The TNL Tram Network 1935 – 1944 – (Chemins de Fer de Provence 87)

This post continues a series of reflections on the tramway network in and around Nice which are primarily based on  Jose Banaudo’s French language book “Nice au fil due Tram Volume 1: l’Histoire” [1]

Jose Banaudo’s excellent book on the Trams of Nice is sadly not available in English. This series of posts seeks to translate the text of the book for an English audience.

A more general impression of Nice in the War Years can be found on the Calameo website. [2] An English reader will require translation software or a good knowledge of French.

The Difficult Years (1935-1944)

Following the wave of tramway closures between 1929 and 1933 of departmental lines and in 1934 on the urban network, the length of the network operated by the TNL was reduced to almost a quarter of the pre-war mileage. The fleet of rolling stock had been reduced by almost two-thirds, with a usable fleet of fifty-eight powered cars and twenty-six trailers, plus ‘tractors’ and wagons assigned to freight traffic. At that time, only Paris and Nice had so profoundly transformed their network; in all other major French cities, buses had been introduced to complement existing tram lines or to replace those that were proving particularly difficult to operate.

Closures continued in subsequent years. Another reviewe of the urban network took place, and on 18th March 1935, tramway lines 4, 6 and 7 to the East of the City of Nice were converted to road vehicles.

On 18th November 1935, the tramway lines 20 from St. Laurent-du-Var and 29 from St. Augustin were switched to buses. In addition, the lines 37 from Contes and 38 from La Grave were extended towards the city centre  with a new terminus on Gioffredo Street (at the corner of Place Massena).

On 20th June 1936, the staff of the TNL went on strike to demand the repeal of the laws decreed by the French government and to insist on a reduction of the working week to forty hours. Work resumed on 3rd July but not on the lines north of the PLM mainline. The company closed these routes during the strike.

The year 1937 saw no improvement in the company’s finances. The fleet of vehicles was reduced, the station at Place Garibaldi and a depot at Carnoles was abandoned. The TNL was also closing bus lines. Six were to go in July 1937.

Interurban bus lines that had replaced the trams were also gradually being handed over by the TNL to private carriers. 

In 1938, the finances of the TNL continued to deteriorate. By 15th August 1938, the tram lines had been reduced to five: 21 from La Madeleine, 22 from Carras, 29 California (shortened), 35 from Cimiez, 36 from La Trinite, plus a partial service 36 shortened to the Carrieres de Bon-Voyage. However, the situation was far from stabilized and in the year leading up to the declaration of war, there was hardly a month that went by without significant changes to the network. 

This picture shows the  line from Nice to La Madeleine in 1949 – Powered car No. 123 is pulling a very old-fashioned trailer. Although taken after the Second World War, this picture is typical of the decaying state of the tramways in Nice from 1935 onwards. The tram is in a relatively poor condition and does not display the line number, © Ch. Schnabel – Th. Assa collection. [3]

The TNL. network as of 1st September 1939

Banaudo records the following TNL tram lines still in existence:

No. 3, Gioffredo – La Trinité;
No. 3A, Gioffredo – La Madeleine;
No. 9, Port – Gioffredo – California;
No. 22, Port – Station – Carras;
No. 35, Hôtel-des-Postes – Cimiez;

and these TNL bus routes still running:
No. 1, Port – St. Sylvestre;
No. 2, Riquier – St. Maurice;
No. 4, St. Sylvestre – Hôpital-Pasteur;
No. 6-7, Circulaire Passage-à-Niveau – St. Roch;
No. 8, Gare du Sud – Caucade;
No. 8A, Garibaldi – Caucade. [1]


  1. Jose Banaudo; Nice au fil due Tram Volume 1: l’Histoire; Les Editions de Cabri, 2004, p97-100. Translated using ‘deepl’ translation software in August 2020.
  2. Les Alpes Maritimes Pendant La Seconde Guerre Mondiale by cdi06130;, accessed on 21st October 2020.
  3.—de-l-apogee-au-declin/31975780.html, accessed on 21st October 2020.

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