French Railways

There is a romance about French railways, je ne sais quois. Whether it is the romance of the country, the people, the language ... Chemin de Fer and Society Nationale de Chemin de Fer have a Gallic ethos to them that reeks just as much of Les Gaulois as the Marseilles docklands.

I think part of that atmosphere was expressed to me by a friend who had studied, photographed and taped french railways for years, when he pointed out that the French never went for the General Motors diesel propoganda line, prefering to stay steam for many years until they had extensively electrified, in their own inimitiable style, and then, la piece de resistance , the TGV.

Never ones to follow fashion, but always leading it, the French have, in my view at least, set the engineering standards, firstly with the Chapelon revolutions in steam, then with the Alstom high speed trains, and more recently with the latest in software technology, automatically verified signalling software.

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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 16 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1708
  • Description : Another gallic railway station on a different scale at Lyons. Now converted to offices and apartments!


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 16 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1712
  • Description : Tram tracks under construction outside the Gare Part de Dieu at Lyons


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 16 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1726
  • Description : The St Jean-Fourviere Funiculaire at Lyons


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 16 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1727
  • Description : The St Jean-Fourviere Funiculaire at Lyons. View leaving gare bas.


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  • Date : 20 Aug 2004, catalogued 28 Sep 2005
  • Photographer : Chris Avram
  • Medium : email digital image
  • Description : An interesting view of Gare Montparnasse, Paris, taken from the Tour Montparnasse


  • Image : dir=europe/france/ page=index 213509 bytes, 600x800 pixels
  • Date : 20 Aug 2004, catalogued 28 Sep 2005
  • Photographer : Chris Avram
  • Medium : email digital image
  • Description : An interesting view of Gare Montparnasse, Paris


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  • Date : Jan 1986
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : Kodachrome, slide number 14016
  • Description : A view of Paris from the train coming into Gare du Nord


Locomotifs a vapeur

Very little `in steam' here, but that should be fixed in the near future. The French did steam so well, and were regarded as the pinnacle of steam development in the post WW2 period. They kept steam on until electrification had largely been completed, mainly because they had amply reserves of steam coal, but very little in the way of oil. Consequently, french steam locomotives are an art form in themselves, very much in the Gallic tradition.

Multiple Unit Passenger Trains

As Stewart Hughes says in one of his captions: ``If that isn't the sexiest railcar you've ever seen, I don't know what is!'' A few sexy railcars.

Locomotifs Electrique

Try as I might, I have not been able to unearth much information about the classes of locos presented here. If readers can send me details on the loco types, I'd be happy to add those details to these pages.

TGVs

I knew about TGVs before ever getting to see or ride in one. But that still did not prepare me for the experience. They are just fantastic! So smooth, you hardly realise what speed you are doing, until you try to take photos through the window. You cannot even get the camera to your eye before the scene has flashed past. This must be the coolest transport ride on the planet.

Miscellany

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  • Date : 28 Jun 2004, catalogued 11 Oct 2004
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_14440
  • Description : I love this gadget! A "brise glace" or "ice breaker" wagon "pour tunnels" stationed at Langeac. A set of serrated steeel blades are arranged around the frame on the wagon so that they scrape the tunnel profile, removing any ice formations before they grow to a size where they might do damage to passing trains.


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  • Date : 23 Jun 2003, catalogued 16 Oct 2004
  • Photographer : Stewart Hughes
  • Medium : email digital image
  • Description : Stewart writes:
    Toulouse shed is very interesting. Centre picture you can see a conventional turntable. Behind that is a platform that runs left and right to access the individual sheds - the little yellow shunter is sitting on it. I can't see the catenerary but I think the diesel shunter is needed to pull the electric locos in and out of the shed and onto the turntable. Interesting.


Voies Ferrees du Velay

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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 09 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1663
  • Description : While travelling through the Auvergne, we chanced upon this narrow gauge railway at Le Chambon-sur-Lignon. As you can see, the weather was not all that kind to us!


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 09 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1664
  • Description : I'm not quite sure how they used this turntable ...


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 09 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1665
  • Description : Another view of the narrow gauge yard at Le Chambon-sur-Lignon.


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 09 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1668
  • Description : While I was taking photos at Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a toot in the distance indicated a train approaching. We waited patiently as the rain got worse, and we rewarded with this view of diesel loco N62 entering the yard from the north.


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 09 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1671
  • Description : While I was taking photos at Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, a toot in the distance indicated a train approaching. We waited patiently as the rain got worse, and we rewarded with this view of diesel loco N62 entering the yard from the north.


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 10 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1674
  • Description : A closer view of diesel loco N62 entering the yard from the north.


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 10 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1676
  • Description : A side view of narrow gauge diesel N62 at Le Chambon-sur-Lignon


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 10 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1679
  • Description : Another station on the Velay line: Tence


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 10 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1680
  • Description : Another station on the Velay line: Tence. A closer view of the railmotor stationed there.


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 10 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1681
  • Description : Another station on the Velay line: Tence. A closer view of the railmotor stationed there.


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  • Date : 16 Jul 2002, catalogued 16 Aug 2003
  • Photographer : John Hurst
  • Medium : digital camera (Canon S40), image location IMG_1682
  • Description : The delightfully gallic railway station at Tence


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