BELAM ( _sr. Београдски лаки метро; English: Belgrade light metro) is a planned rapid transit system due to begin construction in 2008. It is intended to relieve
Belgrade's growing traffic congestion issues, with the first stretch of line opening in 2012. The first line has an estimated cost of 450 million euroand should take 5 years to complete. [ [http://www.beoland.com/lrt/trasa.asp Direkcija za gradjevinsko zemljište i izgradnju Beograda - BELAM - Trasa prve linije] ] .
The idea to construct a
rapid transitsystem in Belgradeis a relatively old one, and originates from the 1950s when it was driven by Belgrade's blooming number of inhabitants and the lack of adequate transportinfrastructure. However, the inability to decide between proposals to construct a modern tramsystem and a classic underground one meant that the project was to stay largely stagnating in years to come. The political turmoil of the 1990s and lack of potential funding extinguished further development of the idea.
With the beginning of the 21st century, however, the idea came to life once again, facing similar problems. Despite fierce debates on the most adequate solution, Belgrade's present leadership pressed on with a pre-feasibility study on a
light railsystem which received a positive review in the late 2001. [ [http://www.beoland.com/zemljiste/PFS_LM.pdf Belgrade Land Development Public Agency - Pre-feasibility study in English] ] BELAM, consequently, became an integral part of Belgrade's Master plan for the year 2021. [ [http://www.beoland.com/zemljiste/egup2021.asp Belgrade Land Development Public Agency - The Master Plan until 2021.] ] Construction was due to begin in 2006. but was postponed 'till 2008. Serbian group JUGINUS( _sr. Jugoslovenski institut za urbanizam i stanovanje - Yugoslav institute for urbanism and living space) and Spanish INECOare in charge of the construction.
Although project's implementation seems rather certain at this point, fierce opponents' criticism has not ceased. Their main argumentation remains that the only criteria for choosing light rail over conventional metro was the comparatively low cost. They insist that constructing light rail transit system will not deal with the capital's transport issues in the long run. [ [http://www.novosti.co.yu/code/navigate.php?Id=14&status=jedna&vest=90905&datum=2006-06-29 Večernje Novosti - Metro je rešenje] ] [ [http://www.novosti.co.yu/code/navigate.php?Id=14&status=jedna&vest=91457&datum=2006-07-14 Večernje Novosti - Uzalud uloženi novci] ]
On the other hand, project supporters maintain that the economic aspect is essential. Furthermore, they claim that estimates on maximal usage of the lines cannot exceed 13.000-14.000 passengers/hour (on the busiest stretches), at least not in the next 20 years, whilst the systems capacity maxes out at 20.000 passengers/hour. Possibility of conversion to a conventional metro and easy connections to existing tram lines are, according to the supporters, further arguments in favor of light rail. [ [http://www.beoland.com/zemljiste/booklet.pdf Belgrade Land Development Public Agency - LRT Project booklet in English] ]
There are certain speculations that the project would be abandoned in favor of a conventional metro, if Belgrade's government was to change.
Belgrade's Master plan for the year 2021 envisions three lines operating within the system. The strict timeline that saw the construction of the third line commencing as soon as 2012 has now been abandoned and the only relatively fixed date has the year 2008 as the dead-line for the beginning of Phase 0 of construction.
Line 1 - Central line (Serbian: "Централна/Centralna") - is to be constructed first. The pre-feasibility study has it denoted as "primary". The overall length of the line should be 12,5 km, with 20 stations (12 overground, 8 underground). The line is intended to start from the Tvornička St. in
Zemun, headed towards the municipality of Novi Beograd, and further east, towards the river Sava. After crossing the river over a designated bridge constructed adjacent to the existing one ( Brankov most) the line is then planned to enter deep-level tunnels, calling at Square of the Republicand Nikola Pašić squarebefore moving on in the direction of the University of Belgrade Faculty of Law. From that station onwards, the line should then resurface and would follow the Bulevar Kralja AleksandraSt. terminating at its intersection with Ustanička St. The full list of stations is as follows:
*Tvornička St. (downtown Zemun terminus)
*TC Novi Beograd
*Opština Novi Beograd (Novi Beograd Council)
*Bulevar Umetnosti:"(branch for Blok 41 maintenance centre and depot, and Bulevar Umetnosti terminus)"
*Arena 1 (adjacent to the recently constructed
*Proleterske solidarnosti (interchange for Line 3 - Savska line)
*Šest Kaplara:"(crossing the Sava)"
*Akademija (optional station, dependent on funding)
*Trg Republike (
Square of the Republic)
*Trg Nikole Pašića (
Nikola Pašić square)
*Pošta (Main post-office, connection with Faculty of Law station, interchange for Line 2 - Vračar line)
*Vukov spomenik (interchange for
Beovozurban commuter services)
*Ustanička St. (terminus)
Line 2 - Vračar line (Serbian: "Врачарска/Vračarska") would be sharing a station with Line 1 - The Faculty of Law/Pošta station. From here it would work its way to Slavija and Prokop (Belgrade's future Main train station) in deep-level tunnels. It would than procees towards
Belgrade Fairand Hipodrom. Its stations are expected to be:
*Pravni fakultet (Faculty of Law terminus, interchange for Line 1 - Central line)
*Prokop (interchange for
Beovozurban commuter services and Serbian Railwaysmainline intercity and international services)
*Sajam (Belgrade Fair)
*Hipodrom - Topčider (
Line 3 - Sava line (Serbian: "Савска/Savska") would depart from
Novi Beogradwhere it's supposed to share the Proleterske solidarnosti station with Central line, headed for Novi Beograd mainline train station. Afterwards it would proceed across the Sava (in an, as as of yet, undetermined way, most like it will share a road bridge planned for constructions across the Ada) and would terminate at Banovo Brdo. Planned stations:
*Proleterske solidarnosti (Novi Beograd terminus, interchange for Central line)
*Novi Beograd train station (interchange for
Beovozurban commuter services, and Serbian Railwaysmainline intercity and international services)
*Hipodrom - Topčider (interchange for Vračarska line)
*Blagoja Parovića St.
*Požeška St. (Banovo Brdo terminus)
* [http://www.beoland.com/PIC/trasatrasa.jpgMap showing the course of Central line in detail]
* [http://www.beoland.com/LRT/pic/sema_metroa.jpgScheme showing all three lines with stations and interchanges]
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