Small metro, big Lausanne – Le Temps

The case undoubtedly applies to most cities in the world: Would the people of Lausanne, who left the canton of Vaud twenty years ago, recognize their city if they suddenly returned to it today? Its dynamics have developed significantly and its population has increased by approximately 22,000 inhabitants since 1998. Among the most recent developments is the M2 metro line – the big sister to the M1 – from Flon to Renen’s station via the university campus. its advantage? The crossing of the city from north to south in twenty minutes. But not only. The line, inaugurated in 2008, will also have brought city and country closer together, redefined the relationship between centrality and improved Lausanne’s image.

Read again:
The success of the M2 pushes the M3 back on track

The lakefront sandwich

This long, fast and steep snake takes root at the foot of Vaud’s capital, not far from the port of Ouchy. Around this metro exit, a major road as well as a lively footbridge. The people of Lausanne are getting ready to come and spend their lunch break there while contemplating the lake. This is where the adventure – 14 stations and 338 meters of altitude – begins. “In the past, it was almost impossible to eat your sandwich at the water’s edge at noon,” says Emmanuel Ventura, the cantonal architect from Vaud. When we worked, like me, over the station, we simply did not have time to get there, ”he explains. Today, users can reach Ouchy’s quays in minutes.

Without the metro, one would also have had to be athletic to be able to reach Emmanuel Ventura, whose office overlooks the Place de la Riponne. Or take a bus. “Lausanne is steep, steep, steep,” the architect insists in front of his café. And the M2 facilitates passages in a city where a few meters rise under the sun is enough to make the sweat get on the foreheads of passers-by. “This means of transportation is very useful for families who can not necessarily walk hundreds of meters up with a stroller,” he ends up talking, laughing and pointing to a particularly illustrative street.

Our roadmap:
# LeTempsAVélo, second stage: from Morges to Boudry

A good circle

But beware of those who would reduce this transport to its primary function, continues Jérôme Chenal, architect and urban planner at EPFL. Between two urgent calls, the researcher says that the metro will, above all, have improved the city’s image. “A bundle of elements has revitalized Lausanne and its outskirts over the last twenty-three years, and the metro is one of them,” he explains. Lavaux was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2007, the EPFL has gone from being a very good Swiss engineering school to be one of the best polytechnic schools in the world and there is still the Stade de la Tuilière which was inaugurated in 2020. ”

However, this new means of transport also had perverse effects. “In the Flon district, the metro has led to an increase in the value of real estate, pushing the poorest to the outskirts,” continues Jérôme Chenal. “This is the great paradox of all mobility infrastructures: they create social exclusion.” The streets are paved with shiny shop windows, filled with trendy and casual passers-by, corresponding to the researcher’s description. Here everything looks new and expensive.

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The new life of the Flon district

And despite the influx of potential customers offered by the line, not all brands are necessarily benefiting from the new status of the Flon district, explains one of the few retailers who has known the “pre-metro”. For this bar owner, M2 will have contributed to the decline in his establishment by bringing too much competition.

Join the periphery

Far from there, north of the line, the city-country boundary. Epalinges, the terminus of the M2. Here, gray has gradually replaced green, first with the establishment of the Biopôle buildings in 2008, a large park that brings together scientific companies. Then, with the inauguration of Aquatis in 2017, the largest European freshwater aquarium. And soon, perhaps, through the construction of a new district, Le Closalet.

Far from being isolated, the resort of Les Croisettes is a typical example of future regional developments. “Epalinges, Prilly, Pully, Lutry … Building is everywhere on the edges, while most workplaces are in Lausanne”, sighs the cantonal architect, who would have preferred to have built more in the center. But proposals for new homes that endanger the view from neighboring buildings have been rejected. Public transport will therefore continue to develop towards new, more distant growth poles.

# LeTempsAVélo, fourth paragraph:
The Morges region, the tensions of a growing urban area

Among the projects are a new tram line between Flon and Renens as well as the future M3 connecting the station with the Blecherette district in the northwestern part of the city. The construction of neighborhoods such as Plaines-du-Loup, near the small airport in Lausanne, is also planned. The machine starts. And Vaud’s capital is indeed once again in danger of changing its appearance.

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