• Metre Gauge Tramways in Provence - the TAM and the TNL

  • Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of Canada and the United States.
Discussion about railroad topics everywhere outside of Canada and the United States.

Moderators: Komachi, David Benton

  by rogerfarnworth
Reading a book in French by Jose Banuado, I have discovered more about the Sospel to Menton tramway.
The Menton-Sospel line is the only one in the TNL network to have seen steam locomotives.
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This post builds on previous ones, particularly ...

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  by rogerfarnworth
It is a while since I posted about the tramways in Nice. I have been concentrating on a series of posts about the metre-gauge lines in Kenya and Uganda. That series of posts is now complete and I can focus once again on the South of France metre-gauge tramways and railways.

The TNL grew in size in the years before the first world war but had great difficulty in getting new lines authorised and built

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This post focusses on the years immediately before the First World War. It was at this time that the network reached its fullest extent and it was the time when it was both in its best condition and carrying the greatest number of passengers. After the First World War things began to change and competition from other forms of transport increased.
  by rogerfarnworth
This post covers a short-lived tramway which left the Nice to Digne line of the Chemin de Fer de Provence at Plan du Var. It travelled up the Valley of the River Vesubie as far as St. Martin Vesubie. The line lasted no more than 20 years but was effective in opening up the valley of the Vesubie to tourism and vastly aided the agrarian economy. The post below has also been included in the story of the Nice to Digne metre-gauge main line.

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Tramway services left Plan du Var Station travelling North and diverged from the Nice to Digne line before reaching the Vesubie River. The images below are old postcards of the location of the junction and show the development of the site over a number of years. Initially a stone arch bridge took the road over the Vesubie, but when this failed it was replaced by the concrete arch bridge visible in some of the pictures.
  by george matthews
A hundred years ago there was a belief, resulting in a policy, that non standard railways were suitable for lines in places with small demand for transport. Mainly there was a belief that construction cost were less than for standard gauge. As a result a number of narrow gauge railways were built. All of them lost whatever economic advantage they might have had when powered road transport developed. A few remain where they have developed passenger services. I am thinking of a narrow gauge branch in Stockholm which has frequent service, and the speed limits are not a drawback. For freight their main disadvantage has been the need to tranship when linked with standard gauge lines. But for long distances, as in Africa, the main disadvantage is the limits to speed. Even in South Africa the Cape Gauge lines were limited, though their developed country engineering had pushed the speed limits up - at least on some lines. There is a very good reason why they are being replaced in many parts of Africa. Australia and New Zealand have similar situations as in South Africa, but in Australia there has been a policy since the 1930s of replacing narrow gauge with standard, as for example on the trans-continental link to Perth.
  by rogerfarnworth
This post covers another short-lived tramway which provided a service up the valley of l'Esteron from Pont Charles Albert over the River Var to Roquesteron, a distance of more than 20 kilometres.

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Before the tramway was constructed the Charles Albert Bridge was a suspension bridge (built by Marc Seguin in the mid-19th Century) [2] but this bridge was not designed to accommodate tramway loading. In 1913 it was rebuilt to accommodate the trams, just as was necessary with the Pont de la Mescla on the Tinée tramway. The replacement structure had six spans of over 30 metres in concrete built by the company Thorrand. In the foreground of the image immediately below, there is the Pont-Charles Albert stop and the lime kilns at La Lauziere overseen by the perched village of La Roquette sur Var, © Yann Duvivier. [6] This 'new' bridge was replaced in the mid-20th Century by the one which is in use today.
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  by rogerfarnworth
Another of the branch tramways left the Nice to Digne line close to La Mescla Station and travelled up the valley of La Tinee.

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I first looked at this tramway in 2013. It was only a short blog recognising the existence of the line in the valley.

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This line was 26.5 Km long and connected villages in the Tinée valley to Nice to Digne line. Like other lines of the Tramways Alpes Maritimes (TAM), the electric current was single phase. The civil engineering works (bridges, tunnels) were executed by the Department.

The line was built in 1911 and operation started on 1st April 1912. Landslides affected the operation of the line in the early months. The original opening was delayed from January to April because of landslides and on 2nd April a further landslide affected several hundred metres of track and destroyed power lines.

The line ceased operations in 1931.
The available imagery from the time of the tramway is limited in extent and is supplemented by images from later dates.
  by rogerfarnworth
New territory for me. The now removed TAM tramway from Pont de Gueydan to Guillaumes up Les Gorges de Daluis .....

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The line from Le Pont de Gueydan north to Guillaumes followed the valley of the River Var and ran through the Gorges de Daluis.

Marc Andre Dubout, writing in French, says that the line was probably the moist daring of secondary line construction work with very steep gradients, numerous tunnels, two remarkable bridges. He comments that it is the most impressive tramway from a tourist perspective with 'unique viewpoints and singular landscapes'.
One of the bridges on this route has the distinction of being one of the earliest reinforced concrete arch structures in France.
  by rogerfarnworth
Currently I am reading a book written in French about the tramways of Nice and the Cote d'Azur written by Jose Banuado. Sadly the book is only available in French. I have to use an internet based translation package to understand the book as my French is very limited.

This post is based on Jose Banuado's book and covers the period of the First World War.

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  by rogerfarnworth
It was not long before the tramways around Nice began an inexorable decline. The early 1930s saw the loss of many of the tram routes outside the city of Nice. Buses were the new thing as far as public transport was concerned. The car became gradually more important.

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  by rogerfarnworth
Further decline in the urban tramway network in Nice occurred from the late 1920s into the 1930s. Buses became politically more acceptable than the trams. ... This post continues my reflections based on a translation of the work of Jose Banaudo from French into English. ...

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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 understanding of progress. Other firms of transport, to a greater or lesser extent, took a secondary place. Independence, rather than interdependence, came to dominate political thinking. 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.
  by rogerfarnworth
I have been explorong the history of the Metre-gauge Tramways in Nice through reading a french-language book about their history. To do so, I have had to use translation software as my French has not improved beyond O-level standard!

This is the next post in the series: .....

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