• Metre-Gauge Railways in Provence - the Nice to Digne Line

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of North America.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by rogerfarnworth
The next stage of our journey takes us out of the catchment of the River Var and into the Valley of the River Verdon. ....

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The centre piece of this section of the line is the 3.5 kilometre long tunnel which links the valleys of the Verdon and the Vaire together - the Tunnel de la Colle Saint Michel.

The railway line between Meailles and Thorame-Haute was on the last stretch of the line from Nice to Digne to be built. The length involved was that between Saint-André-de-Méouilles and Puget-Théniers.

Work began in January 1900 on the final 27km of the line. The tunnel boring took a number of years to complete. Steady progress was made on the tunnel. The project had a significant setback when, in April 1909 part of the land mass above the proposed location of the station at Thorame-Haute collapsed onto the site of the station engulfing the part built buildings and platforms. Stabilisation of the mountain required the construction of a 114 metre long, 33 metre high retaining wall. The wall was 1.5 metres thick and reinforced by 7 buttresses. [22]

The station was opened to travellers on 3rd July 1911 [23] with the inauguration of the full line taking place on 6th August 1911. The station at Thorame-Haute quickly became a significant tourist destination providing access to some high quality hotels in the upper reaches of the Verdon valley. A wealthy clientele travelled from the Côte d'Azur to access such hotels as the Alp'hôtel de Beauvezer, and the Fontgaillarde in Thorame-Haute.
  by rogerfarnworth
Its been highlighted to me that in my last post in this series I did not provide details of Thorame-Haute Viaduct. In that post, I provided rail-level images and then rushed on to the site of Thorame-Haute Station. This short blog is an attempt to rectify that mistake! I guess you could also see it as a bonus for patiently bearing with me as I meander along the line between Nice and Digne-les-Bains!

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  by rogerfarnworth
This next post focusses first on the Station and buildings close to it at Thorame-Haute. It highlights a local festival and the importance of the chapel adjacent to the railway station.

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The blog then takes us on from Thorame-Haute to Saint Andre les Alpes.

In a number of these posts I have been picking up some images from 'www.railsim-fr.com' as there is now a rail simulator version of the Nice to Digne line.
  by rogerfarnworth
The next step along the Nice to Digne railway line takes us from Saint-Andre-les-Alpes into the next valley - the valley of L'Asse.

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Our journey recommences in Saint-Andre-les-Alpes. The feature image shows the village with the station in the foreground. The image immediately below gives a panoramic view of the village from the north, showing the first of the lakes in the Verdon valley behind the village, as well as the railway station in the bottom-right.
  by rogerfarnworth
The next post in the series on the line from Nice to Digne covers the length of the route from Barreme to the station at Mezel.

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/08/18/ni ... rovence-77" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;
As an interesting aside, research on line suggests that the final location of Barreme station was not the location originally intended. I have found a sequence of drawings which seem to locate the station to the north-west of the present location further along the Nice -Digne line, beyond the bridge in the village centre. It is possible that I have misunderstood the drawings, but it seems that there was another location planned and that the station would have had larger facilities if the original plans went ahead.
Barreme Station has been used as the source for a model by Aubertrain (http://aubertrain.com/modules.html" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;). The diorama is 602 x 400 x 250 mm in size and costs 875 euros.
  by rogerfarnworth
This is the final post covering the length of the Nice to Digne line. I hope to cover the motive power and rolling stock on the line in one or more additional posts.

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/08/22/ni ... rovence-78" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Traffic on the metre-gauge line is hampered by that fact that the standard-gauge connection to Digne has been cut. There has been talk of a possible metre-gauge line extension to meet the SNCF mainline at Château-Arnoux Saint-Auban, however, this is probably beyond the resources of the Chemins de Fer de Provence.

In looking for plans of the Station Site at Digne les Bains, I noticed reference to a 'Project de Tram Train Digne Manosque'. It can bee seen on Openstreetmap as a dotted line which runs from Digne to Château-Arnoux Saint-Auban.

The project is intended to use the old standard-gauge formation and its line into Château-Arnoux Saint-Auban. The project now has a website:

http://transport-provence-alpes.centerb ... n-manosque" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;.

Is the scheme feasible? There are some questions about this which appear in the comments on the website.

How likely is this scheme, does anyone know?
  by rogerfarnworth
In order to complete this series of posts on the Metre Gauge Railways of the Cote d'Azur and Var in Provence I have been working on a series of posts about the locomotives and rolling stock on the Nice to Digne-les-Bains Line. I have just posted the first of these:

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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:

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/02/23/lo ... rovence-50" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/03/02/lo ... rovence-52" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/03/07/ro ... rovence-54" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/01/26/li ... rovence-49" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

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).
  by rogerfarnworth
This next post on the locomotives and rolling stock on the Nice to Digne line focusses on the diesel locomotives in use on the line at different times during its development - shunters, locotracteurs, draisines, etc.

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The next post will consider the various railcars (autorails) in use on the line.
  by rogerfarnworth
The Nice to Digne-les-Bains Line has been in the news in France over the past 12 months. In February 2019 there was a collapse of the tunnel at Moriez while strengthening work was taking place. In November 2019 the already closed line suffered some further damage as a result of bad weather. The linked post covers the latest news about repairs on the line. It is predominantly translated from a French article into English .....

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2020/03/09/le ... nance-work