Category Archives: Railways and Tramways Around Nice

Various posts about the railways and tramways in Provence and Les Alpes Maritime.

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.

The TNL Tram Network – The Changes in the Urban Network (1929-1934) (Chemins de Fer de Provence 86)

This post continues a series of reflections on the tramway network in and around Nice which are based on Jose Banaudo’s French language book “Nice au fil du Tram Volume 1: Histoire.” The text below includes elements translated from Jose Banaudo’s book. [1]

A Changing Urban Network in/around Nice

The 1930s through to the 1950s saw major changes in the urban environment. As elsewhere, the car began to dominate people’s understanding of progress. Other forms of transport, to a greater or lesser extent, took a secondary place. Independence, rather than interdependence, came to dominate political thinking. The strengthening democracy after the Second World War valued the perspective of the individual. By the end of the 1950s the place if the ‘expert’ in any debate was beginning to be challenged. No longer were people as willing to be told what was best for them. In a significant way, the car became a touchstone for that growing independence and self-confidence. The tram and the train began to be seen as part of the past rather than an important part of the future.

We noted in the last post in this series how buses began to replace trams on the longer routes. Road improvements swept away the tram infrastructure. The rails were replaced, at first,  in some places, by trolleybuses. In others the change to petrol/diesel engines vehicles was more rapid.

Banaudo, writing in French, says: “While the tramway disappeared from most interurban lines, the monopoly of this mode of transport was not immediately threatened in the city of Nice. Initially, in 1925-26, TNL had simply created three ‘automobile omnibus’ lines serving routes complementary to the tramway network. These services were designated from 1928 onwards by letters:

A Masséna – St. Sylvestre;

C Masséna – Caucade; and

D Masséna -St. Isidore. 

On March 20th of the same year, two new links were created to serve Mont-Boron Hill, to the east of the city: 

B1 Masséna – Miramar, and

B2 Masséna – Col de Villefranche. 

Their routes were modified several times, only stabilizing in September 1929, the first taking Boulevard Carnot (Basse Corniche) and the second, the Chemin du Mont-Alban (Moyenne Corniche).” [1: p93]

He continues: “The year 1929 was marked by the development of road transport in the city, with the delivery of Renault buses of a Parisian type which were put into service on eight new lines which opened from 19th January to 7th October:

A: Place Masséna – St. Sylvestre, by Boulevard de Cessole;

D1: Place Masséna – Digue-des-Français, by St. Augustin;

E: The PLM Station – Port, via Berlioz, Rossini, du Congrès and Paradis streets;

F: Square Masséna – St. Etienne, by Boulevard Carabacel, Avenues Désambrois and Lambert, Streets Mirabeau, Vernier and Chemin de Pessicart;

G: Square Masséna – Le Ray, by Streets Gubernatis and de Lépante and Avenue St. Lambert;

H : Place Masséna – St. Roch, by Place Garibaldi, Rue Bonaparte and Boulevard de Riquier;

S1: Place Masséna – La Bornala, by Rue de la Buffa;

S3: Rue de l’Hôtel-des-Postes – Rimiez, by Avenue des Arènes.” [1: p93]

After this, there was a lull in the development  of bus routes with some routes opening and then closing within short periods of time.

However some routes were set up which survived. Line K: Masséna – Madeleine-Superior was created in February 1932 and in March 1933.

The tramway  is eliminated from the centre of Nice

Banaudo says:  “All the bus-lines created by the TNL between 1925 and 1933 in the municipality of Nice were established on routes complementary to the main routes travelled by tramways, either by taking streets in the city centre that had previously been left out of the network, by climbing hills that were not suitable for trams, or by opening up suburban districts that were undergoing urbanisation. Operated by limited-capacity buses where the driver issued tickets to passengers, these lines had low frequencies and carried relatively modest traffic.” [1: p95]

Early in the 1930s, following the example of Paris. TNL and the municipality began negotiations to extend the use of buses to a main route, that from Place Massêna along the Avenues of la Victoire, Malaussena and Borriglione. It was envisaged that this move would improve traffic movement and eliminate the need the costly maintenance of an electrical power supply. “On 5th June 1931, the municipal council decided to convert the lines serving St. Maurice, St. Sylvester and the Boulevard Tzarewitch to a bus-service.” [1: p95]

To implement this program, it was necessary to finance the purchase of a further sixty buses. These were ordered from ‘Renault’ and ‘Panhard et Levassor’ from 1933 onwards. The road vehicle fleet reached 144 units by the following year, surpassing the number of motorised trams. In addition, the TNL finally won a number of legal actions against interurban line operators who picked-up and put-down passengers inside the city in direct competition with trams and buses. [1: p95]

Lines were either provided with new termini, as in the case of lines to the West and East of the centre of Nice, or diverted along alternative routes as in the North of the city. Place Massena lost its trams altogether. We now know that this decision was one which came to be regretted by the municipality towards the end of the 20th century as they began to develop plans for a new tram network. [1: p95]

A new “Gare municipale d’Autobus” on the Couverture du Paillon, between the Casino Municipal and Place Massena was opened in 1934. The departures and arrivals of all long-distance lines were moved to the new bus station. The end of the tramway provision in Place Masséna saw the tramway kiosk demolished and a new “TNL Station” was built south of the Casino Municipal, along Boulevard des Italiens (now Jean-Jaurès). [1: p95]

The Tramway kiosk in Place Massena in 1913 [2]Place Massena again. [3]Avenue de Malaussena. [4]Avenue de la Victoire [5]

Monday 8th October 1934 was chosen as the date for the changes to take place. On the Sunday evening, the trams ran for the last time on Place Masséna and the south-north axis through the Avenues de la Victoire, Malaussena, Borriglione, du Ray and St Sylvestre, as well as in Joseph-Garnier Boulevard, Tzaréwitch Boulevard and on the left bank of the Paillon, between Place Masséna and Place Garibaldi. The next day, the network was completely reorganized, creating thirteen tram lines (including those of Contes and La Grave, the last vestiges of the departmental network) and twenty-two city bus lines. A new pricing system based on tickets sold in booklets came into effect. [1: p95]

There were initial problems. Users were disrupted by changes in numbering and new tram routes. The buses were considered noisy. polluting and at certain times their capacity was notoriously insufficient compared to that of the old trams and their trailers. The Nice daily newspaper “L’Eclaireur”, which from the beginning had unreservedly encouraged change, began to doubt whether it had been worthwhile. [1: p95]

My understanding of Banaudo’s comments is that the changes were hastily brought in so as to satisfy a variety of different political agendas. Hindsight suggests that the conurbation would have been better served by renovating/refurbishing its tramways rather than allowing them to fall into disrepair and be replaced by what ultimately has proved to be a poorer series of alternatives.


  1. Jose Banaudo; Nice au fil due Tram Volume 1: l’Histoire; Les Editions de Cabri, 2004.
  2., accessed on 14th October 2019.
  3., accessed on 14th October 2019.
  4., accessed on 14th October 2019.
  5.,illustrateurs,nice–41-avenue-de-la-victoire-tramway–signee-beraud-,8390.html, accessed on 14th October 2019.

Ligne de Central Var – Part 13a – Sillans la Cascade to Barjols (Chemins de Fer de Provence 85)

Sillans la Cascade to Barjols

I have been preparing a book about the Central Var line and in doing so have recognised that my original post about this length of the line carries some significant omissions, particularly in relation to Rognette and two mines in close proximity to it. I have reviewed the original post to include details of these mines and to improve referencing of pictures.

We got off our train to Meyraragues to have a look round Sillans and its environs.The town is known for its waterfall which is just to the Southeast of the town. ….


  1., accessed on 19th August 2019.
  2., accessed on 19th August 2019.
  3., accessed on 18th August 2019.
  4., accessed on 19th December 2019.
  5. © J.F. Mc Cameron, accessed on 9th December 2017
  6., accessed on 9th December 2017
  7., accessed on 1st May 2018.
  8., accessed on 1st December 2018.
  9., accessed on 17th August 2019.
  10., accessed on 9th December 2017.
  11., accessed on 9th December 2017.
  12., accessed on 9th December 2017.
  13. © J.F. Mc Cameron, accessed on 9th December 2017.
  14. Jose Banaudo; Le Siecle du Train de Pignes; Les Editions du Cabri, Briel-sur-Roya 1991.
  15., accessed on 17th August 2019.
  16., accessed on 17th August 2019.
  17., adapted from an IGN aerial image of 1949 and further altered to show modern road alignments, accessed on 17th August 2019.
  18., accessed on 18th August 2019.
  19. Ibid.
  20., accessed on 17th August 2019.
  21. Ibid.
  22. © J.F. Mc Cameron, accessed on 19th August 2019.
  23., accessed on 16th August 2019.
  24. I am unable to provide a direct reference for this plan but suspect that it comes from Jose Banaudo; Le Siecle du Train de Pignes; Les Editions du Cabri, Briel-sur-Roya 1991.
  25., accessed on 9th December 2017.
  26., accessed on 19th August 2019.
  27.,  © J.F. Mc Cameron, accessed on 19th August 2019.
  28. Ibid.
  29. Ibid.

The TNL Tram Network – The Beginning of the Decline (1927-1934) (Chemins de Fer de Provence 84)

This post continues a series of reflections on the tramway network in and around Nice which are based on Jose Banaudo’s French language book “Nice au fil du Tram Volume 1: Histoire.” The text below is based on a tranlation from Jose Banaudo’s book. [1]

From 1921 onwards the TNL grew closer to its counterpart in Paris and in 1927 it was integrated into Parisian Group and the TNL headquarters were moved to Paris. Its board began to be Chaired by the Chair of the wider group and a new director of the TNL was appointed, Mr Jacques Schopfer, formerly a rolling stock and traction engineer. 

The TNL was now tied to the dictats and intentions of the STCRP, for better or for worse! At the end of the 1920s the tramway was no longer seen as a fast, safe and efficient means of transport, but rather as an obstacle to traffic and an obstacle to progress towards the free movement of cars.

Banaudo says that after initially supplementing their existing network with buses, the public transport operators in both Nice and Paris tried to convert most of the existing lines to buses. They were encouraged by public opinion, the press, tourist information offices, car clubs and many elected officials, both in the Alpes-Maritimes General Council and in the city of Nice. It is not surprising that the new mayor elected in December 1928, Jean Médecin, made the removal of the tracks in Place Masséna and on Avenue de la Victoire one of his election promises.

While these debates were taking place in the city of Nice, work to extend the ‘departmental’ lines at Levens and L’Escarène was suspended and the General Council considered using the infrastructure built to establish roads there.

In the autumn of 1926, the valleys behind Nice were hit by torrential rains. Damage to the TAM network, the lines in the valleys of l’Estéron, Haut-Var, Tinée and especially the Vésubie occured and a massive landslide engulfed the village of Roquebillière and about twenty of its inhabitants died. Closer to the coast, the TNL lines of the Paillon basin were also affected. On 18th November, the flooded river damaged the permanent way on the La Grave-de-Peilie branch, but tram traffic was able to resume on a temporary detour on 15th December.

A large landslide blocked the stretch between Contes and Bendéjun. The road was rebuilt in January 1927, but the TNL took the opportunity to abandon their line between Contes and Bendejun. Ultimately, the General Council accepted this closure.

On 1st December 1927, new arrangememts replaced the city of Nice with the State as the licensing authority for the urban network and ratified the creation of new bus lines. This was approved by a ministerial decree on 5th March 1929. In the spring of 1928, agreement was reached with the General Council to only maintain tram lines where absolutely necessary, particularly when the freight service so required; otherwise, tramway routes would be replaced by bus services.

So, only the rural lines to Contes, La Grave and Sospel were retained out of the wider departmental network, all other lines would be replaced by bus services.

Banaudo comments that passenger numbers were dropping rapidly and there were very few signs of hope. On 30th October 1928 the PLM inaugurated its international service Nice-Breil-Cuneo. The construction work for this line had been a major part of the freight traffic on both the La Grave and Sospel lines for years. The new line provided a much faster link to the communities served originally by the trams. In Sospel alone, the average number of tram passengers fell by 51% and the tonnage of goods by 58%!

1929 marked the beginning of the end for the departmental tramways. The TAM lines to Estéron, Vésubie, Haut-Var, Grasse and Bar closed in April and May. The TNL closures began in the autumn. With the development of car traffic, the elimination of the tramway was considered a priority on coastal arteries. The first line hit by the road-building programme was Nice – Antibes, the Bridges and Roads Department widened the RN7 onto the shoulder occupied by the tramway. As a result, tram traffic ceased on 29th October 1929 between St. Laurent-du-Var and Antibes. The service was replaced by buses.  The few power cars kept in Antibes for its urban service were isolated from the rest of the network, sheltered and briefly maintained in the shed near the PLM station. After seven months of this arrangement that service closed on 1st June 1930. 

In April 1930, the General Council closed the Monte-Carlo line, the service had already effectively been replaced by a private contractor who used comfortable coaches and frequent departures, every ten or even five minutes during rush hour!The line between Villefranche and Beaulieu along the Base Corniche [2]

The coastal line was gradually converted to buses. On 9th March 1931, the tramway was closed between Villefranche, Pont-St. Jean, St. Jean-Cap-Ferrat, replaced by a road service. On 18th June the length between Nice and Villefranche gave way to a suburban bus service.

Ligne Nice-Villefranche [3]

Two lines which took so much effort to build and operate were then closed. The first was the Menton to Sospel line.The snaking route of the Menton to Sospel tramway viewed from behind the Viaduc du Caramel. [4]

For more information about the Menton to Sospel tramway please see the following links:

The traffic on the Menton to Sospel line collapsed after the opening of the Nice to Cuneo railway line. It was closed and replaced by a bus service. The route had only been in service for 19 years.

The next to close was the Nice to Levens line. Details of the route to Levens  can be found on the following links: Two shots of the station at Levens. It had been intended to extend this line from the station into the village of Levens and a tunnel was built to make this possible. after all 5hat expenditure the extension was never opened. [5][6]

The Principality of Monaco did not want to be left out of the trend towards the use of buses. On 8th May 1931, the TNL signed an agreement with the Monaco government to replace two tram services, No. 41 (between Visitation, place d’Armes and St. Roman) and No. 42 (between Monaco Station, place d’Armes and the Casino) with new bus services. Three bus services replaced the two tram routes and a further two bus lines were soon added.Trams in Monte Carlo. [7]

However, the tramway was not yet totally excluded from Monaco since the TNL line to Menton, still crossed the eastern part of Monaco between the Casino and St. Roman. However, on 28th May 1931 the TNL signed an agreement with the authorities in Menton to prepare the town for the end of tramway services and in January 1932 both the remainder of the Sospel line and the line from Monte-Carlo to Menton were closed. A tram approaching Monte Carlo from Nice. [8]

The bus fleet was not yet up to full strength and it took some months to completely close the tramways around Menton. So it was not until 1933 that the network was finally abandoned.

For a short period of transition, the TNL organized a bus route between Beausoleil and La Turbie to replace the rack railway whose operation had just been suspended following a fatal accident in March 1932. The service operated from 25th April to 31st July 1932 before is was passed to a local company.

In less than three and a half years, large parts of the TNL tram network had been closed with the full support of various statutory bodies and the local press. 


  1. Jose Banaudo; Nice au fil due Tram Volume 1: l’Histoire; Les Editions de Cabri, 2004.
  2., accessed on 11th April 2019.
  3., accessed on 11th April 2019.
  4.à_Sospel, accessed on 11th April 2019.
  5., accessed on 11th April 2019.
  6., accessed on 11th April 2019.
  7., accessed on 11th April 2019.
  8., access on 11th April 2019.

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.

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.
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  7., accessed on 2nd 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.
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  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.

Ligne de Central Var – Postcript – A short walk near Seillans (Chemins de Fer de Provence 28a)

On 20th November 2018, my wife and I visited a few small villages near Fayence. This included an hour or two in and around Seillans.

In December 2017, I completed a blog about the metre-gauge Central Var line of the Chemins de Fer du Sud de la France. The full story can be found on my blog. Two posts covered the line close to Seillans:

That blog focussed on a journey along the line from Nice to Meyrargues travelling from East to West. What pictures I was able to take in November 2017, were limited to those accessible from a vehicle in a single day trip.

This blog post looks at a very short length of the line to the West of the station at Seillans which we explored after lunch close to the Chappelle de Notre Dame de l’Ormeau which is marked in blue below and just happens to be close to the old station at Seillans which is itself a couple of kilometres from the village of Seillans.Seillans village on 20th November 2018.The area of our walk on 20th November 2018. The green lone approximates to the route oif the railway line.Approximately the same area, but this time in an aerial image from 1944. The railway was in use in the period immediately after the war and Seillans Station can be seen with track in place an an access road from the Fayence to Seillans road.

The pictures below show a stroll from East of La Gare to beyond the accommodation bridge in the bottom right of the satellite image above and a return journey along the same route.Approaching Seillans station building from the East on 20th November 2018. The station building (1) is in private hands. The picture is taken from the adjacent road with the old metre-gauge line and yard beyond the station building on its South side.Immediately to the West of the Route de Fayence (D19), the railway crossed a small stream. The bridge is long-gone although the three ends of the parapets remain (2). The bridge has been replaced by a small footbridge. The route of the railway can be seen disappearing into the distance, (20th November 2018).After a short straight section, the railway turned through a slight curve and crossed another, larger stream, adjacent to what are now the village sewage works. The structure was significant (3). This picture was taken after scrambling down the steep embankment, (20th November 2018).

Beyond the stream the footpath following the railway route becomes the road access to the treatment works and is a tarmacked single lane road. All the images below were taken on the 20th November 2018 unless staed and referenced otherwise.The accommodation bridge in the distance is that marked (4) on the satellite image.

A short distance after reaching the bridge  in the image above, we returned to the Station and our car which was parked at the Chappelle de Notre Dame de l’Ormeau.Looking Northeast along the line, back towards Seillans Station.Looking Northeast at the point where the railway began to turn eastwards, this picture shows the parapets of the bridge adjacent to the sewage works (3).Two pictures taken on the walk back towards Seillans Station.The view of the Chappelle de Notre Dame de l’Ormeau which would have been seen from the train. A picture taken by me, and a postcard image from the early 1900s. [1]Two pictures of the station building taken from the West.

The station building taken from the Southwest.



1., accessed on 20 the November 2018.

Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 15a – November 2018 Visits to the Line (Chemins de Fer de Provence 81a)

Another Postscript.

This 1929 aerial photograph from the IGN site ‘’ really interests me. I discovered it on 19th November 2018 while staying in Saint-Raphael.

The centre of St. Raphael is in the middle of the picture, the relatively small harbour looks more expansive than it does now in the early 21st century. Watching some of the large yachts if the mega-rich manouvering in the harbour is interesting.

The large church building stood out much more clearly in the 1920s than it does today. The River Garonne was not built over in the way it is today.

The metre-gauge line can clearly be seen passing under what was the PLM standard-gayge mainline and climbing in an arc to meet the mainline at St. Raphael railway station. The metre-gauge sidings can be seen to the right-hand (East) side of the photo.

It is also possible to identify the metre-gauge passenger station building on the aerial image to the North of the mainline under what is now the site of the Gate Routiere.

The Google Earth satellite image below shows approximately the same location in the early 21st century. The grey roofed building houses the Gare Routiere and there are modern strictures over the site of the old goods yard.Little was done in the developments of the late 20th century to preserve significant aspects/views. As can be seen above there is a large modern block between the port and the church which obscures what could still have been an excellent view of the church. The images below show the effect of  modern development in this particular corner of the world!Perhaps surprisingly the alignment of the old metre-gauge line can still be picked out in this image. I have enhanced the scale a little in the image below and shown the approximate alignment with a green line. Tarmac covers most of the route shown. There is a break beneath the mainline.

Ligne du Littoral (Toulon to St. Raphael) – Part 15 – November 2018 Visits to the Line (Chemins de Fer de Provence 81)

On 13th and 16th November 2018, my wife (Jo) and I walked around St. Raphael and took some photographs of the location of Le Macaron railway station and updated the post below accordingly.

On 14th November we traced the line of Le Macaron between Ste. Maxine and St. Raphael. I was able as a result to add a PostScript to my earlier blog post on that length of Le Macaron. The revised post can be found at:

On Sunday 18th November, Jo and I travelled from St. Raphael, via the Sunday Market in Le Muy, to Hyeres. We also enjoyed an hour or so on the spit of land extending out from Hyeres towards Iles d’Hyeres and we had lunch next to La Tour Fondue. We spent the rest of the day following Le Macaron from Hyeres to Sainte-Maxime.

Nothing I saw on the journey caused me concern about the text of the series of blog posts about the route that I have written.

I was able to take a few pictures while on the journey, although there was little time to stop if the full journey was to be completed in daylight!

On the journey we were also able to make three detours. The first, to Les Bormettes and the site of the old torpedo factory at what is now known as Miramar. The second to the old perched village of Bormes les Mimosa. The third to St. Tropez.

We took a few photographs on Sunday 18th November and these follow at the end of this blog postpost, together with a few from other sources.

The relevant links to my blog are:

Some photographs … The majority my own, others are referenced below.

Le Muy, 18th November 2018.Le Muy, Sunday Market. [1]The remaining station at Hyeres is the SNCF standard-gauge station. [2]A view out to sea from close to the branch-line to the torpedo factory (long-gone) at Miramar. The picture was taken on 18th November 2018.The railway station building at La Londe-les-Maures taken from what was the line of the railway just to the West of the station on 18th November 2018.The railway station building at La Londe-les-Maures taken from the South.The railway station building at La Londe-les-Maures taken from what was the line of the railway just to the East of the station. This image was also captured on 18th November 2018.Clearly this image was not taken in November! we drove around the village which sits high above the valley below and as a result high above its ancient railway station. [3]The old station building at Cavalaire-sur-Mer taken from the North on 18th November 2018.The same building also pictured on 18th November 2018. in remodelling the centre of the town the authorities have chosen to reflect its railway history by building a ‘railway’ into the paving. Flat metal and wooden piecs have been used to good effect.The old village centred on the station and the present town has reflected that by running the ‘railway’ through the centre and, as can be seen in the image below has created a series of benches that mimic the old railway wagons of Le Macaron.This image shows one of the buildings associated with the old branch-line to St. Tropez. It was also taken on 18th November 2018 as the sun was beginning to set. Evidnce of the existence of the station is preserved in the name of the road as the image below highlights.The old station area in St. Tropez now forms a large tourist car-park as can be seen in this image taken on 18th November 2018.St. Tropez in the evening sun on 18th November 2018.


  1., accessed on 18th November 2018.
  2., accessed on 18th November 2018.
  3., accessed on 18th November 2018.