August 2018 News

The Thello night train between Venice and Paris Gare de Lyon is familiar to readers. The Italian private operator also competes with SNCF on the Côte d'Azur with several day trains between Milano, Genoa and Nice. One return service is extended from Nice to Marseille. Local access is possible to this train between Marseille and Nice, with a Thello ticket.  The 08.15 from Nice to Milano is seen emerging from the tunnel at Villefranche On June 30th. Photographed by D Michel Costes. 

Hope for Abbeville - Le Treport

At a meeting between the Minister of Transport and the Regional Presidents of Hauts de France and Normandie on the 10th July agreement was reached on funding for the rebuilding of Abbeville - Le Treport line suspended at the end of May.

SNCF estimate that €40 million is required to re-open the line, two studies have been commissioned to look at the engineering and economic aspects, reporting in JUne 2019  It is unlikely that the line will re-open before December 2021, hopefully with a more extensive service than the two trains each way provided by SNCF.
The 17:30 Abbeville - Le Treport between Gouy and Cahon on 17th May 2018

New rolling stock on cross country routes


Alstom Coradia Liner bi-modes have replaced the unloved and unreliable XTER72500 diesel units on the cross country Intercité route from Nantes via Tours to Lyon Perrache. Many of the XTERs are being scrapped, or sold to Romania after less than 20 years service. Fifteen Coradia Liners are now allocated to Nantes for the Intercité services to Bordeaux and Lyons. On 20th July IC 1 33 (B85065/66) and IC 1 01 (B85001/02) are seen arriving at Moulins working  with pantographs up. As this was a Friday  a pair of units was in use to cope with  weekend traffic, rather than a single  XTER. Photo and text Chris Gwilliam


Eight coach Class Z 56500 Bombardier Regio 2Ns have now taken over the Orleans - Nantes/Le Croisic 'Interloire' service as long term replacements for the Class 26000 Sybics and Corail stock. Pays de la Loire TER set 505 (Z56509/56-7510) is seen waiting to leave Saumur on the 19th July with the 07:03 Orleans - Nantes.

Further members of this class are on order to take over the  Inter Cité services from St Lazare to Normandy and Orleans/Tours/Bourges service from Austerlitz


Occitanie TER  now has its full complement of 18 Class B83500 bi-mode Regiolis and 12 of the 15 Class Z54900 electric Regiolis ordered have been delivered. Since the beginning of the high season timetable the used of Toulouse based BB 7200 and corail stock on the long distance TER services has ceased and the remaining nine Class BB 7200 at Toulouse withdrawn on the 20th July. This just leaves the Marseilles - Bordeaux and Toulouse - Bayonne Intercité services loco  hauled in south-west France

On 20th July Z54921/22, delivered in February depart from Brive with a service for Toulouse. Photo Michel Joindot




The carres at the west end of Le Buisson probably offer the largest remaining array of mechanical signals in France. On 19th July X73778 arrives with a Perigueux - Agen service. Photo Michel Joindot
With the delivery of Alstom Regiolis and Coradia Liner units daytime diesel locomotive haulage is now confined to a Paris Est - La Ferte Milon rush hour service the two daily Paris - Montlucon Intercité  services south of Bourges and the five Paris - Boulogne Intercité services north of Amiens. The diesel hauled Alsace TER services from Strasbourg are suspended for the summer. On Mondays the 07:31 Paris - Boulogne is booked for two locomotives to position a spare diesel at Boulogne. If unused ithe spare loco normally returns on Saturdays on the 17:33 Boulogne - Paris. On Monday 9th July 67606/67523 approach Noyelles with the 07:31 Paris - Boulogne.

ILE DE FRANCE NEWS

The imminent withdrawal of last Z 5300 units

July 13 was possibly the final day in service for most of the remaining twelve Z 5300 units(*), the inox emu's ("petit gris") dating from 1965-68 and 1972. With the change to the high summer timetable it is believed that these units will now be parked in reserve. During the last few weeks they have been limited to peak period trains between Melun and Juvisy on RER D. 

On Friday July 13, six different units were noted between 16h and 18h ( 5323, 5333, 5344, 5353, 5355, 5362) at Vosves near Melun. 5323 is shown in the  photo below. 

 * 5304, 5317, 5323, 5333, 5344, 5346, 5353, 5355, 5362, 5363, 5366, 5368
More Z 50000 "Francilien" train sets ordered 

 On July 11, Ile de France Region placed an order with Bombardier for 36 more Z 50000 emu's, 18 "short" units for Saint Lazare and 18 "long" units for Paris-Est - Provins.
A total of 313 Z 50000 units have now been ordered and 229 have been delivered ( 108 at Paris-Nord, 41 at Paris-Est and 80 at Saint-Lazare). 66 now remain to be delivered for Saint -Lazare. The rate of delivery is to be increased to 3 a month so that all those units remaining on order will be delivered by Sept 2020. They will then have replaced the fleet of Z 6400 inox units and 100% of the Transilien network from Saint Lazare will be "Francilien". Currently 54 Z 6400 emu's are in service, 10 have been withdrawn since January 2018 and 10 were previously withdrawn. Below A Z6400 leaves Versailles Rive Droite for St Lazare last year, a scene now replaced with Francilien units. Photo D Michel Costes
Regarding the 18 train sets ordered for Paris-Est - Provins, these will be delivered for 2021 when it is hoped that the electrification of the line will have been completed. A recent hitch has occurred when the French State backed off a previous commitment to finance 40 million euros of the cost of electrification. They have now delayed the payment by 2 years which has infuriated the other participants in the project.

Rebuilding at three Paris terminal stations

 
After Paris-Est, Paris-Lyon and Paris Saint-Lazare, work is underway to renovate and improve Paris-Nord, Paris-Montparnasse and Paris-Austerlitz.
Paris-Nord

A vast modernisation plan (600 million euros) has been approved. The busiest terminal station in Europe handles 700,000 passengers daily. In 2024 it will be 800,000 daily in the year when Paris hosts the Olympic Games. In 2030 it will be 900,000 passengers daily. 

 Between 2019 and 2023 the station will be substantially rebuilt and re-organised. It will increase from 36,000 sq m to 110,000 sq m. Much of the increased space will be for retail outlets (shopping !). 

Arrival and departure flows will be separated. Arriving passengers will continue to exit at ground level into the main concourse. But departures will take place from a new glass enclosed bridge across all the tracks outside the great hall. The number of escalators will be increased from 45 to105 and there will be 55 lifts compared with 20 at present. The bus station will be modernised. The adjacent surroundings will be transformed into gardens with trees.

Paris-Montparnasse. 

Work is underway to improve this plain, confusing and uncomfortable terminus with larger windows and light wells and automatic doors. 

The passenger flow will be re-organised with 19 more escalators and 4 extra, high capacity, lifts. There will be more shops (a total of 130 outlets). The budget is 150 million euros and completion is scheduled for the end of 2020. This station handles 200,000 passengers daily
Paris-Austerlitz. 

The station seems to have been a building site for ever ! In fact since 2012. It is due to complete in 2020. The budget is 600 million euros. The Seine side of the station has been opened up for a new entrance. At present, much of the historic hall is filled with a "LEGO" of scaffolding (see photo below by Michel Joindot). Presumably the objective is to repair the glass roof. There are currently hardly any cafés and no restaurants in the station. An important point: the toilet kiosque long situated next to Platform 21 (arrivals) has gone and the new WC service is located next to Platform 1 on the Seine side of the concourse. Platforms 1 - 7 are totally covered over and dark. An office block seems to be under construction above. Departing passengers may search and find a waiting area with piano hidden away on the arrivals side. 63,000 passengers a day use this quiet terminus.

Sotteville Yard Update

Since 2010 the former Triage Yard at Sotteville has been used for storing withdrawn and surplus locomotives, the majority of which are broken up in the adjacent Quatre Mares Works. Over the last few months someof the electric locomotives that had been there for some years have finally been broken up. TGV Sud power cars  appear to go fairly quickly, presumbly for re-usable spare parts. Locomotives now tend to be separated into individual sidings by class, with Infra liveried Class 67400s amongst the recent arrivals. The view below shows the north end of the yard on the 18th July.


One of the more surprising occupants at Sotteville is BB 60017 that entered service in September 2007. While six classmates (60015/20/72/86/93/105) were withdrawn by SNCF in December 2017 and sold to ETF, 60017 is still shown as in service. It has been at Sotteville since early 2017 and is currently hemmed in behind nine withdrawn 67400s, so in unlikely to be moving soon. With thanks to Duncan Reilly for assistance in the preparation of the article.
At the end of June there were 472 locomotives at Sotteville Yard spread across 17 sidings. These are recorded in the list below starting on the west (Quatre Mares Works) side and finishing on the east (D18 dual carraigeway) side of the yard.

Line 1 7430 7397 7426 7394 7431 7424
Line 2 Y7867 Y7449 Y8471 Y7527 Y7517 Y8498 Y8491 Y8497 Y8495 Y8492 Y8478 Y7812 Y7866 Y7809 Y7717 Y7179 Y7297 Y7651 Y7715 Y8488 Y8436 Y8425 Y8469 Y8406 Y8405 Y8403 Y8409 Y8416 Y8423 Y8401 Y8515 Y8512 Y8537 Y7594 Y7531 Y7657 Y7878 Y7604 Y7523 Y7605 Y7830 Y7881 Y7776
Line 3 17045 Y6550 17029 17005 17037 17080 17012 17104 17017 17062 17010 17052 17024 17099 9214 9201 9264 9208
Line 4 Y7775 8597 26022 66057
Line 5 66502 66027 66718 66719 66298 66196 66194 66300 66253 66284 66189 66226 66299 66255 66282 66190 66223 66003 66294 66047 66055 66187 66049 66140 66083 66129 66125 66085
Line 6 Y7405 Y7702 Y7143 Y7803 66079 TGV23114 TGV23113 72158 8638 8194 8122 8240 8252 8266 80003 80006 8257 8271 80008 9324 16050 16052 25237 25251 25256 80001 9272 80002 16005 16032 16054 16056 16058 16003
Line 7 67453 67457 67601 67411 67505 67436 67496 67429 67432 60017 67373 67367 67380 67363 67332 67375 67350 67355 67302 67306 67388 67371 67360 67364 Y8459 67335 67359 67324 67336 67309 67331 67333 67362
Line 8 67495 66059 68531 66730 66051 66020 66036 66033 66708 66715 66716 64722 66731 66711 66707 66023 66024 66127 66004 66727 66037 66110 66084 66025 66019 66188 66171 68539 67531 68522 68520 68521 68533 68536 68524 68504 68527 68538
Line 9 25650 Y2443 8515 66032 88507 25588 9247 16047 9222 9240 9319 9279 16106 16105 16108 16109 9243 9282 9217 9245 9231 9273 9275 9266 9254 16021 16061 16112 16111 16115 16101 16104 16103 16107 16019 16059 16110 16114
Line 10 64715 64703 64038 64069 64056 63687 63801 64025 63926 63692 63932 64815 64702 64063 63962 63414 63936 63669 63948 63532 63950 63673 63619 63719 63728 63582 63668 63952 63108 63144 63082 63192 63907 63997 63967
Line 11 67435 67604 67533 67419 67570 67554 67408 67431 67414 67518 67553 67447 67467 67468 67595 67534 67598 67504 67631 67498 67545 67602 67583 67577 67535 67466 67439 67501 67525 67540 67632 67486 67469 67479 67476
Line 12 16710 16572 16628 16603 16773 15028 16012 9334 16018 9257 9265 16615 16011 16002 16015 16055 16028 16027 16033 16042 16758 16753 16053 16039 16029 16043 16051 16022 16008 16007 16041 16006 16031 16013 16037 16057
Line 13 8588 8620 8604 8592 8593 8589 8643 8607 88527 88509 8576 8519 8552 88506 8628 88514 8618 8633 8642 8614 8613 8630 8622 88531 8645 8623 8625 Y6531 Y6522
Line 14 7373 26094 26085 26100 7432 7436 26096 26088 7374 7367 7379 7222 7376 7433 7315 7382 7419 7386 7381 7313 7279 7334 7328 7336 7403 7412 Y5151 Y6588 Y5121
Line 15 69228 69307 69221 69419 69420 69199 69412 69242 69293 72179 72151 72138 72177 72163 72160 72145 72137 72069 72035 72061 72065 72036 72091 72042 72044 72062 72087 72008 72025 72019 72014 72034 72031 72013 72032 72024 72016
Line 16 25685 25638 25634 25669 25651 25644 25661 25646 25645 25678 25688 25680 25629 25628 25675 25620 25662 25624 25649 25534 25608 25614 25618 25674
Line 17 66075 67532 Y7541 Y7616 63554

Successful test run for 231 G 558

On the 28th July Pacific Vapeur Club's   231 G 558 completed a successful test run from Sotteville to Serquigny and return to attain main-line certification.  

The test run was undertaken in conjunction with ARTE productions and utilised the SNCF VSOE set. 231 G 558 is now scheduled to operate Sotteville - Dieppe excursions on the 11th and 25th August.

Above 231 G 558 passes through St Etienne-du-Rouvray. Both photos Alan Allbuary

Rail History in the Charente-Maritime

In a remote part of the south-west coast of France, between La Tremlade and Saujon, the Train des Mouettes (the Seagull line) operates steam trains for the summer tourists. This year was special. 

 The dynamic association Trains et Traction has been preparing, for several years, an ambitious historical fête in celebration of the American participation in the First World War. The United States entered the war in April 1917 and, by November 1918, 2.3 million American troops had landed in France. In order to supply their troops, the US army shipped kits to assemble 37,800 railway wagons. These wagons were all assembled at the port of La Rochelle. 

 100 years later T & T restored six of those US wagons and prepared a mixed train with historical carriages. 140 C 38 came from Limoges to haul the authentic military train which attracted much attention this summer. 

 The Youtube link opposite provides an overview of the operations during the fête from July 4 - 8. Photos by Georges Turpin. 

Innovative technology on show in NICE, Côte d'Azur at the opening of a new tram line.


Saturday June 30 was hot and sunny, a typical summer day at Nice, Côte d'Azur. The opportunity for a unique event, the opening of the western section of the West - East tramway (Tram 2). 
At the scheduled time, the ochre red Alstom Citadis 405 burst through the inaugural arch under a shower of confetti and applause from the eager crowds. For Nice Metropole has become resolutely pro-tram, 70 years after final closure of the original tramway network in the area.

 The first modern tram line (8.7km) in Nice was opened in November 2007 in the eastern part of the centre ville and it quickly became a success in the city saturated by road traffic.Initially planned for 65 000 passengers a day, the line currently carries over 100,000 passengers daily. 28 Alstom trams are deployed on this line (13 Citadis 302 trams (35m) and 15, longer, Citadis 402 trams (43m)). The service interval is 4 minutes throughout the day and the average speed is a low 15 kph. 

 Nice Métropole has a population of 950 000. The current mayor of Nice has sustained his objective to improve public transport with a modern tramway system. His projects are supported by the département of Alpes Maritime and the PACA Region. An ambitious project is underway to create a multi-branch West - East tram line. 

 The new tram lines at Nice 
After Line 1, a second line called Ouest - Est ( Line 2) is under construction from Cadam to Port Lympia (11 km, 20 stops). A short branch to the airport will serve terminal 1 and terminal 2. Line 2 will pass under the city centre in a tunnel 3 km long with 4 stops. Line 3 will run from the airport up the Var valley to Saint-Isidore. It will share the infrastructure of Line 2 for 3.7 km (5 stops) and then continue independently for a further 3.3 km and 6 stops. The overground section of Line 2 from Cadam to Magnam was opened on June 30. The branch to the airport will be opened in December 2018. Half the tunnel will be opened in June 2019 and the remainder of the Ouest - Est line will be opened in September 2019. Line 3 will be opened in December 2019. Later extensions are planned for Line 3 northwards up the valley, from the airport towards Cros de Cagnes and from both ends of Line 1.

Operations 
 The Ouest - Est line (Line 2) when fully completed is expected to carry 105,000 passengers daily rising quickly to 140,000. 19 Alstom Citadis 405 trams will be operated. The journey time from the port of Nice to the airport will be 26 minutes. The service interval will be 3 minutes and the average speed expected is 25 kph. Line 3 is expected to carry 12,000 passengers daily in 2020. Initially the frequency will be every 10 minutes and the average speed will be 22 kph. The journey time from Saint-Isidore to the airport will be 18 minutes. 

The new tram Citadis X05 for Nice Metropole. 
 The most recent version of the Alstom Citadis tram was ordered. This is the X05, also identified at Citadis 405. It is 44 m long, 2.65 m wide and has seven segments with seven double doors. Capacity is 300 passengers. There is wheel-chair access throughout, air-conditioning automatically controlled according to ambient conditions, wifi aboard, real-time information on 8 flat screens and video protection.

Citadis X05

The X05 is powered by high capacity rechargeable batteries on board. There are three methods of recharging; 

 - at each overground stop the tram automatically recharges during 20 seconds from an electric plug (systeme de recharge statique par le sol - SRS).
 - in the tunnel there is a an overhead fixed catenary wire and the tram uses its pantograph to collect electricity. Above ground there are no overhead wires on Lines 2 and 3.
 - energy produced by braking is transferred to the batteries (about 30% of energy used)


Four new X05 trams were delivered for the inauguration, less than planned due to production difficulties. 19 trams are on order for Line 2 and 6 for Line 3. 

 The maintenance depot is at the terminus at Cadam next to the Var. There is capacity for future growth, the site can accommodate 52 trams. There is a multi-storey car park for 630 spaces for Park & Ride. Adjacent to the tram terminus is a stadium and an auditorium. All photos D Michel Costes
© Peter Lovell & Graham Skinner. The French Railways Society 2018. Photos by authors unless credited. Thanks to D Michel Costes, Michel Joindot, Georges Turpin, Duncan Reilly, Chris Gwilliam and Alan Allbuary
© The French Railways Society 2018, All Rights Reserved
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