Lyon is the second largest city in France and situated on the confluence of the rivers Saône and Rhône. Although the city itself only counts some 475,000 inhabitants, it has about 1.3 million inhabitants in the metropolitan area formed by 62 boroughs (606 km2), including Villeurbanne (140,000 inh.) and Vénissieux (60,000 inh.). Lyon is the capital of the Rhône-Alpes region.
For urban transport enthusiasts, Lyon offers virtually all existing modes: buses, trolleybuses, trams (T1, T2, T4), light rail (T3 & Rhônexpress), funiculars, metro (including a driverless line and a rack railway!) and regional trains. Except for regional trains and the Rhônexpress to the airport, all transport modes are operated by TCL and can be used with the same ticket. There are no fare zones.
The first sections of today's metro network opened in 1978, with most of the current line A, plus a short line B shuttle to Part Dieu railway station and the converted line C with its rack section up the Croix-Rousse hill.
Lyon's metro is now privately operated by Keolis Lyon under the brand name "TCL" (Transports en Commun de Lyon - also in charge of buses, trams, trolleybuses and the 2 funiculars); the network infrastructure is owned and maintained by Sytral (Syndicat mixte des transports pour le Rhône et l'agglomération lyonnaise), also responsible for the planning and construction of new routes.
The metro's total length is 30.3 km, it is completely underground, except for a short section on line C. The average distance between stations is 750 m. The metro runs mostly at low depth with many stations located right below street level with separate entrances for each side platform. Most stations are rather functional, altough some, especially on line D, boast an interesting design, like Parilly (architects: Jourda and Perraudin), which seems to be an underground cathedral, or Valmy and Gare de Vaise. Most stations have been equipped with lifts in recent years, and ticket barriers were installed in the late 2000s to reduce fare evasion.
The metro operates between 05:00 and 00:30. During daytime hours, trains run every 3-4 minutes on Line A & B, every 5-7 minutes on Line C and every 2.5 minutes on Line D.
Trains all have a similar design although they might use a different system. While line C is the only steel-to-steel railway line with its centre rack on the lower section, the other three lines use rubber-tyred wheels. The metro is operated on the left side. Trains are 2.9 m wide (line C 2.78 m). Except for the trains on line D, all vehicles have been repainted from the original orange livery into white with a red stripe. Several units have also been refurbished inside, with the formerly comfortable seats being replaced by a reduced number of longitudinal seats to increase the overall capacity of the system.
Perrache - Vaulx-en-Velin La Soie; 9.2 km, 14 stations
Line A is operated in ATO mode with rubber-tyred 3-car trains. Most of the line was opened in 1978 and only extended by one station in 2007, mostly by taking advantage of the depot access tracks, to create an interchange with tram line T3 and the Rhônexpress to the airport. Line A links Lyon's second major railway station Perrache to the neighbouring municipality of Villeurbanne by passing through the city centre proper known as Presqu'Île (peninsula between the two rivers). The line crosses the river Rhône inside the Morand-Bridge.
Charpennes - Stade de Gerland via Part Dieu (main railway station); 6.2 km, 9 stations
Line B is currently being extended to the west bank of the River Rhône (including an underground river crossing) to terminate at Oullins railway station (More). Another 1-station extension from there to an important hospital complex is possible.