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European Railroad Discussion > Sur le pont...


Date: 08/31/22 13:05
Sur le pont...
Author: 86235

One of the first things I learned in French at school was the song "Sur le pont d'Avignon..." and last week for the very first time I went to Avignon to see the wretched bridge on which one is supposed to dance. And we went by train; Newport to London Paddington, St Pancras International to Paris Gare du Nord, Gare de Lyon to Avignon TGV and Avignon TGV to Avignon Ville. Not a railway holiday I managed a few shots whilst we were out and about.

1: Thursday August 25th, somewhere in Northern France between Calais and Lille
2: We caught InOui TGV 6163 at 14:25 from the Gare de Lyon, first stop Avignon TGV 17:02, 157 minutes for 657 kms, an average speed of 251 kph (155 mph). At Avignon TGV we changed into this Alstom Regiolis EMU for the five minute shuttle to Avignon Ville.
3: On Monday 29th we drove to Orange in our hire car to see the 2000 year old Roman theatre, an astonishing building. I'd had some gen about what might be running on the mainline through Orange on Monday morning so we stopped in the small town of Courthézon, a few miles south east of Orange and in 20 minutes saw three freight trains and a loco hauled passenger service on what used to be the PLM's Paris - Lyon - Marseilles and Cote d'Azur mainline. This was one of the freight trains, no.42303 05:44 Perpignan (FSC Internat) - Modane (Faisceau Impair). The loco is a dual voltage SNCF Fret BB27000. The PLM mainline is electrified at 1500v DC hence the compound catenary and twin contact wires.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/01/22 00:40 by 86235.








Date: 08/31/22 13:21
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: 86235

The last time I came this way was with two friends back in 1979 on a camping holiday on the Cote d'Azur. We travelled Transalpino - pre-Interrail - which limited us to a single day train and a single overnight service. In those days the cheapest way from London to Paris was boat train from Victoria to Newhaven, boat to Dieppe and train from Dieppe to Paris St Lazare either via Rouen or Gisors. We went via Gisors, a route which is now a cycle path for much of the way. Arriving in Paris early evening we had until 23:59 to kill before the overnight train to Nice, which we were riding to Toulon. Arriving at the Gare de Lyon at about 23:30 we were treated to the sight of an 11 coach train almost empty apart from the front four coaches - two couchettes and two seating carriages which were packed with humanity. Turned out they were the only cars going beyond Lyon Perrache so we joined the scrum, finding three seats in a packed compartment. Why we didn't sit in one of the empty cars as far as Lyon I'll never know, but we didn't. At Lyon we exchanged the cars from Paris with cars from Strasbourg, which were bound for Nice, and the train started to thin out as people made their way into the emptier Strasbourg portion. Dawn had broken and we were treated to the glories of Southern France - stopping at Valence, Montelimar, Orange, Avignon, Arles and Marseilles before reaching Toulon and the bus to Le Lavandou and our campsite. And last week, for the first time since, I went back to a couple of those locations.

4: This is the passenger train I saw, the 07:20 Lyon Part Dieu to Marseilles St Charles (11:16) behind a classic SNCF 1500v DC BB 52200
5: Since 2019 Avignon has had a tram line (who knew? I certainly didn't). They're working on a couple of extensions supposedly ready in 2023. The trams are Alstom Citadis, rather featureless but nevertheless a welcome sight
6: On Tuesday 30th we set off home, doing the whole journey from Avignon to Newport in a single day. Whilst waiting for the shuttle from Avignon Ville to Avignon TGV I took this shot of the main station.



Edited 4 time(s). Last edit at 09/01/22 00:16 by 86235.








Date: 08/31/22 13:26
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: 86235

7: Shortly after taking the shot of the station there was an announcement on platform 1, where our train to Avignon TGV was due to depart, that the next train would not be stopping. Quckly hurried over for this rushed shot of an Akiem Prima BB37000 on an intermodal which seemed to be headed towards Marseilles and the yard at Miramas
8: At Avignon TGV the 08:06 Lyon Part Dieu to Marseilles St Charles left just before our 09:40 non-stop to Gare de Lyon arrived.
9: Arrival in the Gare de Lyon was on time at 12:20, just as this SNCF Lyria TGV to Geneva was leaving. 



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/01/22 00:17 by 86235.








Date: 08/31/22 13:30
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: kurtarmbruster

Neat, what a fabulous system SNCF has, thanks for sharing!



Date: 08/31/22 14:01
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: 86235

kurtarmbruster Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Neat, what a fabulous system SNCF has, thanks for
> sharing!

Yep, it certainly is. Thanks.



Date: 08/31/22 15:17
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: dwatry

Interesting about the double contact wire on the old PLM line.  Not sure I've seen that configuration elsewhere. 

How did you get the info on the SNCF freight trains?  Is there a French version of realtimetrains.com?



Date: 08/31/22 17:36
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: gbmott

Nice set, Nick.  
Gordon



Date: 08/31/22 17:59
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: ironmtn

Excellent images and commentary to go with them. A really interesting itinerary, too. Thanks, Nick -- well done.

MC



Date: 09/01/22 00:38
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: 86235

dwatry Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Interesting about the double contact wire on the
> old PLM line.  Not sure I've seen that
> configuration elsewhere. 
>
> How did you get the info on the SNCF freight
> trains?  Is there a French version of
> realtimetrains.com?

Spain (both broad and metre gauge), Italy, Belgium and the Netherlands also use dual contact wire on their DC OHLE.

I asked on Freightmaster Interactive whether anyone could help with freight workings through Orange and someone obliged with what turned out to be a very accurate timetable.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/01/22 02:55 by 86235.



Date: 09/02/22 19:45
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: tq-07fan

Nice stuff Nick! I really liked the French railway scene both times I've been there. I especially like the SNCF signalling.

Jim



Date: 09/02/22 20:51
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: SOO6617

For any Americans not aware, Akiem is a French leasing company like CitiRail in North America. The reason for the dual contact wire is that to achieve the high power flow at the low voltage of 1500 Volts DC requires moving a lot of amperes through the wire. To keep the Resistance within reason you either have to increase the diameter of a single wire or install dual wires.



Date: 09/03/22 07:19
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: PHall

Didn't GN use the double contact wire system on their electrification through the Cascades?



Date: 09/04/22 02:05
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: railsmith

PHall Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> Didn't GN use the double contact wire system on
> their electrification through the Cascades?

That was only for the original three-phase 6600-volt electrification through the first Cascade Tunnel (just the 2.63 mile tunnel plus yard track at either end). That lasted from 1909 to 1927. The 11,500-volt electrification from Wenatchee through the current Cascade Tunnel to Skykomish (73 miles) was single-phase.



Date: 09/05/22 08:22
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: colehour

railsmith Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> PHall Wrote:
> --------------------------------------------------
> -----
> > Didn't GN use the double contact wire system on
> > their electrification through the Cascades?
>
> That was only for the original three-phase
> 6600-volt electrification through the first
> Cascade Tunnel (just the 2.63 mile tunnel plus
> yard track at either end). That lasted from 1909
> to 1927. The 11,500-volt electrification from
> Wenatchee through the current Cascade Tunnel to
> Skykomish (73 miles) was single-phase.

I recall reading that there was a system in Italy that used three phase current and double contact wires. 



Date: 09/05/22 18:29
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: SOO6617

colehour Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I recall reading that there was a system in Italy
> that used three phase current and double contact
> wires. 

Yes, the earliest electification systems in Italy were three-phase AC systems at 3600 V. Curiously the Italians tried various frequencies from 15 Hz. to 16 2/3 Hz. None of these electrification systems connected to the others. One was through the Simplon Tunnel into Switzerland, which was converted to single-phase 15kV/ 16 2/3 Hz in 1930. Another was on the southern slope of the Brenner Pass line which lasted until 1965 before being converted to the Italian standard 3kV DC in 1965. All of the three-phase electrification was on heavy grades. One other such line was the climb out of the major port city of Genoa, which was a 3 % grade before it was realigned.



Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 09/06/22 11:15 by SOO6617.



Date: 09/06/22 04:57
Re: Sur le pont...
Author: 86235

In France it was the CF du Midi which pioneered mainline electrification in the years before WW1. They chose the Swiss / German 12kV AC, 16 2/3 Hz system, having rejected three phase as being too complicated. In 1920 they were told by the government to change to a 1.5kV DC system as the French Army didn't want France to use German electrification technology! By 1930 the Midi had almost finished electrifying its system, the last section being turned on after the Midi had merged with the CF Paris-Orleans. After testing rival OHLE manufacturers the Midi chose Westinghouse OHLE from the USA.



Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 09/06/22 15:09 by 86235.



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