Monthly Archives: Dec 2018

The Listowel and Ballybunion Railway

Over Christmas 2018 I was looking through a number of old issues of The Railway Magazine. In the May 1950 edition, I came across a short article about the Listowel and Ballybunion Railway. [1]

The line was over 9 miles long and operated on a system which I believe was not replicated elsewhere in the UK or Ireland. It was a unique form of monorail. I have known of the existence of the railway for sometime and had thought that I would one day get round to writing a little about it.

The Railway Magazine article was written around 25 years after the closure of the line in the 1920s. It says: ” The permanent way in use was described by its inventor M. Lartigue, as being on the monorail system; but, although the weight of the train was taken by the carrying rail supported on trestles, two guiding rails, one fixed on each side, near the feet of the trestles, were used. The trestles were 3ft high, and the line practically followed the natural contour of the country; any slight excrescences were levelled so that the carrying rail was everywhere 3ft above surface level. Stability was obtained by sinking the legs of the trestles to a sufficient depth in the ground, and attaching a crosspiece to each pair of legs. The saving in cost was thus great in respect of preparation of roadbed and ballasting, both of which, as known in standard permanent-way construction, were, so to speak, non-existent. Switching and turning were effected by means of pivoting sections of track.” [1. p337]

“The reason for the adoption of the Lartigue system was cheapness of construction. The sea sand at Ballybunion, a small seaside resort on the Atlantic, in County Kerry, near the mouth of the Shannon, had been found to be particularly rich in phosphates; and Lord Devon, who owned considerable estates in the West of Ireland, was anxious that it should be available for fertilising purposes over a wider area. When it was explained to him that a railway for the purpose could be constructed very economically on the Lartigue system, he warmly in supported the scheme; and it was decided to build such a line to Listowel, a small market-town between 9 and 10 miles inland, served by the Limerick-Tralee line of the (then) Waterford, Limerick & Western Railway.”

“The late Mr G.A.Sekon, writing in The Railway Magazine in November 1924, stated that on 16th April 1886, Parliamentary sanction was obtained for the construction of the Listowel & Ballybunion Railway on the Lartigue monorail system. ‘The route mileage,’ he continued, ‘was 9.25, but as the peculiar conditions requisite for the working of the railway required considerable auxiliary lines, the track length was 10.25 miles.’ The capital was fixed at £22,000, with £11,000 borrowing powers, from which it will be observed that the total estimated for the purchase of land, construction of the railway, and provision of rolling stock was only £3,300 a mile. It is of interest to note that, following the passing of the Act, a full-size model railway on the Lartigue system was built on the site of Tothill Fields Prison, Westminster, in July 1886. On this line were gradients of 1 in 10 and curves of 49ft. radius.” [1. p337]

These drawings can be found in the Gallery on the website of the present day heritage attraction. [5]

Construction began in August 1887 and the line opened to traffic on 1st March 1888. There was an intermediate station at Liselton and two places that the train would stop when signalled to do so. Later, a second intermediate station was added at Francis Road. Speed seldom reach 20mph and over 40 minutes were timetabled for the journey. In winter 2 services were provided in each direction. This increased to 5 regular services with son additional ones added as required.

These drawings can be found in the Gallery on the website of the present day heritage attraction. [5]

The railway at was not a financial success. Its highest receipts were taken in 1913 – £740. Usually the railway ran close to break even. In 1897, the company passed into the hands of receivers and remained so until its closure in October 1924. At that time the permanent-way and rolling stock were dismantled and sold for scrap.

The rolling stock was necessarily of twin design. An unusual feature of operation was the necessity for the guard to ‘balance the train’ by ensuring the loading of an approximately equal number of passengers or weight of goods on each side. There were three locomotives, and at one time there had been a fourth; the last-mentioned had been built abroad and was smaller, and was possibly used at Tothill Fields. The other three were built by Hunslet Engine Co. Ltd., Leeds. Each had two parallel boilers, and was suspended on three coupled axles, with wheels 24 in. in diameter placed between the twin boilers. The tender also could be made to exert driving power; it was carried on two coupled wheels, 24 in. in diameter, with a wheel base of 4ft 3in., and was driven by two cylinders, 5in. diameter by 7in. stroke.” [1, p337-338]

Having read the article in The Railway Magazine it seemed that a little research online would be appropriate. Some further information about the railway and its method of operation came to light. It also became apparent that a modern facsimile has been built which has become a visitor attraction in Co. Kerry.

The Lartigue System

The Lartigue Monorail system was developed by the French engineer Charles Lartigue (1834–1907). He developed a horse drawn monorail system invented by Henry Robinson Palmer [4] in 1821. [2] The most well-known example of the system was that constructed between Ballybunion and Listowel, but another line, 17 km (11 miles) long, was built in 1895 between Feurs and Panissières, in the French departmente of Loire. The adjacent image shows a locoi motive and carriage from that line.

Lartigue saw camels in Algeria carrying heavy loads balanced in panniers on their backs. This inspired him to design a new type of railway. Instead of the conventional two parallel rails on the ground, it had a single rail sitting above the sand and held at waist height on A-shaped trestles. The carriages sat astride the trestles like panniers.

By 1881 Lartigue had built a 90 km (56 mi) ‘monorail’ to transport esparto grass across the Algerian desert, with mules pulling trains of panniers that straddled the elevated rail.

However the Lartigue system as built was not truly a monorail, since it was necessary to add two further rails, one on each side, lower down the A frames. These did not carry any weight, but unpowered stabilising wheels fitted to all the engines and wagons contacted these extra rails to prevent the vehicles from overbalancing. [3]

The Wikipedia article about the line notes:

“Locomotives were specially built with two boilers to balance on the track, and consequently two fireboxes, one of which had to be stoked by the driver.” [3]

“They were also fitted with powered tenders for auxiliary use on hills. The tender wheels were driven by two cylinders via spur gears. Two small chimneys were fitted to each tender to discharge the exhaust steam from these cylinders. A smaller engine, nicknamed the “coffee pot”, was used in the construction of the railway, having been used previously on a demonstration line at Tothill Fields in London. It can be seen on an early photo of 1888.” [3]

Loads had to be evenly balanced. If a farmer wanted to send a cow to market, he would have to send two calves to balance it, which would travel back on opposite sides of the same freight wagon, thereby balancing each other. Another problem with using the Lartigue system in populated areas was that, due to the track’s design, it was not possible to build level crossings. In order for a road to cross the track, a kind of double-sided drawbridge had to be constructed, which required an attendant to operate it. [3]

A picture of a level crossing taken from The Railway Magazine, May 1950. [1]

A similar road crossing in the down position. [5]

“Where farmers’ tracks crossed the line there were level crossings based on the principle of a turntable. These were locked and the farmer in question provided with a key. Once unlocked, the track could be swivelled to one side to allow the crossing to be used. Both the swivelling and drawbridge type crossings were automatically linked to signals, which stopped any approaching trains; road traffic was always given priority under this system.” [3]

A picture of a farm track crossing taken from The Railway Magazine, May 1950. [1]

Passengers could not pass from one side of a carriage to another while in motion. A kind of footbridge was built into one end of some of the passenger coaches, while at least one such bridge was carried on a separate wagon. This allowed passengers to cross from one side of the line to the other when the train stopped at a station.

“Conventional railway points could not be used, so a similar function was fulfilled by a large number of curved movable pieces of track which, when rotated one way, would connect the main and one direction; when turned end-for-end, the curve went in the opposite direction, and so connected the main and a different track. These could not be called turntables since they could only be moved when there was no rolling stock on them.” [3]

The line closed in 1924 after the track was damaged during the Irish Civil War, and everything was scrapped, except a short section of the track. [3]

I have found videos on YouTube about the Listowel to Ballybunion line:

It is fascinating to note that a stretch of this line has been reconstructed to give modern holiday-makers a taste of what the line was like in the early 20th century. Nowadays, a visit includes a short demonstration journey on a full-scale diesel-powered replica of the original monorail. During the journey people experience the unique features of the monorail and are able to observe its ingenious switching system. Before or after a journey, it is possible to visit the Lartigue Museum to watch film of the original Lartigue and see models, displays and memorabilia of the Lartigue and main-line railways. [5]


1. The Listowel and Ballybunnion Railway; The Railway Magazine, Volume 96, No. 589, May 1950, p337-338.

2. “The Lartigue Railway”. Australian Town and Country Journal. NSW. 19 March 1887. p. 32. Retrieved 23 February 2013 – via National Library of Australia …. reviewed on 31st December 2018. The text of that article was as follows:

The Lartigue Railway.
The Lartigue railway system is that of a series of cars drawn by horse-power or a specially constructed locomotive, running on a single rail elevated a few feet from the ground. The system has been in use since 1883 in several parts of Europe and Africa; and a model line has recently been shown in action near Victoria Street, Westminster, London. The main features of the system, which is applicable to military, agricultural, or manufacturing lines, are as follows:
The line, which is exceedingly portable, is composed of one rail, of the shape of a flat bar, extremely rigid when subjected to vertical pressure, but easily bent horizontally. This rail is supported above the ground by A-shaped trestles, or frames, made of angle, or some very stiff section of iron. The upper extremity of these trestles is bolted to the rail; and the lower extremity rests on the ground, being supported by a bed-plate or sleeper, to which the frame is firmly secured. The sleepers may be of different sizes, and shapes, and may farther be secured in their places when required by long pegs driven into the ground through holes drilled near the extremity of the sleepers; thus preventing the line from shifting. If a river has to be crossed, some light piers can be made, or two wire cables may be stretched across to receive the trestles of the line; while if a ravine, has to be traversed the line can either be carried directly over the gap, or taken down the gorge by means of a zig-zag length, which can be connected by curves of as small a radius as 10ft. Moreover, it is possible to use gradients as steep as 1 in 17. On passenger lines guards, to prevent the swinging of the cars, and points, sidings, signal, &c., have been introduced; and everything has been constructed with a special eye to simplicity. The cars are fitted with two grooved wheels; which run on the rails; but are fashioned according to the purpose for which they are intended. The passenger carriages, as well as the locomotives, are fitted with horizontal grooved wheels, which run on side guide lines, attached to the trestles by the side of the main line, thus imparting steadiness. As our sketches (above) show, it has been tried in Russia, both for the transport of troops and of military invalids; in the Pyrenees it is used for carrying ore, while its facilities, for passenger traffic were tested at the short line at Westminster. It has been shown at various European exhibitions, and is in use in Algeria and Tunis for carrying esparto grass. Indeed, it was while seeking to solve the problem of carrying the grass from the plains to the mainlines of communication that the idea of the single-line railway first occurred to the inventor, M. Lartigue; the appearance of a caravan of camels in the distance laden with bags on each side of their humps furnishing the starting point. The advantages claimed for the line are its extreme simplicity and portableness. Unevenness of the ground can be balanced by different lengths of trestles, while the motive power can be, either electricity, horse traction, or steam. The inventors say that during a trial in Russia 6ft 6in were laid down in six minutes by six men, so that a mile could be completed by thirty men in eight hours. In this instance the line was raised 3ft 3in above the ground.

3., accessed on 31st December 2018.
4., accessed on 31st December 2018.
5., accessed on 31st December 2018.

Nice to Digne-les-Bains Part 16 – Locomotives and Rolling Stock – Shunters and others – Diesel Traction (Chemins de Fer de Provence 82)

The use of steam on the Nice to Digne line was gradually abandonned. Increasingly, the travelling public became dissatisfied with steam haulage and the economics began to turn in favour of the combustion engine. The ease of use of diesel power worked in its favour, as did the rapid acceleration possible which resulted is significant reductions in journey times.

Initially, diesel traction was trialed on the shorter journeys. One of the earliest diesel units to be employed towards the end of steam was CP51 which first started work in 1948. There is an older locomotive at work on the line, BA11, but this was not brought to the line until 1988 by the GECP.


This locomotive is still present on the network and owned by the GECP. It was the first diesel shunter at work on the network and there is a hope that it will be refurbished and running once again. It was recently moved (in December 2017) from the depot at Lingostiere to the GECP depot at Puget-Theniers.CP51 at Lingostière Depot [1]CP51 moved to Puget-Theniers in 2017. [2]

CP51 was the first of a number of diesel traction units which ultimately ran alongside a range of Railcars (Autorails) on the Nice to Digne line. It performed a series of differnt duties on the line over the years. One important role was the movement of transfer stock from the Chemins de Fer du Sud to the SNCF and vice-versa.

Pictures of the locomotive in use on the connecting line can be seen on the following link: [3] in good condition in its later use on the Nice to Digne line. [5]


BA11 was one of 4 diesel 0-6-0 shunters (locotracteurs) in use on the Chemin de Fer du Blanc-Argent. [4] Of those four locomotives, No. 12 is now on the Chemin de Fer de la Baie de Somme, Nos. 13 and 14 are still on the Chemin de Fer du Blanc-Argent. [9] BA11 is the oldest diesel locotracteur (shunter) on the Nice to Digne line and it is still operational.

Before arriving at the Chemin de Fer du Blanc-Argens these locos were in use by the Compagnie des Chemins de Fer Departmentaux (C.F.D.) on their Nord d’Indre et Loire network.

No. 11 was built during the Second World War, based on the chassis of an old steam loco. This transformation was carried out by the C.F.D.  The steam loco was itself built in 1885 by the Belgian firm, ‘Couillet’. Work on the conversion started in January 1940 at the C.F.D. workshops in Neuille-Pont-Pierre. It was completed in January 1941. [10]

The new diesel locotractuer was initially endowed with a Renault 130 hp engine but not used for lack of fuel . Then it was equipped with a Berliet 150hp engine for the Chemins de fer de l’Yonne. Once refurbished again by C.F.D, the Locotracteur No. 11 circulated from January 1950 on the Laroche Migennes – L’Isle-Angély line and was equipped with a 200 hp, 8 cylinder Willeme engine. [11]

In 1952 BA11 was sold to the Chemin de Fer du Blanc-Argens in February 1952 and not brought to the Chemin de fer de provence by the GECP until March 1989.BA11 in the snow at Puget-Theniers. [11]Details of BA11 provided by the GECP. [10]


BB401 was built in 1962 [15] by the C.F.D. it was a diesel-hydraulic locomotive.

It ran, for some years on the Chemin de Fer de Paris à Orléans (PO) Corrèze and was transferred to the Nics-Digne line in 1971 where it remains. [17]BB401 at La Gare de Saint-Bonnet-Avalouze (PO-Corrèze) in 1963, (c) Jean-Michel Vaugouin. [16]Here at Argentat on the same PO Correze network in 1967, BB 401 awaits the departure of Billard X251 courtesy of “030T 1707 Nord-Est” on the Passions Metrique et Etroit Forum in France. [16]BB401 at Lingostiere in 1985. [18]BB401 at Lingostiere in 1997. [18]BB401 in storage at La Tinee and in a dilapidated condition in the 21st century! [12]BB401 at the Gare de la Tinee a little earlier in the 21st century. [13]BB401 at the head of a goods train in the 1970s. [6]The two images immediately above were taken in November 1989 and show BB401 at the Gare du Sud in Nice. They were downloaded from Smugmug. They were taken by Dave Rowland and freely available to download. I was unable to establish whether copyright issues applied. [14]


BB402 was also built by the C.F.D. at Montmirail in 1962 both locos were part of one batch of locotracteurs bult that year (BB400-BB404). Both had/have a central cabin and two ‘bonnets’ which hid/hide identical 207hp motors from Poyaud. [20]

The transmission of both units was/is hydraulic using an Asynchronous hydraulic system patented by the C.F.D. which synchronised the two engines. In both engines the axles of the bogies are coupled by connecting rods. [19]

BB402 was progressively stripped down, presumably to provide spare parts for BB401. It seems as though the remains were transported to the Chemins de Fer du Vivarais in 2001. In 2013, only the body shell remained in the depot at Tournon. [23]

BB402 at Lingostiere in 1985. [18]BB402 at the Gare du Sud in May 1976. [21]Diesel locomotive BB 402 with three passenger cars at the platform in Annot in June 1977, (c) Herbert Graf. [22]An autorail “Ville de Digne” crosses with BB 402 in Annot in June 1977, (c) Herbert Graf. [22]


These six locotracteurs were built in 1950 by Brissonneau & Lotz. [19][24]

A locotracteur of the series T61-66 at Colomars. [7]A locotracteur of the series T61-66 on 1 September 1959, taken at Fugeret,  in charge of the goods train 502A [8]

An HOm model of the Brissonneau and Lotz T61 of the Chemins de fer de Provence runs with sound! (Trains d’Antan). [25]

Commonly known as ‘Provence-type tracteurs’. The Brissonneau-et-Lotz 040DE locomotives were produced at the request of the Union des Voies Ferrées (UVF). These locomotives contrast significantly with the much more modest locomotives which had hitherto been used on the secondary lines in France.Provencal T62 in green livery. The car at the crossing gate is a Simca 1000, these vehicles were produced at Poissy in France from 1961 to 1978 [1]  (c) J-C. Reese. [27]

Until 1950, the French railway Industry had very little experience in the field of diesel locomotives with electric transmission. It is not initially clear where the Brissonneau-et-Lotz gained the knowledge to allow it to manufacture this series of locomotives. The answer is primarily associated with metre-gauge railways. [27]

In the 1930s Brissonneau-et-Lotz manufactured motor vehicles (autorails/railcars) for narrow-gauge lines which were equipped with electric transmissions, for example, the railcars delivered in 1934 to the Chemins de Fer d’Anjou [28]. These railcars were seen as a loss-leader by the company and were provided at well-below market price. This allow Brissonneau-et-Lotz to undertake evaluations of the locomotives in service.

In November 1935, the Deux-Sèvres Tramway Company (TDS) awarded Brissonneau-et-Lotz a contract to retrofit a diesel locomotive onto the chassis of an 0-6-0T steam locomotive (No. 16) built by Blanc-Misseron. The revitalised locomotive was delivered in 1937 to the TDS. It had a MAN 240hp diesel engine associated with an electric transmission. After a long and valuable career, this machine has been enjoying a peaceful time, since 1996, at the “Musée des tramways à vapeur et des chemins de fer secondaires français”  (MTVS). [27][28]

Building this small locomotive (shown in the adjacent image) paved the way for Brissonneau-et-Lotz’s involvement in the manufacture of diesel-electric locomotives.

In November 1936, two Bo-Bo diesel-electric locomotives were ordered from Brissonneau-et-Lotz for the coastal line (Le Macaron). They arrived in 1938, the locos were equipped with two Berliet 150hp engines and were numbered T1 and T2. Those locomotives were sold into Spain with the closure of Le Macaron.

As a result of providing these two locos Brissonneau-et-Lotz were contracted to provide two locomotives for the Malagasy network, then four for the Reunion network (these had 160hp Saurer engines).

After the second world war, competitive tenders were invited to provide Bo-Bo locomotives for the the Union de Voie-Ferree (UVF). The design had been determined to be the best for the secondary lines. Brissonneau-et-Lotz was chosen to build a series of these machines. Unfortunately, only three networks (including the Chemins de Fer de Provence) chose to purchase the locomotives. The series was, as a result, limited to only 10 locos. They were distributed to the Voie Ferree du Dauphine (VFD), the Chemins de Fer de Provence (CP), and Chemins de Fer de la Corse (CFC). The work took 3 years to complete primarily because it was difficult to source the necessary parts and because technical specifications were altered in an endeavour to reign in project costs. [27]T64 in brown and cream livery at the head of a mixed goods and passenger train on the journey between Nice and Digne-les-Bains in March 1953. At the time these locos were the height of modernity,  © Michel Dupont-Cazon. [27]

T62 at the Gare due Sud in Nice, © Jean Louis Paris. [27]

It appears that cost reductions were partially achieved by a sharing of design costs between Renault, which was supplying the overseas market in the 1950s and Brissonneau-et-Lotz, who were supplying the domestic market. Although Renault used hydro-mechanical transmissions, the parallels between the Renault locomotives intended for overseas and the Brissonneau-et-Lotz diesel-electric vehicles designed according to the specifications of the UVF are obvious. Both series of locomotives used Renault diesel engines, both used two diesel engines in order to attain the necessary pulling power.

The four engines of the VFD were designated T1 to T4 and received there between August 1950 and January 1951. They served there until just before the Winter Olympic Games of 1968.

T63 stabled at Nice, resplendent in its brown and cream livery. © M. Fontaine.

The Winter Olympic Games of 1968 in the area around Grenoble required significant improvements to road infrastructure. The line between Jarrie-Vizille and Livet ran alongside the N91 which had to be widened. As a result the line was closed in 1964. T1-T4 were offered for sale that year but it took 20 years for them all to find new homes. However T3 was moved to Provence where it was renumbered T63.Tracteur T62 in “Arzens” livery, designed to harmonize it with second generation SY railcars. It is snowing that day in Nice, © Jean-Rémy Grasser. [29]

T64 from the Chemins de Fer de Provence was dispatched  to the metre-gauge network in Corsica in August 1963 where it took the number 403. In January 1964  the Chemins de Fer de Provence received compensation in the form of locomotive T3  which was numbered T65. It survived until it was scrapped in 1983.Technical spec. of the Brissonneau-et-Lotz tracteurs. [29]

When originally ordered, T61 to T64 were intended for passenger service alongside the Renault ABH railcars on the Nice to Digne-les-Bains line. The technical spec. was downgraded to limit cost overruns, their role was limited to heading goods trains. T61, T62, T63, and T64 arrived in 1951. As we have already noted T64 left the network for Corsica in 1963, T65 was added to the roster of the Chemins de Fer de Provence in 1964. The closure of the line to Meyrargues meant that the network had more Renault ABH autorails available for the Nice-Digne service than originally expected and the reduced spec. of the tracteurs created no significant problems.
T65 seems to have ceased active operations in 1970. It was canabalised to provide parts for T61 which had been in an accident in 12th August 1971. Interestingly, the locos delivered to the Chemin de Fer de Provence and the VFD networks did not have exactly the same ends. As a result, the T61 became an asymmetric machine. [29, (note 5)]

By January 1974 the condition of the locos meant that both T63 and T61 had to be cset aside and cannibalised in favour of T62, the only machine of the series kept in active by the Chemins de Fer de Provence. For the T62, the 1970s were devoted to lower-level tasks such as weeding, supplying ballast for the track and other materials, pushing snow plows, and so on. In addition to the service trains, the locomotive supported some special trains composed of cars R 1341 to 1344 (ex-AT 1 to 4), which offered enhanced capacity to the autorails. Maintenance to T62 took place in Desbrugères in the early 1980s and in 1987-88 the SNCF supplied diesel engines and electrical transmission sub-assemblies to maintain the T62. During the 1990s, the T62 remained the most obvious Brissoneau-et-Lotz locomotive on the network. Its condition deteriorated over time.

In February 1999, the T62 received a running-mate. The former T1 of the VFD arrived on the network (Gm 4/4 508 of the Jura Railways) and it was numbered T66. It required some repairs after an eventful road journey from Switzerland. The parts needed were sourced from La Mure where the locos T2 and T4 of the VFD were stored.

On 19th January 2000, tests of T66 on the network revealed poor performance and resulted in a decision to re-motorise both T62 and T66. Neither performed exceptionally in the early years of the 21st century. Major work was intended to secure their future on the network. [27]

T62 at Entrevaux in December 2014, (c) JeffP, [31]T66 in service in Nice. [12]

Henchel BB1200

The Compania Minera de Sierra Menera (SM) ordered first three then two additional locomotives of the type DH 1200 from Henschel in Kassel. The drive unit consisted of a four-stroke Maybach-Mercedes Benz diesel engine type MB 820b with 12 cylinders in V-arrangement. It delivered 880 kW at a maximum of 1500 revolutions per minute and was equipped with turbocharger and intercooler. The cooling water was cooled in a cooling system installed under the roof. The cooling air was sucked into the side walls and blown out through the roof. A short PTO shaft transmited the torque of the diesel engine to the Voith L306r turbo transmission with hydrodynamic brake. It included three hydraulic transducers and a reversing gearbox. Two cardan shafts each drove a bogie. The two axles in the bogie are also connected by cardan shafts. The locomotives were braked with compressed air. The locomotives were designed for double traction and therefore has a skid protection device.

Of these 5 locomotives, Henchel BB1200 No. 1004 with serial number 31003, built in 1966 was numbered 1404 by the Ferrocarriles de Vía Estrecha (FEVE) and noted on their roster in 1973.

The FEVE replaced on the Henschel locomotives the Maybach deisel engine by a French SACM engine, which was installed on other FEVE locomotives to standardize the spare parts inventory. Regularly there were problems with this engine type. To improve the reliability of the locomotives, the control of the first three locomotives was modernized. A mid-nineties built-in programmable logic controller with redesigned cabs extended their life. The locomotive 1404 was sold in 1992 through intermediaries to the Chemins de fer de Provence. The middleman just re-painted the loco. Regular disturbances led in March 2006 to the final shutdown of the locomotive and it was placed in storage at Lingostière . [32]

BB1200 at Entrevaux. [12]BB1200 at Lingostière on 16th May 2010, (c) Eric Coffinet. [30]BB1200 at Annot (c) JeffP, [31]

Draisines DU 101 and 102

These modern locomotives were constructed by Matisa and are used for a variety of maintenance work on the line. They are popular with the staff. They are also used to supplement existing locomotives in the event of breakdown. [33]Draisine DU 101. [34]Draisine DU 102. [35]


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TNL Tramways – Recovery after the First World War (Chemins de Fer de Provence 83)

This blog is based on the text of the book written in French by Jose Banaudo: Nice au fil du Tram: Volume 1, Histoire; Les Editions du Cabri, 2004. The notes below are intended to promote a better understanding by an English audience of the tramways of southern France. Errors in these notes are mine, and for me to correct. Please let me know if anything in this blog post is incorrect.

Difficult recovery

Like all transport companies, TNL faced post-war years of economic, social and material hardships. All developments of the network were suspended. The political upheaval brought tourism to a halt. Habits were changing and other forms of transport stole passengers from the trams. Inflation increased the price of materials and supplies when urgent repairs were required after years of neglect.

Employees who had shown great loyalty during the conflict started to defend their rights. They years after the first World War were ones of social unrest. in May 1920 the police and army occupied the Ste. Agathe depot to prevent striking workers disabling the network,

The constant search for savings was prioritised above the quality of the service to customers, especially on the wider departmental lines where the service had been reduced to two or three trips a day on certain sections during the war years. Not only did the service not improve, but in some cases it was further diminished. For example, on La Grave-de-Peille route there was only one round trip per day in 1919. In the face of protests raised by this failure, an improved service was introduced the following year.

The urban service also left much to be desired. In Nice City Council, the discontent was such that for the first time some elected officials proposed to replace the trams with buses.

Expansion projects of the departmental network

At Levens, work on the extension towards the village continued at a very slow pace during the war. The formation had been completed by 1917, including the curved tunnel, but the terms for moving the terminus facilities were still unresolved between the department and the company. The tunnel leading to the village of Levens, the structure was completed but never used. No tracks were laid through the tunnel. [2]

On the line from La Pointe-de-Contes to L’Escarene,  work resumed at the end of 1919.

In the first half of the 20s, the development of the departmental network was still on the agenda for the Alpes-Maritimes General Council. However, persistent economic difficulties discouraged public investment in trams to rural areas where road transport now seemed to offer a more flexible and less expensive solution. The commissioning of new Haut-Var and Esteron lines of the TAM network proved to be a big mistake, the lines were not viable from the beginning, this reinforced an evolution towards road transport.

Even with most of the work complete, the TNL began to wonder whether it was viable to complete and maintain the routes into Levens village and between La Pointe-de-Contes and L’Escarene.

The work on these new links was postponed. As were two other projects planned by the TNL: the establishment in Menton of a TNL passenger and goods station closer to the port, and an underground crossing of the Monaco principality. It became clear very quickly that these projects would not be viable, given the deficits being experienced on the other departmental lines. New agreements were made with the local authorities but these only brought a brief stay of execution for the least remunerative lines which it had been designed to preserve. [3]

A first restructuring of the urban network

The TNL obtained authorisation, on 6th July 1920, to introduce multi-tier pricing by dividing each line in two, three or four sections, depending on the distance traveled. From 1st January 1923, all the lines of the network were renumbered and their number placed prominently on a color disc at each end of the tram. Nos. 1 to 16 designated urban lines. Nos. 20 to 24 were applied to services on the line to Monte Carlo; Nos. 26 to 30 to those to the valleys of Paillons; Nos. 31 to 34 to those on the line to Antibes and du Cap; Nos. 41 to 46 to the Monte-Carlo and Menton group of lines.

Stops were classified in two categories, fixed and request, which a few years later were designated by red and green plates.

Private entrepreneurs were equipping themselves with trucks and buses. Initially they provided links to the tramway and railway networks and did not act in competition with the trams. Banaudo reports that as early as 1921, the Société Anonyme Nicoise de Transports Automobiles (Santa) opened a Nice – La Turbie line via the Grande Corniche and a Nice – Colomars circuit through the hills, with the financial support of the department and the city of Nice.

Urban buses appeared in Nice on 28th May 1925 on the Massena-St. Sylvestre line via Jospeh Garnier and St. Barthelemy boulevards (now Auguste Reynard). The TNL operated this first service with road buses. [4]

A second service was inaugurated by the TNL between Saluzzo – Caucade by Dubouchage, Victor-Hugo and Gambetta Boulevards, on 5th October. In May 1926 the terminus of this line was moved to Place Masséna.

As the first buses appeared, the tramway network began to contract. More of that in future articles.

Jose Banaudo gives the following details about the TNL in 1927 which come from the Ministry of Public Works [5] …….


The TNL operated 141 km of lines, divided as follows:

  • Urban network: Nice 26 km (excluding common trunk routes).
  • Monaco network 5 km.
  • Coastal network 50 km.
  • Departmental network 60 km.

The staff is composed of 1373 people, 14 of whom are in administration, 846 in movement, 323 to the equipment and 190 to the track.

The fleet of rolling stock includes 17 freight tractors. 175 power units a travellers. 96 passenger trailers and 162 freight cars.

Trams travelled 5,437,583 km during the year, including 4,164,884 on the urban network, 984,534 on the coastal network and 288,165 on the departmental network .

The total number of passengers carried was 35,416,562. of which 31,680,850 on the urban network. 2,976,441 on the coastal network and 759,271 on the departmentai network.

The total volume of goods transported is 489,689 tonnes of which 299,239 were on the urban network. 148,376 on the coastal network and 42,074 on the departmental network.

Revenues amounted to 24,521,671 francs, including 22,080,605 francs in passenger traffic, 2,286,958 in freight traffic, and 154,108 in miscellaneous revenue. The expenses amount to 22,597,515 francs. i.e. a profit of 1,924,156 francs and a total cost/income ratio of 0.92. But it must be taken into account that only the urban network allowed this level of return to be reported. The coastal lines recorded a deficit of 453,771 francs and a coefficient of 1.1, while the departmental network was subject to a déficit of 431,971 francs and a coefficient of 1.36. These figures pointed forward to likley closures on lines outside the conurbation.

During the year, 925 accidents were recorded, including 6 derailments, 539 collisions with cars, people or animals, and 380 miscellaneous accidents. The overall toll was 4 killed (1 traveller and 3 third parties) and 114 wounded (12 workers. 68 passengers and 34 third parties).


  1. Jose Banaudo; Nice au fil du Tram: Volume 1, Histoire; Les Editions du Cabri, 2004, p78.
  2. Jose Banaudo; Nice au fil du Tram: Volume 1, Histoire; Les Editions du Cabri, 2004, p79.
  3. Jose Banaudo; Nice au fil du Tram: Volume 1, Histoire; Les Editions du Cabri, 2004, p80.
  4. Jose Banaudo; Nice au fil du Tram: Volume 1, Histoire; Les Editions du Cabri, 2004, p81.
  5. Jose Banaudo; Nice au fil du Tram: Volume 1, Histoire; Les Editions du Cabri, 2004, p82.

The Uganda Railway – Part 29 – The Railway Magazine 1950 – April 1950

I have been looking through old railway magazines over the Christmas break in 2018 and came across articles in the 1950 editions of the Railway Magazine which relate to this series of posts. The first is in the April 1950 edition of the magazine. ……..

The April 1950 edition of The Railway Magazine [1] contains the first of these articles written by Thomas H. Cobb.

He begins with a relatively short description of the route of the line, first focussing on the route via Kisumu (Port Florence) and Port Bell to Kampala and then on the route via Tororo.

He comments: “These lines have always been state railways, though they are administered as a separate department.”

Cobb goes on to describe a journey on the line. He notes: “There is practically no difference between first and second class, except that the former have a fan and bed-reading lamps, and are slightly less crowded. Third class carriages have wooden seats and centre corridors; they are always crammed to bursting point. Hire of bedding, and food in the restaurant cars is cheap, and passengers are officially encouraged not to tip company servants – but they do. Speed is never high; the up mail train covers the first 30 miles out of Mombasa in 100 min., including two stops. All trains stop at all stations, with the exception of a few ‘local’ stations neat Mombasa and an odd flag stop or two usually missed by the mails.”

The Uganda Mail heading for Lake Victoria in the Kikuyu Hills, banked by 4-8-0 Locomotive No. 69. [2]

An EC3 at the spiral close to Timboroa Station. [2]

He concludes with some trivia:

  • from Mbulamuti to Jinja the east-west main line runs distinctly eastwards for about 20 miles.
  • The curves on the line have the inner edge of the outer rail oiled by hand twice a week.
  • The two summits of 8,322 and 9,136 ft. on the Kisumu and Kampala lines respectively are only 20 miles apart, but on quite separate lines, yet they have each pursued an independent course of over 60 miles from their divergence at Nakuru.
  • The only racial discrimination on the railway is against Europeans, as they are not issued with tickets below second class, even for trains which consist of third class carriages only.


  1. Thomas H. Cobb; The Kenya-Uganda Railway; in The Railway Magazine No. 588 Vol. 96 April 1950, p262-267.
  2. The Railway Magazine April 1950, p250.

New Year – New Beginnings


As the New Year arrives I often find myself looking back – pondering what has happened over the last 12 months – and looking forward, wondering what is ahead.

The past year has included for me, most recently, the death of my mother. In the past 18 months I have lost both of my parents. They both had good long lives and strong faith and they were both looking forward to being at home with their Lord in heaven. Some of Dad’s last words to Mum were, “I go to a better, better place.” We reflected on the truth of that hope as part of Dad’s funeral. More recently at Mums’ funeral, we again reminded ourselves of the depth of love with which we are surrounded as followers of Jesus. We can let go of our loved ones confident that ‘they rest in him, our shield and our defender’, that they are surrounded and held in the loving arms of our Father God.

Jo, my wife, has been appointed Chair of the House of Clergy for Diocesan Synod and as result is now, for three years, one of the senior women priests in our Diocese. She holds this new role in tandem with her other roles in Parish life and as Ecumenical Officer for Manchester Diocese. Jo thrives in these roles and we look forward for God’s guidance for her for the future.

This has been a year when I have become more aware of both my gifts/strengths and of my weaknesses. It was hard to let go of the role of Area Dean for the Deanery of Ashton and a delight to be asked to be Borough Dean of Tameside, a role to which I was licenced in February 2018. This role recognises the work that I have been doing over many years to create space in the public sphere in Tameside for faith communities and some of the roles that I have played in more recent years in the wider charitable sector in Tameside.

Our personal circumstances are not the only things to reflect on. The war in Yemen, the ongoing saga of Brexit, the continuing sense that we have of being ‘at risk’ in a world where terrorism is a serious threat, all crowd in on our thinking. The uncertainty in national politics and the reducing value of the pound suggest that change in coming months is not going to be easy, whatever political negotiations bring about. Many things can leave us leave us with a real sense of worry and concern.

What was 2018 like for you? What were the ‘highlights’ and the ‘lowlights’? What seemed to leave you in the dark? What seemed to leave you basking in the light, in the sunshine of God’s love? What things excite you or worry you about the year ahead?

Things of the past as well as our present experiences and our anticipation of what the future holds, make us into the people that we are today. Each of our experiences over the past year are like ‘holy ground’, they are places where God was present, even if we couldn’t feel him there. They may have been places where faith was tested, sometimes to the limit, or even beyond. They may have been places of illumination where God’s grace and love for us became almost tangible. They may have felt mundane and ordinary. There may well be things which it is impossible to make sense of at the moment, storms which will not die down, emotions and fears which overwhelm us. All of these are ‘holy ground’.

In a beautiful passage in Isaiah, God speaks to his people:

“Do not fear for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through rivers they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Saviour.” (Isaiah 43:1-3. NRSV)

A New Year brings opportunities for new beginnings, a chance to start over. It can be a time when we take a significant step forward in faith, or in our life circumstances. It can be a time when we hear again God’s promises to us, when hope is renewed, when we determine again to commit ourselves to serve others. A New Year can be a time when we break with the past, when we leave behind the old and move on to the new. A time to ‘wipe the slate clean’. And rightly so!

However, let me encourage you to remember that we are not just people who look forward to the future with hope. We are people who live in the present, and whose identities are shaped by the past. We are who we are because we have our own story to tell. We belong to a particular community and share in its joys and sorrows; we have a specific family background which has shaped who we are; we went to a particular school or schools; we have lived alone or with a partner; we have had children, or we have not had children, either by choice or because of force of circumstance. We have each faced the reality of loss in our own way. We have been able to delight in good news, and have shared in the joys of others. And we can all be encouraged by the words of St. Paul in Romans:

“I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, NRSV)

God does want to break into our lives, if we let him, to bring healing and hope, just as he burst into the world on that first Christmas morning. Healing and hope for our past, for our present and for our future.

This New Year, like every New Year, brings the promise of new hope, new chances, new life. God also wants to build on the foundations of the past, helping us to become the people we long to be. People who are confident of God’s love through all the experiences of our lives. People whose faith is built on strong foundations, people who have found security in his love, even in the most difficult of times. People whose relationship with God is real. People whose lives, past, present and future, can be, and are being, redeemed by God’s love.

We don’t just have hope for the future. God is at work in all of us, none of us is the finished article. God is redeeming each of us, our past, our present and our future.

Peace Babies

Jelly Babies and Peace in the World!

In August 2014, I wrote a post about the history of Jelly Babies and their first being produced at the end of the 1st World War in 1918. This is the link. …

Recently, Maynard Bassett’s have produced a special edition pack of Jelly Babies which have them renamed as “Peace Babies.”

This gives another really good excuse to buy and eat Jelly Babies which while high in sugar content are fat-free!

“In celebration of the end of the First World War in 1918, George Bassett & Co. produced Peace Babies – what would later become the confectionery classic we all know as Jelly Babies.

Now, to commemorate the centenary of the end of World War One, Maynards Bassetts has designed a special limited-edition pack of Peace Babies available at Tesco. Aiming to raise over £25,000 for Help for Heroes*, the money raised will help us support those who put their lives on the line for us to have a second chance at life for them and their families.

Archivists at Mondelez trawled through records and found a rare surviving copy of an export list mentioning the sweet treat. Thought to be from the 1920s or 30s, this shows a ‘hundred-weight’ (100lb or 45kg) of Peace Babies listed for sale in ‘4lb wood boxes’, for the grand total of 68 shillings. This would be the equivalent of £139.60 in today’s money!

It is thought that these were on sale until a shortage of raw materials put a stop to production during World War Two. In 1953, they were relaunched as Jelly Babies – the rest, as they say, is history!

(Available at selected Tesco stores and while stocks last ….. A A5p donation from the sale of each product sold in Tesco and between 05/09/2018 and 06/11/2018 will go to Help for Heroes Trading Ltd, which gifts all its taxable profits to Help for Heroes (a charity registered in England and Wales , number 1120920 , and in Scotland SCO44984).”

It seems as though the jelly baby first appeared by mistake! Legend has it that it was an Australian immigrant in 1864 that made the first Jelly Baby, although he chose to call them “unclaimed babies.” He was meant to create a mould for jelly bears, however, (for reasons which may be forever lost in time) it seems the jelly baby was born instead – pun wholly intended. [2]

And thus, jelly babies became a firm favourite in the UK.

After a short hiatus, classic sweet manufacturer Basset’s took up the style of the rather darker original name ‘unclaimed babies’ and rebranded them ‘Peace Babies’ to mark the end of World War I. These new sweets had a more realistic baby look , closer to the sweets we know today.[2]







Nice to Digne-les-Bains Part 15 – Locomotives and Rolling Stock – Steam (Chemins de Fer de Provence 79)

This post focusses on the Steam locomotives used on the line between Nice and Digne-le-Bains. It is unlikely to be comprehensive and I’d be grateful of any contributions by others which will add to my knowledge. I am hampered particularly by not having access to the seminal work on the network by Jose Banaudo, “Le Siecle du Train des Pignes.” [25] The text of this book is in french and as it is out of print a good copy will cost well over 50 euros. If anyone has access to this book and is prepared to add to the text of the blog, please feel free to do so, or email me direct and I will update the post.

I would be particularly interested in details of locomotives which ran on the Nice to Digne Line throughout its life and which are nor properly covered within the text below.

As part of studies on the two other main-lines which made up the network of the Chemins de Fer du Sud de la France – the Central Var line and Le Macaron – we covered a lot of ground investigating early traction and steam power on the lines of the whole network and provided as much information as possible about rolling stock on the system.

The relevant posts are:

These posts are as comprehensive as possible for the era of operation of those lines and cover the period up to their closure after the Second World War. However, they are focussed on the two lines which closed. It make sense, therefore to review those posts in the light of a focus on the Nice to Digne Line. This blog sets out to do just that. I need also to acknowledge the support I have received in collating this information from Etienne de Maurepas (Étienne Thilliez). [12]

Steam Locomotives on the Nice to Digne Line

Background information on the companies which built the steam locomotives which served on the Central Var line can be found by reading my post on the locomotives of the Coastal Line  – Le Macaron. [1]

At the height of its powers, between 1888 and 1908, Le Chemins de Fer du Sud de la France network had:

• 23 steam locomotives.
• 42 passenger coaches: 3 in 1st class A series; 21 mixed 1st and 2nd class series AB; 6 in 2nd class B series; 2 mixed 2nd class + van series BD and 10 open coaches called ‘jardiniers’ series AC and C. These were sourced from various manufacturers: the Foundries and Forges of Horme Company, Chantiers de la Buire in Lyon; the Desouche and David workshops in Pantin; the Hanquet factories -Aufort and Company in Vierzon; the establishments De Dietrich in Lunéville; and the ‘jardiniers’ came from a network of steam trams – the Raincy-Montfermeil in the northern suburbs of Paris.
• 12 luggage and post office vans: 10 luggage vans with DD series postal compartment and 2 DS series emergency vans. Their manufacturers were as follows: 6 Buire vans, 4 De Dietrich vans, 2 Hanquet-Aufort vans.
• 219 goods wagons: built by Horme and Buire, Hanquet-Aufort, De Dietrich, and Magnard and Decauville.

Between 1889 and 1894, 19 steam locomotives were put into circulation on the whole network; divided between 3 manufacturers: 8 SACM, 8 Pinguely and 3 Corpet-Louvet.[2] A number of these were used on the Nice to Digne line.

Between 1889 and 1894, 19 steam locomotives were put into circulation on the whole network; divided between 3 manufacturers: 8 SACM, 8 Pinguely and 3 Corpet-Louvet.[5] A number of these were used on the Central Var line.

Later, other locomotives were purchased …..These Locomotives included some from the manufacturer Franco-Belge as well as SFCM, SACM, Pinguely and Corpet-Louvet.

In the first decade of the 20th Century, Pinguely 4-6-0T locomotives were ordered. The close-up shot shown below is taken at Toulon, but these locomotives also served on the Nice to Digne Line.Very similar 4-6-0T locomotives were ordered from SACM. The image below is one used on the Macaron but it is identical in design to ones used on the Nice to Digne line.Details of these locomotives and pictures of them operating on the Nice to Digne line can be found below.

1. Pinguely, SFCM and SACM 4-6-0T Locomotives

Locomotive No. 89 is a 4-6-0T Pinguely (Works No. 192) delivered in November 1905 and remodelled in 1949 (see picture below). Sérié E of Les Chemins de Fer du Sud de la France, it is part of a series of 12 locomotives delivered between August 1905 and December 1907. The whole network including the coastal line had a total of 28 E and F Series 4-6-0T locomotives, supplied by several manufacturers. No. 89 was scrapped in January 1951. According to José Banaudo, these 4-6-0T locomotives were the best steam engines on the network.The picture of SF No. 89 was taken at La Manda Station on the Nice to Digne line. This is the best head-on picture of a Pinguely 4-6-0T engine that I have discovered.

It is difficult to distinguish between the different 4-6-0T locomotives on many of the postcard images available today. For example, there are two images of the La Manda Station near Colomars below. In the first image it appears that the locomotive is a 4-6-0T but the resolution of the image is not good enough to determine whether it was made by Pinguely or SACM. The second image appears in Jose Banaudo’s book [3] and on the CPArama website. [4] Banaudo highlights the fact that the locomotive in that image is a 4-6-0T but does not clarify which manufacturer. He does draw attention to the flat wagon at the left of the picture which he says must have come off the TAM network because of its narrower loading gauge.I have been consulting with 242T66 on “Les Passions Metrique et Etoile!!” Forum [9][12] about some of the photographs in this blog. They comment that it is likely that the locomotive in the second image is an type E 4-6-0T because the type F had an air-compressor fitted to the right-hand side of the smokebox. It is possible that the locomotive is a SACM Series 81-86 rather than a Pinguely locomotive.NICE (AM) – Locomotive No. 102 tows freight train at La Madeleine station – Photo Card. 
The locomotive No. 102, type 4-6-0T, was built in 1908 by the French Society of Mechanical Engineering (SFCM) – Cail in Denain (North). It was delivered on July 6, 1911 to the Railways of Provence – It was part of the series Nos.101 to 105 – After a career of more than 40 years, having traveled 752,362 km. this loco was stabled in 1952 and scrapped on 24th March 1954. [3][10]Another view of the 4-6-0T locomotive No. 102, at the station of La Vésubie in January 1949 – Photo card. (Bernard Roze collection). [10]This picture shows the official reception train headed by 4-6-0T Pinguely No. 94 on 30th September 1907, the trucks on the left belong to the contractor, Entreprise Orizet. The station is La Gare du Pont de Gueydan. [3][5][12]In this view, taken sometime between 1908 and 1911 .an unidentified 4-6-0T (I think) approaches Annot Station from Nice. At this time the middle section of the line between Annot and Saint-Andre-des-Alpes was still under construction. [3][7]A train for Nice headed by 4-6-0T SACM No. 83 at Annot Station. [3][12]What appears to be a 4-6-0T locomotive stands at Thorame-Haute. The picture is not clear enough to identify the locomotive. [6][12]An unidentified 4-6-0T also standing at Thorame-Haute. Although the picture is present in Jose Banuado’s book the locomotive is not identified by him. [3][6][12]

610-11 – Machine 230T (4-6-0T) No. 101 built by SFCM-Cail in 1908, in Digne on April 19, 1949.
Photograph: F. Collardeau – Publisher: BVA in Lausanne (Switzerland). [10]

2. Smaller Steam Locomotives (0-6-0T/2-4-0T)

The line was served by a series of smaller locomotives. However, the first image below was taken before the opening of the line and illustrates an early form of chartered train. The contractor for the line provided a train for access to the special festival at Thorame-Haute on 26th September 1909. The locomotive used was one of its own 0-6-0T locos.An 0-6-0T Pinguely industrial locomotive owned by Entreprise Orizet, on a pilgrims’ special, 26th September 1909, Notre Dame de la Fleur at Thorame-Haute. [3][8][12]Drawing from Corpet-Louvet. [13]A model of one of these locomotives in the livery of the Tramways de l’Aude which I have also been writing about (cf. the series of blog posts which can be found on this site under the category ‘Railways and Tramways of South-Western France’ and which start with This model is No. 54 in the Tramways de l’Aude fleet of these small locomotives. The French company Lucien Corpet built 826 of these metre-gauge 0-6-0T locos for railways across Europe, and you can still see examples in use today. This LGB model offers all the classic LGB technical features: a powerful Bühler motor, weather-resistant gearbox, voltage stabilization, reliable power pick-ups and much more. The prototype was one of many built from 1890 onwards. 0-6-0T locomotives were the mainstay of Corpet’s production with weights ranging from 7 to 22 tons. Railway companies could order these locos from a catalogue. [14]

Corpet-Louvet was a family-size railway manufacturer, which nevertheless managed to find markets and satisfy its customers with simple, well-built and robust machines. Their locomotives came out of the workshops for a hundred years, straddling two centuries, the second half of the nineteenth century and the first of the twentieth century.

The small Corpet-Louvet locomotives are regularly cited as emblematic of the secondary railways. From 1855 until 1952, the plant produced 1962 locomotives. The majority of them were built to operate on metre-gauge rails and were tank engines. [19]

Three 0-6-0T Corpet-Louvet locomotives numbered 70 to 72 (as below) were ordered by the Chemins de Fer du Sud to operate on the line between Cogolin and St. Tropez. [19] Further examples may have been used throughout the rest of the network including on the Nice to Digne Line. I have not yet been able to identify any. Whether certain locomotives were specifically allocated to the Central-Var or to the Alpes line, I do not know. Allocations may have changed over the years anyway and it is likely that some engines at least were used on both lines.

According to J. Banaudo, [25] very few Corpet-Louvet engines were used on the Alpes network bewteen Nice and Digne, apart from the four class D 031T (0-6-2T) No. 20-23 built 1894/5 with works numbers 619 to 622. I have not yet found a picture of one of these locos at work on the Nice to Digne line. These 031T (0-6-2T) Corpet locos on the Sud-France were large 28-ton steam locomotives. [27] One of these is shown in ex-works condition in the picture below.Corpet-Louvet Works No. 621 – No. 22 on the Sud-France network.

N° 19 L’Arve was a metre-gauge industrial 030T (0-6-0T) locomotive built 1887, acquired second-hand 1893, converted to standard-gauge 1897, withdrawn 1933. Designed for easy conversion from metre to standard-gauge and vice-versa, she was mainly used on the short mixed-gauge link and exchange sidings between Nice PLM (now SNCF) station and la Gare de la Sud de France.

Corpet-Louvet 030T (0-6-0T) Nos. 32 and 33 (1905/1906) from Régie des Chemins de fer du Sud-Ouest were borrowed during the war (1943/1945) (as were much bigger 141s (2-8-2s), also built by Corpet-Louvet) but saw very little use indeed.

No details are given by J. Banaudo [25] of the various industrial engines that were used by contractors when they built the lines. They may have included Corpet-Louvet 020T (0-4-0T) or 030T (0-6-0T) engines. [12]

I have one photograph of a 2-4-0T locomotive on the Nice to Digne line.A 2-4-0T built by SACM stands at Mezel Station. The loco was in the series No. 5 – No. 12. The picture was taken when the line was completed as far as St André-les-Alpes only. [3][12] “The Société Alsacienne de Constructions Mécaniques (SACM) [Alsatian corporation of mechanical engineering] is an engineering company with its headquarters in MulhouseAlsacewhich produced railway locomotives, textile and printing machinery, diesel enginesboilers, lifting equipment, firearms and mining equipment. SACM also produced the first atomic reactor at Marcoule. The company was founded by André Koechlin in 1826 to produce textile machinery. In 1839, he opened a factory to build railway locomotives at Mulhouse in AlsaceThe business grew rapidly but in 1871, the annexation of Alsace-Lorraine by Germany, brought about the transfer of some production to Belfort in France. In 1872 the company merged with the Graffenstadencompany of Illkirch-Graffenstaden (a suburb of Strasbourg) to form SACM.” [23]

3. Mallet 0-4-4-0T

Mallets were relatively powerful locomotives for their size, having two sets of driving wheels. Relatively limited use of this type of locomotive was made on the Chemins de Fer du Sud de la France.An example of the class. Two of this type of locomotive were stabled in Toulon at the liberation in 1944. I believe that they were moved to Saint Raphael and loaded onto SNCF wagons for transport to the factory of Corpet-Lovet in 1945 for refurbishment. They could be found in use on the Nice to Digne line in 1946 and 1947.An SACM Mallet 0-4-4-0T at Nice.Mallet 0-4-4-0T drawings. [11]

4. Other forms of Steam Traction on the Line

A. 2-8-2 Tender Locomotives

Locomotive No. 17 was one of a series of 7 locomotives built by the Corpet-Louvet establishments in La Courneuve and delivered in 1943 to the Railways of Provence. These machines were originally intended for the Dakar-Niger railway in Africa, but, because of the war, they were assigned to the Nice-Digne line. In the picture above, we see the loco at Annot (Basses-Alpes). These locomotives were not a success on the line. No. 17 ended its career on 14th May 1947 having travelled only 103,144 km. [3]

Locomotive No. 18 was another of this Class – seen here at Nice Station. [26]

B. 0-6-0 (Class A) and 2-4-0 (Class B) Tender Locomotives

In he early years after the opening of the network a number of 2-4-0 and 0-6-0 Tender locos were in use. Pictures are available of these at work on the Nice to Meyrargues line. I have not been able to find examples on the length between Nice and Colomars. However, it is pretty certain that they did run on the length between Colomars and Nice, and probable that theybran over the length of the line between Nice and Digne-les-Bains.

The Central Var had four 030 (0-6-0) tender locomotives, they were built in 1887 by SACM Belfort: No. 1 “Draguignan”; No. 2 “Flayosc”; No. 3 “Entrecasteaux”; No. 4 “Salernes.” [24]

An early photograph of one of the Class B locomotives on the turntable at Draguignan. [24]

A SACM-Belfort 0-6-0 Tender Locomotive (Class A) at Salernes Station. [24]

Modern Steam on the Nice to Digne Line

In modern times, three steam locomotives have been in use on the Nice of Digne Line. They have been renovated and maintained by the GECP (Groupe d’Etude pour les Chemins de fer de Provience):

A. The Portuguese [16][18] 2-4-6-0T

This steam locomotive was built in 1923 for the Portuguese Railways. It belongs to what was a series of 16 locomotives built by Henschel & Sohn for the Caminhos de Ferro do Estado (Minho e Douro division) in 1911 (CP No. E 201-204, ex MD 451-454), 1913 (CP E 205 / 206, ex MD 455-456) and 1923 (CP E 207-216, ex MD 457-466). Two other similar locomotives were delivered in 1923 to Companhia dos Caminhos from Ferro de Porto to Povoa de Varzim and Famalicao: PPF 16/17, later Norte 41/42 then CP E 181/182. [26]

During the early 1970s it was based in Sernada, used to haul passenger and freight trains on the lines Val de Vouga/Espinho to Sernada and Aveiro to Viseu. In 1975 it was transferred to Lousado, where it provided service on the line from Famalicao to Povoa de Varzim.

After being transferred to the central workshops in Puerto Campanhã it underwent its last revision in service in 1976. Later on it was based in Regua where it pulled mixed trains and work trains on the line from Corgo Regua to Chaves. It was taken out of service in 1981.

Three years later, the Portuguese Railways offered to sell twelve steam locomotives no longer in use. One of them was the E 211.

It was offered to and bought by GECP and in July 1986 towed from Regua to Vila-Real and then transferred onto road transport to be moved to the South of France. At the small station at Mezel-Chateauredon the locomotive was transferred back onto rails and moved to the depot at Puget-Therniers where ultimately it was to be refurbished. For a short period (1988-1992) it pulled the Train des Pignes between Puget and Annot, sometimes even between Nice and Digne-les-Bains.

The locomotive was then restored at the Lucato Termica workshops in Castelletto-Monferrato In the Piedmontaise province of Alessandria in Italy. That restoration took time, and it was not until 2009 that the locomotive was once again available in Puget-Thernier and June 2010 before it pulled its first Train des Pignes.The full specification of the loco can be found on the GECP website. [16]The Portuguese and Corpet-Louvet 0-6-0T.  [15]

B. 0-6-0T Corpet Louvet (CdN No.36)

This small 0-6-0T loco is seen in action in 2008 in the video below: [20]

LGB G-Scale Model of the CdN locomotive No. 36 which was built by Corpet Louvet an which, late in the 20th century, could be found running regularly between Puget-Theniers and Annot. [21]

No.36 (Lulu) is now housed at the Musée des tramways à vapeur et des chemins de fer secondaires français which is located alongside Valmondois railway station, in the small town of Butry-sur-Oise in the departement of Val-d’Oise, 30 kilometres north of Paris.This locomotive was one of a series numbered 30 to 42, They all worked on the CdN from 1925 to the closing of the network in 1956. They developed a power of 375 hp, towed a load of 90 tonnes with a top speed of 50 km/hr. This was the maximum speed allowed on the network.
The last line where they were employed was the St.Brieuc – Paimpol line. At the closure of the network No. 36 (Lulu) remained exposed for a long time in front of the station of St Brieuc. [22]

C. 4-6-0T No. E327 ‘Bretonne’ [19]This locomotive was one of twelve commissioned by the Chemins de fer de l’Ouest for the operation of the metre-gauge lines of the Reseau Breton. It was built by the Compagnie de Fives-Lille, in Lille (Nord). It first saw service in September 1909 as No. E327 and was based at the  Caraix depot (Finistere). It ran for 58 years on that network. It is very similar to a whole range of 4-6-0T locomotives that were used on the Chemins de fer du Sud de la France.

After closure of the Reseau Breton by the SNCF, E327 was declared supernumery in September 196. It was saved from destruction by the Federation des Amis des Chemins de fer Secondaires (FACS). It was transferred in December 1969 to the Chemin de fer du Vivarais (CFV) but was only rarely used on that network. In March 1979, it appeared at ‘Exporail’ in Cannes and was thenmade available to the GECP in Nice to launch its tourist train.After a partial overhaul, the locomotive was used from July 1980 unil the end of the 1987 season. Renovated by l’Arsenal de Toulon, E327 reentered service in 1993 and continued in circulation until 2007. The loco is now waiting full refurbishment once again. Full details of the specification of E327 can be found on the GECP website. [17]


  2. Roland Le Corff; Retrieved 13th December 2017.
  3. José Banaudo; Les Train des Pignes; Les Editions de Cabri, 1999.
  4., accessed 12th February 2018.
  5., accessed on 10th August 2018.
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  7., accessed on 2nd August 2018.
  8., accessed on 14th August 2018.
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  12. A friend who posts on a few French Railway interest forums as 242TE66.
  13., accessed on 31st October 2018.
  14., accessed on 31st October 2018.
  15., accessed on 17th November 2018.
  16., accessed on 17th November 2018.
  17., accessed on 17th November 2018.
  18., accessed on 7th December 2018.
  19., accessed on 7th December 2018.
  20.–trique-corpet-louvet-n–36-sur-les-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-juillet-2008/GdTmwDcLIY0, accessed on 10th December 2018.
  21., accessed on 10th December 2018.
  22., accessed on 10th December 2018.
  23.été_Alsacienne_de_Constructions_Mécaniques, accessed on 11th December 2018.
  25. José Banaudo; Le Siecle du Train des Pignes; Les Editions de Cabri, 1991.
  26., accessed on 16th December 2018.
  27., accessed on 17th December 2018.

Manchester Victoria’s Telpher

Who knows what a Telpher is?

A small travelling car, usually driven by electricity, suspended from or moving on an overhead rail or cable. [3] The Dictionary of Civil Engineering [1] has this entry:

telfer, telpher, monorail: An electric hoist hanging from a wheeled cab moving on a single overhead rail, occasionally from a steel rope. It is used in factories, hung from roof girders and over dams being built. An overhead gantry may be built to carry the rail. The difference between an aerial ropeway and a rope-borne telfer is that telfers are driven by a motor in the cab, ropeways are pulled by a rope driven by a stationary engine.

A Meccano Telpher. [4]

Telpher are still used in modern factories. The image below shows a factory crane currently on sale. The green moving element is referred to as the Telpher. [7]

Manchester Victoria Railway Station had a Telpher!

At least that is the claim of an article in BackTrack Magazine. [2] The ‘telpher’ at Manchester Victoria Station did not quite comply with the definition given in the Dictionary of  Civil Engineering because it was made up of a dual rail system. Wells says: “It was erected in 1898/9 by Mather & Platt, Salford Iron Works. Two rails were suspended from the roof, comprising steel rails 4.5in by 0.75in with a gauge of 11.5in, on which a trolley machine ran on four wheels. It was designed to lift 15cwt, although the structure itself [could] withstand twice that load.”The telpher with its basket grounded on Platform 5 at Victoria Station in 1919. The signal controls the exit across the LNWR lines. This was the platform (later No. 11) which was extended to join the LNWR’s Exchange Station Platform 3 to create, on opening in 1929, what was claimed to be Europe’s longest platform. [5]

The Telpher was introduced by Sir John A. F. Aspinall, the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway’s Chief Mechanical Engineer. It ran from the parcels office across the full width of the station. It was about 300 yards long. Over the course of an average week around 100 miles were covered moving something like 1000 baskets. [2] The rails for the Telpher can be seen in the featured image at the top of this post. [8]

The costs included 1s 6d per day in electricity and the pay of the various, usually young, operators.

It was used, primarily, to transfer parcels between the parcels office and the different platforms. At busy times parcels could also be transferred directly from one platform to another.

Three Telpher units were used. Two were in service or available to use at any one time. The third being kept as a spare in case of breakdown. Three young men were designated as operators in normal traffic conditions and the Telpher was kept active 24 hours a day. [2]

During the most busy periods, at Easter, Whitsun and Christmas, four young men were employed working 12 hour shifts and two Telpher units were kept operational throughout a 24 hour day.

After the grouping, the young men (teenagers) were supplied by the LMS Electrical Department and their wages were about 25 shillings a week (£1.25/week). [2]An excellent high level view. [9]

Fifty four baskets were provided, each measuring 5ft by 3ft by 2ft 9in. On the early shift (6.00am to 2.00pm) 30 loads were taken to various trains and the same number were returned to the Parcels Office on Platform 16. [2]

The later shifts saw, respectively, 25 loads out and 40 back, and 60 loads in both directions.

The Telpher units operated off a DC supply throughout the interwar years. In 1940, Manchester Corporation decided to change the electricity supply from DC to AC. The change would have resulted in conversion costs of around £4000. Discussions took place about the viability of the Telpher given the very high conversion costs. [2]

Over Christmas 1940, the matter was taken out of the hands of the LMS. The Blitz on the night of 23rd December 1940 destroyed the roof of the station and demolished the Telpher. It was not replaced. [6]

Another picture of the Telpher in operation. Noel Coates notes that it was an invention of Aspinwall, in 1899, to allow the rapid collection and distribution of parcels to waiting trains across the station. … At periodic intervals along its path, loading gauges were provided to allow the operator to judge if he would clear carriage roofs. (c) National Railway Museum. [10]

A sad addendum to the story of the Telpher

Alice Goulding, a 20-year-old globe cleaner for the Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway (LYR), was killed by the telpher. Born on 12th October 1898, by age thirteen had lost her mother and her father (an engine driver). She joined the LYR as a temporary war worker in July 1918. On 27th February 1919, Alice was doing her usual daily duties. She climbed atop the roof of a carriage to clean the globes of the gas lamps, and whilst she  was walking along it, she was struck by the parcel basket and thrown onto the tracks. The telpher was being driven in reverse by a 17-year-old lad. After Miss Goulding’s death, the LYR had the telpher adjusted so that the driver always faced the direction of travel, and warned other ‘globers’ to keep a look out for the basket and to prostrate themselves flat on the carriage roof if they saw it motoring towards them. [11]


  1. Telfer/Telpher; John S Scott; Dictionary of Civil Engineering; 3rd Ed. 1980: p449.
  2. Jeffrey Wells; Manchester’s Victoria Station in Focus; BackTrack Magazine Volume 26, No. 4, April 2012; Pendragon Publishing, York: p248-252.
  3., accessed on 27th November 2018.
  4., accessed on 28th November 2018.
  5. Pendragon Collection: see [2] above.
  6. Tom Wray; Manchester Victoria Station; Lancashire and Yorkshire Railway Society 2004: p72.
  7., accessed on 2nd December 2018.
  8., accessed on 9th December 2018.
  9., accessed on 9th December 2018.
  10. Noel Coates; Lancashire & Yorkshire Railway Miscellany; Oxford Publishing Company, 1983, plate 5.
  11. This short sad addendum was provided for me by Helena Wojtczak and comes from her book. … H. Wojtczak; Railwaywomen; Hastings Press, 2005.

Tramways de l’Aude – Narbonne to Fleury d’Aude

Narbonne’s tramways have been explored in some depth in my previous post …..

The route to Fleury set off Northeast from the tramway station on the forecourt of the Gare du Midi in Narbonne. After a very short distance the tramway route turned to a more southeasterly direction and in turn, within a short distance, left behind the suburbs of Narbonne.Things in the early 21st century are much different. In the image above the line can be seen leaving the station and heading East. [1] In the image below that line is now a road flanked by domestic dwellings. The cemetery appears to be essentially unchanged.The route as far as Vinnasan is shown on a composite of aerial photographs from 1939 to 1958 below. [1] Most of the route followed what is now the D68 over relatively flat countryside. I have not been able to find any images of the tramway between Narbonne and Vinnasan. The Google Streetview images below show the route of the tramway through what were open fields and are now suburbs of Narbonne.The old road and tramway route are on the left.

The tramway crossed farmland and a number of irrigation canals before reaching Vinnasin.


Vinnasan is now sited very close to the A9/E80 Autoroute which runs just to the East of the area of the adjacent aerial image. The tramway route has been superimposed onto an aerial image from 1958, although it would by that date have been long-gone.

This is a close-up image of the top right of the above ‘snake’ illustrating the length of the route to Vinnasan from Narbonne. The tramway by-passed the centre of the village, taking a more easterly route than the main north-south road through the village (now the D31). The postcard images above come from the central area of Vinnasan, both taken from the main north-south road which is now the D31. They are matched to modern images which show relatively little change. [2][3] The tramway ran to the east of the main village road.

North of Vinnasan, the tramway followed the modern D31 north to a T-junction with the road between Coursan and Salled’Aude. The present day D1118 meets the D31 and the D31 turns East to Salles d’Aude.

From the junction the tramway continued eastwards to Salles d’Aude past the Winery of Chateau Pech-Celeyran-Saint-Exupery.

Salles d’Aude

This 1945 aerial image shows Salles d’Aude and the road which is now the modern D31 crossing the lower half of the old village from West to East, entering immediately below the woodland in the top left of the image and exiting off the bottom edge of the image close to the right-hand corner. The vestiges of the tramway route can be seen to the south side of the properties which flank the road [1]This picture is taken from South of the village and shows the tramway route on embankment in front of the village. It runs approximately along the line of what is now Rue du Grimal. [4]

The station was sited to the Southeast of the village in the area highlighted by the green ellipse on the aerial image above, which places it some distance to the right of the picture immediately above.Sketch plan of the Station at Salles d’Aude. [5]The Station at Salles d’Aude. [5]Corpet-Louvet 0-6-0T No. 21 at Salles d’Aude. [5]Another Corpet-Louvet 0-6-0T, this time unidentified, at the Station. [5]

It was only a short distance from Salles d’Aude to Fleury d’Aude. Tha station at Salles D’Aude was at the topleft of the satellite image below. The tramway route is shown in red and the location of the station at Fleury d’Aude is shown with a green box both on the satellite image and the aerial photo below.

Fleury d’Aude

The western entrance to the village is shown on this extract from a 1945 aerial photograph. The tramway station location is highlighted by the green rectangle. By 1945, the station site had already been subsumed into the Co-op site.

The centre of the village of Fleury d’Aude is shown below on the next 1945 aerial image. The central circular area of the old village is typical of many such villages in Southern France. The smaller aerial image above was taken at the same time as the one below and abuts directly onto it.The station was out to the West of the centre of the village. The building in the bottom right of the green rectangle appears in a number of the pictures below. It is at the right-had side of the sketch plan below, just beyond the station site boundary on the sketch. It can be seen beyond the tram in the first postcard image below. [5]The station at Fleury d’Aude. [6]Corpet-Louvet 0-6-0T No. 1 at Fleury d’Aude Station. [6]The two images above show the building referred to in the last paragraph above. The first is a closer image of the building on an early 20th century postcard the second is taken in the early 21st century.The station cafe and passenger and goods facilities. The engine shed is visible behind the locomotive which is preparing to leave for Narbonne. [6]The cafe building in the early 21st Century with the modern Co-op buildings on the site of the station.Fleury d’Aude Station. [6]

The Co-op which was built on the station site is called La Vendemiaire.[7] The Co-op was created in 1937 and the building opened its doors to the wine harvest in 1938. In 1979, 652 members still cultivated 889 hectares of vines (just a little more than one hectare per cooperator) and the cellar vinified 91,000 hectoliters of table wines.The Co-op building soon after construction in the late 1930s. The tramway station was under the forecourt and the facade of the new building. The brick building at the left of the picture is the building which housed the station cafe and appears in images above. [8]

This is the final planned post on the Tramways de l’Aude.

I hope that you have enjoyed the journey.


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  8., accessed on 2nd December 2018.