The Menton to Sospel Tramway Revisited Again! (Chemins de Fer de Provence 61)

I have already mentioned that my wife has purchased two books for me as a birthday present. They are written in French by Jose Banuado. They cover the tramway network of the TNL, the Tramways de Nice et du Littoral. In the first volume there is a section about the tramways which meandered into the hills behind the Coast, one of which was the tramway from Menton to Sospel.

Among a whole series of different pictures, mainly old postcards, were some pictures of the line showing the operation of steam locomotives on the line and others of goods wagons in use between Menton and Sospel, particularly to deliver material to the construction work on the PLM Nice-Cuneo line..

The pictures and text below come primarily from Jose Banuado’s book. [1] The French text has been translated with the help of Google Translate. …….The Menton-Sospel line is the only one in the TNL network to have seen steam locomotives. In the above photograph, a small 0-4-0T No. 212 is shown. The manufacturer and the owner are not known. The locomotive is pulling a bogie truck and a wagon. The condition of the ballasting of the line suggests that this view is prior to the commissioning of the line, (c) Jacques Schopfer, the TCA Collection.The upper of the two photographs in the image above shows one of several locomotives destined for the construction sites of the PLM Nice-Cuneo line which were transported by tram to Sospel. This German-built 0-6-0T was partly deconstructed to be transported on a TNL wagon in September 1912, for the Gianotti Bros. public works company, (c) Maurice Bouvet, the Jose Banuado Collection. The second photograph in the image above is taken in 1914. The 0-6-0T Orenstein & Koppel steam locomotive No. 6871 of the Francois Mercier Company is about to leave the goods station at Carel in Menton, coupled with the shunter No. 13 of the TNL, (c) Jacques Schopfer, the TCA Collection.Engineer Jacques Schopfer photographed the 0-6-0T Orenstein & Koppel steam locomotive No. 6871 of the Francois Mercier Company coupled with the shunter No. 13 of the TNL on numerous occasions in 1914 – on the Viduc de Monti, on the approaches to the Viaduc du Caramel, and stationary on the viaduct, (c) Jacques Schopfer, the TCA Collection.The Menton-Sospel tramway was used for the transport of material fro the construction of the PLM line from Nice to Cuneo. In the pictures above we can see shunter No. 7 with a load of tubes on a flat wagon at the goods station at Carel in Menton; sunter No. 13 with a load of rails on two wagons before the stop at Villa Caserta, (c) Jaques Schopfer and Maurice Bouvet, collections of the TCA and Gerard de Santos.The bogie motor-trams of the 213-216 sub-series with more powerful engines and braking systems were also used for goods traffic on the Sospel line: above on the right with a wagon loaded with a small steam locomotive at Castillan, and immediately above with a load of long poles on the Caramel viaduct, from the collections of André Arutur & Jean-Jacques Stefanazzi.Caramel ViaductThis postcard dates from around 1914 and shows the viaduct at Caramel, with one of the bogie trams pulling a goods van. [2]

Goods trains were a feature of the line from the start, but there was a serious runaway of a goods service at Monti on 12th September 1912 which destroyed tractor 4 and killed its two crewmen. From 16th June 1913 a new service was started with two tractors 6, 7 (and 13 added in 1914) in the form of motorised box cars (known as fourgons in French), which were fitted with the same powerful equipment and brakes as the bogie passenger cars, and which pulled a variety of goods wagons.

In 1914, four passenger trips and three or four goods trips were made on the line each day, but like the rest of the T.N.L. network traffic fell off in the 1920s. During the building of the P.L.M. main line railway from Nice to Breil via Sospel, the line had a boost of goods traffic carrying many construction materials, but once complete in 1928 there was huge drop in traffic.

References

  1. Jose Banuado; Nice au fil du tram Vol.1 published by Les Editions du Cabri, p59-61.
  2. http://www.tramwayinfo.com/Tramframe.htm?http://www.tramwayinfo.com/Cards/Postc58.htm, accessed on 8th June 2018.

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