After the success of the operation, launched in 2007, on a 2.1 kilometre long test section in the centre of the city of Murcia, the construction and operation concession for the new Murcia tram line 1 was put out to tender in August 2008.
In April 2009, the contract was awarded to the Sociedad Concesionaria Tranvía de Murcia, a company formed by the companies Comsa Emte Concesiones and FCC, with a concession period of 40 years and a total investment of 264 million euros. The line, which is the first in a network which could have four others, finally began operating commercially on 28 May.
The new route has a total length of 17.5 kilometres, being U-shaped and connecting the University of Murcia, the Nueva Condomina Stadium and the new urban developments in the northern part of the city with the centre of Murcia.
The Murcia tramway has 28 stops, twelve with two side platforms, eight with central platforms and eight with single-track side platforms, all of them 40 m long and provided with shelters. The average distance between stops is 625 metres.
It is expected that the line will be used by 5.5 million passengers during the first year of operation, a figure that will grow to 20 million annually at the end of the concession period, forty years later. The city of Murcia currently has more than 430,000 inhabitants.
The track gauge is 1,435 mm with a slab track system and 60 kg/m tram rails welded onto a long bar. The track is finished in concrete cobblestone and turf, with asphalt at intersections.
The route between Universidad de Murcia and Nueva Condomina, 11.5 km long, is on a double track, while there is a single track at the loop serving the University of Murcia, three kilometres long, and on the Catholic University of Murcia branch line, also three kilometres long. The network will have 26 points: six single cross-overs, two double cross-overs, five turnouts and a crossing.
Electrification is through a 750 VDC voltage and trams will be powered by an overhead line located at a height of about 5.30 metres. Electrical power is provided through seven substations distributed along the route.
Trams take about 34 minutes to complete the trip between the two terminals of the main line and about seven minutes on the branch lines. The commercial speed is 23 to 27 kilometres per hour on main and branch lines respectively and the maximum speed achieved is 50 km/h.
The service will be performed with eleven two-way, low-floor articulated trams manufactured by Alstom at its Barcelona factory in Santa Perpetua de Mogoda in 2006. These vehicles were originally intended for the new Madrid tramway network. Two of them had already been running since 2007 on the test section and the remaining nine were acquired in 2009 by the concessionaire.
They are 32.338 metres long, with a gauge of 2.40 m. Traction is performed by four other motors situated on the two end bogies, with a unit capacity of 120 kW (480 kW in total).
Passenger access is through six doors, four double ones and two single ones, located on each side and with a total capacity of 186 seats, 54 of which are seated.
The cars have air conditioning, PA system and stop indicators; electronic direction indicators have been installed at the ends and on the sides.
Maintenance is carried out at a new garage near the Nueva Condomina in the north of the city, which has a capacity for fifteen trams and has ten tracks, three designed for workshops, four tracks to the uncovered depot, one through track for internal connection, one track for the service station and a siding for auxiliary vehicles.