France’s Alstom has won a $74m deal to supply 16 trams for the Tunis tramway network in Tunisia.

Transtu, Tunisia’s transit authority awarded Alstom the deal, which involves supplying 16 Citadis trams and maintaining the entire fleet of 55 trams for a period of five years. Alstom has already supplied the existing 39 trams for the network between 2007 and 2009.

The tramway in Tunis consists of five lines that cover 32 kilometres. Lines one and two are currently being extended.

In 2005, Tunis became the first city in the Maghreb region to acquire Citadis trams, with Algiers, Casablanca, Constantine, Oran and Rabat later placing orders.

Alstom also won a contract in 2008 for the electrification of the Tunis-Borj Cedria high-speed railway line that connects Tunis to the town of Borj Cedria. The Tunis-Borj Cedria line is the first phase of a planned five-line high-speed railway network that will connect Tunis to its suburbs.

In January 2010, Alstom also submitted a technical offer to Tunisian Railways (SNCFT) for the construction of two new lines that will run 18 kilometres on Tunis’ high-speed railway. Alstom leads a consortium that also comprises two local companies Bonna-Tunisia and EGMS and the UK-based Thales.

Construction work on the two new lines is scheduled to begin in July 2010 and is expected to be completed in 2013.

The high speed railway will transport 20,000 passengers an hour between Tunis and its suburbs. North Africa is focusing on developing its tram and metro networks in order to ease congestion in its major cities. Tramway projects are underway in Tunisia and Morocco with metro projects underway in Cairo and Tripoli.