November 2018 News

South West France Indian Summer

Before the fatal deluges of October, South West France enjoyed an Indian summer during the last two weeks of September with days of endless sunshine. On the 19th September an unidentified BB 26000 heads away from Cahors passing the Pont Valentre with the 08:28 Paris  Austerlitz - Toulouse

Belfort - Delle - Bienne to re-open on December 9th

As we have previously reported, this international line, newly re-built and electrified will open again in December 2018. 

 On October 12th, representatives of Bourgogne Franche Comté Region, SNCF Réseau, SBB and the canton of Jura Suisse met with the regional press at the small village of Morvillars, 5 km from Belfort-Montbeliard TGV station. The purpose of the "press point" was to annonce the final adjustments to the timetable of the new line, and various other details. The choice of the meeting place was not accidental. Morvillars is one of the three new stops between Delle and the TGV station. Earlier this year, the mayor discovered by chance that the village had been excluded from the provisional timetable. Considering that a new platform had been built at Morvillars station with a car park for 60 vehicles, in preparation for the new service, it is clear that the mayor was less than pleased. 

 The project is not simple. The different participants at the meeting were motivated by different objectives not necessarily compatible. For the Swiss Jura canton the intention was to obtain regular access to the French TGV network. For SBB, the challenge was to achieve that objective in the most efficient and economical way. A solution had been devised by using the turn around time at Delle. At present, the Swiss train arrives at Delle every hour at +40 and departs again at +19, a gap of 39 minutes. It was calculated that the Swiss train could continue to Belfort TGV station arriving at +55. After 8 minutes, the Swiss train could depart at + 03 and reach Delle at +18 and depart across the border at +20. This solution would not require any extra trains. However, there were two difficulties. 

 Theoretical calculations showed that the Swiss train would only have time to stop twice between Delle and the TGV station, but there are three new halts. Hence, the last stop at Morvillars was eliminated without actually informing the village which protested vigorously. During this summer, actual tests on the line show that the Swiss train could, in fact, make the three stops in the time available. SNCF and SBB have therefore concluded that they can operate for the first six months as a trial period with stops at Morvillars. There will be 7 return services, daily, by the Swiss train between Delle and Belfort TGV station. Additionally, 7 more services will operate on certain dates. The other difficulty is that, from the beginning of the project, the Swiss trains were excluded from operating to Belfort Ville, the town centre station. The reason for this is not known. It recently became apparent that an extra train set would be necessary if the Swiss trains continued for a further 10 minutes to Belfort-Ville. Thus, in order to complete the service along the new line, Bourgogne Franche-Comté TER will operate 10 shuttle services between Belfort-Ville and Belfort TGV and six return services from Belfort-Ville to Delle. We will report on the final timetable, later, when it is published.

So what do we not know yet ?
 - tarifs are an unknown subject 5 weeks before opening. 
- the full official timetable including Saturdays and Sundays and exceptions to the usual schedule 
- a full timetable that shows the schedule on both sides of the border. 
- who drives the Swiss trains in France ? French drivers or Swiss drivers.

Occitanie Region confirms agreement to continue to operate the Cevenol, the Aubrac, and the  sleeper from Paris to Port Bou/Cerbère.

In October, Occitanie Region announced that it had agreed terms with the government to continue operating the two daily Cevenol express trains between Nîmes and Clermont-Ferrand. The French State will subsidise 80% of the costs and will replace the current trains with new train sets in December 2019. Occitanie says that Auvergne Rhône-Alpes has agreed to maintain and keep open the section of the line in its territory. The three new trains sets will be the shorter version (M) Regiolis bi-mode units and not Coradia Liner (intercité) trains as originally promised. Occitanie has published detailed plans for the future development of the Cevennes line and we will summarise those plans in DECEMBER NEWS.

 Occitanie further advised that the daily Aubrac train (Clermont-Ferrand - Beziers) will be operated through 2019, an extension of one year past the original agreement. There are no other details or plans for this long distance train. The strategy seems to be that as long as no investment in rolling stock or infrastructure is needed then it is politically better to keep the train running. But, a few months ago on local television, the Occitanie VP for transport could not describe any plans for improvement of the line and its single daily train, that operates simultaneously as a long distance express and an omnibus stopper. It is nowadays operated with whatever comes to hand, either diesel railcar end to end (5 hours !) or with a change at Neussargues and an ancient Z2 emu. 

 The multi-section overnight sleeper from Paris-Austerlitz will continue on certain dates from Toulouse to Port-Bou / Cerbère.

Last month we reported that the minister of Transport had agreed to the continued support for the Paris - Briancon and Rodez/Le Tour de Carol sleeper service and would fund a €30 refurshipment of the rolling stock. The refurbishment, starting in 2019, will include replacement of the couchettes, upgrade of the sanitary equipment plus the installation of wi-fi and charging points for telephones and tablets.

Partial renovation of 133 Z 20500 units on RER D and Transilien P (Meaux)

Between March 2019 and December 2021 the fleet of 133 double deck Z 20500 units deployed on RER D and Transilien P (Meaux) will be renovated for the last time, as users await the arrival of the new generation of train sets on order.

In view of the absence of air conditionng which cannot be retro-fitted, the renovation will include increasing the number of windows that can be opened and fixing dark film on the outside of the windows. Inside, anti-laceration film will be fixed to the windows. Seats will be repaired and all seats will receive new covers in grey with blue head rests. All the interior decor will be renewed in grey and blue. The exterior livery will be 
renewed in the new regional style of blue, white, grey (see the photo of the Regio 2N below).USB plugs will be installed. Toilets will be repaired. New information screens will be installed.  Approximately 3-4 renovated units will be rolled out each month.

 Impressions of Bombardier's Regio 2N train set for Ile de France Mobilities

By the end of October, Bombardier had delivered 24 Regio 2N units out of the initial order of 42 for the regional authority of Ile de France. These Z 57000 articulated double deck emu's are being deployed since December 2017 on Transilion Line R. Later, they will reach RER D on the Malesherbes branch and then on lines from Paris-Montparnasse.

On Oct 22nd, we tested the new units that we have dubbed "Reggie".on the Seine valley line from Montereau to Melun via Héricy. These trains are silver grey and white with blue lettering and the new logo of the Region. They look very smart. Inside the colours are quite different, red orange and grey  covering on the seats. There are steps down to the lower level cabins and narrow stairs up the side of the body to the upper cabins. Here the seats are 3 + 2, quite a few seats have little or no visibility. There are flat screens with some information, principally the next station is identified. There are 230 volt plugs next to all the seats but we did not see any USB plugs.

The seats are very hard and the backs are upright. For a short journey, the lack of comfort does not matter greatly. The journey from Montargis to Paris-Lyon is, however, nearly 90 minutes and passengers will certainly complain about the seats. There are also no WC's on board. Wheel chair access is possible at each end of the unit and a dedicated space is provided. Reggie is very quiet and on the service along the Seine there was no demonstration of strong acceleration. The timetable did not require that.  We enjoyed our short 35 minute journey although it was hardly typical as there were less than 20 paasengers. In conditions of a full load, moving around may be complicated as the stairs are far narrower than those in the Z 20500.
Créteil Pompadour to get a second platform

 The new station on RER D at Créteil Pompadour was opened in 2013. It replaced Villeneuve Prairie, 200 m away, which was abandoned. The new station provides a connection to a busy bus line and currently handles 11,000 passengers a day, a volume that is problematic at peak periods. Access to the single island platform is via two pedestrian bridges high above the electrified wires. There are lifts and escalators 

 When the station was planned, ten years ago, observers and local politicians pointed out that the provision of just one island platform on a line consisting of 3 bi-directional tracks would reduce the operational flexibility of the line. But SNCF and the president of the Region did not want to change the plan. 

 Now it is recognised that there is a problem and a new platform will be added. Work will start in 2020 and be finished 2 or 3 years later. It will cost 26 million euros ( much more than if it had been done at the same time as the orignal project). 
New Ouigo services are replacing standard TGV's

 SNCF expects 25% of TGV's to be low cost Ouigo services by 2020. Originally  Ouigo services avoided city centre stations and stopped outside at Marne-la-Vallée, Massy TGV, Lyon St Exupéry (the airport station), but this policy is changing and Ouigo's are starting to use regular Paris terminal stations.

 Now new Ouigo services are  replacing regular TGV's. This policy will perturb some travellers because none of the usual types of tickets and conditions available for regular TGV's apply to Ouigo trains. Notably, Ouigo tickets are only available on the dedicated internet site and have their own tarifs and conditions. These ressemble curiously those of low cost airlines with extra fees for "excess" baggage, and obligation to "check in" not later than 30 minutes before departure. Season ticket and business travellors are beginning to confront this problem as their regular TGV's suddenly become Ouigo's. This conversion has already occured to a Paris-Est - Nancy TGV. In 2019, two return TGV's out of 6 services from Paris Gare de Lyon to Nice will become Ouigo's, as well asl three Paris-Lyon - Marseille service and two Lille - Marseille services. 

Project to modernise Lyon Part-Dieu station

One of the major interchange stations on the national rail network, Lyon Part Dieu, is due for a lengthy modernisation that will include creation of an additional platform (making 12 in all) and a new passenger hall under the tracks. The station was opened in 1983. It replaced the historic Lyon Brotteaux nearby. A vast new development of the area called Part Dieu includes hotels, offices and a shopping centre. The station was originally designed for 35,000 passengers a day. 35 years later, 175,000 passengers pass through daily. The need for increased capacity is obvious. 
 The project will last 3-4 years and, from December 9th 2018, 10% of the trains usually serving Lyon Part Dieu will be cancelled or diverted. All types of trains and destinations are affected, TGV's, TER, intercités. 
In the absence of timetables, users will become aware ofthese changes when they buy a ticket or season ticket. SNCF advises that all TGV services in the south east region will become Duplex TGV's thus keeping the same number of seats on offer, but with fewer trains (and bigger gaps in the frequency).

Autumn railtours

On Saturday October 27th, 140 C 231 hauled two specials to Provins from AJECTA depot, Longueville. These were the first public trains for the 140 C after a general overhaul that included a new boiler and repairs to the driving axles, wheels and the tender. The second special train travelled on from Provins to Villiers Saint Georges along a freight line. The photo by D Michel Costes shows the AJECTA special leaving Longueville depot. It was taken from the top of the new multi storey car park next to Longeuville SNCF station that has now been modernised and become a "multi-modal pole".
 On 6th October APMFS (Association pour la Préservation du Matériel Ferroviaire Savoyard) ran a tour from Chambéry to Beaune et Dijon with CC6558 in livrée Maurienne, seen above at Bligny-les-Beaune (21). Despite only charging €35 for the return trip it only warranted three coaches. Photo Christophe Masse
Over the weekend of the 5-7th October 241P17  undertook a trip from Le Creusot to Miramas, stopping overnight each way at Avignon. It is seen accelerating away from Vienne towards Valence passing the former station at Reventin-Vaugris (38) with one of the many substations so typical of the line PLM line. Photo Christophe Masse
On Saturday, September 22, Autorail-Limousin organized a trip between Limoges and Arcachon via Périgueux and Bordeaux, with their two X 2800 autorails. The pair are seen under classic Midi catenary dated from when the line was electrified in 1927, approaching Gazinet-Cestas, entre Arcachon et Bordeaux. X2844 in red and cream is leading X2907 in Massif Central livery. Photo Georges Turpin
Steam returned to Western France on Sunday 14th October when PVC operated a Nantes - Le Croisic railtour with 231 G 558. The tour sold out within 24 hrs of being advertised. Seen above running beside the salt flats at Pouliguen near Batz-sur-Mer and Le Croisic. Photo Jean-Marc Frybourg

Boulogne - Paris: then and now 

In May 1974 an unidentified CC 68000 hauls rapide 1104 from Boulogne Maritime (15.37) to Paris-Nord(18.20) with the only stop at Amiens for a quick engine change in 10 minutes to an electric BB16000. The boat train included 1st/2nd class couchette carriages for Rome. These would be hauled around the Petite Ceinture to Paris Gare de Lyon for the rapide 211 "Rome Express" which departed at 19.50 and would arrive at Rome the following day at 13.20.

Forty four years later the scene from the road bridge at Flandre, north of Rue has changed significantly. Tree growth hides the derelict buildings and partially obscures the view of the line. Only the two posts confirm that the pictures are both taken from the same position as BB 67430 with nine corails passes by on the 4th October with the afternoon Boulogne - Paris Intercite.
Photos - both D Michel Costes

BB 17000s - still on the go

Despite losing their booked turns nearly two years ago the remaining BB 17000s still see everyday service covering for unavailable BB 27300s on services from St Lazare. On 18th October BB 17071 is about to enter the tunnel at Meulan Hardricourt in the western Paris suburbs with an afternoon Mantes Le Jolie - St Lazare  (via Conflans) service. The following day 17053, 17071 and 17075 were all reported working from St Lazare. Photo D Michel Costes

241 P 9 Update

Some months ago we reported on 241 P 9 under restoration at Toulouse by AAATV Midi-Pyrénées. The locomotive is now alone in the depot at Toulouse Matabiau. The redevelopment of the Matabiau station area (Toulouse Euro Sud-Ouest project - TESO) has fallen behind and it can still stay there for a few more months. At present, a long term home is still being sought which is likely to be at Carbonne (43 km from Toulouse, in the direction of Tarbes). Here some track is available and it is hoped to build a shed that would be linked using a turntable that would be recovered from Matabiau depot. Part of the costs of transfer of the locomotive and turntable from Matabiau and development costs at Carbonne would be paid for by SNCF Réseau, the region and TESO (the developer of the Matabiau site). It is believed that ACPR would also move 141 R 1126 and all of their equipment from St Jory to the proposed site at Carbonne. 

 241 P 9 cannot be lifted by crane from inside the depot so the major components will need to be re-assembled for it to be moved on its wheels. Work on the axles of both the tender and locomotive is nearing completion costing 110,000 euros (out of the 163,000 euros so far spent). The tender will be re-assembled and largely completed in the coming weeks. For the locomotive, it will be later, the axle boxes are still in Meiningen. German technicians will come to Toulouse for their installation. The restoration work so far has taken 28,900 hours of volunteer time. Work on the boiler and other parts has still to be started and it is likely to be another five years before 241 P 9 steams again.

Photos- above The restored brake gear on the tender, driving wheels with inside cylinder cranks, below the restored front bogie bissel and the tender bogie. photos and original text Georges Turpin

Additions to FRS Photographic Archive & Yahoo site during October 2018

 FRS Photographic Archive 

- FRS Secondaires (France) gallery - A new gallery
  comprising some 700 French "Secondaires" images   
  from across the FRS photo archive 
 - MTVS 24 - Automotrices Billard 
 - MTVS 25 - Tramway de Luneville a Einville 
 - MTVS 28 - Automotrices Renault 
 - MTVS 29 - Tramways de la Sarthe Blanc Misseron -    
   Catalogue 1910 

 FRS Yahoo site 

 - Pinquely Works list 
 - Piquet Works list 
 - Et. Buffaud & Robatel Works list

All the latest news

The tourist line reaches Rotangy

MTVS members at Crèvecoeur-le-Grand (Oise) achieved their main objective for 2018 when they laid track into Rotangy halt (opposite) in September, completing an extension of the new line for 1.4 km from the level crossing. In October, a crossing loop was under construction beyond the halt. Both sets of points have been brought from the depot along the line and laid in place (see video). Three jobs currently remain to be completed; filling the track bed for the second line of the loop, laying the track to complete the loop and ballasting all the newly laid track (about 700 tons of ballast are needed)

Installation of automatic barriers on the level crossing must be carried out by outside contractors. Once all these final jobs have been completed, the rail authority (STRMG) will then have to come and certify the new section of the line for transport of the public. That process will take up to five months. It is thus hoped that the 2019 season will start in May next year with trains operating to Rotangy and back (7 km round trip). The return leg will have the locomotive in front of the train. 

Opposite is a short video on Youtube of the line, taken by Olivier Janneau from a works train transporting the second set of points. For the first time, a view from the works train crossing the main road
Steam Festival October 6th/7th

For the first time, the traditional MTVS steam festival during the first week end of October was held at Crèvecoeur-le-Grand. The star of the show was the Sarthe Tram No 60 (1898) celebrating its 120th anniversary. It has been a busy year for the steam tram which went to the Blonay-Chamby festival in Switzerland in May for 3 weeks and then operated (for the first time) all the steam trains at Crèvecoeur during the season. As a "birthday present", in May, the "Sarthe" was able to swap its modern bell for an authentic 19th century Sarthe Tramway bell discovered at the BC museum.

All the current stock at Crèvecoeur was on display outside in the unexpected sunshine; 
 - Renault ABH No 201 (1949) transferred from Corsica by FACS, awaiting repairs. 
- Billard A80D railcar No 315 (1938), restoration started - Corpet Louvet 0-3-0T CDN No 36 "Lulu" (1925) awaiting new boiler 
- Corpet Louvet 0-3-0T No 14 (1897) arrived Sept 26th, after purchase by a member. Kept under cover for 40 years, the engine is in good condition and will be restored to service in the medium term. No 14 worked at Cie des Chemins de fer de la Drôme which closed in 1936. The tank engine later operated in the Yonne. Thanks to the previous owner, the current presentation is that of Cie des Chemins de fer Economiques des Charentes(EC), but records show that the engine never worked there. It will be restored to original condition. 
- The historic steam train contained four 2-axle restored carriages (CBR B 328, TDS ABf7, TBC B39, TS B36 and bogie carriage VFEP BB7. 
- a CFD locotractor is in service at Crèvecoeur and operates the works trains. 

Refreshments were available in a big tent and several model railways were on display  
2019 Season 
The new season will start next May at Crèvecoeur-le-Grand. Subject to completion of the line at Rotangy (as explained above) and certification by STRMTG*, there will be a longer journey on board the historic steam train, probably a 30 - 35 minutes round trip. 

 The line will be open for visitors on the same schedule as this year, on two Sunday afternoons each month from May to September, plus the Patrimoine week end, and a steam festival during the first week end of October, Santa specials in December. 

 *Service Technique des Remontées Mécaniques et des Transports Guidés

Paris Trams Update

Tramway T1 

 Ile-de-France Mobilties has launched an invitation to bid for the supply of 115 new trams for tram line T1 that currently links Noisy-le-Sec to Gennevilliers via St Denis. This tramway was opened in 1992 and is currently 16.7 km in length with 36 stops and a journey time of 68 minutes. There are 35 first generation Alstom trams (Tram Français Standard - TFS). These are no longer appropriate for the traffic which has grown to 215,000 passengers daily. 

 There are current projects to extend the T1 tramway  westwards towards Courbevoie and eastwards to Val-de-Fontany (RER A). The easterly extension has been stalled by the municipality of Noisy-le-Sec for over ten years,  although agreement has now been reached ( to the original plan !) work has not yet started due to financial problems. The planned order for 115 new trams will cover the needs for the extended T1  which will then be operated in two sections to the east and west of Bobigny. Due to physical restrictions at the stops, the new trams will have a maximum length of 33m and a width of 2.40m. Capacity will be 15% more than the TFS trams. The new trams will have low level access, large windows, video protection, information screens. 
Tramway T3b 

 The extension of Tramway T3b from Porte de la Chapelle to Porte d'Asnières will be opened on November 24th. It has taken 4 years to construct the 4.7 km. of double track tram line along the Boulevard des Maréchaux.around the north of Paris. A number of road underpasses had to be filled in and delays occurred due to asbestos problems. There will be 8 new stops:

Porte de Poissoniers 
Porte de Clignancourt (M4) 
Porte de Montmartre 
Porte de St Ouen (M13) 
Porte de Pouchet 
Porte de Clichy (M13, RER C) 
Porte d'Asnières (temporary terminus pending further extension)

14 new trams are needed and it is expected that 89,000 passengers a day will travel on the new extension. T3b starts from Porte de Vincennes,which is the terminus of T3a coming from Pont du Garigliano.  
© Peter Lovell & Graham Skinner. The French Railways Society 2018. Photos by authors unless credited. Thanks to D Michel Costes, Georges Turpin, Christophe Masse, Jean-Marc Frybourg and Michael Bunn.
© The French Railways Society 2018, - 2019 All Rights Reserved
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