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European Railroad Discussion > Paris Stations: After Hours at Gare Montparnasse


Date: 01/27/20 07:51
Paris Stations: After Hours at Gare Montparnasse
Author: F7sForever

This is the second in my look at the four major train stations in Paris that host TGV traffic, and probably the least comprehensive. Gare Montparnasse is southwest of downtown Paris, and while it is a high volume passenger station, it only hosts one of France's Lignes a Grandes Vitsesses (high speed lines): the LGV Atlantique. But it's probably most well known for an incident in the late 1800s where a steam engine crashed through the end of track, burst out the side wall of the station, and ended up in the plaza below, tilted downward on its nose at an amazing angle. The photographs are often reprinted, and probably more well known than the location. There were no steam engines, crashed or otherwise, on my visit. So I focused on the moving traffic instead.

The LGV Atlantique was the second high speed line to be built, from Paris to Tours and Le Mans. It has recently been expanded to Rennes and Bordeaux, and another extension to Toulouse in far southern France is planned. The expanded TGV Oceane service on the line using Duplex TGVs has augmented the fleet of single level Atlantique TGVs that the line opened with. Expecting that the Atlantiques May be purged before I could get back, I took a late night run to the station to see what - if anything - there was to see. I spent all of an hour there, around 10pm, while my wife slept. Since I left on a whim and didn't tell her, I didn't liger. The photos that follow are presented in the order they were taken.

I took the metro from my hotel to the station, then walked the underground tunnel from the metro stop to the station. It was raining like heck outside, so I didn't go out to shoot the exterior of the station. The train tracks are above ground level, and unlike the other stations with their ancient train sheds and ornate facades, Gare Montparnasse presents a much more industrial look as the station has been built up around. Take away the exotic TGVs, and I could have been standing on the stub-ended tracks at Chicago Union Station or the like. Given the late hour, not much was moving, but I was fortunate to catch some trains discharging passengers before moving to the nearby technicentre for service overnight. Still, it the station was almost eerily quiet. There are a number of shops there, but all were closed while I was there, and the people traffic was probably only a fraction of what it sees during the busy times of the day.

Photo 1: coming up the escalator from ground level, I was greeted by this TGV Atlantique. And just in the nick of time - it pulled out while I was walking around exploring.

Photo 2: I have previously shared photos from this unique lineup - the three major types of TGV Duplex. But when I first arrived, there was another Atlantique discharging passengers as well. I am not going to lie - I find these views of the high speed trains all lined up in station to be pretty compelling. But without a soaring train shed, this feels a little colder and less exciting than some.

Photo 3: a TGV EuroDuplex. It had InOui badges, so I don't think it was serving in Oceane service per se. I understand that they have a diffferent interior treatment.

more photos to come. 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/27/20 12:10 by F7sForever.








Date: 01/27/20 07:57
Re: Paris Stations: After Hours at Gare Montparnasse
Author: F7sForever

Photo 4: Atlantique and NeoDuplex TGVs side by side. I am still fond of this simple blue and silver paint scheme, especially in light of the problems with Carmillon on TGVs discussed in an earlier post.

Photo 5: in addition to TGV trains, Gare Montparnasse also sees a fair amount of Transilien local trains from around Ile de France, the Paris region. These are double decker VB2N train sets, and should be locomotive-hauled, probably by a BB7200 class or BB27300 class motor. But I didn't feel confident walking past the gates to go have a look.

Photo 6: another Transilien train. The ticketing gates are something that has been installed at all Paris stations since my first visit in 2017. I wasn't willing to pass them, even if they were open. I probably need to get over that, as train spotting is much more common - and accepted - in Europe when compared to the US. Put frankly, though I speak French acceptable to poorly, I don't have enough confidence to ask questions, and really dont do well trying to recall words on the fly under pressure. And since I didn't feel like getting yelled at in French if I screwed up, I didn't go. I probably missed out.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 01/27/20 12:16 by F7sForever.








Date: 01/27/20 08:05
Re: Paris Stations: After Hours at Gare Montparnasse
Author: F7sForever

Photo 7: a Transport Express Regional (TER) train was the only departure during my visit, making a regional run out into western France with a type Z26500 EMU.

Photo 8: the TER and Transilien trsins together.

Photo 9: NeoDuplex 269 and EuroDuplex 876.








Date: 01/27/20 08:15
Re: Paris Stations: After Hours at Gare Montparnasse
Author: F7sForever

Last group of photos.

Photo 10: NeoDuplex 269 still in its original paint, but showing some of the modifications made to the class since delivery, like the slotted nose grille and a shield over the air dams below the windshield.

Photo 11: Dasye Duplex 764 was one of the first Dasyes that were configured for OUIGO service when it launched in 2013. As you can see by the clock next to the train, the hour was late. I was racing to beat an 11pm line closure for maintenance, so I needed to catch my Metro train back to the hotel shortly.

Photo 12: One last look at Atlantique 359. I wanted to walk alongside and take a closer look, but talked myself out of it because of the line closure. So I headed back to the Metro station and got myself to my hotel.

As a major station, Gare Montparnasse lacks a lot of the flair of the grander stations around Paris. But it was an interesting hour spent exploring. Next time I visit the station, I will be a little more prepared.

I hope you enjoyed! I will be finishing my look at Paris stations with Gare de l'Est and Gare du Nord this week. Thanks for reading,

jody 








Date: 01/27/20 13:14
Re: Paris Stations: After Hours at Gare Montparnasse
Author: milwrdfan

Thanks for the tour! 



Date: 01/27/20 21:22
Re: Paris Stations: After Hours at Gare Montparnasse
Author: railsmith

F7sForever Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------

> Photo 6: another Transilien train. The ticketing
> gates are something that has been installed at all
> Paris stations since my first visit in 2017. I
> wasn't willing to pass them, even if they were
> open. I probably need to get over that, as train
> spotting is much more common - and accepted - in
> Europe when compared to the US. Put frankly,
> though I speak French acceptable to poorly, I
> don't have enough confidence to ask questions, and
> really dont do well trying to recall words on the
> fly under pressure. And since I didn't feel like
> getting yelled at in French if I screwed up, I
> didn't go. I probably missed out.

Are the ticketing gates open because either: (a) there is no train at the platform; or (b) the train at the platform is out of service? Put another way, under what circumstances would the gates be closed?

And what does it take to open them?  A smart card, a paper ticket with an embedded chip, a paper ticket or device with a QR code, or . . . ? 

I'm wondering how someone travelling with a paper Eurail Pass would be able to open a gate. The Eurail Pass I used last September/October in Austria and Switzerland (but valid in 31 countries) had no electronic coding of any kind.



Date: 01/27/20 22:38
Re: Paris Stations: After Hours at Gare Montparnasse
Author: gaspeamtrak

Again, what and amazing look at the modern trains which are running right now!
Hopefully I will get to go over there one of these years as retirement is getting closer !!! :):):)
Again thank you Jody for sharing !!! :):):)
Lookingforward to your next installments!!! :):):)



Date: 01/29/20 19:17
Re: Paris Stations: After Hours at Gare Montparnasse
Author: F7sForever

railsmith Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Are the ticketing gates open because either: (a)
> there is no train at the platform; or (b) the
> train at the platform is out of service? Put
> another way, under what circumstances would the
> gates be closed?
>
> And what does it take to open them?  A smart
> card, a paper ticket with an embedded chip, a
> paper ticket or device with a QR code, or . . .
> ? 

To clarify, these gates only seem to be present on Île de France, and mostly are for Metro, RER, and TransIlien trains. I say mostly because all of the TGVs on Terminal 2 at Gare de Lyon were behind closed gates, but I never saw them boarding to know if those were just opened up, or if passengers had to scan through them. All of the other TGV platforms I saw had the gates open when a train was in station, including those at Gare de Lyon terminal 1. I just didn't want to pass where it was implied that only ticketed passengers ought to be.

To pass the gates for Metro, RER, and TransIlien trains, you can buy traditional paper tickets like the one above, though they are slowly being phased out in favor of the new NaviGo cards that have a chip in them much like our debit cards do now. Those can be reloaded and reused. For tourists and occasional users, the NaviGo Easy card takes a lot of the hassle away, and can be purchased at any RATP ticket office in the Paris area (note that the larger stations usually have separate ticket offices for RATP and SNCF.)

As for long distance trains, we did everything this trip on my phone. E-tickets bring up a QR code that the conductor onboard the train will scan. Two years ago, we used paper tickets with bar codes, but this time virtually everything was done paperless. I have no experience with the Eurail pass, but I'd imagine it behaves similarly. And like I said, I only saw the gates at local stations around Paris. Outside of Île de France, I didn't see anything.

jody 




Date: 01/29/20 20:09
Re: Paris Stations: After Hours at Gare Montparnasse
Author: railsmith

F7sForever Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> As for long distance trains, we did everything
> this trip on my phone. E-tickets bring up a QR
> code that the conductor onboard the train will
> scan. Two years ago, we used paper tickets with
> bar codes, but this time virtually everything was
> done paperless. I have no experience with the
> Eurail pass, but I'd imagine it behaves similarly.

Thanks for the explanations.

As for Eurail Pass, it's strictly paper -- no barcodes, QR codes or anything electronic. Nothing that would open an electronic faregate. The conductor reviews it by sight and then imprints train number and date with a handheld device that's the modern equivalent of the old ticket punch. That's done on the same line where the passholder has already entered the date and departure time of the train, and the start and end points of that leg of the journey.

The BritRail Pass is similar in format, except that the passholder does not have to enter any information for specific trips. Just show the pass to the conductor, who does not have to do anything with it, although I've had a few stamp or initial it. If all the 100-plus conductors I encounter on a typical holdiay were to try to do that, there'd be no room left on the pass long before it expired. In Britain, the faregates are manned, so holders of paper passes simply use the gate where the attendant is standing, usually the wider one for those in wheelchairs or bulky luggage, which is typically located at one end of a bank of gates. 



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