January 2019 News

On  Sunday, 16 December,  140 C 231 worked an AJECTA Christmas special between  Provins and Villiers-Saint-Georges (77). Originally built by NBL 140 C 231 has undergone 12 years of complete restoration including replacement of the boiler. It is the first preserved locomotive to operate on the French Rail Network with a new boiler. Photo  (above) Christophe Masse and (below) D Michel Costes

Seasons Greetings and best wishes for the New Year to all our readers

With thanks to Model Railroad Academy
On Saturday afternoon Oct 27th a Coradia Liner was photographed at Longueville, Seine & Marne, inbound to Paris-Est. The branch line on the right goes to Provins. This scene will change completely by 2021 when both lines will be electrified with overhead catenary. The train is TER 11953, the 11:47 from Dijon-Ville, a daily service. It stops at Is-sur-Tille, Culmont-Chalindrey, Langres, Chaumont (Haute Marne), Bar-sur-Aude, Vendeuvre, Troyes, Romilly-sur-Seine, Nogent-sur-Seine. Arrival at Paris-Est is at 15:46. Photo: D Michel Costes

December Changes


On Saturday December 8th, a special last train left Paris Gare de Lyon at 09.05. It consisted of Z 5368 (1972) + Z 5317 (1967) + Z 5362 (1972). The leading unit (5368) is not tagged. It has a unique decoration applied a year ago by Ile de France Mobilities in relation to the introduction of the new Bombardier Régio 2N double deck trains that have replaced the ageing stainless steel units during 2018. Seen above crossing the Moret Viaduct. Photo Jean-Marc Frybourg
 After a non-stop run from Paris via Moret, the last "petit gris" train arrived at Montereau at 10.05. There, a commemorative plaque was fixed to the cabin of 5362, the train departed along the right bank of the Seine via Héricy to Melun and then along the left bank of the river to Corbeil and then Ris Orangis, Juvisy and back to Gare de Lyon (12.00pm). On the right, Gare de Lyon on the Saturday afternoon. 

 Railway enthusiasts and older train drvers will note the retirement with emotion. Former commuters may not regret the disappearance of a noisy, bouncy and uncomfortable train, with its under-seat electric heating always too hot !

Paris - Montlucon Finale

The last through trains between Paris Austerlitz and Montlucon ran on Saturday 8th December with BB 67566 taking over the 12:07 Paris - Montlucon at Bourges (seen above at St Armand).  It then hauled the final 17:09 Montlucon to Paris bringing  another BB 67400 route to a close. From the following day Auvergne TER provided a connection from Bourges to Montlucon.
Both photos D Michel Costes
 BB 67300 extinct
The cessation of through Paris - Montlucon trains brought the final duties of the BB 67300 sub-class to an end and the last two examples, 67345 and 67376, were withdrawn at St Pierre-des-Corps on 18th December.
Epinal - St Die closes
Services between Epinal and St Die were withdrawn on the 21st December and replaced by buses. Although the trackwork is not in bad condition the main problem is the brickwork in the  Tunnel de Vanémont

Nord Intercite Farewell

Intercite services from Paris Gare du Nord finished at the end of December with Hautes de France TER becoming the sponsor from 1st January, as part of the transfer of TET services to the regions. Services to Amiens, Boulogne, Cambrai and Maubeuge will continue to be formed of Corail stock and Class BB 22200/67400 locomotives initially but will operate as TER services with 1st class accommodation and seat reservations  discontinued.  Bi-mode Alstom Coradia/Regiolis units will be introduced on Paris - Amiens - Boulogne services during 2019 and Bombardier Omnio/Regio2N units on the Maubeuge/Cambrai axis from 2022. From September 2019 It is expected that the overlapping Paris - Boulogne and Amiens - Calais services will be rationalised into a through Calais - Paris service again. Above on a frosty 14th December BB67606 passes Larronville with the 09:45 Boulogne - Paris

Heading into Preservation

As reported last month all of the remaining TGV-PSE sets operating over the South East network from Gare de Lyon were withdrawn with the start of the new timetable. Above TGV PSE No 16 is seen on Dec 12th on LGV Atlantique PK 53 operating empty from Villeneuve St Georges to the Alstom plant at la Rochelle port. The TGV is withdrawn and believed to be reserved for preservation. It entered service in November 1980. There remain just a few PSE sets operating out of Paris Nord in 2019. Photo Romain Vergnères

Eurostar for IZY services

The low cost IZY service is operated by Thalys between Paris and Brussels via Arras in 2h15m - 2h30m. The standard Thalys high speed train to Brussels from Paris stays on the LGV Nord all the way for a journey of 1h 20m. IZY has been operated by Thalys with an SNCF TGV Réseau (no 4551) specially decorated but otherwise there is no difference inside.

 For 2019, Thalys has chosen to increase capacity by replacing 4551 with a TMST ex-Eurostar train ( 3213 + 3224 ).  It has been decorated with a variation of the IZY livery. The ex-Eurostar set is seen on a "W" London - Paris at PK 32 LGV Nord on Oct 14th. Photo Romain Vergnères, and opposite at Brussels Midi on Dec 12th. Photo D Delattre.

 Renovation planned in 2019 but the section in Auvergne forgotten

The railway from Brive to Aurillac (84 km) crosses 3 Regions and depends on 2 SNCF centres. This situation generates difficult challenges. 

 From Brive to Turenne (15km) the line is in Nouvelle Aquitaine (also later between Laval-de-Cère and Lamativie - 5km). From Turenne to Lamativie (39km) the line is in Occitanie region (also 4 km beyond Lamativie). From Lamativie to Aurillac (25 km) it is Auvergne Rhône-Alpes which is responsible and SNCF Clermont-Ferrand. The remainder of the line depends on SNCF Limoges. 

 Due to the poor condition of the line, there are speed restrictions which increase the travel time by 15 minutes compared to schedules ten years ago. Additional restrictions are imposed regularly, in the summer due to excessive heat, in the autumn due to the wrong kind of leaves, and in the winter when it snows. 

 Nouvelle Aquitaine and Occitanie have co-ordinated their plans to close the line during 4 months in 2019, between April 15th and August 15th to replace rails, sleepers, points and ballast between Brive and Saint Denis-près-Martel (this section also carries services to Rodez), and between Saint Denis and Bretonoux-Briars. From Bretonoux to Lamativie, less work is required . The total budget is 33.5 million euros. 

 Regarding the final section from Lamativie to Aurillac, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes has apparently not announced plans for any remedial work although in 2016 SNCF stated that trains could no longer operate on this section from 2021 unless repairs were performed for a minimum of 16 million euros or 27 million euros to return to a normal speed.  
Saint Denis-près-Martel, July 2013, Brive-Bretonoux TER with X 73875 + X 73874

The risk is that Auvergne Rhône-Alpes will not finance those repairs and that section may be closed, rendering the work to maintain Saint Denis-près-Martel - Lamativie pointless. 

The risk is serious. Since the creation of the new super regions in December 2016, Auvergne Rhône-Alpes (ARA) has not agreed any projects with neighbouring regions to maintain cross regional border railway lines. There is one exception when ARA agreed with Bourgogne Franche-Comté to close the line from Oyannax to Saint Claude which cut off access by rail to Bourg-en-Bresse and Lyon for two remote Jura communities. 

Main photo Aurillac, July 2009, Three single 73500 railcars on view.

Photos and original text by Georges Turpin.

Nantes - Bordeaux - Outlook

User group FNAUT met with SNCF intercité management on 27/09/18 to review the prospects for the train services between Nantes - La Rochelle - Saintes - Bordeaux. It was confirmed that the timetable for 2019 will include three departures from Bordeaux at 07.33, 11.53 and 16.38. From Nantes departures will be at 08.25, 11.21 and 16.25. Journey time will be about 5 hours (compared with a best time in 1975 of 3h50m). More than 220 km of the 376 km route has speed restrictions of 60 kph. These restrictions are principally between La Roche sur Yon and La Rochelle(100 km) but also between Saintes and Bordeaux (123 km)  

The line from La Roche sur Yon to La Rochelle will be closed from March 2, 2020 until May 28, 2021. One of the two tracks will be renovated (rails, sleepers, ballast) to return to normal speeds.There will be two loops (at Luçon and Marans). A new signalling system will be installed. 

 On the other hand, at present there is no agreement on funding for repairs on the section Saintes - Bordeaux. 

Illustrations: A Nantes - Bordeaux operated by  brand new Cordia Liners cruises at 60 kph near Champ-St-Père in July 2018 Régiolis B 84653 operates a La Rochelle - Bordeaux TER passing Pons, PK 100 from Bordeaux. Both photos by Georges Turpin 

CEVA to open December 15, 2019

In less than 12 months, the long awaited international RER network (Léman Express) will open at Geneva. It will be operated with a new underground rail link between the central station, Genève Cornavin, and Annemasse in Haute Savoie (CEVA). We have several times reported on this project which is now nearly complete. The tracks through the tunnel are connected between the Swiss and French networks. Reconstruction of Annemasse station has been going on throughout 2018.

A poster of the new network is opposite. It will be observed that the Geneva - Bellegarde line is included in the new network diagram.

The future Leman Express train service will be operated by 23 Swiss Stadler RABe Flirt bi-voltage train sets (15/25 kV) and 17 Alstom Z 31500 Régiolis tri-voltage train sets. The first two French Regiolis trains ( Z 31501 / Z 31503 ) are currently undergoing tests in Switzerland during the last quarter 2018. 

 The fleet of Stadler Flirts has already been partly delivered. They operate a 15 min frequency between Coppet and Lancy - Pont-Rouge from Dec 9th 2018. The future full Leman Express service will be completed by a Regio Express service of double deck trains from Vevey, Lausanne through the CEVA tunnel to Annemasse every 30 minutes.


RER C - Left bank tunnel intercepted every week-end in 2019.

In order to facilitate engineering work, all train services on RER C on Saturdays/Sundays, will terminate at Invalides or Musée d'Orsay. For example, there will be no through services between Austerlitz and Tour Eiffel or from Versailles Rive Gauche to Saint Michel. Alternative is a 15 minute walk between Invalides and Musée d'Orsay or make a detour via metro, bus. These restrictions will apply at week-ends throughout 2019. Services will be normal Mondays - Fridays except for closure between 23.00h and 05.15h, between Javel, Henri-Martin and Gare d'Austerlitz. SNCF advises that 330 million euros will be spent on engineering work on RER C in 2019, notably for the replacement of 28 km of rails, 41 sets of points and the replacement of all the catenary overhead wires between Paris and Bretigny.

Tramway T1 Est - extension

 On Dec 12th, Ile de France Mobilités approved the financing package of 350 million euros for Phase 1 of the revised project to extend tramway T1 from Noisy-le-Sec towards Val de Fontenay. Phase 1 will cross the town centre of Noisy-le-Sec, Romainville and Montreuil as far as the "rue de Rosny" stop. 
It will also include the construction of a depot in Montreuil. 

Work will begin in mid 2019. Phase 2 remains to be financed for a total of 100 million euros. The remainder of the line will continue across Montreuil, Rosny-sur-Bois, Fontenay-sur-Bois for a terminus at Val de Fontenay RER A. The length of the new extension will be 7.7 km with 15 tram stops. Up to 50,000 travellers are expected to use the new extension when fully open. When will that be ? No firm dates yet. One can expect Phase 1 to open 2022, and Phase 2 in 2024-2025. 

 We recall that the project is 15 years late due to stubborn opposition by the mayor of Noisy-le-Sec to the planned route of the tramway through the town centre. Two years ago agreement was reached and the tramway will pass ...... through the town centre ! Great relief in the eastern suburbs where they have waited nearly two decades for a solution. 

 The Noisy incident has also delayed acquiring new trams to replace the original TFS trams that are totally inadequate for the traffic which has quadrupled since T1 opened in 1992. An invitation to bid for 115 new trams was issued in October. Delivery is expected to start in 2021.

 Chemin de fer Historique de la Voie Sacrée - an update

Two years ago we wrote an article about this new tourist line in the Meuse at Bar-le-Duc. So what is the latest news from CFHVS ? 

 The historic Corpet Louvet tank engine named "La Suzanne" has received an overhaul that lasted a year (2017/2018). It is now back in service with a ten year boiler certificate. However, regular trains along the new 4km line through the forest have not started yet. This seems to be due to delays in preparing facilities at each end of the line. Under the original contracts agreed, the local council was supposed to finance and arrange the construction of buildings for the museum, visitor centre and sheds to protect the rolling stock as well as a large car park. But none of that has apparently been done yet. 
There is just a small shed to protect the locomotive, built by the association.

It is reported that construction of the car park has started. In the absence of authorisations to operate, the Association has created a vélo - rail operation beginning this last summer on Sundays in July and August. It is reported to have met with some success and will no doubt be a welcome source of funds. CFHVS created a new logo this autumn (see image). Communication by the association is basically via the Facebook site:CFHVS Facebook account

End of year at Baie de Somme

Having reported in the December News that  the CFBS's Reseau Breton E332 had  been withdrawn at the end of the 2018 season in November, when it's ten year boiler certificate expired, the certificate was extended  to enable it to operate the 'Pere Noel' specials to Cayeux in December. It is seen above climbing out of St Valery, in the twilight, with it's final train the 16:30 St Valery - Cayeux on 16th December. Looking out is Charles-Edouard Girode, CFBS founder and fireman for the day.

Its place in the CFBS operating fleet for the 2019 season will be taken by the former VFIL Haine St Pierre 2-6-0T No 15 that has just completed a three year major overhaul including extensive boiler repairs, seen above receiving final touches in the paint shop at St Valery

Now receiving a major overhaul at St Valery is former Compagnie des tramways de la Corrèze 0-6-0T No 4
(middle photo). Withdrawn in 1959 it then received attention at the SNCF PO Correze workshops with the intention of being sold. 

When the Compagnie des tramways de la Corrèze network closed in 1960 it had still not sold and was subsequently acquired  with a coach (now at MTVS) by AMTUIR  when the network was dismantled. 

The locomotive has not operated since 1959 and was displayed at the AMTUIR museum in Malakoff in 1964 and then in St. Mandé in 1971. In 2001, she was transferred to a warehouse in Noyon, and eventually  arrived at the CFBS in 2013.

The photo opposite from the FRS Archive shows No 4 in relatively good external condition in store at Le Mortier in March 1959

BB 7338 on Toulouse Christmas specials

With 141 R 1126 still unavailable, ACPR operated 3 "Père Noël" specials from Toulouse with BB 7338. The first train was on December 16th to Carcassonne, then on December 22nd to Ax-les-Thermes and the following day it worked to Narbonne, seen opposite between Escalquens and Montlaur. Heating for the train was provided by the generator in the fourgon behind the loco. Photo: Georges Turpin,

Tramways in France - latest


After the partial opening of Line 2 described in AUGUST NEWS, the mayor (Christian Estrosi) presided over the inauguration of the branch to Nice Côte d'Azur airport on Friday Dec 14th. The following day, the line opened for the public from the airport (both terminals) to Magnan ( temporary terminus), just before the tunnel under the city centre. There are now 11 trams in service.(out of 19 ordered).

In 2019 the Nice tramway Lines 2 and 3 will be further completed as follows: 

 - June. Partial opening into the tunnel Magnan - Jean-Médecin. 
 - September. Completion of Line 2 Jean-Médecin - Port Lyria. The journey from the airport to the port will take 26 minutes. 
 - December. Opening of Line 3 from the airport north up the valley of the Var to Saint Isidore.

In the western suburbs of Nice, a 3 way junction is located at Grand Arenas. This junction is located adjacent to the SNCF station Saint Augustin. The 3 directions are Airport <> Centre, Cadam <> Centre, Airport <> Saint Isidore(Var).

Above right A  tram for the northern terminus at 'Henri Sappia' (formerly Les Planas) squeezes under the rail overbridge at Nice Ville (Line1)

 In December the first two Alstom Citadis trams were delivered to Avignon. The new tramway is scheduled to open in the summer of 2019. 


 In April 2017 Line D crossed the Rhine on a new bridge to Kehl (DB station). 18 months later, on November 24th 2018, an extension of tram line D was opened in Kehl from the DB station to the townhall (Rathaus) - two additional stops. The cross Rhine tram line is very successful with strong ridership in both directions. There are 4 trams an hour to Kehl on week days. From Strasbourg central station (SNCF) to Kehl Rathaus by tram D the journey time is 25 minutes.
© Peter Lovell & Graham Skinner. The French Railways Society 2018 - 2019. Photos by authors unless credited. Thanks to D Michel Costes, Romain Vergneres, Christophe Masse, Georges Turpin, Jean-Marc Frybourg and Didier Delattre
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