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European Railroad Discussion > French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs

Date: 03/05/13 08:24
French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs
Author: McKey

When you have a highly popular and successful service, everyone around you wants to take part of it. Countries around France started to consider their high speed plans more seriously after the French success. And within France a concept of Postal TGV unit was born. This unit was based on TGV-PSE but lacked passenger windows and was organized as half train sets. The half train usage was for the time a new innovation, if not enough mail delivery items were regularly on board the French could actually use a half units equipped with a TGV trailer bogie like structure at the end. And half sets meant too that there could be more destinations than with using the whole trains. Unfortunately there are no pictures of this contraption here to publish. And the pictures are pretty hard to find anyway. But fortunately we can thank Richard for providing his excellent two pics from Geneve.

The fleet originally consisted of five half units that could be assembled to 2 whole trains plus a half unit to use as such. Another 2 x 0,5 units were added in 1991 of the wrecked TGV unit 38 plus probably some left overs from other accidents / spares. All of these units still run mail and parcels at 270 km/h (168 mph) though some sources quote 300 km/h (186 mph) (correct me if I'm wrong on this detail). At night this slightly lower top speed does not cause much problems like it would during the day, but since many parts of French high speed lines are said to close for maintenance at night this is more of concern during the night operations.

The main directions where TGV-LaPoste normally run are from Paris to Macon and Cavaillon, both Southeast of Paris. If my information sources are correct the SNCF is operating these trains.

The TGV-LaPoste sets are and have always been very easy to spot because their bright yellow postal color. Just the postal brand marks have changed during the years but not the color.

Looking a little further to the future of these train sets there has been some doubts about their use earlier, but not recently. Quite contrary, there is even more interest withing the parcel community who would like to see this as a device to move parcels fast between the European bigger cities. A demonstration run was made in 2012 from continental cities to London to market the concept. But since it has been again very quiet. If many the older TGV-PSE sets soon end up to the aftermarkets, these might well be suitable for this kind of use, just like the older airliners are often recycled to parcel use. Who knows, maybe this is a start for the era of the super high speed parcel trains?

1 - 2) The LaPoste locomotives were loaned to SNCF TGV-PSE use when need be, so occasionally it has been possible to see this kind of mixed consists. TGV-LaPoste locomotive + TGV-PSE trailers + TGV-PSE locomotive. We can thank you Richard for these rare pictures. Actually they are the only ones I have seen of this not quite unique mix.

3) A picture of the unit 38, which is said to be converted of the TGV-PSE unit 38.

Date: 03/05/13 13:43
Re: French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs
Author: Focalplane

It is usually possible to see a La Poste trainset parked outside Gare de Lyon during the day. If you are leaving Gare de Lyon, it will be on the right side of the train approximately 2-3 kilometers out. I have never seen one in Macon (that c should have a cedilla under it).

Date: 03/06/13 02:35
Re: French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs
Author: McKey

Thanks! I did not know they would be there to be seen in a broad day light.

Making รง seems to be really difficult to find in the Nordic keyboard, unless you type Alt+0231.

Date: 03/06/13 17:37
Re: French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs
Author: Krokodil

Looks like the first two pictures were taken in Geneva.

Thomas Eckhardt

Date: 03/06/13 22:26
Re: French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs
Author: E111

Krokodil Wrote:
> Looks like the first two pictures were taken in
> Geneva.

Correct. I took these two pictures there on August 10, 1989.


Date: 03/06/13 23:34
Re: French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs
Author: McKey

Since we have Swiss members online again, I need to ask if the TGV-LAPostes ever ran to Switzerland? It looks like the La Poste locomotive #2 is trielectric so servicing Switzerland could be within possible scenarios.

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 03/06/13 23:35 by McKey.

Date: 03/07/13 07:02
Re: French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs
Author: Steinzeit

McKey Wrote:
? It looks like the La Poste locomotive
> #2 is trielectric...

No. Since the photo was taken in Geneva, that's 1500 vdc. The SNCF side of the station and the trackage to the border are either 1500 vdc or dual voltage. Indeed, at one time the line to La Plaine was SNCF property, and perhaps still is.

Best rgds, SZ

Date: 03/07/13 07:20
Re: French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs
Author: McKey

Whoops, my mistake. Thanks for correcting. The city indeed is so near the border line that without accessing it it is hard to make any definitive decisions.

Date: 03/07/13 10:38
Re: French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs
Author: E111

Steinzeit Wrote:
> Indeed, at one time the line to La
> Plaine was SNCF property, and perhaps still is.

That's my knowledge as well. At the time I was there, SNCF had the larger part of the traffic and SBB was only using the BDe 4/4 1301 for the local traffic between Geneve and La Plaine. In former times, this line had a very famous locomotive to run on, Ae 4/6III 10851 which was built on the former gas-turbine locomotive Am 4/6 1101. I was no able to catch that one, but below are two pictures from my visit there on August 9, 1984: the first one shows the SNCF Z9513 in the direction of Geneva, while the second picture shows the first of the two BDe 4/4 II built by the SBB especially for the DC electrified line (the only standard gauge DC line of the SBB)between Geneve and La Plaine (together with Tm 417).


Date: 03/08/13 07:18
Re: French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs
Author: Steinzeit

I find the following fascinating: When the two DC units 1301-02 were built in 1956-57, they were originally configured with the headlights conforming to SNCF practice: There was no third [ center, top ] headlight, nor the red Falschfahrtsignal; instead, there were the two small white lights in the upper corners of the cab, as seen on contemporary French electrics. When the units received a heavy overhaul circa 1977-78, the front end received a more Swiss appearance, as in the photo above; the communicating door was apparently also sealed closed at that time. I believe the two matching Bt control trailers 1801-02 were given the same treatment when they were rebuilt in 1977, but cannot immediately confirm this, as my slides of these units postdate the rebuilding.
Question: How were those two white marker lights used in SNCF practice ?

The most interesting piece of rolling stock on the La Plaine line, in my opinion, appeared in 1978: Due to a shortage of 1500 vdc units [ the Ae4/6 III was retired that year ] there was a problem in cold weather for heating the cars, as SBB's Bm4/4 diesels that could be used for haulage had no provision for train heat. Hence, one of the early prewar Leichtstahl coaches used on that line was fitted with a pantograph and suitable switchgear to provide the trainline heating circuit. The car was nicknamed "The Giraffe".

With best regards, SZ

Date: 03/12/13 11:00
Re: French HS (6): TGV-LaPoste, Postal TGVs
Author: SOO6617

SBB Infra owns the track and Cantenary to the border. The Cantenary will be converted to 25kV/50Hz in the next few years. France has agreed to provide the money to convert their portion from Bellegarde to the Border.

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