May 2024 News

Celebrity CC 72084 was in action on the 19th March for the first time this year, captured on the Grande Ceinture near Épinay-sur-Seine hauling 12 condemned Corails from Sotteville to Baroncourt for breaking up. Photo: Jean-Louis Poggi.

Olympics countdown

In an interview on 25th March, ÎdeF Mobilités president Valérie Pécresse gave an upbeat assessment of transport preparedness for the Olympic Games in the face of widespread scepticism of the gulf between what had been promised in 2017 and the current situation. There was concern over the very short time available for proving Line 14, ‘ the backbone of Games transport’, with its extension to Aéroport d’Orly scheduled to open ‘sometime in June’, and also for the poor reliability of RER Line C (644 trains cancelled in January). But “Thanks to the Games” she said, “many projects delayed by covid and other factors have been accelerated to meet the non-negotiable deadline” of 26th July. She praised the contractors and personnel involved for working so hard in recent months; in particular, Alstom had stepped-up production of MP14 trains at Valenciennes to ensure sufficient would be available for the Line 14 and Line 11 extensions to open in time. 

Regarding Line 14, the new southern terminal at Orly (see April News) had received its safety certificate the day before, with approval for the other stations rapidly following. After several periods of closure of the existing section, including from 7th to 14th April, for harmonisation with the new automation system, one month of full-scale trial operation on the Orly extension was expected to take place prior to opening on 24th June, leaving little more than four weeks available for public service to settle down before 26th July. The line serves the Stade de France and the Olympic village; daily patronage is expected to be 700,000 over the summer.

Metro capacity generally will be increased by about 15%, up to 23% on lines serving Games venues, and at peak times by as much as 70% on Line 9 and RER Lines A and C. Great effort has been put into improving Line C reliability, with recruitment to address the driver shortage and temporary drafting-in of 300 train crew. SNCF has stepped up predictive maintenance and diagnostics, as well as tweaking safety regulations so that, for example, trains can keep moving at low speed when trespassers are reported, rather than the whole service coming to a standstill. RATP has taken on around 5,500 additional personnel including 1,000 short-term English-speaking ‘meeters and greeters’ to guide and assist visitors at the busiest stations. Overall, an additional 1 million passengers are expected daily.
Line 14’s Morangis depot was inaugurated on 27th March by RATP president Jean Castex. Located 300m south of the Aéroport d’Orly terminal, the 6Ha site will maintain 60% of the fleet that will total 72 eight-car MP14 trains once delivery of the additional 39 sets is completed. It has facilities for daily throughput and cleaning of 24 trains, plus storage sidings for 19 in addition to the 20 available close by at Orly. A staff of 20 has been working to commission the new trains as they are delivered from Alstom; 52 sets should be operational in time for the Games. When the depot is fully functional there will be a staff complement of 70. Together with a similar site opened in 2020 at Saint-Ouen close to the northern terminal, the new depots replace facilities at Tolbiac. 
Photo: Le Parisien/Jila Varoquier.
Opening dates. Provisional opening dates for the new sections being made ready for Olympic service were announced on 11th April. RER Line E’s western extension from Haussmann-Saint-Lazare to Nanterre La Folie opens on 6th May (see photo item below), metro Line 11 from Mairie-des-Lilas to Rosny-Bois-Perrier on 13th June, and Line 14 to Aéroport d’Orly on 24th June.

Don’t buy this ticket. Mme Pécresse referred to the original proposal for public transport to be free during the Games, later rescinded. ÎdeF Mobilités’ decision to temporarily double the price of a single metro journey to €4 has been widely criticised. She explained that the price rise was to encourage visitors to buy Paris2024 tickets online (available at to avoid congestion at ticket machines. These are priced from €16 and include airport travel. Regular tickets such as the Navigo pass will withdrawn from sale during the Games period. It is hoped that many visitors will walk short distances rather than taking the metro or bus.
Olympic pink. New signs in the Olympics theme colour are appearing to guide the exceptional flows of visitors to Games venues. Some 3,500 signs are being installed at 30 RATP and SNCF stations likely to be the most-heavily used. 
Photo: Le Figaro/Pauline Landais-Barrau.
Poisson d’Avril. Fifteen metro stations were temporarily given new names on 1st April to highlight Olympic sports in a jokey fashion. Amongst them, Sèvres Babylon became Sèvres Badminton and Victor Hugo was Victor Judo. 
Photo: RATP.
Saint-Quentin. At a cost of €55 million, accessibility work has been completed at Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines where four Olympic sports will be played. Served by RER Line C and Transilien Lines N and U, the station now has escalators to the subway and travelators to the footbridge, the latter installation the first outside main Paris stations. 
Photo: Radio France/Valentin Bertrand.
Signs of the times. Also being installed are new metro ‘next train’ waiting-time displays, replacing the current dot-matrix screens. Their larger typeface conforms to the latest accessibility and environmental standards, can be switched off to save energy when trains are not running, and have the capability to show additional information. All 242 metro stations will be equipped by June. Photo: Île-de-France Mobilités.
Security. ÎdeF Mobilités has set up a new Brigade Régionale des Transports comprising private security personnel who will work closely with the 3,000 regular transport police and safety officers during the Games. In addition, 50,000 free transport passes will be handed out to police, gendarmes, military, fire and ambulance personnel. At the busiest times, up to 45,000 law-enforcement officers will be on duty, along with 50 sniffer-dog teams.

Ouigo ‘dumping’ charge

While approving of the lower fares that competition has brought, Spain’s minister of transport Óscar Puente has accused Ouigo of ‘deeply unfair’ tactics in setting prices at unsustainable levels. In interviews at the beginning of April, he accused SNCF of ‘market distortion’ on the Madrid – Barcelona route, where fares have dropped by 65% since opening to competition while expanding the market by one-third. Ouigo’s average fare for the 2h 30 journey (621km) is €37 compared with RENFE’s €62. Ouigo had incurred losses of €40 million annually in Spain he said, as a result of selling most tickets at ‘below cost price’.
Referral of Ouigo and Trenitalia’s Iryo to the Spanish Markets & Competition Authority is under consideration. The situation would be more palatable if RENFE’s efforts to establish services in France had not met with obstacles on every side. The French “are very protective of their interests” the minister said. “Competition from SNCF was welcomed by Spain, and it had hoped to receive similar treatment in respect of RENFE’s French plans. We seek a minimum of reciprocity”. As it is, RENFE’s plans to extend its Marseille and Lyon services to Paris are held up at least until the end of the year by problems with certification of AVE S100 trains.

The paucity of services linking the two countries was also mentioned. With Europe’s most extensive network of high-speed lines, Spain would like to be much better connected to France and possibly beyond, but it will be a decade or more before Madrid and Paris will be linked throughout by LGV. Additionally, it was reported last month in Catalonia’s leading newspaper La Vanguardia that European Sleeper’s plan for introduction in 2025 of a Barcelona – Amsterdam night train had been shelved indefinitely. This was one of the EC’s 10 pilot projects to improve cross-border rail services. 

Meanwhile, SNCF’s application to extend Ouigo operations from Madrid to Segovia and Valladolid was approved by the Markets & Competition Authority and operations started on 19th April with two A/R daily and single fares from €9. This month should see Ouigo running to Murcia, with Sevilla, Málaga and Córdoba joining the network later in the year.  
Photo: SNCF Voyageurs/Ricard Duran Agustí.

CMR BB 67614 is seen heading through Saint- Jory on a sunny 17th April with BB 67596 and a short consist conveying Inox car 50 87 20 77 125-4 from Angoulême to Saint-Jory Yard. Originally part of the collection stored at Mohon 50 87 20 77 125-4 is en route to TPCF Le Train Rouge at Rivesaltes. 

It was initially moved from Mohon to Sotteville on December 9th in the convoy conveying 230 D 9 to Arques and 150 P 13 to Pacific Vapeur Club at Sotteville. 
Photos: Georges Turpin.

AURA renews operating contract with SNCF

Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes région (AURA) has renewed its contract with SNCF to operate its TER services. The new contract will run for 10 years from 2024 until 2033 and has two main objectives. As outlined in the recent €5.7 billion investment plan (see December News) daily passenger numbers, that have already risen by 20% since 2019, are expected to rise from the current  level of 220,000 to 300,000 over the life of the contract. The new contract is valued at €590 million annually, a reduction of €66 million on the previous contract, and is more stringent with penalties for short formations in addition to late and cancelled trains. 

The second objective is to prepare for competitive tendering of the région’s TER services. Ownership of the rolling stock, currently with SNCF, will pass to the région for use by  future operators. Services will be organised into five groups that will form the basis of the tender exercise which is expected to begin in 2029:
  • Auvergne routes.
  • Chambéry and Grenoble areas.
  • Savoie area and cross-border services into Switzerland including the Léman Express and the metre-gauge line to Chamonix.
  • Lyon area.
  • Long distance routes (eg Lyon – Marseille).
As announced in the €5.9 billion investment plan, AURA is purchasing 130 Régio 2Ns, to be delivered at the rate of roughly 10 a year over a 12-year period. In February the first of the région’s refurbished AGCs was unveiled at Lyon, followed by the first refurbished TER2N NG Z 24500s in March. As part of the SNCF OPTER mid-life refurbishment programme, the région is spending €1.2 billion on refurbishment of 111 AGC and 60 TER2N NG units. Refurbishment includes new seating, increased bicycle space and improved information and CCTV systems. About 20 units a year will be overhauled at Saint-Pierre-des-Corps and Nevers Technicentres with the programme scheduled for completion by 2030.

Infrastructure News

Renewal work northeast of Toulouse sees Tessonnières – Capdenac closed until 5th July for relaying of 1km of track and renovation of 21 bridges and structures including strengthening the internal walls of the 1.5km Souel tunnel. Much of the work is aimed at increasing resilience to climatic change. On the other route from Tessonnières, towards Rodez, trains continue to run during resignalling between Tessonnières and Albi, except for one A/R Toulouse – Carmaux daily. Above on the afternoon of 23rd November  X73691/X73704 cross the Tour Viaduct shortly before arriving at Cordes-Vindrac station with TER 871206 13.03 Toulouse – Clermont-Ferrand. Photo: Georges Turpin.

The 1,650m underpass taking Rouen’s port railway along the Seine Rive-Gauche embankment between the Corneille and Guillaume-le-Conquérant bridges is being renewed in a four-year project costing €43 million. The 70-year-old concrete-box structure is suffering from material fatigue and weakening of the reinforcing rods, the road above being limited to vehicles of no more than 3.5 tonnes. A 470m section was demolished between 2019 and 2022, with the remainder being rebuilt in stages through to 2028. As well as handling up to 16 freight trains daily (mainly chemicals and cereals) for Fret SNCF, Europorte, Lineas and others, this is the planned route of SERM Line C (see April News) and the proposed Paris – Normandie LGV (LNPN). The demolished section is adjacent to the site of the old Rive-Gauche station, proposed for rebuilding as Gare Saint-Sever to host both SERM and LNPN trains. 

Preliminary work started in March on an upgrade that will see the Nice – Tende line shut for 16 months from 4th September whilst track is replaced at several locations. The Braus (5,938m) and Mont-Grazian (3,882m) tunnels require reinforcement as do earthworks at 12 sites, and the Pont de Calvaire lattice-girder bridge over the Paillon river at Drap-Cantaron is to be rebuilt. Total cost is €78 million, including a €27 million contribution from Italy.

In Centre-Val de Loire, the Chartres – Courtalain-Saint-Pellerin line reopened on 25th March after upgrading (see February 2023 News). Rehabilitation of freight lines continues, with Châteauroux – Buzançais reopening on 24th May after remedial work, Montargis – Gare d’Eau closed until 30th June, and the 5km branch from Gien to Nevoy shutting over the summer for rebuilding at a cost of €4.3 million.

Summer Rendezvous - Sunday June 16th 2024 
               Ashtead Peace Memorial Hall
Woodfield Lane, Ashtead, Surrey KT21 2BE 
(easy access M25/A3 and Ashtead station,  Waterloo  Guildford/Dorking service)

Open 10.00 am - 4.00 pm
Free Parking
Adults £6. Children £2. Family (2 +2) £10

Working layouts in various scales
Specialist Trade Stands
Bring & Buy
European Society Groups
Digital Photo Presentations.

News in Brief

Trenitalia. The Italian operator will add an extra Lyon – Paris service between 15th July and 15th August and aims to reach nine A/R daily by the end of 2024. Current occupancy is 65%. Also planned is a Milan – Nice – Marseille service in co-operation with SNCF, using Intercités-style rolling stock. A daily round trip could be operating in time for summer-holiday travel. 

Saint-Étienne technicentre. Construction started in March on a new maintenance depot for TER trains at Saint-Étienne Châteaucreux, costed at €82 million. 

Grand Est Lot 4. Eight routes radiating from Reims form Lot 4 of Grand Est’s tendering of TER services to competition, with start of operations scheduled for 2nd July 2028. The services constitute 14% of the région’s train-km. Bids will close at the end of December 2025, the winner being announced in May 2026.

Lyon memorial. SNCF is supplying 1,173m of rail for creation of Lyon’s Holocaust memorial, to be dedicated on the 80th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz on 27th January 2025. The memorial, by architects Alicia Borchardt and Quentin Blaising, comprises a stack of intersecting rails evoking the train as means of deportation. Their length is a symbolic one-thousandth of the distance to Auschwitz from Perrache station, point of departure for Lyon’s 6,100 deportees. Artist’s impression: Blaising-Borchardt Studio.

SPIIT. Société Publique Interregional pour les investissements en Transport (SPIIT), the special-purpose vehicle created last year by Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie régions to finance rolling stock acquisition, is to issue €625 million of debt this year to fund purchases by Nouvelle-Aquitaine. 

Cannes – Menton. PACA and SNCF Sud-Azur will introduce a 15-minute interval service between Cannes, Nice and Menton from 15th December. The new offer builds on work since 2021 to improve the line’s poor reliability and punctuality, including resignalling and changes to maintenance procedures. Passenger-journeys along the Côte d’Azur increased 23% in 2022-23.

Hauts-de-France. From 1st May, tickets bought onboard TER trains attract an additional fee of between €11 and €65 according to distance, bringing the région’s regulations into conformity with those of other TER networks. 

Savoie. The département is to create a syndicat mixte de transports for Grand Chambéry, Grand Lac and Cœur de Savoie, aimed at offering better co-ordination between public and private modes and paving the way for development of Chambéry’s SERM. Initially, the SMT will improve access to trains and buses for pedestrians and cyclists, extend car-sharing, and implement a multimodal fares system. Later, plans will be drawn up for 15-minute interval service on the TER routes serving Chambéry, where an additional platform and track costed at €200 million will be needed. 

Roissy-Picardie. The 6.5km interconnection between the Nord-Est LGV north of Roissy-Aéroport-CDG and the Paris – Amiens classic line, described in February News, is to receive funding of €150 million from Hauts-de-France région following a vote on 28th March. 

PassRail. Following abandonment of the national PassRail (see April News), agreement was reached between the transport ministry and régions on 3rd April for the experimental summer pass for under-27s. The State will cover 80% of the cost. At €49 per month, the pass will be available for July and August only, on sale at SNCF Connect from 15th June. It will be valid on TER and Intercités trains in all regions, except for local trips within Île-de-France.
Montréjeau Luchon delay. Reopening of the Montréjeau Luchon line has been deferred until May 2025. Closed since 2014, it had been planned to reopen the line in December 2024. Diesel MUs will initially operate in 2025, with hydrogen-powered units expected to take over later that year.

Saumur – Les Sables-d’Olonne. The proposed upgrading, mentioned last month, was costed by SNCF Réseau at €150 million. Seen as too expensive by Pays de la Loire and Nouvelle-Aquitaine, the régions sought an independent assessment of the project. Unfortunately, this has judged the cost as likely to be even higher, at €165 million. 

Limoges – Angoulême. Supporters of reopening pressed their case in March by walking the 72km section from Saillat-Chassenon to Angoulême, closed in 2018 due to the poor state of the track. Rebuilding has been costed at €242 million, a project which is included in Nouvelle-Aquitaine’s current State/Région Contract-Plan, for completion by 2030.

Aubrac. Securing the Ligne des Causses for access to the ArcelorMittal steel plant at Saint-Chély-d’Apcher is seen as a major achievement by pressure group AMIGA (Amis du Viaduc de Garabit). Its next step is urging Occitanie and AURA to extend TER service to the Saint-Chély – Neussargues section (ie across the regional boundary), where the remaining station, Saint-Flour (population 6,600), would benefit from an improvement on the current single daily Intercités.

ADN Mobilités. Ticket sales platforms Trainline, Omio and Kombo have formed Association française des platforms de distribution numérique de transmission et de mobilité (ADN Mobilités) to press for changes to the 2019 Loi d’orientation desmobilités to encourage competition and to remove barriers created by SNCF Connect’s dominant position in the rail market. It calls for regulation allowing independent actors to develop and ‘innovate for the benefit of rail passengers’.
Bordeaux Saint-Jean. The roof of the arrivals hall is undergoing restoration involving replacement of 11,500 fishscale slates, 14 rosettes, eight stone capitals and six oeils de boeuf (lucarnes). Like the adjacent Grand Halle Voyageurs, the structure dates from 1893 and is classified as a historic monument. Photo: Radio France/Jules Brelaz.

LNMP. The steering committee of the Montpellier – Perpignan LGV confirmed its timetable for construction having received funding from the State to continue land acquisition; EU money should also be in place later this year. Tenders for design-and-build of Phase 1 between Montpellier and Béziers (59km) will be called next year, with construction starting in 2029. Also agreed was launch of a competition for design of the Poussan viaduct across the Étang d’Thau. 

Montpellier SERM. On 29th March, representatives of Occitanie région, Hérault département, Montpellier Métropole and the agglomerations of Sète, Lunel and Pays de l'Or formalised Montpellier’s application for SERM status in a letter to the minister of transport.

Noirétable. Pressure group LeTrain634269 held another protest here on 6th April against the continued closure of the Saint-Étienne – Clermont-Ferrand direct line, severed between Thiers and Böen/Montbrison in 2016. Would-be passengers attempted to board one of the replacement buses with cycles, strollers and wheelchairs. SNCF Réseau’s estimate of the cost of reinstating the 50km closed section is €102 million.
A grubby BB 27099 in multiple with BB 27088 heads through Lens with BB 27016 dead in tow and 54087 Woippy – Dunkerque on 6th February. Photo: Didier Delattre.

Freight News

CEVA Logistics, part of the CMA CGM maritime transport group, has reserved a 9.5Ha site in the port of Dunkerque to build a vehicle logistics park to handle import and export of finished cars by sea. The terminal, to be served by both rail and road, will open in October. It will initially be able to handle 47,000 cars a year, rising to 95,000 in March 2025. The terminal will specialise in electric cars and is programmed to double in size in the longer term. Rail traffic is expected to be one or two trains a week initially. 

This is the first such terminal in Dunkerque, chosen for its proximity to France’s ‘battery valley’. Almost all of this type of traffic currently passes via Zeebrugge which has become the region’s leading specialist in automotive import/export. Construction of a 600m2 workshop will enable on-site preparation of road vehicles, including washing, engraving, plate fitting and other detailing and mechanical services. 
Hordain. In late March rail traffic returned to the Stellantis plant at Hordain on the Somain – Cambrai line which produces hydrogen-powered vans. First and last mile operation between the plant and Somain yard is by Europorte France while the trunk haul from Somain to Zeebrugge is carried out by Lineas. Initially trains will operate five times a week. Europorte is expected to deploy one of its G 1000 diesels on this service.

Angers intermodal. A 25Ha site at Trélazé on the eastern outskirts of Angers is to be developed as an intermodal freight hub by logistics company Ageneau in partnership with Marne-et-Loire chamber of commerce and four other transport companies, for opening in 2027. They have formed SAS Transport Multimodal Alliances to take the project forward, with the first trains planned to run in 2025 from a temporary terminal at Angers; initially, five trains a week would be operated.
Lauterbourg. The Rhine port terminal has dispatched a trial 48TEU container train to Antwerp operated by Fret SNCF using Wascosa flat wagons. The service, launched by MSC in conjunction with Bolloré Logistics and Haeger & Schmidt, is expected to operate on a regular basis within a few months.

SBB Cargo France. This is the new SBB subsidiary based at the Rhine port of Huningue (see April News), set up to run trains through France to provide an alternative route to the saturated RFC1 Alpine-Rhine corridor that links Rotterdam and other North Sea ports with Genoa via Cologne, Karlsruhe and Basle. Possible routes avoiding the busiest section of RFC1 in Germany would be Basle – Strasbourg – Lauterbourg or Basle – Strasbourg – Metz – Thionville, the former requiring diesel haulage between Strasbourg and Lauterbourg. 

Multiple Matters

On 30th March a trio of X 73500s (X 73736/X 73738/X 73527) made a rare appearance on TER 870309 12.24 Toulouse – Auch deputising for the normal BGC (B 81500) or Régiolis, seen above entering Toulouse Saint-Cyprien-Arènes. Photo: Georges Turpin.
Over the Easter weekend, engineering work on the westward extension of Eole saw closure of the underground section to Haussmann-Saint-Lazare with RER Line E services diverted into Paris Est, bringing Z58000 RER NGs into the station. The extension from Saint-Lazare to Nanterre La Folie opens on 6th May with a limited service. To raise capacity when the further extension to Mantes-la-Jolie opens at the end of 2026, ÎdeF Mobilités has ordered another 35 NG trains at a cost of €650 million. This brings the number of NGs on order to 166 out of the planned fleet of 250. Photo: Christophe Masse.
On 21st February a pristine TER2N NG Z 24507/08 is seen at Lille Flandres in new Hauts-de-France livery following its OPTER mid-life refurbishment. Interestingly, it has lost its previous 304 set number and now carries 507/508 on the cab fronts, numbers that are not currently in use but would otherwise suggest a five-car set.

Below. On the same day Francilien NAT unit 356L was a rare visitor to Lille Flandres en route from Argenteuil to  Hellemmes. 
Photos:  Didier Delattre.

Farewell BB 8500s 

The last two Class BB 8500, CN1 - 8553 and CN2 - 8556, retained at Toulouse for snowplough duties have now been withdrawn. As reported in February News they were not used last winter with BB 7248 being despatched in January to La-Tour-de-Carol to clear the snow.

The pair are seen on the former grid at Toulouse Matabiau on the 6th April with their chasse-neige removed awaiting disposal.
Photo: Georges Turpin.

Aérotrain remembered

The 50th anniversary of Aérotrain’s land-speed record of 430.3km/h was marked on 5th March. Engineer Jean Bertin’s brainchild was a tracked air-cushion vehicle powered by gas-turbine running on an elevated concrete guideway, then thought of as ‘the train of the future’. A full-scale installation was to be built between Cergy-Pontoise and La Défense outside Paris but politics dictated otherwise and the project was cancelled in favour of TGV development. The 18km test track still stands alongside the POLT main line north of Orléans.

Photo: Cergy-Pontoise

Saint-Claude fears

 The maire of Saint-Claude Jean-Louis Millet has expressed his anxiety over lack of funding for the Ligne des Hirondelles, the scenically-dramatic railway linking the town (population 10,000) with Andelot and Dole/Besançon. At a meeting on 24th February, he announced that Bourgogne-Franche-Comté had declined to contribute this year to the €1 million annual subvention shared between région and State that has kept the line going since 2018. With 18 viaducts and 36 bridges to be maintained and funding no longer assured, he feared that degradation of the infrastructure would inevitably lead to closure. He contrasted Saint-Claude’s situation with that of the similar but busier Ligne des Horlogers between Besançon and La Chaux-de-Fonds in Switzerland which is currently closed until 31st October whilst undergoing a €52.5 million upgrade that will renew 22km of track and maintenance on 24 bridges and structures, with funding from Bourgogne-Franche-Comté.

Despite promotion of the line’s tourist potential, usage has declined since closure in 2017 of Saint-Claude’s link southwards to Oyonnax (thence to Bourg-en-Bresse and Lyon) due to the poor state of the track. Out-and-back trips to the area from Paris are possible on certain days, and Dole Tourisme runs guided excursions based on the daily 10.14 Dole – Saint-Claude train, the 20th season of which began on 3rd April; these had seen up to 50,000 customers a year pre-covid. The maire received support from regional councillor Frédéric Poncet who agreed to present the case for further investment to the région’s president. The meeting also decided to investigate the possibility of a bid for Unesco classification of the line’s viaducts, a move likely to stimulate tourism and which could ensure its future. 

Sunday 24th March brought some 300 visitors to the line when Association de Sauvegarde BB25500 ran its first-ever tour, from Dijon to Morez, in conjunction with Train à Vapeur d’Auvergne. A TER AURA Corail set was hauled by BB 67615/67522 seen here at Morez before running round to return to Dole and Dijon. To the left is the line to Saint-Claude, while in the background the railway climbs for 9km at 1 in 33/40 to reach the Col de la Savine (948m) before descending towards Andelot. Photo: Jean-Louis Poggi.

Morvan Celebrations

Over the weekend of 30th/31st March the municipality of Cercy-la-Tour organised events to mark the 150th anniversary of the Nevers – Chagny line. GADEFT 140 C 27 is seen above piloting BB 67522 through Moulins-Engilbert, just north of Cercy. Below left. BB 67522 shows off its faded 'washed denim' livery as it passes slowly through Clamecy, where the line is subject to a 10km/h restriction over the bridge. Once the junction for the branch to Entrains, in the foreground is the track of the line from Clamecy to Nevers via Arzembouy. Below right. Preserved autorails head past Tamnay-Châtillon, junction for the former branch to Château-Chinon. Photos: Jean-Louis Poggi.

Urban News

Rennes. Short-time working for metro staff introduced with the temporary closure in January of Line B (see February News) has been extended until 19th May, indicating that service will not resume before then. A press visit to Maltière depot on 26th March saw the first two bogies returned from Limoges where their central pivots had been replaced.

Lyon. RATP Dev is the new operator of Lyon’s metro, tram, Rhonexpress and funicular services starting on 1st January 2025, replacing Keolis which has retained the bus contract. Competition between the two operators is expected to improve service and reliability, while achieving annual savings of up to €30 million. RATP is committed to 99.35% availability on metro Line B in 2025 and 99.8% by 2035. It will also collaborate in provision of a clean electricity supply for the network.

Line C Master Plan. ÎdeF Mobilités will invest €4 billion between 2030 and 2035 in complete refurbishment of RER Line C (176 route-km) to raise capacity, improve reliability and make all stations accessible. A new fleet of 160 trains will be maintained at depots to be built at Brétigny-sur-Orge and Gennevilliers.
Line 15. A further glimpse into the artworks that will enliven Grand Paris Express stations, at Mairie de Vitry-sur-Seine a giant replica cave is being painted by artist Abdelkadar Benchamma with frescoes evoking the prehistoric remains discovered during excavations. Tracklaying on Line 15 Sud was completed at Clamart on 3rd April; opening is scheduled for December 2025. 
Photos: Le Parisien/Marine Legrand and Sortiraparis/Caroline.

GPE breakthrough. After four years’ work, tunnelling for Line 16 (29km) of the Grand Paris Express network was completed on 16th February when boring machine Houda broke through the final section. This is the first of the GPE lines on which tunnelling is finished. Work now turns to station fitting-out ready for opening between Saint-Denis Pleyel, Aulnay and Clichy–Montfermeil at the end of 2026. Photo: © Société des Grands Projets/Gérard Rollando.
ATM France. The Milano city transport operator has set up a French subsidiary to bid with Egis to operate GPE Line 18, opening in October 2026. It will also bid for bus operations, and tramway contracts if conditions are favourable.

Additions to FRS Photographic Archive during March/April 2024 

To Photographic section
  • Additional photographs to David Thirlwall gallery in Folder 1

To Locations section
  • LVDR 1380/Feb 1973 – Venissieux depot
  • LVDR 1526/Jan 1976 – Les PC de la Neige
  • LVDR 1529/ Feb 1976 – Adieu aux ETG and Bienvenue aux RTG

Additions to the FRS public folder during March/April 2024
  • Updated photo index for David Thirlwall gallery
© Peter Lovell & Chris Bushell. The French Railways Society 2024. With thanks to Georges Turpin, Jean-Louis Poggi, Didier Delattre, Christophe Masse and David Haydock.