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European Railroad Discussion > Two hours at Gare de Strasbourg

Date: 12/28/19 20:53
Two hours at Gare de Strasbourg
Author: F7sForever

Imagin Alsace, the train says. And if you know me through other venues, you probably recognize this theme. Nestled up against the Rhine River in far eastern France, Strasbourg sits right on the border with Germany just about due east of Paris, and has a foot in both countries. The Alsace region has been a part of both France and Germany, changing hands several times over the  last fifteen centuries. The region shows a lot of both influences, an amalgam of architectures, cultures, and peoples. Alsace is fiercely independent, joyfully partisan, and distinctively neither French nor German, preferring to express itself as being the best of both. Alsace is the gateway to France's Vosges Mountains, and Germany's Black Forest. Strasbourg, at its heart, is the seat of the European Union's Parliament, and features the stunning gothic Notre Dame de Strasbourg, among its canals and cobblestone streets. There's lots to see, and lots left to explore. So when the train says Imagin Alsace, I do. Easily.

Gare de Strasbourg is the city's massive railway station. It was built around 1880, and modernized in a surprisng way in 2007 by having a massive glass and steel enclosure built around the original facade. I could have sworn I had photos of the station, but I'll be darned if I can find one. I guess that will have to go onto the list of things I aim to do next time I am there. And there are plenty. But with my wife resting up for a big afternoon wine tour during last month's visit (Alsatian wineries are amazing) I had a few hours in the morning to explore around le Petite France, and then head over to Gare de Strasbourg, one of my favorite haunts. What follows is just a small sampling of what I saw moving during the brief visit.

Photo 1: The slogan in question, on the side of an SNCF TER (Transport Express Regional) Alsom Coradia Regiolis train set. One major change since my last visit was the consilidation of the Alsace and Lorrane regions in the Grand-Est. This has to a certain degree rendered the Alsace name a little less official. But you'd never know it by visiting. The Regiolis trains include the slogan as well as the other regional decor, including a map of the region, on the side of the TER trains.

Photo 2: Notre Dame de Strasbourg is an amazing cathedral that has been in existence since the 11th century. It is about a kilometer from the station, and is one of my favorite places to visit. During our last stay, we were treated to an acapella concert by a choir from Lebanon inside the magnificent hall.

Photo 3: When I first arrived at the station, there was a tiny class Y8000 switching locomotive pulling a regional train out to head over to the Technicentre for service.

More photos to come.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 12/28/19 21:53 by F7sForever.

Date: 12/28/19 21:12
Re: Two hours at Gare de Strasbourg
Author: F7sForever

Photo 4: a three unit Class Z27500 in TER Lorraine livery departs from one of the outer tracks. Gare de Strasbourg has eight station tracks plus two stub-ended regional tracks. The Z27500 class and similar X76500 trains are the workhorses of the TER fleet in Strasbourg, coming in three and four unit sets, and capable of running both diesel and electric, to serve all of the branches that fan out from the station. Even small rural stations in the region see trains a minimum of two hours apart. As such, the trains are coming and going almost constantly throughout the day.

Photo 5: Another of the Coradia Regiolis trains in the attractive TER Alsace livery enters the station.

Photo 6: In addition to SNCF regional and TGV traffic, several cross-border services into Germany operate out of Gare de Strasbourg. Two Stadler Regio-Shuttle RS1 DMUs operated by Südwestdeutsche Verkehrs-Aktiengesellcchaft (SWEG) over their Ortneau S-Bahn to Offenburg, sit on the stub tracks south of the station, ready to load and head back across the border. 

Date: 12/28/19 21:26
Re: Two hours at Gare de Strasbourg
Author: F7sForever

Photo 7: A Marseille-bound TGV EuroDuplex departs the station from track 2, while a Frankfurt-Paris TGV EuroDuplex sits on track 1. The two trains exchanged passengers during the station stop.

Photo 8: A TGV Reseau single level set inbound from Paris.

Photo 9: an SNCF X76500 set operating in Diesel mode comes in from the non-electrified branches to the north.

Date: 12/28/19 21:35
Re: Two hours at Gare de Strasbourg
Author: F7sForever

Photo 10: The diminuitive, boxy little BB 25500 class electric locomotives are some of my favorites in the Strasbourg scene. I saw two of them on this visit, including this one leading a set of older coaches out of the station on a TER journey to Nancy. The locomotives were built by Alstom in the 60's and 70's. 

Photo 11: A double set of TGV OUIGO Duplexes arrives from Gare de l'Est in Paris.

Photo 12: One of the treats of the day was this short freight led by a Vossloh BB60000 class freight locomotive. The class was built in 2004-2008 using Cat 3508 diesel engines. 

Date: 12/28/19 21:52
Re: Two hours at Gare de Strasbourg
Author: F7sForever

Photo 13: a Paris-bound TGV departs behind a pair of EuroDuplex sets, headed for the LGV-Est, the line that hosted the record-setting run of 574 kmph in 2007.

Photo 14: A regional train arriving from Colmar and points south, led by an Alstom class BB26000 "Sybic" electric locomotive. The weekend was a busy weekend for the station, as this was the opening weekend for the Christkindlmarkt, and trains were disgorging crowds of visitors.

Photo 15: Strasbourg's Christkindlmarkt is one of the largest Christmas markets in all of Europe, and attracts upwards of two million visitors per year during its month and a half run. That's pretty impressive for a town of just over 277,000. And many, many visitors (including two from the US by way of Berlin) arrive via train through Gare de Strasbourg. The massive tree at Place Kleiber, just a few blocks (or one tram stop away) from the station, is one of the features of the market square.

I hope you've enjoyed this sampler of the traffic at Gare de Strasbourg. I haven't even scratched the surface of the volume of trains through what is one of the busiest train stations in all of France. Nor have I properly expressed all of my love for the region, its architecture, its food, its beers and wines, its people, and its style. Most of that would be off topic. Hopefully some of you will listen to the train, Imagin Alsace, and then come find out for yourselves. At least you'll know what the train traffic looks like when you get there.



Date: 12/29/19 03:42
Re: Two hours at Gare de Strasbourg
Author: gbmott

Wonderful collection Jody -- especially the two non-railroad ones!  I may have to move Strasbourg up on my Bucket List.


Date: 12/29/19 14:55
Re: Two hours at Gare de Strasbourg
Author: train1275

Super images !

Best Wishes
Doug Ellison

Date: 12/29/19 15:08
Re: Two hours at Gare de Strasbourg
Author: Lackawanna484

Great series and narrative.

The EuroDuplex always seemed like a good idea to me. High capacity, fast, good model for Acela

Posted from Android

Date: 12/29/19 15:56
Re: Two hours at Gare de Strasbourg
Author: F7sForever

After scoffing multiple times at hearing the original Acela trains (built by Bombardier) referred to quite erroneously as "American TGVs" the next generation Acela will indeed be one, based on Alstom's Avelia line. That they're being designed and built at the same basic time as Alstom's next generation TGV in France yields some interesting contrasts. The Avelia Liberty (Amtrak) and Avelia Horizon (SNCF) share similar lines and shapes, but the similarities end pretty quickly thereafter, as the Liberty features single level cars vs. the Horizon's Duplex design, and is slower, heavier, and has less seats than its French counterpart. There are several reasons for this, most notably in my mind the structural requirements of 49CFRPart 238, as well as the Northeast Corridor's reliance on high level platforms at stations. Either way, this will certainly translate to a much higher operating cost per seat, which will translate into much more expensive tickets and much lower ridership. 

I read an FRA report from the late 1980's when the "Texas TGV" was a going proposal, and it's quite comical in its critical analysis of the TGV system's supposed lack of adequate safety standards. (with nuggest like the track standards exceed anything in the US but don't quite meet our theoretical idea of what high speed track would be, and SNCF doesn't use FRA-approved safety glass, so the cars aren't as safe) The summation was basically "Our rules were never written to consider high speed rail, nor do we have any idea how to approach a high speed rail environment. But we're certain that we're better at it than the French."

The two paralell courses will speak volumes about the regulatory environments under which they were spawned.

Note: Both attached renderings from Alstom's website, for reference only.

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