MAY 2017 News


Government orders more Intercité Coradias

67608 approaches Ponthoile on the 14th April 2017 with the evening Boulogne - Paris train, one of the diesel hauled services that the new Coradias will operate. There is speculation that some of the Coradias currently being delivered for Bordeaux - Nantes - Lyon services could be utilised on these services to bring forward the elimination of Class 67400 on main-line services.

In the last week of the Hollande administration the Ministry of Transport finally confirmed the order for a further 30 Alstom Coradias for Intercité services. Worth €250 million delivery will begin in September 2018. 19 sets will be produced with interiors in "Grande LIgne" confort (presumbly identical to the previous order of 34) except that 10 will be bimodes and "long" (110 m) 9 sets will  be electric only and "short" (72 m).11 sets will be bimode, "short" (72 m ) and in regional configuration inside (high density). The "long" sets in Grande LIgne configuration are stated to be able to carry 300 passengers though Rail Passion states that the Coradia Liner is configured for 261 passengers. The short sets are described as having a capacity of 160 though there are two different types of configuration, Grande LIgne and Regional. The new units are scheduled to be allocated as follows:

Paris - Amiens - Boulogne (10 bi-mode "long")         Paris - Bourges - Montluçon (3 bi-mode "short")

Cévenol ( 3 bi-mode "short")                                     Toulouse - Hendaye (9 electric "short)

Bordeaux - La Rochelle (2 bi-mode "short")              Bordeaux - Limoges (4 bi-mode "short")

Forthcoming Railtours & Events

May 13th   

6570+6558 Avignon - Sete                       Details via this link

May 14th

First MTVS trains at Crevecoeur              Details and dates via this link

May 20th   

66304  Toulouse - Brive-la-Gaillarde          Details via this link

X4719  Amagne-Lucquy - Le Treport          Details via this link

May 21st

140 C 38 Limoges - Pompadour                  Details via this link

June 3/4th

X4039  Dijon - Saumur - Sables D’Olonne  Details via this link

June 4th

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

241 P 17  Le Creusot - Dijon                        Details via this link

140 C 38   Limoges - Brive                           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

June 24th

X2844/X2907 Limoges - Bellac                      Details via this link

66304  Toulouse - Cerbere                           Details via this link

June 25th

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

July 1st

231 K 8  Paris - Noyelles                                Details via this link

X4719  Amagne-Lucquy - Dijon                      Details via this link

July 1st/2nd

Chemin de fer Touristique du Vermandois (CFTV) Anniversary Festival (see below)

X2819/X2914  Langogne - Ales Viaduc de Chamborigaud  Details

X4039  Dijon - Reims                                      Details via this link

July 8th

231 K 8  Sotteville - Rouen - Le Havre           Details via this link

July 14th

66304  Toulouse - Carcassonne                     Details via this link

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

July 15th

231 K 8 Sotteville -Rouen - Dieppe                 Details via this link

July 16/17th

X4039  Dijon - Le Havre                                  Details via this link

July 26th

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

July 29th

X2844/X2907 Limoges - Bordeaux/Blaye         Details via this link

231 K 8  Sotteville - Rouen - Le Havre            Details via this link

Delle - Montbeliard - Belfort Update


Graham Skinner

The new footbridge and lifts under construction at Delle

Work at the frontier station at Delle is nearly complete. The station comprises 3 tracks with an island platform connected to the passenger building by a huge pair of steps and two towers for lifts. The tracks are electrified for 100 metres or so towards Belfort. The station building has been modernised and a small bar-café-restaurant-tourist office has been created and is open. There is no sign of any SNCF booking office. There is an SBB automat for tickets to Swiss Railways. A new car park has been created.

Creil - Roissy link - a step closer

Construction of the 6km Creil - Roissy (Charles De Gaulle) Airport link became a step closer at the end of March when the Hauts de France Region voted €105 million towards the project, covering a third of the estimated cost €311 million. The Minister of Transport had recently said the line would not be completed until 2030, prompting the contribution from the Hauts de France Region. Unless there is a U turn by the next government a public enquiry will be held at the end of 2017 with the DUP expected in 2018, with the subsequent start of work for completion in 2023-2024.

The project will provide a north facing line from Roissy to link the TGV interconnexion IDF arc with Creil and the Boulogne/Maubeuge - Paris lines The project includes rebuilding the airport station, presumably to add capacity for shuttle services from Amiens/Creil. It also covers upgrading of the Creil - Amiens line. The link will provide local train services from Creil to the airport (50,000 jobs on site) and open up the possibility of TGV services from Amiens

The modernised station building at Delle

The station is served every hour by an SBB "Domino" railcar set coming from Biel/Bienne - Delement - Porrentruy. During my visit, the Swiss train was met by six French Customs officers who out-numbered the passengers !!

However, there was no connecting bus to anywhere during my visit.

Investigating the line towards Belfort it is apparent that all the new trackbed is complete but none of the track or electric overhead has been installed. The level crossings are not complete. The new stations are under construction, possibly 50% complete. At Grandvillars, two towers for lifts dominate the site next to the original station building which remains in derelict state adjacent to the new platforms. At the following station, an island platform seems to be under construction and there are no towers. During my visit on a Friday no work was underway at any site along the line.

The former station building at Grandvillars adjacent to the new platforms

On a new bridge over the LGV Rhin-Rhône adjacent to the Belfort-Montbéliard TGV station, a narrow island platform is under construction.There seems to be a lift installed that connects this platform down to the TGV platform. There is also a subway with steps to the passenger building. The TER tracks here are not laid or electrified yet. Continuing towards Belfort Ville, the overhead catenary is partially installed in places.The conclusion of this visit is that this line appears more likely to be finished and opened in the first six months of 2018 rather than the original official date of December 2017. This delay has been confirmed in the local press, who suggest the latter half of 2018.


Ilkka Huotelin

The Swiss canton of Jura and the French Region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté have signed an agreement on the future passenger services for the Belfort Ville – Delle (Territoire de Belfort on the Swiss-French border) line due to reopen this December (although some in France speculate it will be delayed till 2018). PLM opened this line originally 1873 and the 22km section between the border and Belfort closed in 1992 for passengers and for freight in 2006. The line is currently being rebuilt with 4 intermediate stations and will be electrified with the French 25 kV system requiring CFF to use dual-voltage rolling stock for the trans-border services.

CFF will extend 10 of its hourly services between Bienne in the Canton of Berne and Delle further to the Belfort-Montbéliard TGV station, where those continuing to Belfort Ville have to change to a French train. SNCF on its part will run at least 6 return trips between Delle and Belfort Ville and most likely more between the Belfort and its TGV station. It is estimated that 1,800 passengers will use the line each day. SNCF has promised to offer smooth connections to the high-speed trains, but it will be interesting to see, how the Swiss regular interval timetable can be coordinated with SNCF’s rather irregular one.

CFHVS, Bar-le-Duc, Meuse - an update

On the January 2017 News Page we featured the new railway museum under construction at Bar-le-Duc, Meuse. This is the Chemin de fer Historique de la Voie Sacrée (CFHVS). A new metre gauge track of 4 km has been laid through the forest along the route of the First World War narrow gauge railway that was used to supply the front line during the battle of Verdun.

The ambitious museum project requires the construction of various buildings at the terminus of the new line on the outskirts of Bar-le-Duc(visitor centre, engine shed and depot) and also at the opposite end of the line at Ferme Saint-Christophe where a museum is to be erected.

It is reported that the local council is responsible for the financing and building of these structures. Currently no work has yet started on this part of the project which the association considers essential before the line can be opened to visitors. At present, the Corpet Louvet loco "Suzanne"and rolling stock are stored at different locations in the town of Bar-le-Duc because there is no secure covered accommodation at the terminus of the new line.

So, due to this situation, CFHVS has announced that no trains will run in 2017. Instead, there will be guided visits of the Corpet Louvet tank engine "Suzanne" on the first Saturday of each month from April to September. On those days the engine will be displayed at the terminus, Chemin du Varinot, 55000 Bar-le-Duc (on the north-western edge of the town). 

On Sunday, September 3rd 2017 there will be a special, free, "spectacle" depicting a supply depot in 1917, with costumed participants, historical vehicles and all the preserved rolling stock and locomotive.

Those who may be in the area this year, and would like further information, can contact CFHVS at 03 29 79 04 17 or by email at

CFTV Anniversary Festival: July 1st/2nd

This year Chemin de fer Touristique du Vermandois (CFTV) celebrates the 40th anniversary of the association and the 100th anniversary of the 140 C 314 locomotive recently returned to service. Preliminary details have been released and they are listed below. More details will be reported in June News. The theme of the first World War will be present.

The event will take place at the CFTV depot at Saint Quentin and also at several stations along the line; Itancourt (PK 6), Mézières-sur-Oise (PK 11), Ribament (PK 16.6). There will be regular shuttle services between the depot and Mézières, and from Mézières to Ribament. The trains will be hauled

by the CFTV diesel and steam engines including the 140 C and as yet unspecified visiting locos.

At Mézières a replica military camp will be created. At Itancourt there will be a temporary 0.60 cm gauge Nord-East line. One of the shuttle trains will simulate an evacuation from Saint Quentin town. At Ribament there will be a model railway exhibition and stands animated by partners and friends of the CFTV.

CFBS Developments

Platform capacity at Noyelles has been increased with the laying of an extra set of points creating an additional loop at the end of line 13. This now enables three trains to be in the station at the same time. As a result the morning train from Cayeux and return, now run through to Noyelles and provide connections with SNCF services.

Verney autorail X212 departs from the new loop at Noyelles with the 11:55 to Cayeux on the 19th April

CFTSA’s X4719 visits Baie de Somme

On Saturday 22nd April Sud Ardennes based CFTSA organised a tour from Attigny to Noyelles with their main-line approved Modified Caravelle X4719. The tour was fully booked with 110 passengers and travelled via Amagne-Lucquy, Reims, Laon and Amiens. During the break in CFBS services X4719 travelled up the dual gauge line to St Valery Canal to take on water and is seen below mid-way between Noyelles and St Valery.

CFTSA anticipate shortly taking on another Modified Caravelle formerly employed on  Franche-Comte TER services

Crowd-funding raises €22,500 to repair Billard railcar No 222

Billard articulated railcar No 222 "La Flêche des Cevennes’ at Velay Express (VFV) has been out of service since 2012 due to failure of the hydraulic system used to operate the gearbox from each driving cabin. The railcar dates from 1939, the only survivor of a class of four units. VFV has ordered a redesign of the hydraulic system according to modern standards and technology.

A budget of €22,500 was established and VFV experimented with a crowd funding appeal. It was an outstanding success and the target sum was achieved on April 25th, in less than two months, and 7 days before the expiry date.*  The association plans to complete the installation of the new hydraulic system by July 2017. The return to service of 222 will be welcome since VFV is experiencing strong growth and lacks capacity in the high summer season. The autorail 222 will be repaired in the new workshop at Raucoules. 

* The terms of the crowd funding appeal required all donations to be returned if the target amount was not achieved by the date set. 

VFV members communicated regularly on forums, Facebook, website to alert potential donors.

Guingamp - Paimpol re-opens

After eight months of closure Guingamp to Paimpol re-opened on the 28th April following re-laying of the track with concrete sleepers and replacement of the platforms at most of the stations. The line carries about 50,000 passengers a year of whom half transfer to or from TGV services at Guingamp. This is expected to increase in July when the new LGV line opens increasing travel opportunities.

La Vapeur du Trieux anticipate operating the steam service from mid-May with 141 TB 424 arriving at Guingampon the 29th April. Although their Facebook site shows a picture of their 2017 brochure this does not seem to be available on line at the time of writing

CFCB Saint-Brieuc - Loudéac. 

- Tourist trains suspended 

CFCB is the only standard gauge preservation association in Brittany.  It is based at Loudéac on the freight only branch line from Saint Brieuc. Freight traffic has become non existent and as a result the line is no longer maintained. Traffic along the line has been suspended for an undefined period due to state of the track. CFCB are in discussion with SNCF Reseau and the local authorities to try and resolve the position, but do not anticipate operating any trains until at least the autumn of 2017

This is obviously very serious for the association whose income depends on running its tourist trains. CFCB has been operating with a railcar X 2830, Picasso X3890 and some trailers. Other similar railcars are stored for spare parts.  

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