October 2018 News

Last regular diesel hauled service from Paris

Despite the steady replacement of locomotive hauled service in Ile de France with electric and bi-mode units, one diesel hauled service has resolutely hung on, the 18:05 Gare de l'Est to La Ferté Milon seen here  on 24th August hauled by BB 67522, at Mareuil-sur-Ourcq close to the terminus of that train. This shot is only possible in the summer and by next year is unlikely to be possible

From the same view point, the monochrome photo below was taken in October 1986 and shows CC 72022 with a Paris - Reims diverted express. The stock is ex Mistral 56 and the silo* has recently been demolished and the rail sidings removed. Altogether a historic photo and a compelling "before and after". Above the locomotive you can see a 1950's Renault road truck at the loading bay. Both photos D MIchel Costes

 * Cooperative Agricole des Moulins de l'Ourcq. 

Seine valley via Héricy, a rural bypass.

The line from Melun to Montereau via Héricy, on the right bank of the Seine, is used to bypass the "main line" through the forest of Fontainebleau via Moret. So, in addition, to the hourly Transilien R trains, various freight trains, light engines, and Bourgogne TER services can be spotted on the "bypass". Even Thello passes through Héricy, but irregularly, according to traffic conditions. Above is BB 7236 ( 1978 ) at Héricy with the 19.27 Paris-Bercy - Dijon-Ville (TER Bourgogne Franche-Comté) on 19th July 2018. Photo by D.Michel Costes

Engineering work closes LGV Nord and main lines at St Denis

 During two week-ends in September, engineering work at Saint Denis severely disrupted main line traffic at Paris Gare du Nord. During the same week-ends, the southern section of LGV Nord was closed for maintenance. Eurostar, Thalys and TGV services were impacted with many cancelations and re-timing of services. All domestic TGV's scheduled to operate to and from the north of France were diverted to the terminus of Gare de Lyon. The reduced number of main line services were transferred to the suburban RER D lines from Paris-Nord to Creil and then on to Longeau (Amiens), and Arras. TGV's between Paris and Lille were re-scheduled to 2h30mins. 

 Thalys and Eurostar services joined and left the LGV Nord at Arras with a time penalty of 60 minutes. To create capacity on the RER D for the diverted main line traffic, suburban services were reduced by 50% to 2 trains an hour in each direction. On Sunday Sept 16th, the 09.56 Eurostar Paris-Nord - St Pancras operated by Siemens Velaro e320 train set No 4019 crawls through Survilliers-Fosses at 10.23 having caught up with the preceding RER D emu (2 minutes ahead) which will teminate at the next station, Orry-la-Ville. 

 The station at Survilliers-Fosses is 30 km from Paris-Nord. It was opened in 1859. Although the railway as 4-track here, only the 2 suburban tracks serve the station. On that day, the other two tracks (main line) were closed due to the work at Saint Denis to replace sets of points. Photo D Michel Costes

OUIGO from Paris termini

SNCF's low cost OUIGO services are now operating from the main Paris Terminals in direct competition with normal TGV services.

On 31st August Duplex set 777 (one of three allocated to Est services (776-778) is seen at Gare de l'Est its diagram for the day comprising return trips to Strasbourg and Nancy. Photo Christophe Masse
CEVA Connected

CEVA (Cornavin - Eaux-Vives - Annemasse) is a project to create a new double track rail link between the central station at Geneva (Genève-Cornavin) and Annemasse in France. The link is 16 km in length (mostly underground) of which 2 km are in France. There are 5 new stations in the suburbs of Geneva. The main purpose is to relieve road traffic congestion by providing an alternative transport system for the 60,000 "frontaliers" who cross the Franco-Swiss border, daily. The new international suburban rail network (RER) is named Léman Express. It will open in December 2019. For the first time, trains will link Evian, Annecy, Annemasse (France) with Geneva main station, Coppet, Lausanne.(Switzerland). 

 On Sept 21st, a significant final step in the CEVA project was completed with the physical connection of the Swiss and French tracks. The welding of the rails allows the Léman Express trains to begin test running along the new International RER network.

Transport minister confirms €30 million sleeper train investment

The intercités de nuit Paris - Briançon, Paris - Rodez, Paris - La Tour de Carol will continue to operate and be subsidised after 2020. The Transport minister has confirmed that the current fleet of Corail Lunea carriages will be renovated in 2019 at a cost of €30 million. The Paris - Port-Bou overnight train will probably also continue at week ends and school holidays subject to negotiations with Occitanie Region. 
Ile de France trams; T1 connected to T8 

It is well known that the Paris region tram network is unusual for a metropolitan area in that none of the tram lines is inter-connected. We have mentioned this before. It is apparently a deliberate policy. However, circumstances have now obliged RATP to complete a permanent connection between T1 and T8 where the lines cross in front of Saint Denis SNCF station. 

 When T8 was recently built, crossing T1 at Saint Denis, points were installed on each line but a gap of a few metres was left giving rise to sarcastic comments by some observers. During two months this summer, the gap was closed and the two tram lines are now inter-connected. 

 So what has obliged RATP to do this ? It stems from the enormous delay that has arisen in extending T1 eastwards from Noisy-le-Sec to Val-de-Fontenay. For 10 years, successive mayors at Noisy-le-Sec have blocked the plans to prolong the tram line down their main street. Now this has been accepted, but it is taking a long time to restart the project. 

Meanwhile, it has become urgent to renew the rolling stock on T1 which dates from 1992. Longer, more modern stock is needed. Originally a new depot was planned on the delayed eastern extension of T1. So RATP had to search for an alternative depot for the new stock that will arrive sooner than the new tram line from Noisy. Accomodation has been found at Villetaneuse depot on T8. Hence the need for the physical link between the two tram lines.

BB 17016 achieves mainline accreditation

BB 17016 entered service in October 1965 and was withdrawn by SNCF in April 2015 with nearly 4.4 million kilometres on the clock. 

It has been preserved by AAPSL at Acheres. In September it was given mainline accreditation and is now available to haul special trains

Journées Européennes du Patrimoine 2018

The annual Journées Européennes du Patrimoine 2018 took place over the weekend of the 15th/16th September with numerous items on display by preservation socieities and SNCF. Below we include a small selection.

Limoges Benedictins

CFTLP and Autorail Limousins mounted a joint display at Limoges Benedictins. In pride of place was 140 C 38 with a short rake of preserved coaches. Also on display was 040 DE 895 with a number of preserved freight wagons

Autorail Limousins displayed X2907 in blue and grey and X2844 in red and cream liveries

AAATV - Les Aubrais

At Orleans 141 R 840 was on static display, as it is currently awaiting a new boiler certificate. On Saturday 15th SeptemberA1A 68540 operated a special excursion to Pithiviers. Here passengers transferred to a special on the 60cm Musée des Transports de Pithiviers. All returned safely despite the special having an incident with a car. A1A 68540 is seen returning to Orleans in the evening. Photo Christophe Masse

Carhaix - Reseau Breton

On Sept 14th, the mayor of Carhaix (Finistère) organised a splendid inauguration for the recently restored Piguet 0-3-0+0-3-0T Mallet E415 (1913) that is owned by the town. To protect the ex Réseau Breton locomtive a new metal canopy designed in Art Deco style has been erected over the exhibit which is adjacent to the station. The local band ("bagad") was present and a smoke making machine added atmosphere. Carhaix is very proud of its historic lcomotive and has resisted many attempts by preservation bodies to acquire it and return it to service. Photo  Michael Bunn.


SNCF had exhibits from the national collection on display at both Gare de l'Est and Gare de Lyon. At the latter a pristine BB 67615 was on display with SNCF's VSOE rake.

At Gare de l'Est exhibits included BB 20210 now preserved as BB 2D210, a range of Corail, USI, TEE and CIWL rolling stock and BB 66001 now preserved as 040 DC1

Association des Amis du Petit Anjou (AAPA)

Le "Petit Anjou" was an extensive secondary rail network (metre gauge) built between 1893 and 1910 in the département of Maine et Loire. It connected the capital ( Angers ) with the surrounding provinces in various directions. There were 5 lines totaling 315 km. "Les petits trains de jadis - Ouest de la France" devotes ten pages to a description of the Petit Anjou network. It closed after WW2, in 1947-48 for passengers and 1955 for freight.
AAPA was created in 1983 to preserve the memory of the Petit Anjou. They have documented the history of the network in a number of booklets and restored a certain number of historic items. After several moves, the association has finally settled at La Roche Saint Jean-de-Linières, a former Petit Anjou station which is a few kilometres west of Angers. 

 Our correspondent Georges Turpin visited the site on Sept 15. His photo illustrates some of the material preserved. We see two historic Petit Anjou carriages; B111 2nd class (1896) and Ac21 1st class (1896). These two carriages could be seen at the Baie de Somme Festival in 2013. The red SE draisine was built by Billard in 1929. The loco tractor ANJOU 10 was acquired from Germany to haul the historic carriages. Originally buit in the RDA in 1967, the body has been modified by AAPA. The locotractor is in service. The two vans are ex Blanc Argent. The association is converting the original station building to a museum.

Summer of 2018

An early morning shot of the Paris - Port Bou intercité night train at Castelnaudry. BB 7399 (entered service Nov 1982) is in charge. This train operates at week ends and school holidays. It is one of the rare overnight trains operating in France. Photo Georges Turpin
We thought that there were no more auto-trains but wrong ! Here is an auto-train segment attached to the Paris-Rungis - Perpignan refrigerated van train hauled by BB 26110 at Montlaur, Haute Garonne,on  June 30th. Passengers travel on a TGV of their choice and pick up their vehicle later. The service with the auto-train is limited to certain dates. Photo Georges Turpin
Grand-Est Region aims to maximise use of its Coradia Liner fleet. Certain off-peak services along the Marne valley are operated with single Coradia Liner units that replace BB15000 + Corails. But peak period trains , 16.36, 17.36, 18.36 from Paris-Est remain loco-hauled. A Chalons-en-Champagne - Paris-Est TER is seen at Reuilly-Sauvigny (Aisne) on August 1st. Grand-Est Region has discretely labeled the unit, but no special livery. Photo Georges Turpin
With the closure of Abbeville - Eu (Le Treport) the high season weekend seaside train from Laon operated this year to Boulogne. On the 7th July  a pair of Regiolis units with B 84519 leading approach Noyelles with the 18:00 Boulogne - Laon.
Vapeur du Trieux. The steam engine was late this year, very late, due to a technical problem and then the strikes. Here is the tourist train, at last, in July 2018 at Lancerf with a smart green rake of carriages of mixed origins (Germany, Belgium). Photo Georges Turpin.

FRS Photographic Archive & Yahoo site updates

Additions to FRS Photographic Archive during September 2018 

- FRS Est & AL gallery - A new gallery comprising some 500+ Est & Alsace Lorraine images from across the FRS photo archive. 
- FRS PO, Midi & PO Midi gallery - Updated the gallery with relevant SLS drawings. 
- FRS PLM gallery - Updated the gallery with relevant SLS drawings. 
- FRS Ouest & Etat gallery - A new gallery comprising some 500+ Ouest & Etat images from across the FRS archive. 
- FRS Nord & Nord Belge gallery - A new gallery comprising some 1000+ Nord & Nord Belge images from across the FRS archive.

 Additions to the FRS Yahoo site during September 2018 

- Eric Russell Colour photographs Index
-  “Rail Magazine” Index of main content during 1977 thru to 1988

VSOE via the Coast

During recent weeks  the regular VSOE Venice - Calais has been routed  north of Longeau via Boulogne due to engineering work on the normal Hazebrouck route. Seen here on the 13th September departing Noyelles with   BB 67576/67455 heading the 17:25 Calais Ville - Venice. Scheduled to be diverted again on the 4th October

New tram network at Besançon achieves objectives

Four years ago, in August 2014, the regional capital of Besançon on the banks of the Doubs opened a modern tram line 14.5 km long with two branches. The original tramway network had closed in 1952. This new tramway was notable for exceptionally low construction costs; 17 million euros per kilometre. The 19 Urbos 3 trams delivered by Spanish manufacturer CAF are short (23m) and carry 132 passengers. They cost just 1.7 million euros each. They operate every 5 minutes on the main section and every 10 minutes on each of the two branches on the eastern end of the line. The service on Sundays, however, is very sparse. The town centre, SNCF station and regional hospital are linked. 

 During a short visit in early September it was observed that the trams were well filled even in mid afternoon. It is reported that approximately 45,000 passengers a day use the trams, close to the designed maximum capacity of 50,000 daily. The capacity of these short Urbos 3-car trams can be extended with additional modules as required. The turquoise blue livery was chosen by the population and each tram displays the face and signature of local personalities. The tram halts are constructed in subdued style without any expensive flourishes. 

Besançon is an example of a small urban area (240,000 inhabitants) which chose a tram system rather than an express bus system and achieved success with careful planning. It is an example for many other similar towns in France.
 Unfortunately, the French State has drastically reduced financial participation in urban transport projects leaving local administrations in limbo. So numerous new tramway projects are stalled at present. 

 The photo (above) show tram 18 approaching Micropolis in the western suburbs on Sept 5th. The tram is identified by the image of Jenny d'Héricourt, a 19th century feminist born in Besançon who will no doubt be unfamiliar to most readers ! In the photo below, tram 01 on the same afternoon pauses at Micropolis. It is decorated with the more familiar "personage" of Victor Hugo. The urban transport system at Besançon named GINKO. It is currently operated by Keolis. There is a contact-less ticket system with smart cards.  
© Peter Lovell & Graham Skinner. The French Railways Society 2018. Photos by authors unless credited. Thanks to D Michel Costes, Georges Turpin, Christophe Masse, and Michael Bunn.
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