APRIL 2017 news


Final months for Class 72100s

Forthcoming Railtours & Events

April 15th

141 TB 424 Longueville/Provins - Villiers St Georges. Details

April 22nd 

X4719  Amagne-Lucquy - Noyelles        Details via this link

X4039    Dijon - Moulins                           Details via this link

66304  Toulouse - Sete                           Details via this link

April 29th  

241 P 17  Le Creusot - Nevers               Details via this link        

231 K 8    Paris - Avenay (Reims)           Details via this link

X2800     Montlucon - Chenenceau        Details via this link    

April 30th  

241 P 17  Le Creusot - Villers Les Dombes  - see link above.

May 6th    231 K 8 Paris Reims now April 29th

May 13th   

6570+6558 Avignon - Sete                       Details via this link

May 20th   

66304  Toulouse - Brive la Gaillarde        See link above

X4719  Amagne-Lucquy - Le Treport        See link above.

May 21st

140 C 38 Limoges - Pompadour                Details via this link

June 4th

P’tit train de la Haute Somme Spring Festival    Details via this link

June 10th

Festirail  - Montlucon                                  Details via this link

140 C 38   Limoges - Montlucon                   Details via this link

141 R 840 Bourges - Montlucon                    Details via this link

231 K 8    Paris - Le Treport                          Details via this link

(Advertised by MFPN in December 2016 but no further information since)

June 24th

X2844/X2907 Limoges - Bellac                    Details via this link

June 25th

140 C 38 Limoges - Eymoutiers - Bugeat  Details via this link

Looking in the other direction from the photo on the Welcome page 72177 heads past Rampillon towards Paris with the 14:12 from Troyes on 14th March. Fourteen Alstom Coradia Liners had been delivered by the end of March, and they will take over nearly all of the Paris - Troyes - Culmont services from the beginning of April, with the Class 72100s expected to have no regular work from the beginning of July.

Geneva Update

Genève-Eaux-Vives demolition

The old PLM station of Genève–Eaux-Vives, which opened in 1888 as the gare des Vollandes, was demolished at the end of 2016 to make way for a new housing and office complex that will surround the new Léman Express underground station. The old station had got into a sad state after it closed in 2011 because the CEVA construction work. The station was originally envisaged as a temporary construction as the line was to be extended towards Cornavin already then and not built as solidly as Chêne-Bourg, which was moved 100 m and preserved.

Loco Vapeur R1199 suspends activities

141 R 1199 takes water at Saumur during a railtour from Nantes to Blois in 2010.

Although there has been no official announcement we understand that at an extraordinary general meeting at the beginning of March Vapeur R 1199, the Nantes based association that operates 141 R 1199 decided to suspend operations.

The move comes after a torrid time for the association. In recent years the locomotive has undergone a major overhaul and was expected to return to the main line last year, but failed a final test last April.  In October 2015, as a result of the rationalisation of depot facilities at Nantes, SNCF had moved the association’s rake of USI coaches to an insecure siding where they were heavily vandalised. Both the locomotive and the coaches are the property of SNCF, and last August SNCF cancelled the convention that allowed the association to operate them. Earlier this year the rake of coaches was seen heading towards Le Mans.

It is understood that the locomotive will go to Cité de Train at Mulhouse where it will become a static exhibit. The fourgon-chaudière and postal wagon will probably go to the association 141R840 at Orléans and the BB 63500 to the Chemin de fer de Vendée.

The situation highlights the problems facing main-line preservation in France. Most preserved locomotives are still the property of SNCF and housed at SNCF depots. With modern rolling stock requiring purpose built facilities, and maintenance now often provided by the manufacturers, there are fewer traditional depot facilities, especially for steam locomotives. There are also similar problems with the older DMUs, where for example SNCF no longer maintains the facilities to undertake periodic axle testing. Similarly SNCF has fewer staff to examine locomotives before they venture onto the mainline, while the shortage of drivers means that having to provide traction inspectrs and pilotmen is an additional pressure.

A photograph of Geneva Gare des Vollandes - Eaux Vives as painted on a local electricity junction box. Photo Ilkka Huotelin.

Geneva-France tram extensions

It was reported last year that a tram line between Saint-Julien-en-Genevois (Haute Savoie) and Geneva will be reinstated. Now two other cross-border tram lines are moving forward.  The Greater Geneva agglomeration, which covers the Geneva Canton and the nearby communities in Vaud and France has published the 3rd version of its regional transport master plans covering the period 2016-2030. Consisting of over 200 communes and different regional administrations with changing political agendas, the regional cooperation has not been always easy nor fast.

·  Line 12 from Moillesulaz on the border to the centre of Annemasse in Haute Savoie. The construction started this February and the first phase to Parc Montessuit will open in 2019, with the second phase to Lycée des Glières opening in 2022.

·  Line 18 from CERN across the border first to St-Genis-Pouilly (Ain) – Porte-de-France (by 2022) and later to St-Genis-Pouilly – centre (by 2026), final approval still pending.

Léman Express.

The commissioning of the Léman Express cross-border regional network is planned for December 2019, once the construction of the CEVA (Geneva Cornavin-Eaux Vives-Annemasse) line has been completed.

On 9th March SNCF and SBB signed an agreement covering the operating framework. It foresees the creation of a new company, Lémanis that will promote and co-ordinate the service on both sides of the border. Some 50,000 passengers are expected each day on the 230 km of cross-border RER lines. It will serve more than 40 stations in the cantons of Vaud, Geneva and the departments of Ain and Haute-Savoie. The duration of the Geneva Cornavin-Annemasse journey will decrease from 47 minutes (currently by bus) to 22 minutes, when the 16 km of the new CEVA line comes into service.

So far SBB and the Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes Region have invested nearly 500 million Swiss francs in the 40 trains for the cross-border RER. The modernisation of the infrastructure and the construction of the new CEVA line has cost nearly two billion Swiss francs

SNCF abandons iDTGV brand

SNCF has announced that it intends to abandon its iDTGV brand. First introduced in 2004 iDTGV was set up to compete with low cost airlines offering cheap non-refundable  tickets that could only be booked via the internet. There are some 30 iDTGV services a day carrying 4% of the passenger volume.

With the introduction of Ouigo TGV services and advance tickets on normal TGV services often heavily discounted  iDTGV has added to a rather confusing picture rather than offering something different.  iDTGV services to Brittany and the southwest will cease in July and the remaining services to the south in December

Modernisation of Gare de Lyon signaling successfully completed

The interior of the old Control tower showing the 1930s equipment installed by the PLM. Photo SNCF/Jean-Jacques d’Angelo.

During 48 hours from midnight on March 18th the two signal boxes at Paris Gare de Lyon (dating from 1933) were closed and the functions transferred to a new digital control centre at Vigneux-sur-Seine near Villeneuve-Saint-Georges. This new control centre is the seventh to be opened by SNCF. The others are at Bordeaux, Dijon, Lyon, Rennes, Pagny-sur-Moselle and Strasbourg. The long term modernisation plan is to transfer the functions of the original 1,500 signal boxes in France to 16 control centres. The plan is budgeted at 5 billion euros and should be completed by 2032.

The new control centre at Vigneux will control all the points and signals in the area of Gare de Lyon, Gare de Bercy and up to 10 km away from these termini. Centralised control will considerably improve operational visibility over a wide area particularly to respond to incidents. The network controlled generates 960 movements a day including 420 RER D trains, 200 TGV's, 200 TER and intercité services and 100 other trains.

The changeover took five years of planning and preparation and 400 staff worked around the clock to reconnect all the systems.

MTVS -  Lulu’s last year.


Schedule confirmed for Saint Pol repairs

In February 2017, Hauts de France Region confirmed the dates for renewing theinfrastructure on the three lines radiating from Saint-Pol. Renewal will comprise replacement of the track, repairs to platforms and level crossings, suppression of three level crossings.The total cost will be budgeted at 72 million euros.

The first line to be renewed will be Saint-Pol - Etaples. Due to the poor condition of the line, it will be closed from Sept 2017. Work will start 2 years later and will be completed by the end of 2020. Replacement bus services will be provided. Saint-Pol - Bethune will be closed from the end of 2020 and re-opened in the summer of 2021. Saint-Pol - Arras will be closed from April 2021 and will re-open at the beginning of 2022.

Aurillac - Saint-Denis-près-Martel

To the surprise of local residents this line was suddenly closed for repairs, scheduled from March 13th to July 7th 2017. 5,000 sleepers are to be replaced at a cost of 6 million euros. Union sources report that an axle counter system will be installed before next winter. This line is regularly closed during the autumn period due to leaf fall. In those conditions the X 73500 diesel railcars perform poorly and are often unable to maintain electrical contact through the rails in addition to adhesion problems.

Local rumours had suggested that this line was likely to close as it is in poor condition. The current repairs will probably keep it open for a few more years but do not provide, apparently, a long term future.

Similar short term tweeking is also in progress between Aurillac and Figeac until June 2nd. 

The Côtes du Nord Corpet Louvet 0-3-0T No 36 has steamed at MTVS, Valmondois since October 1997. The loco has long been christened "Lulu" for obscure reasons. 2017 will be the last year in service as the second boiler ticket will expire at the end of the season. No 36 will retire to the museum for a few years while other locomotives take over.

The 0-3-0T is the only survivor of a fleet of 45 tank engines used on the Côtes du Nord network. This railway system was built from 1905 to 1932. It reached a maximum length of over 400 km. All the lines were closed by December 1956. No 36 had been constructed in 1925 and was withdrawn on final closure of the last line from Saint Brieuc to Paimpol. The 21 ton loco was plinthed at Saint Brieuc for some years and then escaped the scrapyard and, after several moves, reached MTVS in 1984. The loco was registered Monument Historique in 1990. It was returned  to steam after 6,000 hours of repairs.

Lulu will steam during her final year on the new MTVS line at Crèvecoeur-le-Grand. The dates are as follows:  May 14th, May 25th, June 11th, July 9th, Aug 13th, Sept 10th, Sept 16th + 17th (Official Inauguration)

Your last chance to see C d N No 36 in steam !!  


VFV held its annual meeting with members on March 11th. The results for 2016 showed a huge increase over the previous year. The association carried 18,210 passengers corresponding to 9,105 return trips, an increase of 76% ! 


The association has changed the organisation of its train services. The line is open on Sundays with a steam train from Raucoules at 10.00 to Tence, Le Chambon and Saint-Agrève (12.15). In the other direction, a diesel railcar departs at 10.30 and crosses the steam train at Le Chambon. It continues to Tence and Raucoules (12.45). In the afternoon the steam train departs from Saint Agrève at 15.00 and returns to Raucoules(17.10) crossing the railcar at Le Chambon. In this way, visiteurs can travel out and back in half a day (change at Le Chambon) or during a full day with lunch between the two journeys. On Wednesdays and Thursdays (July 2nd - Aug 31st), the steam train operates two return trips from Raucoules to Le Chambon (in the morning and in the afternoon). Saint Agrève is not served on those days. There are also "theme" trains on certains days including a Halloween Express and two Santa Specials.

The steam engine is Mallet No 101. The Corpet Louvet 0-4-0T No 22 is not in service at present. The diesel railcar is Billard No 313.  The articulated railcar No 222 is not in service due to failure of the hydraulique controls of the gear-box. A new system has been designed and an appeal for funds is in progress in order to modify the railcar and return it to service in the summer of 2017 if possible.

The 2017 season opens on April 30th until Oct 29th. The section formerly open from Dunières to Raucoules has now been converted to a cycle track by the local council. Renovation of the site at Raucoules is now complete.  The Batiment Voyageurs has been rebuilt in the CFD style and the goods shed is now a small museum.  Adjacent is the new workshop (two tracks). There is a dedicated parking for visitors (Raucoules is only accessible by road or the cycle track !) The original engine shed and turntable are still present and in use. The pine tree by the station has been cut down, apparently it was not well.  

Web site of Velay Express: http://www.velay-express.fr

TRAMS IN ILE DE FRANCE Part 3 ( T9 - T13) - Projects planned and under construction

Network map via this link

T9 - Porte de Choisy - Orly-Ville (94 - Val-de-Marne)

This future tram line will run from Porte de Choisy to Orly Ville. It will be 10 km long and will replace RATP Bus line 183 which is reported to be the busiest in IDF with 57,000 passengers, daily. There will be 20 stops and the urban environnement along the route will be modernised "wall to wall" across the boulevard as part of the project. The line will cross Ivry-sur-Seine, Vitry-sur-Seine, Choisy-le-Roi and Thiais and terminate in Orly Ville. A later extension to Orly airport is not excluded, though that section presents some technical difficulties and low forecast traffic 

This line (as well as T10) will be operated by RATP with 22 of the newest generation of Alstom Citadis trams, the X05 which will have a capacity of 341. It will be 45m long by 2.65m wide. This make it apparently compatible with T3 tramway. At Porte de Choisy (Paris 13th) the two stabling tracks at the end of T9 will be situated alongside the T3 tram line. Although no physical connection is currently planned it is pleasing to note that one day the concepts of "interconnexion" and "network" may prevail here.

The Declaration of Public Utility was given in 2014 and work started in 2016. The line is due to open in 2020.  

T10 - Antony - Clamart (Place du Garde)

This future tram line of 8.2 km will run from Croix-de-Berny(Antony) to Clamart (Place du Garde). The line is situated in 92-Hauts-de-Seine and it will cross the communes of Antony, Châtenay-Malabry, Le Plessis-Robinson and Clamart with 14 stops. It can be described as a local tram line with expected traffic of only 30,000 passengers a day, although the initial budget of 160 M€ had nearly doubled by 2012 to 311M€. This can be compared to the budget for the T9 tramway of 332M€ for a line 2 km longer but with expected traffic of 70,000 passengers a day.

T10 starts at Croix-de-Berny at the RER B station. It will cross tramway T6 at Hôpital-Béclère. There will be no physical link between the lines here. There will be a bridge. T6 is a rubber tyred hybrid system whereas T10 will be a standard tramway. It is planned to extend T10 from Clamart to Issy-les-Moulineaux but, due to physical features, possible choice of a tunnel is necessary and completion of the extension is not likely before 2030. It is, however, only when totally complete that the line may be viable. At Issy, there would be the possibility for passengers to transfer to the future Grand Paris Express line 15 and metro line 12.

T10 received its Declaration of Utilité Publique in October 2016. Work will begin during 2017 and the line will open during 2021. The line will be operated by RATP.

14 new generation Citadis X05 trams will be ordered from Alstom, the same type of unit as for T9. These trams will be the largest tram sets in IDF at 45m x 2.65m with a capacity of 341. It is surprising that these trams have been ordered for T10 where the traffic forecasts are less than 50% of those on T9.

Tram Express T12 - Massy-Paliseau - Evry-Courcouronnes

(Will be described later in the year )

Tram Express T11 Epinay sur Seine - Le Bourget

This light railway system in 93 - Seine-Saint-Denis was originally designated Tangentielle Nord, and later Tram Express Nord. Now it is described as Tram Express T11 and it will open in July 2017. It has taken many years to reach this point. The project was approved, in principle, by STIF, 13 years ago in Sept 2004 (But the original project was first proposed in July 2000 !). The Declaration of Utilité Publique was given in May 2008 and the project was divided into two phases. Phase 1 concerns an arc of 11 km from Epinay-sur Seine to Le Bourget (RER B) via Villetaneuse Université (T8), and Pierrefitte-Stains (RER D). The double track line is constructed next to the Grande Ceinture freight line. Altogether, there are seven new stations in phase 1.

15 Alstom Dualis Tram-Train units were delivered from July 2016. This type of Tram-Train unit will also be used on the extension of T4 due to open in 2019 (and on T13 in 2020). All the Dualis units will be serviced at a new depot at Noisy-le-Sec which is now open.T11 and T4 are operated by SNCF but through specific, specially created companies and employees do not have the same status (or salaries) as SNCF staff.  

Phase 2 will comprise the western section from Epinay-sur-Seine to Sartrouville (12 km - 2027) and the eastern section from Le Bourget to Noisy-le-Sec (6 km - 2024). The expected opening dates indicated are those listed by SNCF on the Tangentielle Nord web site. They may seem astonishingly far off given that the original project back in 2000 had expected that the entire 28 km 

of the arc would be opened by 2016 !  It would seem that constructing a new line next to the Grande Ceinture was more complex than expected and (especially) much more costly. Some observers are not sure that the western section to Sartrouville will ever be constructed. The issue is that due to the delays with Phase 1, a mega project which is Grand Paris Express (GPE) has caught up and overtaken the T11 project. The GPE line 15 may be a better solution than T11 

Tram Express T13 - Saint-Cyr - Achères-Ville

In Dec 2004, a shuttle train service for passengers was started between Saint-Germain-en-Laye Grande Ceinture (GC) and Noisy le Roi via Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche. This service was operated along the former 'Grande Ceinture" freight route that was not in use. Altogether six stations were re-opened and adapted to the new line with platforms rebuilt and an interchange at Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche to the terminus of Transilien Line L to Saint Lazare.  This line was designated Grande Ceinture Ouest. It is situated in the département 78 - Yvelines and is operated by SNCF.

The problem was that the station at Saint Germain-en-Laye is situated far from the centre-ville and the southern terminus at Noisy-le-Roi is, well, nowhere. See photo above. So the expected traffic of 10,000 passengers a day was never reached. After four years, the short line with six stops carried only 2,000 passengers a day and it is no better in 2017.

The solution was obviously to extend the line in both directions until it reached radial commuter network lines. From 2006, a project was developed for a tram-train service that would connect the SNCF station at St Cyr (RER C, Transilien N, U) with Saint Germain-en-Laye with a new branch from the Grande Ceinture stop to Saint Germain Chateau where the underground terminus of RER A is located. The other branch from St Germain GC would go to Poissy and Achères. This project was designated Tangentielle Ouest. 

After a lengthy period of planning and consultation of the public, this project has been phased.  Phase 1 received its Declaration of Utilité Publique in February 2014. It will concern the line from St Cyr station to Saint Germain GC and the branch to Saint Germain Chateau. It is now designated Tram Express T13 (or Tram 13 Express) according to sources. It will be operated by SNCF with Alstom Dualis Tram-trains identical to those on T11.

The platforms at the intermediate stations from Noisy le Roi to Saint Germain GC will have to be lowered for compatibility with the tram-train (after having been raised in 2003 !).

Work started on the new line in Saint Germain en Laye at the end of 2016. It is expected to open 

in 2020. 

Z6482 one of the sets with fixed steps for high platforms waits to depart from Noisy-Le-Roi, one of the stations where the platforms will need to be lowered.

© Peter Lovell & Graham Skinner. The SNCF Society 2017. Thanks to Ilkka Huotelin.   Photos by authors unless credited. sncfsociety@macmate.me