s focus was on Spanish and North African tramways. Three Spanish lines were due to be completed in 2012 but faced various delays due to funding and contract awards. 
North Africa was proving to be fertile ground for the French tramway industry with Alstom and RATP Dev coming to the fore and the Sicilian city of Palermo was inching towards seeing the completion of its first sections of tramway – largely thanks to EU funding. But how close were we in our predictions back in January 2013... 
1. Cadiz –  
Said to be The oldest continuously inhabited city in Iberia -founded by the Phoenicians in 1194BC. It is home to a city population of around 130 000 and is twinned with Brest in France - another pioneering tramway city. 
In 2006, the Junta of Andalucia had been keen to promote new tramway systems and decided that Cadiz offered a good opportunity to test the train-tram concept. 
A new service would run on the main line 10.5km from Cadiz to La Ardila and then on 13.7km of new construction through the streets of San Fernando and onto the town of Chiclana de la Frontera – a municipality previously only served by buses. 
Work on the EUR140.5m project began in 2008 and the original plan was that it should open in 2010 – but thanks to a combination of factors, opening was delayed and back in February 2013 TAUT guessed that it should open in March 2013. 
Were we right? 
In fact, it opened on 26 October 2022! Thanks to a combination of delays and construction issues (as well as Covid), the line was seriously delayed. Perhaps we could be accused of being a little too optimistic with that guess but hey - you can't always be right! 
2. Granada - 
This Spanish city has an urban population of 472 600 (correct as of time of 2013 print) and in 1998, discussions were started between the city council and the Junta of Andalucia to develop a plans for a North-South light rail line. This was agreed to go ahead in 2005. 
Construction work started in 2007 and should have finished in 2012 but funding issues had pushed this back. TAUT predicted that the service would not begin until early 2014 and would be serviced by an initial fleet of 15 CAF Urbos 3 low-floor trams. 
Were we right? 
In fact the 16 km system opened in 2017 and now carries a projected 10 million passengers a year. Better late than never! 
3. Manacor – Arta – Mallorca 
The largest of Spain’s Mediterranean Balearic islands, Mallorca already enjoyed street running trams in its capital, Palma. However, train services between Manacor and Arta in the rural heart of the island had stopped back in 1977.  
A scheme was started to reopen services using tram-trains to allow for better access to the centre of the towns. This scheme was approved before the collapse of the Spanish economy and a foundation stone was laid by the island’s president on 29 March 2010. The operator SFM were forecasting an opening date in 2013 and much of the land had been prepared ready. 
Were we right? 
Unfortunately, due to financial constraints, the plan was placed on indefinite hold and now the stretch of land which was prepared was transformed into a ‘greenway’ for walkers and cyclists. The good news is that the scheme has been revived and in March this year, a new proposal for the tram-train scheme was put forward to authorities. Go Lightrail! 
4. Oran 
Oran is Algeria’s second city with a population of 760 00. Horse trams first appeared in 1886 and electric trams operated until 1955. 
Announced in 2005, the 19km standard gauge tramline would serve not only the city centre but also the university. Although the foundation stone was laid on 16th December 2009, work had actually already begun in the hope that service would begin in 2012. However, the project faced some delays and service was pushed back. We predicted that it would open sometime in early 2013... 
Were we right? 
In fact it was opened in May 2013 and plans are still in place to build more extensions to this popular line and system helping to better link the community to the airport, hospitals and university. We are watching closely for the next developments... 
Palermo -  
Palermo is the capital of the Italian island of Sicily and 1.2 million people live in its urban areas. Struggling with sprawling urban growth and traffic issues, plans for a three line modern tramway were first raised in 1996 and approved in 2002. Work began on the EUR194.8m scheme in 2011 but thanks to construction delays, we hoped that the system would open in the October of 2013. 
Were we right? 
All four lines actually opened in the December of 2015 and three more extensions are planned so watch this space... 
Tours -  
This city on the Loire was to be the only French tramway to open in 2013. The tramway was envisioned when the matching bus route from the North-South of the city was nearing saturation. Work began in early 2011 and it was hoped that the line would open in September 2013 – accompanied by a state of the art maintenance centre. 
Were we right? 
It actually opened in the August of 2013 and, as of now, plans exist to extend the tramway from East to West. As of April 2022, the Metropolitan Council had set a budget that included EUR6.6m towards this new line. We wait with anticipation! 
So as you can see, even the experts can't always get it right however the delays which were placed upon these tramways were not in anyone's control or could be forseen! Time is funny like that! The important thing is that al the systems (excluding Mallorca - but even that one is being re-visited) opened and are popular - most systems are planning further extensions to their systems showing that light rail can really be worth the wait! No matter how long that may turn out to be! 
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