July 2023 News

An unidentified Class BB 26000 crosses the viaduc Anthéor on 20th July with the daily Vintimille – Miramas freight. Photo: Christophe Masse

Uncertain future for SNCF Fret

The future of SNCF Fret appears uncertain as the government seeks to negotiate a resolution acceptable to both the EU Commission and French rail unions over the state subsidies of more than €5 billion given to SNCF Fret to write off its debts and provide working capital when SNCF was restructured at the end of 2019 (see article in March News). The government had initially suggested that it was supporting rail freight due to its environmental benefits, and thus was consistent with wider EU objectives. However, for state aid to be acceptable, it must conform with EU regulations and not give one operator an economic advantage over its competitors. In simple terms, it should apply to the traffic flows and be open to all operators rather than a cash injection to the balance sheet.

With SNCF Fret unable to repay the subsidies, the outcome could be similar to Alitalia’s situation in 2021 where ‘economic discontinuance’ was required. The state-funded airline was forced to sell off some of its assets and flight slots, and a smaller state-owned carrier AIT (Italia Trasporto Aereo SpA) was formed under normal economic conditions with a structure compatible with EU state-aid rules. Recapitalisation involving tens of billions of euros was also authorised for other European flag carriers. An additional complication for the French government is that rail unions are demanding no job cuts or privatisation of SNCF Fret. Given the recent industrial action over raising of the pension age, the government will be anxious to avoid another summer of disrupted rail travel.

Following a meeting between Transport Minister Clément Beaune, SNCF President Jean-Pierre Farandou and representatives from four railway trade unions at the end of April, Beaune confirmed that he would seek a responsible solution for Fret SNCF with no staff laid off, no privatisation and no modal shift. The initial proposal is for the current structure to be broken up and the trainload business offered to other operators. This constitutes about 30% of the business and 20% of revenue. The rolling stock used on these flows would be made available to new operators. Staff would have the option of staying with SNCF or transferring to the new operators. This would include the high-profile train des primeurs fruit and vegetable train from Perpignan to Rungis in Paris. This was reintroduced in October 2021 with a government subsidy until the end of 2024. The government hopes to negotiate an agreement with the EU Commission by the end of the year. A tender process for the trainload business would be concluded in July 2024, allowing a new company based on wagonload freight to come into existence at the beginning of 2025. SNCF would be the majority shareholder, with other public entities and the private sector able to have minority holdings. 
The proposals are made against a backdrop of wider investment in France's railways. Details are slowly emerging of the €100 billion plan to revitalise rail announced by Prime Minister Élisabeth Borne earlier this year to achieve decarbonisation and climate change targets. This will include €4 billion to improve infrastructure on the main freight arteries, with tunnel loading gauge enlarged and modernisation of yards such as Woippy and Miramas. Direct aid to operators will also increase from €170 million a year to €200 million a year from 2025.

Night train to Aurillac

As promised by the then prime minister in 2021, Aurillac is to join the Trains de Nuit network with the timetable change on 10th December, a move that has delighted local authorities and green groups. The service will run daily during Zone C school holidays and out Friday from Paris back Sunday throughout the year. After splitting from L'Occitan 19.40 Paris Austerlitz to Rodez/Albi at Brive-la-Gaillarde, it will call at Saint-Denis-près-Martel, Bretenoux-Biars and Laroquebrou before Aurillac is reached at 08.20.
Suggestions locally that Mende would make a suitable terminus for the Aurillac train have not been taken forward, though Clermont-Ferrand is shown as its final destination on the 2030 proposed network map (opposite). A good connection at Aurillac would link several poorly-served towns to the night network: Saint-Flour (currently just one train each way daily), Saint-Chély-d’Apcher, Marvejols and Mende (préfecture of Lozère départment), though late-morning arrival at the latter town would make the journey quite a haul for Paris passengers. 

On other changes to the night network, the Lourdes portion of Le Pyrénéen will be extended to Hendaye during the summer holiday period, serving Pau, Orthez and Dax (reverse), while the Cerbère portion will run via the Rhône valley stopping at Nîmes Centre, Montpellier Saint-Roch, Sète, Agde and Béziers before regaining its usual route at Narbonne. Stations between Toulouse and Narbonne will now be served by TER connections. This route change is to ease pressure at Toulouse once work starts on the Bordeaux – Toulouse LGV. With Le Pyrénéen likely to run via Bordeaux for the same reason, SNCF has not been able to say what will become of the Latour-de-Carol portion (carrying 40,000 passengers annually) which is accordingly seen as vulnerable by the pressure group Oui au train de nuit.
With passengers doubling to 700,000 in 2022, the government appears enthusiastic about night trains, issuing a map showing how the network might look in 2030. A further 127 coaches are being refurbished for night use, but Oui au train de nuit  points to the lack of commitment to building new rolling stock, while SNCF internal documents reveal the huge maintenance and operating costs for loco-hauled trains of ancient Corail coaches on which space is occupied only once per 24h as against 4.5 times for a TGV set.  

Map:  Ministère de la Transition écologique 

Grand Est AGC renovation

The first of Grand Est région’s refurbished AGCs rolled out of SNCF’s Bischheim technicentre last month. A total of 166 trains are being given a major half-life upgrade under a 10-year contract worth €584 million agreed in 2021. Apart from overhaul of mechanical and electrical equipment, the interior has been given a striking refit which includes better seating and additional space for cycles and luggage. 

Photos: © Radio France/Aurélie Locquet
Dijon CCR. Photo: SNCF Réseau

CCR project creeps forward

In an interview with Agence France Presse in May, SNCF Réseau’s Head of Infrastructure Alain Quinet gave an update on the scheme begun in 2010 to bring the greater part of the network under the control of regional operations centres. Of some 1,500 signalboxes, only about half are automated; many have equipment dating back to the 1930s. These are being replaced by 20 area-wide control centres commandes centralisées du reseau (CCR), a huge task costed at €35 billion. So far, 11 CCRs are in various stages of development: at Bordeaux, Dijon, Lille, Lyon, Pagny-sur-Moselle, Pantin, Rennes, Saint-Denis, Strasbourg, Toulouse, and Vigneux-sur-Seine, on which some €2.3 billion has been expended. However, with annual funding of only €400 million, it could be 2070 before completion. A further 700 installations at stations on secondary lines fall outside the CCR plan.

Along with signalling automation, the opportunity is being taken to simplify track layouts and ease bottlenecks, remove redundant turnouts and generally upgrade the infrastructure in station areas, plus installation of fibre-optics and GSM-R where appropriate. Each CCR will have a centre opérationnel de gestion des circulations (COGC), an operations centre which will allow rapid recovery from out-of-course events and keep passengers better informed. Provision is being made for future deployment of the Mistral NG communications-based train control system under development since 2014. CCR Dijon is the most advanced, now scheduled for completion in September 2024 at a cost of €144 million. A new building alongside the canal de Bourgogne controls much of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté network, including the old PLM main line and the Rhin-Rhône LGV, with ancillary routes to be brought under central control in stages. 

Speeding-up the project is imperative and Quinet is hoping to secure additional funding in the €100 billion investment programme announced earlier in the year, with the aim of completing CCR during the 2040s.

Vectron trials in France

Siemens Vectron 193 920 spent three weeks at Plouaret-Trégor in Brittany during June undergoing track circuit trials. It arrived at the beginning of the month hauled by veteran CC 72049 and left behind ‘Capitole’-liveried BB 67611on the 23rd June. The move is part of the loco’s type-approval trials for operation in France. The trials were undertaken by RailAdventure on behalf of Siemens. Approval in France  has not been a priority for Siemens given the dominance of Alstom-built locomotives, but former SNCF-owned leasing company Akiem ordered 65 Vectrons last year and approval  would open up cross-border opportunities for workings from Belgium, Germany, Switzerland and Italy where Vectrons already operate. 

Photos: Michel Joindot

SNCF Voyageurs gearing up for summer

As the peak summer months of July and August approach, SNCF Voyageurs reports that bookings for the peak holiday period are 10% up on the same period last year, equivalent to about 500,000 journeys. Overall demand is expected to be strongest during July when there is still a high level of business travel during the week, while in August travel tends to be concentrated at the weekends. However, a trend apparent since the pandemic with more tele/home working, is for weekend travel to start on Thursday afternoons with returns spilling over the weekend into Monday and Tuesday morning. 

Capacity this year has been increased by planning to operate the equivalent of extra 900 trains offering an additional 450,000 seats. This will be achieved by strengthening existing services and a number of new options. SNCF expects to have 364 TGVs available this summer (including the Ouigo, Lyria and cross-border fleets), four more than last year due to the delivery of the final six Euroduplex Océane sets. This has enabled an additional 20,000 seats a week to be added to Paris – Bordeaux services by strengthening certain services. Other additions include:

  • On Saturdays from 8th July to 26th August, a Bordeaux – Frankfurt service via Angoulême, Saint-Pierre-des Corps, Massy TGV, Meuse TGV, Lorraine TGV, Strasbourg, Karlsruhe, and Mannheim. 
  • From 8th July to 3rd September, an additional daily Inoui service between Paris and Barcelona.
  • Three new Ouigo services: Paris – La Rochelle with a round trip from Friday to Monday serving Niort and Surgères, Paris – Brest  daily serving Saint-Brieuc, Guingamp and Morlaix, and Paris – Perpignan serving Sète, Agde, Béziers and Narbonne.
As reported above from 8 th July to 2nd September, the Paris – Tarbes – Lourdes night train is extended to serve Pau, Orthez, Dax, Bayonne, Biarritz, Saint-Jean-de-Luz-Ciboure and Hendaye daily, while the Paris –  Cerbère train runs daily with stops at places served only in summer, such as Rivesaltes, Leucate-la-Franqui and Port la Nouvelle. 

To improve reliability, heavy maintenance is limited during the summer period and staff will concentrate on routine repairs to keep the fleet operational. Four TGV sets will be rostered spare, one for each of the main axes. To ensure passenger comfort, preventative maintenance will take given to air-conditioning components. In an attempt to reduce residual heat, 20 TGV sets will have anti-UV screens attached to the windows; the roofs of the Corail stock on Paris – Toulouse POLT services will be painted white to reflect the heat. 

To improve customer experience and help maintain punctuality a number of ‘soft options’ will be in operation including baggage assistants and flow managers at busy stations, QR coded luggage labels and free books for children.
On 23rd June Intercités 3650 awaits departure from Toulouse Matabiau for its 7h run over the old Capitole main line to Paris Austerlitz. Scheduled to leave at 10.22, the train eventually departed at 10.43. Tired looking Sybic BB 26032 was in charge of eight Corail coaches of 1970s vintage.Photo: Chris Bushell

Oxygène for Bordeaux – Marseille TET 

Uncertainty over the future of the Bordeaux – Toulouse – Marseille Intercités TET service (see May News) was resolved on 8th June when Transport Minister Clément Beaune announced an €450 million order for trains to replace the route’s life-expired Corail coaches. CAF will build an additional 20 Oxygène trainsets under the option to supply a total of 75, following on from the 28 sets due to enter service next year on POLT and Paris – Clermont-Ferrand. Included in the investment is a new maintenance depot at a location yet to be decided. The trains will be built at CAF’s Reichshoffen plant, acquired last year from Alstom. The first of the POLT trains was delivered last month by road to Hendaye from the CAF factory at Beasain in Spain, en route to Velim.

Meanwhile, in an attempt to quell passengers’ complaints about late-running and the poor state of the trains, the Corail stock is receive a short-term makeover with enhanced air-conditioning and possibly white livery to mitigate the effects of high exterior temperatures. Onboard staff presence will be increased to cope with the frequent incidence of breakdowns. 

Image: SNCF

Bordeaux RER funding

Visiting Bordeaux on 9th June, Transport minister Clément Beaune announced State participation in funding the city’s RER to a maximum of €150 million. In the first stage, inaugurated in 2022, services to Arcachon and Libourne were augmented and linked to provide a cross-city train every hour. In the next phase, there will be through trains between Langon and Saint-Mariens-Saint-Yzan (half-hourly by 2028), followed by a much improved timetable for the Médoc line to Le Verdun. 
Bordeaux’s embryo RER: at Pessac on 31st May Train 866242 15.05 Arcachon – Libourne makes its last stop before Bordeaux Saint-Jean, whence it will run through to Libourne calling at all stations. This service (Line 41+) runs almost hourly on weekdays but only irregularly at weekends.

Formed of  Régio 2N 413 (Z 56325/5607326) one of Nouvelle-Aquitaine's fleet of 24 Class Z56300, the sub class (which is also shared with Occitanie) being equipped with pantographs that enable them to operate under the Midi catenary, but have the 25kv AC systems isolated
Photo: Chris Bushell

Gare de Lyon modernisation

The initial consultation on modernising the Seine side of Gare de Lyon concluded at the end of June.  Located on the rue de Bercy the existing "slab front" will be completely redesigned in order to open the station to the city, facilitating access and offer a range of catering and shopping outlets.

The project will cover 20,400 m2 on 4 levels and include two new vertical links between the street level and the RATP halls. One of the key objectives will be to improve links between the different modes of urban transport (train, bus, walking and cycling) with secure storage for 600 cycles proposed

Hybrid  Régiolis handed over

At a ceremony at Toulouse Reynal on 14th June the hybrid dual-mode Régiolis B 83519/20 was formally handed over to SNCF and Occitanie region TER by Alstom following successful testing at Velim and on the Toulouse – Mazamet/Rodez lines.  

Two of the unit’s four diesel engines have been replaced with lithium-ion batteries that can be recharged from overhead catenary, the diesel engines and energy created from braking (see May News)

Another 10,000km of service testing will take place while authorisation is obtained from Établissement public de sécurité ferroviaire (EPSF) before normal commercial operations begin in December. The three hybrid units ordered by Occitanie region are scheduled to operate the Montréjeau – Luchon line reopening next year. Photo: Alstom/Emmanuel Grimault

Arriva planning Paris – Groningen

Arriva has applied to the Dutch Consumers & Markets Authority (ACM) for approval of its first open access international train service. This will run between Groningen in the north of the Netherlands and Paris, calling at Amsterdam, Schiphol Airport, Rotterdam, Antwerp, Brussels and Paris. 

If approved, the service would start in summer 2026 with a daily return journey departing from Groningen at 05.30 and arriving in Paris at 10.40. The return from Paris would be at 19.15 arriving in Groningen at 00.30. There would also be a return Paris – Amsterdam fill-in trip during the day.

Red for …?

May saw the start of roll-out in Île-de-France of colour-coded information on train loadings. Using data gathered by infra-red train-door sensors, passenger-information screens and mobile-phone apps display red (no seats available), amber (few seats) and green (plenty of seats). The aim is spread passengers comfortably through busy trains to avoid door-closing problems, and also to alert travellers who may feel uncomfortable in packed trains. The system should be particularly helpful during next year’s Olympic Games, when 7 million daily spectators will be on the move. 

Bordeaux airport success

Despite teething troubles since opening on 29th April, Bordeaux’s tram extension to Mérignac airport recorded 10,000 journeys daily during its first month of operation against forecasts of 6,500, amounting to some 40% of airport travellers.

Basque RER project

Local authorities on both sides of the Franco-Spanish border are pressing ahead with plans for a Réseau Express Basque centred on Bayonne, the spine of which would be a new half-hourly service to San Sebastián in Spain (46 km). In addition, the long-standing RER Pyrénéen project would see improved frequencies on lines radiating from Bayonne to Cambo-les-Bains on the branch to St-Jean-Pied-de-Port, and to Pau and Tarbes.  

Currently no through trains cross the Spanish border, passengers from SNCF arrivals at Hendaye must change to Euskotren’s metre-gauge trains to San Sebastián, or seek out RENFE broad-gauge locals at Irún. As a result, no more than 1% of the 3.5 million annual journeys along the coastal strip are made by train. However, 2024 should see dual-gauge reach the border under the Basque Y project, providing the catalyst for the proposed Bayonne – San Sebastián service. Purchase of a fleet of 1,435mm gauge dual-voltage 1.5 kV/3 kV DC EMUs is costed at €83 million. Increased revenue is projected to cover operating costs, but the proposals supported by local sociétes d’économie mixte have not so far received State backing.  

In the first stage of the Pyrénéen scheme, an express bus service along the coast starts this summer, while 2025 should see introduction of a more frequent Bayonne – Cambo shuttle on the St-Jean-Pied-de-Port line.

TAN becomes Naolib

Transports en commun de l'agglomération nantaise (TAN), the Nantes public transport authority, is changing its marketing name to Naolib from September, grouping together the entire tramway, bus and mobility offers of TAN, Effia, Nge parking and bicloo.

Keolis for GPE Lines 16 and 17

Keolis has been chosen as preferred bidder to operate Grand Paris Express fully-automated metro Lines 16 and 17. After a two-year pre-operating phase before opening in late-2026, the contract covers six years. 

Ariège seeks freight links

The Communauté de Communes de la Haute-Ariège (CCHA), grouping communes in southern Ariège, is petitioning various bodies including the State, SNCF Réseau and the government of Andorra to grasp an opportunity to develop freight service on the Toulouse – Latour-de-Carol line. The aim would be to reduce the carbon footprint of two of the area’s major businesses, La Compagnie des Pyrénées (bottled water) and Imerys Talc de Luzenac (quarrying), by shifting their output to rail transport. Both have submitted proposals to a €70,000 feasibility study commissioned by CCHA. 

RENFE’s French subsidiary

RENFE completed registration in Lyon on 12th June of its new French subsidiary as a provider of domestic and international passenger services, travel, tourism and complementary activities. It will now be free to press ahead with its proposed services to France, comprising one or more daily high-speed Barcelona – Lyon and Madrid – Marseille with stops at Perpignan, Narbonne, Béziers, Nîmes, Montpellier, Avignon and Valence.

Blanc Argent summer upgrade

Centre-Val de Loire région is investing €8.8 million over two years to rehabilitate parts of the CF Blanc-Argent, one of SNCF’s handful of metre-gauge railways, which plays a major role in transporting students to school in Romorantin. 

Work started on 5th June, initially at night but with the line closed throughout during July and August. This summer’s tasks comprise sleeper and ballast replacement on the 5km section between Chabris and Varennes-sur-
Fouzon as well as complete track renewal in the station areas at Romorantin, Pruniers, Chabris and Valençay. 

A similar summer-holiday closure next year will see sleepers and ballast replaced on a further 3km, renewal of the level crossing at Loreux and new station track at Villeherviers (photo opposite) and Selles-Saint-Denis. Completion will allow line-speed to be raised and secure the affected sections for another 15 years. 

More trains for Occitanie

‘Continuing our partnership’ is the theme of Occitanie région’s new agreement with SNCF approved at the end of March, covering the period through to 2032 and with a budget of €4 billion. Building on the increase in services since 2018, the accord will see an additional 110 trains providing 27% more seats daily and further extension of the popular €1 tariff that gives Occitanie the cheapest fares in France. Investment of €540 million will add 18 Régio 2N MUs by 2026, while the fleet of 83 AGC trains will be renovated. A new maintenance facility is to be opened at Narbonne in 2026. An important change to the previous convention will see the région become outright legal owner of the rolling stock that it has been financing 100% since 2020.

 Stricter standards of punctuality and reliability are set out, with penalties due from SNCF to be reimbursed to passengers.
 Staff presence on trains will be maintained and augmented, also at busy stations which will be staffed throughout the service day. Another 17 stations will be made fully accessible (see separate item). 

Occitanie’s long-term ambition to reopen five lines should be realised during this period. As previously reported, these are: Rhône right-bank service Avignon to Pont-Saint-Esprit (open), Montréjeau – Luchon (2024), then Alès – Bessèges, Rodez – Sévérac-le-Château – (Millau), and Limoux – Quillan. 

Opposite  Occitaine  Z 56300 series Régio 2N between Muret and Portet-Saint-Simon on 27th May. This sub class is designed to operate under the Midi catenary Photo: Georges Turpin

SNCF wins first Pays de la Loire contract

Lot 1 of Pays de la Loire région’s tendering for TER service provision has been won by SNCF, against competition from Transdev and the Régionéo consortium of RATP Dev and Getlink. The Sud-Loire contract comprises 30% of the région’s TER routes and also includes the Nantes – Châteaubriant tram-train.

Accessibility News

Construction starts shortly on the long-awaited replacement for the subway between the platforms at Pau in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, a station used by 900,000 passengers a year. Designed by SNCF in-house architectural practice AREP, the footbridge will be sited at the west end of the station outside the marquise, with lifts serving all three platforms.(photo opposite - AREP) Lengthy ramps will provide access from the forecourt, where major works completed last month have replaced the cramped short-stay parking with a larger pedestrian area and gardens, as well as from the south side. On completion, the station will be fully accessible to personnes à mobilité à réduite (PMR). Cost of the project is €38 million. 
Elsewhere in Nouvelle-Aquitaine, this month sees completion of accessibility works at Périgueux, where a substantial footbridge was erected in January. Top photo below. (Photo: Grand Périgueux)
This marks the final stage of the so-called RER Périgourdin, bringing improved services to stations and halts on lines radiating from Périgueux.  At one of these, Marsac-sur-I’Isle, (middle photo) the new footbridge and raised platforms were officially opened on 10th June. Photo: Stéphane Klein/Sud Ouest 

Also at the planning stage is the creation of a multi-mode interchange at Saint-Jean-de-Luz Ciboure where access from the town centre is impeded by the busy RD 810 road. With 340,000 passengers annually pre-covid, the station is likely to see substantial traffic growth as the Réseau Express Basque develops (see separate report). As well as better access for buses, cyclists and pedestrians, there will be new parking areas on both sides of the station. Work on this €11 million scheme is expected to start in 2025.

Occitanie’s latest station to be made fully accessible is Villefranche-de-Rouergue on the line from Toulouse to Brive/Aurillac via Capdenac  (bottom photo). Completed at a cost of €3.1 million, the works comprised raising to 55cm and resurfacing of platforms, rebuilding ramps and steps, new station furniture and lighting, and construction of a shelter on Platform B. The main station building, used by 60,000 passengers a year, has been entirely renovated and accessible toilets provided. Energy-efficient LED lighting is installed throughout. (Photo AREP)

In the Schéma Directeur Régional d’Accessibilité approved in 2016, financed 75% by the region and 25% by the State, 43 of Occitanie’s stations were identified as being in urgent need of improved access for PMR. Work has been completed at 13 and a further 12 schemes are underway this year: at Cahors, Saint-Gaudens, Mazamet, Figeac, Mende, Villefranche Vernet-les-Bains, Rodez, Auterive, Pamiers, Saverdun, Saint-Cyprien-Arènes, and Marvejols. The final stage, due for completion in 2025, covers Béziers, Montauban, Narbonne, Perpignan, Lourdes, Sète, Tarbes, Carcassonne, Alès, Nîmes, Carmaux, Moissac, Saint-Agne, Latour-de-Carol, Agde and Colomiers.  

Cévenol  running again

Friday 9th June saw reopening of the northern section of the Nîmes – Clermont-Ferrand line after the usual seasonal closure for maintenance of the Gorges d’Allier tunnels. Following improvements at Langogne last year, the little-used stations at Monistrol-d’Allier, Alleyras (photo opposite courtesy Dr) and Chapeauroux have now been refurbished.

Welcoming the resumption of service, the users’ group Collectif des Usagers des transports du haut Allier pointed to work yet to be carried out, such as replacement of life-expired lighting, better access to the car parking at Alleyras, and raising platform height. The group repeated its demand for an improvement on the three daily trains, in particular a morning departure to reach Clermont earlier than the current 13.17. This could be achieved by running a train north from La Bastide-St-Laurent to connect at St-Georges-d’Aurac with a service from Le Puy-en-Velay to Clermont. Similarly, extension of the last train from Clermont to Brioude at 21.27 could provide a late-evening service Langeac.

Pilgrims to Lourdes

The decline in locomotive-hauled stock in recent years, particularly on cross-border routes, has reduced the variety of rolling stock in everyday use. Pilgrim trains to Lourdes remain an exception; while domestic pilgrim charters are now TGVs, those from abroad still bring some interesting stock. Above: BB 7250 is seen between Muret and Portet-Saint-Simon on 11th May with a 14-coach charter from Hamburg to Lourdes. On 27th May a 15-coach charter ran from Osnabrück to Lourdes and is seen below on its return on 1st June with a number of interesting vehicles. Top left: Voiture WGm D-EURO 56 80 8980 009-4. Top right: Fourgon Dm D-EURO 56 80 9240 800-0. Lower left: Voiture WRmh D-EURO 61 80 8870 113-0. Lower right: Having been brought into Toulouse Matabiau by BB 7250 (still the only class of passenger electric locomotive allowed between Toulouse and Lourdes), BB 26004 heads away from Toulouse. All photos: Georges Turpin

Vivarais - ten years on

It is now 10 years since the Chemin de Fer du Vivarais was reopened by tourist operator Kléber Rossillon as the Train de l'Ardeche. Services had been suspended in April 2008 by order of the conseil général de l’Ardèche due to the poor state of the infrastructure and rolling stock.  

The original shared terminus with SNCF and dual-gauge track at Tournon has been abandoned for a new station, Tournon St Jean, situated at Saint-Jean-de-Muzols. Changes such as introduction of new open-sided passenger stock and the Vélorail des Gorges du Doux operation will make for a more financially-sustainable future while losing some of the atmosphere of the old CFD Vivarais.
Top: On 8th June CFD Montmirail BB 404 is seen approaching Colombier-le-Vieux on ‘Le Mastrou’ 10.15 Tournon St Jean – Lamastre with a train of traditional stock.   
Middle: Mallet 414 is seen on the afternoon Train des Gorges approaching Douce Plage on the return run to Tournon. The length of this service depends on the number of coach bookings. 

The Vélorail offers four different options over a 24km section depending on the season.. Autorails are used to haul the chariots uphill, with participants then cycling on the flat and downhill return sections. On 6th June Billard Type a 150 D autorails 214 and 213 are seen heading westwards from Boucieu-le-Roi towards with the "Parcours des Châtaigniers"
All photos: Malcolm Ravensdale

Farewell Toulouse Airport Tram T2

Sunday 4th June saw the final day of operation on the Blagnac Airport limb of Toulouse tram route T2  to Palais de Justice. It is now closed for three years and the infrastructure will be used to create an  expressway linking the airport to the new Jean Maga station in six minutes with connections into the tram network. The frequency  will beincreased from fifteen to every five minutes. 

The work is part of the expansion of Toulouse's light rail network. The new Jean Maga station will be built on the existing T1 tram line between Ancely and Servanty Airbus.
Opposite, one of the last departures waits to leave Blagnac Airport on the 4th June. Photo: Georges Turpin

Additions to FRS Photographic Archive during June 2023

To Photographic section

Additions to Folder 1 

  • AJECTA Festival May 2023 Gallery - photos by Jacques Pore & Glyn Thomas 
  • Added 45 B&W images from March/April 1949 to Miscellaneous B&W gallery in Folder 1 
PS:  Any additions to Folders 4, 7 & 11 (originating from Wikipedia & other sources) have COPYRIGHT RESTRICTIONS and are intended for personal enjoyment by members only

To Locations section

  • LVDR 2125/Dec 1987 - Fifty years of SNCF

Additions to the FRS public folder during June 2023 

  •  A comprehensive photographic index for the images in the Denis Lewis gallery 
  • Updated photographic index for “Miscellaneous B&W” gallery 
© Peter Lovell & Chris Bushell. The French Railways Society 2023. With thanks to  Georges Turpin, Christophe Masse, Michel Joindot and Malcolm Ravensdale