September 2018 News

The view at Le Lioran on the 29th July 2018 during the 150th anniversary celebrations.  X2907/X2844 are about to pass the water tower with X4039 in the platform. The display to the right consists of BB69211 with snowplough, CC 72084, A1A 68081, BB 66170, BB 67456. See report below. Photo Michel Joindot.

SNCF orders 100 new generations TGVs

 At the end of July, SNCF placed an order with Alstom for 100 TGV's of the 5th generation in a deal worth approximately €3 billion. The concept for the TGV du futur has been developed jointly by SNCF and Alstom over the last two years. The key features of the new design are: 

- Reduced acquisition and operating costs. Each trainset will cost €25m compared to €30 for a TGV duplex. Operating costs will be reduced by 20% with features including improved aerodynamic design and power produced from re-generative braking returned to the overhead catenary.

- Modular interiors that will allow seating and luggage space to be re-configured or convert 1st class into 2nd class accommodation in half a day. Shorter power cars will increase passenger capacity to a maximum of 740, 20% more than a Duplex TGV

- Modern, connected services tailored to passenger needs, with WiFi, timetables and other information available in real time in all carriages, online booking for select services, and more. Improved access for wheelchair users and persons of reduced mobility.

Work will now begin on the detailed design stages in readiness for production with delivery scheduled to begin in 2023.
With 40 Bombardier OMNEO Premium double deck units (the 200km/h version of the Regio 2N) on order for the long distance intercité services, the days of the BB 15000's in Normandie are numbered. On the 28th July, BB 15009 still in Grand Confort livery passes Bernay with the 11.43 from Paris St Lazare to Caen. Photo D Michel Costes

 First OMNEO Premium in Normandie

On the 24th August the first of Normandie's OMNEO Premium units in black and grey livery was delivered to Caen depot, when Z56601 travelled from Valenciennes hauled by CC 72049. It will commence testing between Caen and Cherbourg. Commercial services will start in December 2019

The Class Z56600 units are similar to the Class Z56500 Regio 2N ZL V200s of which 13 are being delivered to Pays de la Loire Region, and a further 32 are on order for Centre-Val de Loire Region for Paris - Orleans - Tours services.

Both classes share the same "walk through" configuration and a top speed of 200 km/h, but have different interiors. The Z56600 is 25m longer at 135m (10 segments compared to 8 on the Z 56500). All the OMNEO units (Regio 2N, Premium) are dual-voltage equipped for 1500v DC / 25kv AC. The Normandie units have new seats, 2 extra toilets (7 in all) and detailed changes to trim compared to the Regio 2N class. They will be maintained at a purpose built depot at Sotteville in part of the  yard just south of the former electric depot. Work on clearing the site was underway in July (photo opposite)
Two secondary lines closed in Nouvelle Aquitaine

Train services on the single track line between Angoulême and Limoges have been suspended indefinitely between Angoulême and Saillat and replaced by bus services. There is no information available concerning prospects for repairs to the track and re-opening of the train services. 

 Also services on the line from Limoges to Brive-la-Gaillarde via St Yrieux and Pompadour have been suspended indefinitely between St Yrieux and Objat and replaced by bus services. As with  Angoulême to Saillat there is no information available concerning  repairs to the track and restoration of  train services. This closure concerns the central section of the line. Pompadour is no longer served by trains.
 Ile de France tram lines. 

 Tram line T3b around the military boulevards of Paris has been extended from Porte de la Chapelle to Porte d'Asnières ( 4 km). Work is now in final stages and the overhead wire is electrified. This new section will open on November 24, 2018. 

 The next extension for T3b has been approved. it will be from Porte d'Asnières to Porte Dauphine via Porte Maillot. Due to open in 2023 before Olympic Games.

Journees de Patrimoine

Will take plce over the weekend of 15th/16th September. Events are planned at a number of preservation centres and railway locations. SNCF have produced an interactive map showing events at:

 Events include open days at the depots (technicentres) at Chalindrey, Chambery and Strasbourg  
Paris-Montparnasse; 3rd major incident in 12 months

Readers may recall the notorious breakdown in July 2017 at Montparnasse when all the signalling failed during the busiest week end of the year. The resulting confusion was severely criticised at the time. Normal service only returned after 5 days. Then, in December 2017, a similar incident occurred though shorter in duration. 

 On Friday, July 27, exactly a year after the previous major breakdown described above, the electricity supply for all the tracks at Paris-Montparnasse failed at 11.30, No trains could move in or out of the terminus for over 3 hours and then an emergency service was introduced amounting to 6 TGV's an hour. All TGV's for the south-west were diverted to Austerlitz and those for Brittany operated from Montparnasse, though there were cancelations. 

 SNCF was quick to announce that they were not responsible for this breakdown. A fierce fire had destroyed an EDF transformer at Issy-les-Moulineaux where the high voltage current (225 kV) from the national grid is reduced to 63 kV for supply to 3 SNCF sub stations which convert it for the 1500 volts catenary. The cause of the fire (which started in a tunnel) has not been disclosed yet. 

 On the Friday evening, a further complication arose when a lightning strike during a storm set fire to a signalling cabin at Saint Cyr l'Ecole junction near Versailles. This incident has impacted the Transition services N and U. The structure had to be rebuilt. This was completed on August 20th and the normal signalling functions have been restarted at this junction.

 The electricity supplier (EDF) was able to restore the current to SNCF using a new cable by Tuesday, July 31st. The ministry of transport has started an investigation into the fire and the configuration of the electricity supply to Montparnasse terminus.

Le Lioran 150th Anniversary Celebrations

The  Le Lioran 150th anniversary celebrations took place over the weekend of 28th/29th July. The event did not quite fulfil the initial expectations, as 141 R 420 was unable to attend from Clermont Ferrand , and 141 R 1126 was replaced by BB 66304 on the tour from Toulouse. However the visiting railtours provided the sight of preserved X2800s travelling over the Massif Central lines again. 

SNCF also co-operated with a selection of blue liveried locomotives (CC 72084, A1A 68081, BB 66170, BB 67456) from the CMR (Cellule Matériel Radié)  fleet on display. 

The adjacent photos have kindly been provided by Michel Joindot who covered the event extensively.
On the Saturday, a very rare meeting took place (top) at St Georges d'Aurac ( Junction for  Clermont Ferrand - Ligne de Cevennes/Puy en Velay). Two special trains composed of X2800 railcars crossed on their respective journeys to Le Lioran. The AP2800 (train bleu du Sud) day excursion coming from Langogne to Le Lioran via Arvant and Neussargues consisted of X 2819 + XR 6091 + X 2914. In the other direction, on the second day of a 3 day circuit around the Massif Central, the Autorail Limousin train coming from Limoges and Clermont-Ferrand consisted of X 2844 (red & cream)) and X 2907 (blue). The later train would reach Le Lioran the following day (Sunday) after an overnight stop at St Flour. 

 The second photo shows the Limoges pair between La Bastide Saint Laurent and Mende. 

 The Picasso X 4039 is seen at Murat. 

The Picasso from Dijon did attend the week-end event despite our pessimism, however, it did not carry passengers from Burgundy but was included in the train of machines containing the historic locomotives ttat were displayed at Le Lioran. Those are seen leaving the event on the Sunday evening returning to Clermont Ferrand. The Picasso performed shuttle runs, solo, as X 2403 is still under repair. X 4039, newly repainted, made two return trips each day between Aurillac and Saint Flour. 

The photo below shows X4039 crossing the viaduc d'Elbarat between Arvant and Aurillac. 

The 'Princess' back in service

Following it's successful test run with the SNCF VSOE stock on the 28th July, PVC's 231 G 558 known affectionately as the 'Princess' returned to normal service with runs to Dieppe on the 11th and 25th August.

The operation this year has differed from last year when 231 K 8 was used. The day started with 231 G 558 running tender first from Sotteville to Dieppe at reduced speed, taking nearly three hours. It then worked back to Rouen in the afternoon where BB 67556 took over to return the stock back to Dieppe, while 231 G 558 returned at reduced speed to work the evening return to Sotteville. 

This fits  in better with the normal service trains and allows a second crew to take over  for the second return trip.

On the 11th August 231 G 558 emerges from the tunnel at Dieppe on the afternoon return service to Rouen. Photo Christophe Masse.
Former Seine et Marne Buffaud Robatel 3714 ambles along between Hurt and Lancheres with the 13:00 Cayeux - St Valery freight during the Fete de Gare de Cayeux, that saw passenger only, mixed and freight services operting over the line

CFBS Fete de Gare de Cayeux

The CFBS held their annual Fete de Gare de Cayeux on the 15th August with Pinguely 101 and Buffaud Robatel 3714 operating an intensive service on the Cayeux branch. The St Valery - Le Crotoy traffic was handled by the Corpet-Louvet and Reseau Breton E332, now in its last year of service before the boiler certificate expires. It is seen opposite at St Valery Ville with passengers transferring from a Cayeux service. The previous evening 150 passengers had travelled up from Cayeux to transfer to the last Le Crotoy train and the Reseau Breton was pressed into service with an impromptu supplementaire

141R1126 problems persist

Problems continue with the return to service of 141 R 1126. On the 18th August it set off from Toulouse for Cahors, but suffered a failure of the lubrication system before Montauban, where it was detached. The tour continued to Cahors with BB 7338. Subsequently 7338 recovered 141 R 1126 from Montauban and towed it back to St Jory with the coupling rods disconnected. (reported by Georges Turpin)
Opposite 141 R 1126 and BB7338 wait to depart from Toulouse. Photo Michael Bowery

HL 303 Steam tram (1888) returns to service at Thuin, Belgium

In JULY NEWS, we described the rebuilding of the oldest Belgian steam tram, originally constructed in 1888. This was a major project conducted by the vicinal museum (ASVi) at Thuin in the valley of the Sambre, close to the border with France. A new boiler, identical to the original, was built in Poland. New cylinders were required. The locomotive was dismantled and re-assembled at CITEV in France. 

 At the beginning of July, HL 303 returned to Thuin and after a series of test runs was pronounced good for service. The investment of 400,000 euros over 3 years had given an excellent result. Visitors to the annual festival at the museum in mid-August could admire 303 as it hauled a 9 wagon goods train in front of many photographers who had travelled from all over Europe.

It is expected that by Sept 8th/9th, the necessary certificates will be issued to allow passenger trains to be hauled by the restored steam tram during the Belgian patrimoine week-end. On that occasion several newly restored carriages will be used for the first time. 

 In the attached photos taken on Aug 19th we see the goods train in the forest (photo by D Michel Costes) and 303 off to discover the town centre driven by the technical director of the museum who supervised the project.

Additions to FRS Photographic Archive during August 2018

- Eric Russell Colour - around 750 photographs taken in France, The Netherlands, Portugal, Spain, Norway, Sweden, Turkey, Switzerland and Germany during the period 1969 through 1988; included also are some 40 photographs of (mostly French) railway models (poor quality and repetitive images have been removed, which explains the gaps in the number sequences). 

- FRS “Armistices” - around 200 images taken from across the different FRS galleries depicting German locomotives that were sent to France as war reparations after WW1.
© Peter Lovell & Graham Skinner. The French Railways Society 2018. Photos by authors unless credited. Thanks to D Michel Costes, Michel Joindot, Georges Turpin, Christophe Masse,  and Michael Bowery
© The French Railways Society 2018, - 2019 All Rights Reserved
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