June 2019 News

Not long for this world

On the evening of Sunday 12th May, five days before its 46th birthday BB 15009  is still in front line service as it passes Romilly-la-Puthenaye, PK133. (between Serquigny and Evreux, Normandie) with the 18.42 (IC 3392) from Trouville-Deauville, non-stop to Paris Saint-Lazare. New Bombardier Omneo Premium units are scheduled to be introduced from the end of the year. Photo by D Michel Costes.

'Vive le Train!'

Between the 13th and 18th May , SNCF held 'Vive le Train!', opening their doors to the public at 150 sites. Centrepiece of the initiative was at Gare de l"Est on 15th/16th May when the SNCF Orient-Express set was on display to celebrate the current phase of the Orient-Express restoration programme. In 2011 SNCF acquired seven Pullman lounge cars and historic dining cars dating from the 1920s. An ambitious restoration program has just ended with the renovation of the 7th and last car, 4148 'Côte d'Azur'. After more than a year of restoration, 4148 built in 1929 by the Charentais industrial establishments in La Rochelle, has been returned to its original condition as a saloon, following modification in the 1970s into a bar car. With Montmartre in the background the seven vehicles are seen passing through Rosa Parks returning to Villeneuve-Prairie on the evening of 16th May hauled by BB 25236. 

In 2015, SNCF discovered 16 former Orient Express carriages* (in surprisingly good condition) parked in a forest in Poland near the border with Belarus. After several years of negotiations with the owner, SNCF purchased all the historic vehicles and they were transported by road to Clermont-Ferrand at the end of 2018. Currently SNCF is evaluating the situation to decide the scope of renovation of these carriages for the Orient Express programme. 
* 9 Wagon Lits, 4 voitures salon, 1 voiture douche, 2 fourgons.  

 Below. 231 K 8 and CC 40110 were also on display at Gare de l'Est and are seen in a thunderstorm heading for Vaires for turning before returning to Le Bourget. Both photos Christophe Masse
On the 25th May 231 K 8  was in action again hauling  MFPN's "The Champagne Express" from Paris-Gare du Nord to Reims via Soissons and Laon. This train is seen at Juilly shortly after Dammartin-en-Goële on its return to the capital against a backdrop of a thundery sky. - Photo: Christophe Masse

Major changes to SNCF discount cards

On May 9th major changes took place to the range of discount cards offered by SNCF, with the introduction of a new range of cards offering different benefits. The old cards such as the  Carte Jeune, Carte Weekend and Carte Senior+ cost €60 (although often discounted) and typically offered a 25% reduction (40% in first class) for journeys starting at peak times and 50% off-peak on TGV, Intercites and TER services. 

These have been replaced by four new Carte Avantages; Jeune (12 - 26 years old), Weekend (27 - 59 years old), Familie (2 adults and up to three children) and Senior (60 years+). Costing €49 the new cards provide a 30% discount on tickets for TGV and Intercite services. The Familie and Weekend card are quite restricted as they require ticketholders to spend at least one weekend night away. The cards offer a 'guaranteed' 25% on TER services where the regional transport authority accepts with users advised to check individual regional TER websites. Existing cards can continue to be used or traded in for a refund. No discounts are available on Ouigo and Intercite 100% ECO trains, although the latter is expected to be phased out before too long.

The background to the changes appears to stem from the Fusion des Regions in 2016 that saw the creation of larger Regional TERs (Trains Regional Express) with new opportunities particularly for Grand Est and Hauts de France, and a desire to become more independant and distance themselves from SNCF. With the transfer of Intercite services at the beginning of the year Grand Est TER now provides both Paris - Mulhouse services via Belfort and a Paris - Strasbourg semi-fast service on the traditional route, while Hauts de France TER provide (apart from TGVs) all medium and distance services from Gare du Nord and in the north of France, making them much bigger players in the provision of rail services. Since the beginning of the year Hauts de France has been offering local discounts that are at least the equivalent of the SNCF discount cards. They have recently introduced their TER Hauts-de-France Card, offering a 50% discount on all tickets  for journeys within the region, and to Paris and the Eure and Seine-Maritime departments. This costs €30 for over 26 years old and over and €15 for under 26s, with the discount also applying to up to three companions travelling with the card holder. Centre Val de Loire TER has  introduced discount cards offering a 50% discount during the week, increasing to 66% at weekends at €20 for under 26 and €200 for 27 and older


Since 2007, a train of refrigerated vans arrives every night at Rungis fresh food wholesale market (*) near Paris Orly airport. The train carries 1,000 - 1,400 tons of fruit and vegetables loaded at Perpignan in the Pyrénées Orientales. In 2010, a modernisation of the rail terminus at Rungis was carried out at a cost of 21 million euros. 

 This express freight is operated by SNCF for the account of a local transport firm. There are short term contracts of 12 or 24 months. Currently 82 refrigerated vans are leased and they are now 40 years old. The train is operated at 140 kph with a Sybic loco. The schedule is for a departure from Perpignan at 16.37 and arrival at Rungis (MIN)** at 02.51 (via Narbonne, Toulouse, Bordeaux, St Pierre des Corps, Les Aubrais, Juvisy). The return journey departs from Rungis at 20.48 and it arrives at Perpignan at 09.03. (Schedules of May 14th/15th). 

 This express rail freight service carries 400,000 tons of fresh produce a year and replaces 25,000 lorries annually on the motorways of France and the congested roads around Orly airport.

 In May 2019, a flurry of news stories swept through French media that reported a serious risk that the Perpignan - Rungis train would cease to run at the end of June 2019 and would have to be replaced by road transport, another ecological disaster looming. The problem has been known for over a year. SNCF proposes to lease new refrigerated wagons, but no agreement has been reached with the local transport company which cannot afford the increased prices of the new contract. As the deadline approaches, many parties are scurrying around looking for solutions. Rungis (MIN) has offered 300,000 euros as a temporary subsidy to allow the train to continue for another year or two with the old wagons while a solution is found. 

 * Rungis fresh food wholesale market near Paris is the largest in the world. 1.7 million tons of produce are brought to the market annually. Every night 13,000 people work on the site and 26,000 vehicles enter and leave the market. Rungis supplies fresh food to 18 million consumers. 

** Marché d'intérêt National 

 Above -  The empty Rungis - Perpignan express freight train between Carcassonne and Narbonne on 26th Sept 2018 at 10.10 am near Conilhac-Corbières. Photo: Pierre Colson

News in Brief

What's in a name?

Further moves, as regions seek to reinforce their identity, have seen Centre Val-de-Loire Region rename its TER network "Rémi", details via this link,  while   Grand Est has renamed its local trains and buses; "Fluo Grand Est" 

Beauvais - Le Treport

There will be five return services daily at Le Tréport when the line reopens next December (2 more than when the line closed). The local communauté des communes has purchased the station building from SNCF. It will be renovated and the Tourist Office will be installed there as well as a ticket office. 

Vapeur de Trieux

This summers season will start on the 15th June. More information on the website via this link

AURILLAC inaccessible by rail this summer 

As in recent summers, the line from Arvant to Aurillac will be closed for engineering work and replacement services will be operated by road transport. From May 13th until Oct 18th, the section from Vic-sur-Cère to Neussargues will be closed. 11.3 km of track will be replaced and the water tower at Le Lioran will be renovated. The total budget is 9 million euros. The line from Aurillac to Brive is due to re-open on June 3rd. But the branch from Aurillac to Figeac / Toulouse remains closed. 
Steam to Cayeux

Steam is scheduled to return to St Valery - Cayeux services on the CFBS this year on the following dates:
Dimanche 16 Juin (« Vapeur au Crotoy ») 
Dimanche 30 Juin 
Samedi 13 Juillet 
Samedi 20 Juillet 
Samedi 27 Juillet 
Samedi 3 Août 
Samedi 10 Août 
Jeudi 15 Août (Fête de la gare de Cayeux) 
Samedi 17 Août 
Samedi 24 Août 
Dimanche 8 Septembre 
Samedi 21 Septembre (Journées du patrimoine) Dimanche 22 Septembre (Journées du patrimoine)

Velay Express buys BoB trailors

VFV (Velay Express) has purchased two 1987 built driver trailors from BoB at Interlaken. Photo and more information via this link

141 R 420 update

Train à vapeur d' Auvergne recently reported that repairs to the boiler of 141 R 420 are largely complete and just three tubes need to be replaced. A significant amount of work is required on the historic rake of coaches to maintain mainline accreditation. The asscoiations push-pull RRR set will be used on the Gorges d'Allier tourist train this summer with traction provided by CMR

MTVS approved to operate to Rotangy

On Friday May 3rd MTVS received formal approval to extend passenger operations from Crevecoeur-le-Grand to Rotangy where a run around loop has been installed. 

 The event marks the significant progress that is being made by MTVS in restoring and converting the former Crèvecoeur to St Omer-en-Chaussée line to metre gauge, that has included the installation of automatic barriers where the line crosses the D149. 

 Services this summer (see dates opposite above) will be hauled by the Blanc-Misseron former Sarthe tramway 0-6-0T No 60, more information is available from the MTVS website via this link

Shortly returning to service is MTVS's 0-3-0T Corpet Louvet No 75 (1909) built for the Tramways d'Ile-et-Vilaine (TIV). The loco is currently under general overhaul and  the boiler has been sent to CITEV in the Gard.  The return to service of the TIV will be welcome and it will provide back-up to the Sarthe on the newly extended line from Crèvecoeur-le-Grand. 

 Inauguration of TFBCO Tourist train

On May 4th, in rather poor weather, TFBCO (Tourisme Ferroviaire de la Brie Champenoise à l'Ormoie) opened their tourist train for the first time at Montmirail, Marne, after a 20 year epic battle against opposition from SNCF Réseau (formerly RFF), and other rail authorities.

The association is based in the former Compagnie de l'Est Batiment Voyageur that they were able to purchase. Opposite the BV is the VFLI repair shop that employs 23 staff. An 8 km line from Montmirail to Artonges is managed by VFLI. 
TFBCO acquired Picasso X 3926 to operate on Sundays. In this first season, there is a round trip on Sunday mornings and another in the afternoon between Montmirail and Artonges. Passengers are not allowed to get off and the Picasso just stops 2-3 minutes at the end of the VFLI section of the line. 

TFBCO would like to extend its tourist trip from Artonges along the freight line to Mèzy which is on the Val de Marne TER line. But since their project started no trains stop anymore at Mèzy. 

 Photos by D Michel Costes and Georges Turpin.

Belgian tram loco visiting CFBS for 'Vapeur au Crotoy'

Over the weekend of the 15th/16th June the CFBS will be holding a 'Vapeur au Crotoy' event. The main attraction will be the attendance of ASVI's HL 303 vicinal tram locomotive built in 1888. There will also be a variety of attractions at Le Crotoy station and the normal service of four trains each way will be supplemented by an additional eight services each way between Le Crotoy and Morlay or Noyelles. The timetable is available  via this link

The CFBS's operational fleet this year consists of Haine St Pierre 2-6-0T No. 15,
Corpet Louvet 2-6-0T No.1, Buffaud Robatel 0-6-2T No. 3714 and Pinguely      0-6-0T No. 101. They will shortly be joined by Cail 2-6-0T No. 2 that has just had its boiler exchanged and re-tubed and is waiting certification.

Former Correze Tramway Pinguet 0-6-0T No. 4 is currently undergoing restoration for the 2021 Fête de Vapeur, which will also see the return to service of Corpet Louvet 0-4-0 No. 25 following boiler repairs.

 In the longer term Corpet Louvet 0-6-0T 'La Scarpe' the only locomotive to have worked on the CFBS before the preservation era is scheduled to return to service in 2024 to mark the 60th anniversary of the closure of the raperie at Lanchères where it worked. Its wheels will soon be despatched to Martigny in Switzerland for repair.

There is no date for the return to service of former Reseau Breton 4-6-0T No. 332. The rear axle needs a major repair and restoration will take place when a larger turntable has been installed at Noyelles to eliminate the need for cab first running.

Additions to FRS Photographic Archive during May 2019

 Course de Chemin de Fer (Ecole Centrale Paris) - A. Moutiers Jan.1931 - Infrastructure (planches 44 thru 80) - Ecole Centrale Paris 
 MTVS 20 - Tramways St Etienne & Environs 
 MTVS 30 - CdF de Nantes a Lege & Rocheserviere 
 MTVS 34 - Tramway Bordeaux a Cadillac 
 MTVS 37 - CdF Econ Seine & Marne Roanne - Neil Godfrey collection (Canal du Bassin - postcards & drawings) 

No additions to archive indexes on the FRS Yahoo site during May 2019 

Mediocre May challenges photographers

It was not supposed to be like that ! Early May is usually bright and sunny with fluffy white clouds. But not this year ! Our correspondents faced grim conditions on several occasions as they followed 140 C 38 in the LImousin and 140 C 231 in the Seine & Marne.  Lets see the results.

Every year, the steam locomotive in service at Limoges Puy Imbert performs a test run after the winter break. This year, on April 28th, 140 C 38 hauled an interesting mixed goods train with the diesel tucked in behind the steam engine. The weather was very poor with squalls of heavy rain. The photo above by D M Costes shows the train departing from St Leonard-de-Noblat. The scene could have been taken 50 years ago, there are no signs of the 21st century. 
A few kilometres further up the Vienne valley, Georges Turpin photographed the same train starting away from Chateauneuf-Bujaleuf in a cloud of steam and rain. Nearby, D.M.Costes stood on a muddy track to capture a side view of 140 C 38 attacking the gradient up to Eymoutiers. 

 A week later, the weather had not improved. On May 4th, the AJECTA train from Provins is seen below climbing in steady rain with a short train of postal van, an EST 1st/2nd class carriage, Pullman carriage 4155 and CIWL restaurant carriage 4207. Photo G Turpin. The same day, the photo opposite by D.M.Costes shows that the loco was not bothered by the rain on the steep grade with the light load.

Springtime Freight

VFLI E4000s have become a common sight in the Somme Valley operating three return services a day between Caffiers and Mitry-Claye. On 5th May E4043 heads away from Fontaine-sur-Somme towards Amiens with a loaded service. Below. On Saturday May 4th, BB26063, one of the last three members of the class to retain SNCF Fret livery passes Dammartin-Juilly-St-Mard. with a container train to  Valenton from the Delta3 multi-modal site at Dourges near Lens.  Both photos by D Michel Costes.
© Peter Lovell & Graham Skinner. The French Railways Society 2019. Photos by authors unless credited. Thanks to D Michel Costes, Christophe Masse, Georges Turpin and Pierre Colson
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