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Regiotram public transportation extension, Biel/Bienne

Preliminary study and concept design

In 2009, Gruner Ltd was commissioned by the Canton of Berne Public Transport Office to prepare a pre-liminary study for an extension to the existing Aare Seeland mobil narrow-gauge line from Ins to Biel/Bienne. As part of the local agglomeration program, the possibility was examined of continuing the line as a "Regiotram" route through the city of Biel/Bienne and beyond the present terminus – the main station – up to the Bözingenfeld district.

The aim of the preliminary study was to identify a suitable route and determine the stop locations. Apart from investigating technical feasibility, the study also assessed the costs and risks. As lead manager of an engineering consortium, Gruner Ltd handled one of the central packages, the section between the station crossing and Zentralplatz square.

The preliminary study involved the provision of the following services:

  • Identification of possible corridors and routing alternatives
  • Investigation of corridors in respect of traffic engineering, route mapping and constructional issues ("suitability criteria")
  • Establishment and appraisal of suitable routing alternatives
  • Risk analysis, assessment and selection of alternatives based on following criteria: "Promotion of public transportation", "Route mapping", "Compatibility with other transport modes", "Feasibility", "Urban design" and "Costs"
  • Identification of possible phasing options
  • Cost estimate


The concept design, which followed in 2010, concretized the routing and stop location proposals from the preliminary study. One particular focus of the design work was the routing of buses and siting of the stops near the station. The impact of various factors on the public transportation system (operational disruptions, delays to individual services or higher service frequencies) were modeled and evaluated by means of microscopic simulations using the VISSIM software application.

The following services were provided for the concept design:

  • Analysis of alternatives for location of stops at station and routing (tram and bus)
  • Allowance for other transport modes (private motorized and non-motorized traffic) and analysis of their impact
  • Diversion concepts for construction period and in the event of operational disruption
  • Operational simulation to verify stability under service conditions
  • Geometrical concept and detailed technical feasibility study for routing, incl. cost estimate