September 2017 News

Although the Paris - Rodez sleeper is one of the few scheduled to survive, the weekend extension to Albi finished at the end of August, and the BB 67400s will soon be replaced by a BB 75300. On the 29th July the Albi-Rodez ECS was unusually hauled by two blue BB 67400s seen here crossing the Viaduct of Viaur. Photo Georges Turpin.

St Claude - Oyonnax to close from December 10th

SNCF have announced that the 33km section between St Claude and Oyonnaxwill close from 10th December 2017. The section is part of the 117km line from Andelot to La Cluse that crosses the border from the Jura to Ain départements. At present Bourgogne-Franche-Comte TER operate services  from Dole to St Claude, where they connect with Auvergne-Rhone -Alpes TER services from St Claude to Bourg en Bresse and Lyon.

Originally the Rhone Alpes Region had planned to repair the line and a budget had been earmarked for the work as part of the Bourg - Bellegarde modernisation. 
Since the creation of the enlarged Auvergne-Rhone-Alpes Region there has been a reverse of policy due to the new pro-road Regional President. 

 The route should be included in the Jura Tour from Dijon of Picasso X4039 on the 28th October 2017 (see Events Page)

'L'Autorail X2800 de Haut Doubs' who are restoring Massif Central autorail X 2816 hope to receive their mainline certification this year and operate a tour over the line before closure

Orient Express to the races

On Sunday June 18th SNCF operated their luxury Orient Express train formed of six Pullman/CIWL restaurant coaches from Gare du Nord to Chantilly for the races.

Of interest was the route for the empty coaching stock. Starting at Villeneuve-St-Georges depot in the south-east of Paris. it took the Grande Ceinture at Valenton to travel around the east side of Paris via Noisy-le-Sec, to reach Le Bourget, not far 

from Paris Nord, where it might have been expected to run-round. Instead It  headed initially towards Laon before taking the freight line to Compiègne at the junction of Ormoy-Villers. Finally it then headed into Gare du Nord via Creil and Chantilly to collect it's passengers.

Above BB 22343 heads through Dammartin Juilly St Mard on the outward journey to Compeigne.

Left. With passengers finally on board the luxury train heads through Survilliers, on the journey to Chantilly. Photos DM Costes

Class CC 72100s finally bow out at the end of August

After nearly half a century the regular use of Class CC 72100 on passenger services came to an end on the morning of Monday 28th August when 72186 worked the 11646 05:14 Culmont Chalindrey - Paris Est. To commemorate the event SNCF provided passengers and staff with breakfast on arrival at Paris. The previous day the task of hauling the last Class 72100 service out of Paris Est, the 18:12 to Culmont Chalindrey had also fallen to 72186 and it is seen above approaching Longueville station, a view that will soon change considerably with electrification (Photo D.M. Costes)

During the last month CC 72100s  had regularly worked the 05:12 Troyes and 05:14 Culmont Chalindrey to Paris Est returning with the 16:42 and 18:12 Paris Est - Culmont Chalindrey in the evening. 

Below - On the 4th August 72190 is seen east of Vernueil l'Etang with the 16:42 Paris Est to Culmont Chalindrey.

Class 26000 'Sybics'  finish operating Interloire services

From August 28th, the three daily TER Interloire services between Le Croisic, Nantes, Saumur, Tours and Orléans have new schedules. In particular, these popular inter-regional trains will now enter Tours and reverse there providing extra connections. Previously, the Interloire services only stopped at Saint-Pierre-des-Corps. It is reported that class BB 26000 'Sybics' and Corail V200 rakes were scheduled to be replaced by new Bombardier Regio 2N V200 double deck train sets *. However the timing of this changeover is uncertain. 13 Regio2N units have been ordered by Pays-de-la-Loire ("PDLL") in a special version (Z 56500) to operate at 200 kph which is possible on sections between Orléans and Saint-Pierre-des-Corps and between Angers and Nantes. There is currently no evidence that any of the new Regio2N units have been delivered to Nantes. We understand that as an interim measure Alstom Z-TER units will be used in multiple (**)

 * The Regio2N (V200) Z 56500 is a double deck emu, 110 metres, with 425 seats and 76 "fold-up" seats. The version V200 for PDLL has been tested for more than 12 months and should now have been certified.

** The Z-TER is an Alstom 3 car emu with a capacity of 217 (171 second class/36 1st class). Built in 2002 - 2004 they are authorised at 200 kph.

Above. On the 21st July 2017 BB 26050  on a rake of distinctive 'Interloire' liveried corail coaches waits to leave Saumur with the 07:05 Orleans - Nantes

Preparatory work begins on Montréjeau - Luchon line

On August 21st SNCF began preparatory work for the re-building of the Montréjeau - Luchon line where traffic has been suspended since December 2015. 

In a four month operation all of the old catenary and masts will be removed and steps taken to remove and control vegetation growth.
The preparatory work will pave the way for the re-building of the line's infrastrucutre scheduled to take place from mid 2019 with re-opening at the end of 2020. Estimated cost of the re-building is €36 million and will be financed by the Occitanie Region (70.8%), the State (16.7%) and SNCF Réseau (12.5%).

Etaples - St Pol suspended for three years from September

As previously anticipated the line from Etaples to St Pol-sur-Ternoise was suspended from 1st September due to the poor condition of the track. The Hauts de France Region plan to modernise and rebuild the line as part of a €75 million project covering the three lines that converge on St Pol from Etaples, Arras and Bethune. Planning for the Etaples - St Pol section is at an early stage and the main contract for the work has yet to be let, with resumption of services planned for the end of 2020. However the re-opening will co-incide with the suspension of the St Pol - Arras section, while St Pol to Bethune will be suspended for re-building at the end of 2019.

To minimise the disruption to travellers the Region is laying on a replacement coach service, the vehicles being equipped with toilets, electric sockets and luggage facilities. During the period of the modernisation regular travellers will be able to travel for a monthly subscription of €10 a month and occasional travellers for €1 a journey.

BB 25660 to be preserved and restored for mainline operations

Avignon Based APCC6570 who have preserved and operate CC 6570 have recently taken delivery of BB 25660 and classmate  BB 25639 on long-term loan from SNCF. BB 25660 will be restored to operate on the mainline with BB 25639 being used for spares.

Currently in 'en voyage' livery the first task has been to remove the vinyls from 25660. During 2018 it will receive attention to one of its motors, and be restored to the original external condition with markings and plates as  delivered in 1975.

The acquisition of a dual voltage locomotive is particulalry atteactive to the Association as it will increase their operating range onto AC lines. Photo APCC 6570

ACPR 1126 take delivery of three electrics for preservation

ACPR 1126 the Toulouse association that operates 141 R 1126 and BB 66304 have extended their activities into the field of electric locomotive preservation. They have recently taken delivery of BB 8626, BB 8627 and BB 7338. One of the BB 8500s will be restored to main-line order and the other retained for spare parts.

The Association anticipate acquiring another BB 7200 to use as spare parts for BB 7338

Opposite BB 8626 waits to depart from Toulouse with the 16:28 to Montrejeau in September 2015, some nine months before withdrawal from service

Baie de Somme - Heavy Assumption weekend traffic

Assumption Day on Tuesday August 15th created a four day extended weekend, that combined with the good weather saw heavy loadings on the CFBS.

On the Sunday and Monday there were eight departures each way on the Le Crotoy - St Valery section as each of the scheduled services operated with a supplementaire. This required some smart operating at Noyelles to run around and re-engine four trains in fifteen minutes. Overall four different steam and two diesels were in operation.

This year the station festival at Cayeux was moved to August 15th to coincide with the Festival of Flowers. CFBS provided six trains from Saint-Valery hauled by 0-6-2T No 3714 recently returned to service after a two year overhaul, and diesel No 351. 

All the trains were packed and the 16.45 from Cayeux needed an impromptu supplementaire to cope with the home-going passengers. Records were broken, the fine weather and activities at Cayeux brought exceptional crowds of holiday makers to the seaside town. A food truck in the station square provided possibilities for lunch in an area bereft of cafés. The new booking hall recently renovated and enlarged achieved record sales. Maurice Testu, President of the CFBS was proud to report a profit for the day on the Cayeux line for the first time ever.
Buffaud Robatel 3714 climbs out of St Valery with a Cayeux service on the 14th August (more photos below)

Society Sales

The Society has an increasing range of sales items that can all be purchased on-line via the Sales Page. Recent additions include Atlas Edition static models L'Automotrice Etat (1915), L'Automotrice De La Ligne de Sceaux (1952) and the 1933 Renault VH (opposite). As stock may be limited please e-mail the Sales Officer to reserve before making payment.

MTVS - the latest developments

Readers will be familiar with MTVS, the leading museum of metre gauge railways in France. We have regularly reported the activities of the association at its two sites; the museum at Butry-sur-Oise, and the Train à Vapeur du Beauvaisis at Crèvecoeur-le-Grand in Picardie. During 2017, many steps have been taken for the expansion of the association. 

We will start with the new web-site that went on-line during the summer ( ). The modern style, comprehensive web-site has detailed information about the museum, the historic collection of preserved locomotives and rolling stock and the projects for the future. It is even possible to reserve on-line for the steam trains at Crèvecoeur. There are also details about how to donate and help the museum achieve its objectives (see below).
Former CdN Corpet-Louvet 0-6-0T No 36 (Lulu) prepares to return to Crevecouer Le Grand on 13th August 2017

 The long awaited roof (2,000 sq metres) over the future depot of 1,750 sq metres was completed in June. This work was financed by the local council. It also included the creation of six doors at the north end of the building for the penetration of tracks from a turntable. At the south end, there are now two doors and two tracks which enter from the service lines. 

 The new platform for passengers was created in the spring next to the car park. There is a ticket office in a wooden cabin provided by the town of Crèvecoeur. The operating line this year (the 1st season) is 1.7 km to the level-crossing on the D 149. Steam trains have been operated on the second Sunday of each month since May until September. The line will be open during the week end of the Patrimoine (15th/16th Sept) and also in December for Santa specials.

 The main objective for the next winter is to extend the running line by 1.3 km to the village of Rotangy where a run-around loop will be created at the former station. This will allow a round trip of approx 20-25 mins. The extension is expected to be opened to the public for the 2019 season.

 Another project is to build a 25 metre long service pit inside the depot/workshop.


 The museum at Butry (next to Valmondois SNCF station) will remain open during the next few years. It contains the majority of the collection of preserved vehicles and the workshop facilities to renovate the engines and rolling stock.

 However, the very short running line outside the museum site (300 m) will be lifted after the end of the season in October 2017. The rails and other components will be transported to Crèvecoeur.

 The end of season festival (week end of Oct 7th/8th) will therefore be the last opportunity to see operating steam along this short section at Butry, after 41 years. In 2018, the Sarthe tramway locomotive will move to Crèvecoeur-le-Grand to operate the steam trains. It will replace the Côtes du Nord 0-3-0T No 36 which is approaching the end of its boiler certificate.

Orenstein & Koppel Decauville 1-3-0T (1913) 

 This locomotive was operated in Portugal (Val de Vouga) until 1976. It was purchased by MTVS in 1981. It is the next locomotive to be restored. Since January, it has been considerably dismantled. The boiler/firebox has been sent to Io Israel Newton in Derbyshire (UK). The original firebox in copper is cracked. It is to be replaced with a new firebox in steel. The smoke tube is also to be replaced.  
An aerial view  of the newly roofed depot building and platform at Crevecouer. (photo MTVS)

The interior of the depot building at Crevecouer. where the inspection pit will be installed. At one end doors have been fitted across the whole width to enable rail access to the complete building.

The station building and trackbed at Rotangy on August 13th. The metre gauge track from Crevecouer should have reached here by 2019

The association depends for funding on donations from individuals and enterprises, subsidies from local and national sources and Brussels, in addition to ticket sales. The new web site explains clearly the options for donors. Those resident in France who pay French income tax can deduct 66% of any donation against future income taxes. 

 Those who live in the UK (and other European countries) may donate through the network "Transnational Giving Europe". This link explains one of the requests for donations to cover the repairs to the boiler of the Decauville 1-3-0T. A further €30,000  is needed as of August 15th to meet the objective.

© Peter Lovell & Graham Skinner. The French Railways Society 2017. Thanks to Michel Costes, Georges Turpin, Pierre Chavernac and Olivier Janneau Photos by authors unless credited.
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