February 2017 News

 

Alstom Coradia for Ligne 4

SOME EVENTS EXPECTED  IN 2017


We can already anticipate some important events and changes in 2017. For your diaries !


February


On the 6th, the new intercité Coradia Liner will start operating on Paris-Est - Belfort services, replacing the loco-hauled Corail trains.


On 7th, opening of the new season at CFBS. 

Timetable for 2017 here: http://www.cfbs.eu/fichiers/Dy-pliant-2017-Le-chemin-de-fer-de-la-Baie-de-Somme-jeudi-15-vweb--1.pdf


March


As previously reported, in JANUARY, Paris Gare de Lyon and Gare de Bercy will be completely closed to all rail traffic on Sat 18th and Sun 19th. 


The first new CAF trams for the Ste Etienne network will enter service. A total of 15 on order.


April


On the 29th, opening of the extension of tram line D in Strasbourg across the Rhine to Kehl (DB station). 

On February 6th, the first Alstom Coradia Liner bi-mode articulated train sets are scheduled to enter service on Line 4, Paris - Belfort-Ville. They will initially operate the following daily return services; the 13.12 and 18.42 from Paris-Est and the 08.20 (not Sats) and 18.08 (Sundays 17.56) from Belfort-Ville.


It is reported that all 19 Coradia Liners that have been allocated to GRAND EST Region will be delivered by the end of 2017. They will oust the CC 72100's by December, possibly earlier.


The super Region has announced its plans for timetables from 2018 when it will take-over responsibility for Line 4 and other former intercité services. For Paris-Est - Troyes it is planning 15 return services in 1h25m with stops at Nogent and Romilly. There would be 11 return services Paris to Chaumont in 2h15m and 4 or 5 return services to Mulhouse in 4h24. Curiously, SNCF always said that there was no room at Mulhouse for the Line 4 trains, but now there may be room ! These changes, if implemented, will drastically improve rail services at Troyes and Chaumont. There will also be more trains from Troyes to Dijon to pick up TGV's to the south of France.


The 160 km/h Coradia train sets ordered for the intercité fleet are the same configuration as operated on Paris - Granville services. It is not yet clear how they will be marketed by the Region.  As super TER ? No-one knows yet. During 2017 they will be operated as intercité just to be clear !


Mic-Mac at Blanc-Argent

The layout at Salbris in September 2015


Stealthily, SNCF has removed all the BA track at Salbris leaving no sidings and just one single platform track. So it is now impossible for two BA trains to be simultaneously at this terminus.We remind readers that for several years the system is for a single train only in service between Romorantin and Salbris. There are no passing loops open at any station. The points are locked.


It would now seem that SNCF is intent on removing all functional infrastructure that could be used to increase train services in the future (for example by a competitor). This may be theoretical because apart from schools traffic the few trains operating are nearly empty. The Keolis buses are there if any one of the 3 or 4 autorails fails. The layout at Valençay is now in peril.



LINE 14 in Lorraine closes between Pont St Vincent and Vittel

One of the final services to Nancy waits to leave Vittel in December 2016. Photo Michael Costes


During 2016, Lorraine completed an ambitious project for its TER rail network, introducing even-interval services and boosting frequencies. But single track un-electrified branch lines were abandoned by GRAND EST which blamed previous administrations and SNCF.


So, with the usual excuse, that new speed restrictions made it impossible to run the timetable properly (= economically), on Dec19th 2016, Mirecourt, Contrexéville and Vittel lost their rail services to Nancy. The line from Vittel to Merrey remains open for the trains of eau minérale bottles, but for how long ?


The President of GRAND EST hurried to Mirecourt to pledge that the railway line would be repaired and re-opened. But he was met by an angry crowd of residents who seemed not to believe him and he had to leave by the back door of the town hall.

A desolate looking Mirecourt, once the junction for four lines, in October 2006


ILE DE FRANCE


Operating challenges on RER D produce controversial solutions


The busiest Transilien line in Ile de France is RER D which carries 615,000 travellers a day using 450 scheduled trains that stop at 59 stations. The network extendsover 200 km (125 miles) crossing Paris through a tunnel between Paris Gare de Lyon and Paris-Nord via Chatelet-les-Halles where it shares the line with RER B. Traffic grows +3% per annum. 


Since 1995, the traffic has doubled and it is expected to increase by 50% by 2030. The so-called "interconnexion" at Paris-Nord is applied to operate the train services on RER D which rotate between Melun and Malesherbes in the south east and Goussainville and Villiers-le-Bel in the north  ( 80 - 97 km). 


In the north, there is a single route to Orry-la-Ville and Creil. But in the south east there are five branches, including four that meet at Corbeil. Punctuality is poor, and several days a week major delays occur due to incidents, breakdowns, failures. Recovery from incidents is more difficult due to the exceptional length of service rotations and to the presence of "pressure points". Here are three examples of trains that run on RER D (identified by the 4 letter code):


FACA (Melun - Goussainville, every 15 minutes). This service serves 20 stops over 70 km in 87 minutes.

VUPE (Malesherbes - Villiers-le-Bel, every 15 minutes). This service serves 24 stops over 97 km in 103 minutes.

LOVA (Corbeil-Essonnes - Orry-la-Ville, every 30 minutes).  This service serves 24 stops over 72 km in 95 minutes.


These trains pass the pressure points of Villeneuve-St-George where the routes merge and Chatelet where they all merge on to the RER B track to Paris-Nord. VUPE is the most vulnerable service. It first covers 45 km between Malesherbes and Corbeil, along which there are frequent level crossings where collisions regularly occur. It then passes the major pressure point at Corbeil where the station layout is poorly arranged to handle the conflicts of RER D trains in 4 directions  (Melun, Malesherbes, Evry, Ris-Orangis).


We have reported the mega order placed in Jan 2017 to renew the entire fleet of Z 20500 units on RER D. The new train sets will improve comfort and reliablity for commuters (notably air-conditioning, but apparently fewer seats). However, they will only start to be delivered in 2021-2022.  SNCF / STIF have taken decisions this January to address punctuality and capacity with effect from 2019 on RER D.


It is considered that the Malesherbes - Corbeil branch of 45 km carries only 12,000 passengers a day but contributes 30- 40 % of delays on the network. It is therefore planned to reorganise the train service so that this branch will be served with shuttle trains and passengers will have to change trains at Corbeil to/from Paris and the north. Connections will be short (it is said) but there is some local opposition, of course.


On the Melun branch, Mondays - Fridays three extra services will be created to depart from Melun between 07.00 am - 08.00 am and after Lieusant they will run non stop on the main line to Gare de Lyon surface. This modification designated Melun-Senart-Express will start from the end of 2018. They have to obtain six Z 20500 units and extra drivers. The imminent delivery of new Regio2N units on line R from the end of 2017 will release some Z 20500's.


RER D is the busiest suburban network in the Paris region but is fragile due to limitations of the infrastructure. Strategic decisions taken like the increase in the use of Paris-Bercy by intercité and TER Bourgogne ricochet on to Line D which is left with only one track in each direction between Paris and Villeneuve. Three or four years ago Line D could use two tracks each way along this stretch. 


Note. The busiest line in Ile de France is RER A with over a million passengers a day. It is jointly managed by RATP and SNCF and not part of the Transilien network. 60% of RER A traffic arises on the section La Defense - Nation.


Main Line Steam in France

Only five steam locomotives operated main line tours in France during 2016. They were 241P17, 141R420, 231K8, 141TB424, 140C38. A round-up of prospects in 2017 is set out below. The details will be listed as usual on the Main Line Tours page of this web site.


241 P 17


This reliable locomotive departs from Le Creusot (unless otherwise stated). The following return  trips are announced: 29/4 - to Nevers, 30/4 - to Villars-les-Dombes, 4/6 - from Dijon to Le Creusot, 24/6 + 25/6 - to Switzerland (no details yet), 27/8 - Aix-les-Bains, 10/9 - Lyon, 23/9+24/9 - Mulhouse.


141 R 420


Departs from Clermont-Ferrand. No details yet


141 R 840


Based at Les Aubrais (Orléans). The locomotive has been under major overhaul for several years. It may return to service during 2017. No confirmation yet.


141 R 1126


Based at Toulouse. The locomotive has been under major overhaul for several years. It may return to service during 2017. No confirmation yet.


141 R 1199


This locomotive is based at Nantes. In September 2016, it was reported that SNCF had cancelledthe contract with the association which has been operating the loco and a rake of old carriages.The loco is owned by SNCF but it has not been in service for several years. The old carriages are also owned by SNCF. They have been severely vandalised. The exact motive for cancelation of the contract is not known and in the last four months no information on the subject has been published. 


231 G 558

231 G 558 in September 2016 during the ‘Portes Ouverte’ at Sotteville

This Pacific, based at Sotteville, has not been in service for several years. The current problem is a twisted driving axle which is being corrected in Germany at Meiningen. The axle is due back in the spring of 2017 and once the loco is re-assembled, tests will be carried out next autumn.


231 K 8


An ambitious 2017 programme has been announced for the Pacific; Paris - Reims May 6th, Paris - Le Tréport-Mers June 10th, Paris - Noyelles Sept 30th (all subject to confirmation by SNCF and availability of the loco) Two other trips are also envisaged.


141 TB 407  /  141 TB 424


These two tank engines are currently based at Longueville. 407 belongs to AJECTA and it is under overhaul. Since AJECTA are also overhauling 140 C 231 it is not known which will have priority. It is thought that AJECTA will prefer the 140 C for its longer range.  Sister engine TB 424 is not owned by AJECTA. It is operated by an association in Alsace. There is never any direct news communicated by the operators of 424. AJECTA have scheduled 424 on several trips in 2017, the usual short ones to Provins, and a trip to Troyes. none are scheduled between May - September so it would be available for the Vapeur du Trieux


140 C 38


This locomotive is based at Limoges. It seems to be performing well after its lengthy renaissance.In 2017, its standard all day trip up the valley to Eymoutiers is scheduled for 25/6, 14/7, 26/7, 2/8, 9/8, 15/8, 23/8. In addition the first trip of the season is to Pompadour on 21/5. The visit to

Montluçon Festirail is on 10/6 (attention(!) 10 days earlier than usual).


140 C 314


This locomotive is based at St Quentin. It was returned to service (after 11 years) in 2016. This 140 C runs on the freight line from St Quentin to Origny-Ste-Benoite. This line is not part of the National Rail Network. It belongs to the département of Aisne. Seven Sunday lunch trains are scheduled in 2017 and they should be operated with the 140 C, subject to availability. The dates are 23/4, 28/5, 18/6, 9/7, 27/8, 24/9, 29/10. 314 operates tender first out-bound from St Quentin. It departs from the CFTV depot and not from the SNCF station. CFTV plans to operate main line tours once it has the relevant clearance. 

A test service from Strasbourg to Kehl crosses the Rhine in January. Photo Alain Masson.

Re-opening of Guingamp - Paimpol after closure (8 months) for repairs and renewal of the single track. Possible return of Vapeur du Trieux in the summer.

May 


Opening of the first season at MTVS Crèvecoeur-le-Grand on 14th. See separate article.


June


On the 10th, Festirail at Montluçon.


July


On the 1st, the last overnight train Paris - Tarbes - Hendaye.

On the 2nd, opening of the new TGV lines from Tours to Bordeaux and

from Le Mans to Rennes. All the rail timetables in the west and south west of France will change.


Opening of Tram Express T11 in Ile-de-France (Seine-Saint-Denis) from Le Bourget to Epinay-sur-Seine.


August 


CFBS.  Fête de la Gare at Cayeux on 15th. Special steam service.


Regiolis units expected to replace BB 67400 on Nantes - Bordeaux services between August and November

September


Closure of St Pol - Etaples Le Touquet for minimum 3 years.


16th + 17th official inauguration of the MTVS museum line at Crèvecoeur-le-Grand. Special event.


October


On the 1st, last overnight service Paris - Nice.

On 7th + 8th end of season steam festival at MTVS, Butry-sur-Oise.


December 


Opening of the extension of Bâle tram line 3 across the border to St Louis (F)


On the 10th, re-opening of (BREST) Landerneau - Chateaulin - Quimper after closure (12 months) for repairs to infrastructure and renewal of the track.

Re-opening of Cannes - Grasse after 12 months closed for modifications.

140  C 314 at the Longueau Fete de Rail in October 2016

Voyages SNCF to sell tickets at TER rates


Since the 16th January the Voyages SNCF.com website has been selling tickets for journeys within eight regions (Auvergne - Rhône-Alpes, Burgundy Franche-Comté, Brittany, Center - Val-de-Loire, Hauts-de-France , Normandie, Nouvelle-Aquitaine and Occitanie) at the best TER rates instead of standard SNCF prices. The Pays de la Loire, PACA and Grand Est regions will be integrated during the first quarter of 2017. Regional discount cards can also be used.

Examples of the reductions are Rennes Brest for €28 instead of €37.80, Caen - Rouen with a Liber’TER card for €19.30 instead of €27.50, and Besancon - Dijon with a Visi’TER card for €11.60 instead of €16.50

Alstom-Bombardier to renew RER lines D & E rolling stock

SNCF have announced that an Alstom-Bombardier consortium have been awarded the contract to renew the rolling stock on RER lines D & E in Ile-de-France. The €3.75 billion contract for 255 trains (130 for Line D, 125 for Line E) is the largest ever contract financed by STIF the Ile fe France transport authority. The first batch of 71 trains will enter service from 2021 with the design and construction work split between Alstom  and Bombardier (70/30%).

The X’trapolis Cityduplex will be of a "boa" design (without separations between the cars) and was specifically designed for the dense zones of traffic in Île-de-France. With large doors, the train provides extremely fluid passenger exits and entrances as well as offering three distinct travel spaces. Passengers can thus choose their space according to their journey time: platform zones for travelling standing-up when the journey is very short, making it easy to move around, like in the metro; mixed-use zones (standing or sitting) located lower down for journeys under 20 minutes, and upper level areas offering regional-style comfort with more seating for longer trips. In each of the end cars, platforms provide wheelchair users with direct and quick access to dedicated spaces. Air conditioning, lighting and seating have all been designed to provide a high level of comfort.

The new train sets will be provided in two lengths; 130m for Line D with a total capacity of 1,860 and a shorter 112m unit for Line E with a capacity of 1,563. The number of seats in the new train sets seems to be about 25% less than those in the double-deck Z 20500 units currently used on Line D.

Acceleration and braking performance on the Cityduplex will be improved compared to the Z 20500 units which were designed in the 1980's. The new units for line D will have 8 bogie motors.


The procurement process took several years and three tenders  eliminating the competition (CAF, Siemens) with Alstom and Bombardier winning the order and ensuring the trains are built in France.  Siemens got the order to design the NEXTO train control system that will be introduced in 2025. It will eliminate signals and replace with automatic cab signaling. The new trains will be pre-equipped to receive the new system that will create "space" for 4 extra trains an hour on the lines E and D. Photos Alstom

TRAMWAYS IN ILE DE FRANCE

An update  -Part 1 of 3.

Overview: The revival of the urban tramway in Ile-de-France (IDF) started in 1992. After a quarter of a century, 8 new tram lines are in service. They total 104 km and carry, altogether, 850,000 passengers a day, but do not form a network. Most of the lines have different features which prevent physical interconnexion even if that was planned, which is not the case.


The procedures to construct a tramway in France are long and complex. They are subject to bureaucratic meanders and conflicts of interest. The process can take from 6 to 15 years, or more, between the date of the  first serious discussions about a project and the opening date. In France, a tram line is considered, often, as an opportunity to restyle streets and avenues from "wall to wall". This can make tramway projects very expensive and lengthen construction times. Projects are conceived and conducted by départements and co-ordinated and co-financed by the Region and the communes concerned. There is no evidence that there has ever been a regional strategy regarding tramways. Projects are generated locally to solve local transport problems. 5 of the 8 tramways in service are less than 15 km in length. None is over 20 km in length.


STIF has created a kind of "network effect" by numbering the lines. Recently the light rail lines operated by "tram-train" units have been designated Tram Express. We will return to the matter of interconnecting tram lines at the end of the third episode of this "update". The latest diagram from STIF can be examined here: http://www.stif.org/IMG/pdf/guide-tram-stif-2016.pdf


The 8 tramways in service in IDF are operated by RATP except T4 which is operated by SNCF. The trams are financed 100% by STIF, the regional rail authority. All the tracks are constructed with steel rails to standard gauge except for T5 and T6. The latter two lines have twin concrete runways for rubber tyred articulated vehicles guided by a monorail inserted into a slot between the runways. All the lines have current collection from overhead wires at 750 volts DC except T4 which has a standard SNCF 25 KV 50Hz overhead catenary system. 


A short description of the tramways in service follows divided into three parts. 

This month we examine four lines: T1 - T4. In March News, it will be T5 - T8 and in April News an update will be published about the 5 tramways under construction (T9 - T13) followed by a conclusion.



T1 - Noisy-le-Sec - Saint-Denis - Les Courtilles

T1,  unit 101, the first of the first batch of TSF units (Tramway Standard Francais), the oldest of the new trams to enter service in 1992. Seen near the terminus at  Les Courtilles, Hauts de Seine in May 2014.


Infrastructure: The line was opened in 1992 from Bobigny to Gare SNCF Saint Denis (9 km). It was extended eastwards to Noisy-le-Sec (Gare SNCF) in 2003 (+ 3 km). In 2012, the extension westwards to Les Courtilles (M13) was opened (+ 4 km). Work has started on a further extension westwards (+ 1 km) to Quatre Routes, opening in 2018. A further extension westwards to Gabriel Peri is planned to open in 2023. Ultimately, T1 is expected to reach Rueil Malmaison. 


A further extension of T1 eastwards from Noisy-le-Sec (Gare SNCF) to Val-de-Fontenay (RER A) has been approved(+8 km). The original plan was put forward 15 years ago, but it has been systematically blocked by the Noisy-le-Sec town council which objects to the tram line passing through the centre-ville. In November 2014, the latest version of the project was approved (DUP) but the Noisy-le-Sec mayor refused to accept the official plan and prevented work starting ! Now the IDF Region has agreed to investigate the feasibility of constructing a single track through the town centre, possibly without overhead wires (battery power). These changes will delay the whole project by a further 2 - 3 years and increase the cost of an already expensive project (450 M€).


Stock: T1 is operated with 35 trams of type "Tramway Français Standard" (TFS) built by Alstom. Nos 101 - 117 were delivered for the opening of the line in 1992. Nos 118 + 119 were received in 1995. 16 TFS units were transferred from T2 in 2003/2004. They were then renovated. They are numbered 201 - 216. The TFS trams are 29m long and 2.30m wide. They have a capacity of 174 of which 54 are seated. It is expected that these trams will be replaced, at the latest in 2022, by 50 new trams. 


Operations: T1 carries 190,000 passengers a day. It is overcrowded at all times. The service runs from Noisy-le-Sec to Les Courtilles, a distance of 16 km with 36 stops. which is covered in 60 minutes (average 16 kph). The average interval is 5-7 minutes but it is difficult to keep to the timetable due to conflicts with road traffic at certain points, and overcrowding. The TFS trams can only operate as single units and appear to be too small for the levels of traffic. Boarding and disembarking is frequently hindered by push chairs and there are no doors at the ends of the trams due to the bogies.

Since the extension westwards to Les Courtilles the service has deteriorated and it is accepted that more trams are needed and probably the service should be split into two sections. This was to be done when the eastern extension from Noisy would open (2019). But this date will now be delayed by 2-3 years. So an urgent decision is needed. 


T2 - Pont de Bezons - La Défense - Porte de Versailles

A pair of Alstom Citadis trams in multiple unit at the T2 "Les Coteaux" station in November 2014 with the towers of La Défense in the background. The line was originally an SNCF suburban branch from Puteaux to Issy-les-Moulineaux.


Infrastructure: The line was opened in 1997 from La Défense to Issy-Val-de-Seine(11.5 km). It replaced a former suburban railway. It was extended to Porte de Versailles in 2009 (+ 2.3 km). In 2012, the extension north from La Défense to Pont de Bezons was opened (+ 4.2 km). In total, the line is now 18 km long with 24 stops. 


Stock: T2 was operated initially with 16 trams of type "Tramway Français Standard" (TFS) built by Alstom. In 2003/2004 these trams were transferred to T1. They were replaced by 26 Citadis 302 trams designed to form 13 pairs in multiple units. These multiple units are 65m long and 2.40m wide. Their total capacity is 370 (96 seated). 16 more Citadis 302 trams were acquired in 2008 and 18 more in 2010/2012. There is a total fleet of 60 units at present (30 multiple units) numbered 401 - 460.


Operations: T2 carries 220,000 passengers a day, the busiest tramway in Ile de France. It is overcrowded all the time, and saturated at peak periods. The service runs from Pont de Bezons to La Défense and from there to Issy and Porte de Versailles, a distance of 18 km with 24 stops (every 750m). The line has a high average speed of 24 kph since it is on its own site. There are few conflicts with road traffic. The service interval is 4 minutes at peak times and 8 minutes off-peak. 


T3a - Pont du Garigliano - Porte de Vincennes. 

T3a. Alstom Citadis 402 near Stade Charléty, Paris 14 in March 2007


Infrastructure: The line was opened in 2006 from Pont du Garigliano to Porte d'Ivry (8 km). In 2009 it was extended across the Seine to Porte de Vincennes (+ 4.4 km). The line is constructed along the Military Boulevards on its own site, sometimes in the centre sometimes at the side. But there are many crossroads and frequent conflicts with road traffic. Priority for the tramway is theoretical rather than the norm. The track site is often grass covered. At Porte de Vincennes, the termini of each section (T3a and T3b) are situated on opposite sides of the avenue. Double track 

sidings beyond the platforms in the direction of Nation can accommodate two trams.


Stock: T3a is operated with 21 Alstom Citadis 402 trams. They are 43.7m long and 2.65m wide. Their capacity is 304 including 78 seated. 


Operations: T3a carries 210,000 passengers a day, the second busiest line in IDF. There are 25 stops along 12.4 km. The average speed is barely 18 kph due to conflicts at crossroads. The trams are always full and saturated at peak periods when it can be impossible to board at times.

There seem to be insufficient trams for the traffic. 


T3b - Porte de Vincennes - Porte de la Chapelle


Infrastructure: This line starts from the north side of the Avenue de Vincennes. There is a physical connection between T3a and T3b but it is not used for commercial services. T3b is constructed along the Military Boulevard to Porte de Pantin where the line leaves Paris under the Boulevard Périphérique and ventures into the adjacent commune of Pantin. It crosses the Canal de l'Ourcq and returns to Paris at the Porte de la Villette next to the Science Museum. Currently T3a terminates at Porte de la Chapelle.(9.5 km). An extension is under construction to Porte d'Asnières (+ 4 km). It is expected to open in 2018. A further extension is planned to terminate at Porte Dauphine. This will be completed around 2021-2022.


Stock: T3b is operated with 25 Citadis 402 trams at present. These units are identical to those on the southern section (T3a). 


Operations: T3b has 18 stops and it carries 120,000 passengers a day. The average speed is 19 kph. The interval is 7-8 minutes off peak and 5 minutes at peak times.

T3b. Alstom Citadis 402 at Porte de la Villette in May 2014


T4 - Bondy - Aulnay-sous-Bois 


Infrastructure: The former SNCF suburban railway line from Bondy to Aulnay-sous-Bois

was closed in December 2003 to be rebuilt as a light railway. It was opened in November 2006.

The double track line is 8 km long and is electrified at 25,000 volts. Barriers were removed from the level crossings which are now regulated by traffic lights.

At Gargan, half way along the line, a new overbridge was built for the T4 to cross the RN 3 road.

A siding is provided here to facilitate operations. There are no signals on this light railway..


A new branch is to be built from Gargan to Clichy-sous-Bois-Montfermeil, towns poorly served by public transport. The branch line ( 6 km, 11 stops) will be an authentic tramway electrified at 750 volts and constructed along the road. The project has been delayed by opposition from certain towns which preferred an express bus.  However, work finally started in 2016 along the agreed route and the tram line will be opened in 2019. The new service will operate from Montfermeil to Bondy.  

 

Stock: T4 is currently operated with a fleet of 15 Siemens AVANTO "Tram-train" units. Each unit is 37m long and 2.65m wide. Their capacity is 242 with 80 seated. The units operate singly. The Avantos cost 4.5M€ each. In 2016, an order was placed with Alstom for 15 Citadis Dualis bi-voltage tram-train units for use on the new branch. A new technicentre at Noisy-le-Sec was opened in September 2016. This maintenance depot will service all the tram-train units for T4 (30 units) and T11 (15 units so far).


Operations: T4 is operated by SNCF. It has, currently, 9 stops along the 8 km from Bondy(RER E)  to Aulnay(RER B) and it carries 34,000 passengers a day. The journey time is 19 minutes. The frequency is every 9 minutes and 6 minutes at peak periods. The objective was to carry 40,000 passengers a day. After ten years in service, the utilisation is still a little short of optimum. Some suggest that one explanation is that bus services in the area have not been modified to feed into the tram-train. If this is so it would be the responsibility of the local town councils. 




© Peter Lovell & Graham Skinner. The SNCF Society 2017. Thanks to  Michel Costes  and  Alain Masson  Photos by authors unless credited. sncfsociety@macmate.me

MTVS Update


Lulu’s last season

Those who would like travel behind a Corpet Louvet tank engine (ex Côtes du Nord) should note that the last opportunities will occur during 2017. It is MTVS which operates the 0-3-0T No.36, "Lulu", in steam since 1997. The loco was constructed in 1925, one of a batch of 13 in service on the CdN network around St Brieuc, Brittany. The railway closed on 31st December 1956. No.36 was the only locomotive to survive and was acquired by MTVS in 1984. After 6000 hours of work, the loco was returned to service in October 1997. Since then "Lulu" has steamed regularly and as a "diva" has visited other heritage railways including CFBS and Chemins de fer de Provence. During the latter visit of 2 years in the south of France "Lulu" acquired her second boiler ticket which will expire at the end of 2017. 


In May 2017, MTVS will transfer No 36 to its site at Crèvecoeur-le-Grand to operate passenger trains on the new line that will be opened to the public for the first time. Details at the end of this text.


MTVS Crèvecoeur project on track


During this winter 2016/2017, in preparation for the imminent opening to the public, a new platform is being created close to the car park. The new roof over the future depot/workshop was ordered by the local council just before Christmas 2016.  From May 2017, the line of nearly 2 km will be opened to the public once or twice a month. In September 2017, a festival will be held over the week-end of 16th/17th for the official opening of the line. This occasion will also provide the opportunity to confirm the twinning of ASVi (Vicinal Museum at Thuin, Belgium) with MTVS. Presence of a Belgian vicinal railcar.


Tips on how and when to visit the new MTVS line near Beauvais during 2017

Train à Vapeur du Beauvaisis

For visitors travelling by road from the UK, a visit to the Crèvecoeur line can be conveniently combined with a week- end visit to the Baie de Somme railway. The MTVS site is on the eastern edge of Crèvecoeur vlllage, 11 km from the A16 motorway, exit 16 which is combined with the Hardivillers service area. It is 81 km by the A16 from Abbeville north exit 23 past Amiens to the Hardivillers exit 16. A large choice of hotels at Beauvais (exit 15). Ryannair hub at Beauvais airport.


Whereas the CFBS is open every day from February to November, the MTVS line will be open only on the following Sunday afternoons: 14th May, 11th June, 9th July, 13th August, 10th Sept


In addition, there will be two special openings:Thursday 25th May, (annual all day brocante in centre ville) Saturday + Sunday 16th + 17th September. Inauguration Festival. 


On the Sunday afternoons, four scheduled steam trains, a round trip of 3.5 km during

about 20 minutes, plus presentation of the site (view of the ABH 8 Renault autorail No 201 ex Corsican railways). Tickets can be advance booked on the web site (http://musee-mtvs.com ) On the special days, the site will be open from 11.00 and there will be extra trains.

Re-organisation of Intercité services

A summary and correction.

In January 2017 Alain Vidalies,Transport Minister, reported on the conclusion of his work to re-organise the Intercité services. The communique can be examined via this link.

Six Intercité lines will be kept under the direct control of the Transport Ministry, operated by SNCF and subsidised by the French state:

Paris-Orleans-Limoges-Toulouse (POLT), Paris-Clermont Ferrand, Bordeaux-Toulouse-Marseille, Toulouse-Hendaye, Nantes-Lyon and Nantes-Bordeaux. In the January News we incorrectly reported that Nantes - Bordeaux would transfer to Nouvelle Aquitaine.

Eighteen other Intercité lines will be transferred to Regional Transport authorities on various dates from 1st January 2017-2020, with various conditions including provision of new trains and subsidies.

All the Intercité night services have been withdrawn with the exception of Paris - Briancon and Paris - Rodez/Latour de Carol that will be maintained and subsidised by the French State. Paris - Nice and Paris - Tarbes - Hendaye will be withdrawn on the 1st October 2017 and 1st July 2017 respectively.

Note. Lines in the context of this report and the communique refers to all trains between the terminal points identified as Intercité. Other trains (TGV, TER) may operate over the same route. It is assumed the Intercité trains taken over by the regions will be re-branded TER.