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How a small town became a modern transport hub in southern France

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How a small town became a modern transport hub in southern France
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The small village of Gardanne is a key transport link between Aix-en-Provence and Marseille, the two main cities in the largest metropolitan area in France.

After two years of work, the old railway station based there has been transformed into a transport hub - where buses, bikes, trains, and taxis all cross paths, using the same site.

Daniel Domenicale uses the hub, as do thousands of other commuters.

“I think this kind of transport hub is very important because it encourages commuters to use the different transport modes. And above all, in Marseille, when you go by car, I would like to point out that from 7am to 9.30am, it takes three quarters of an hour, and that causes pollution, which is unfortunate,” he said.

The bus station has gone from six to nine platforms. There are also now fifty-six secure spaces for bikes - and the car park has almost tripled in size.

The work was carried out with a budget of 11.56 million euros, of which 27% was financed by the European cohesion policy, and 73% by the French state, the department, the region, and the metropolis of Aix Marseille.

Locals hope the renovation work will help double the number of visitors to Gardanne. There are ecological advantages too.

The car park has also been renovated, and has solar panels producing energy - 80% of the electricity is sold to an operator, and the other 20% is used to operate the car park.

Local taxi driver, Didier Cusimano, says the renovations have also made it easier for passengers to see them, and they have been getting more work.

The rail service has also been given a boost with old trains being replaced with less polluting ones.

Services are also being increased, so there will be a train every fifteen minutes.

Samira Berrekama goes to Marseille every day and it has been working well for her.

"Well, now it's quite fluid. I don't have to worry about delays on the train anymore," she said.

The improvements come as the continent marks the European Year of Rail - shining a light on its sustainability and safety.