Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur 2012 1/2 (50 p.) is a free online Railroad Discussion Forum and Railroad Photo Gallery for railroaders, railfans, model railroaders and anyone else who is interested in railroads. We cover a wide variety of topics, including freight trains, passenger and commuter railroads, rail news and information, tourist railroads, railway museums and railroad history.


Proud Earthling

As already reported I travelled through Southern Europe this summer, the video can be found here:

Summer holiday diesel tours July - August 2012

In early July I visited Croatia for the first time that year, my "home" platform in Zagreb was bustling with GMs as several ICN DMUs had been replaced by locos and coaches.

IC "Zagreb" not operating anymore this year always provided me with a free afternoon in the Zagreb area before moving on, usually spent on the line to Varazdin.

I returned from Zapresic in the evening for the night train to Split.

In the morning arriving commuters cross the tracks of EuroCities to Vienna and Frankfurt at Zagreb main station.

A quite delayed express from Sarajevo shunting.

With an early GM-start at Perkovic usually a good day began on the line to Split. According to recent sightings the situation does not look that good. Since class 2062 had been assigned strictly to HZ freight traffic and class 2044 to passenger traffic many trains have been cancelled. Less powerful class 2044 locos often break down on the mountainous route, and the passenger section management prefers to replace trains by busses rather than borrowing class 2062s from the freight department.

"Adria" express Budapest - Split - Budapest will run again this year, spotted here at Kastel Stari.

The novelty in summer 2012 was an RZD through coach from Moscow.

In August I visited Split for a second time and chose an alternative mode of transport to leave: for the first time I used the quite convenient airport. You can reach it by Split - Trogir citybusses, only local traffic ticket prices to pay. By chance you can view the mountainside line from the waiting hall, I could not resist to take a shot with plane and ICN.

Easyjet flew me to Milan on August 9 2012, where I stayed at a hotel close to the central station.

However, next morning I was about to depart from Porta Garibaldi station, I already visited it the evening before.

Resulting in a short series I have called "Garibaldi's legacy":



This TGV rake was about the get me to France the next day.

Object of desire was of course the new "Ferrari on rails" AGV train - NTV "Italo".



The female conductors at some doors of the highspeed train somehow reminded me of China...


One of still plentiful Peter Witt trams in operation, seen on my way back to the hotel.

Some benches at Porta Garibaldi had been occupied by homeless people over night, contrasted by "Italo" class distinctions - "Smart", "Club", "Prima" would be the third one...

Going from Milan to Briancon August 10 2012 I took a break at Clelles-Mens between two southbound trains. During this time a DMU from Grenoble arrived and reversed here, seen on the viaduct leading into a tunnel ending at the station. Above the scene mighty Mont Aiguille sat enthroned. The spot was situated in a quarry where I was not sure whether it still was in operation, so I only stayed for a short period.

On French branch lines old and new often clash, at Clelles-Mens in front of an amazing backdrop. A quieter pace of life was shown by the fact that the signal box was also used as barbecue storage.

My next train brought me directly to Briancon, past the semaphore starter signal under Mont Aiguille rock cascades.

After a TGV ride Milan to Chambéry, bus replacement service to Grenoble and several hours in partly very full DMUs, I reached Briancon terminal before the departure of the night train to Paris Austerlitz. Some stress was added as the chip on my credit card had been locked due to the desastrous design of SNCF ticketing machines. So, my negative experience with SNCF ticket purchase continued during this holiday. Only SNCF customer service was helpful afterwards, transferring the funds for e-tickets I could not collect immediately back onto my account.

Now to the positive aspects: At the Alpine terminal you could imagine you still were in the 1980s. Luggage carts were standing around, the ambience was fitting, locos, too. The mountain peaks above the roofs of the town still were lit by the last sunrays of the day. The train departed at 8:30 p.m..

Early morning on August 11 2012 I left Briancon returning on the same line to meet the night train. Lights and reflections inside the DMU invited some impressions.

Arrived at Embrun, at the northern end of large Serre-Poncon reservoir.

It was the only chance here to catch the overnight express Paris - Briancon relatively in sunshine - On Saturday the train conveyed auto transport cars as well.

We are leaving standard gauge at the medieval town of Sisteron, in summer extremely busy with constant traffic jam.

No montage, but reality: at Digne-les-Bains station you can actually find a Chemins de Fer de Provence-toilet and a SNCF-toilet next to each other... Even if the station is not served by SNCF trains anymore since 1989, regional bus operators have taken over the connections to the nearest mainline.
As passenger changing over here, I chose CP. ;-)

Sleepy and nowadays disused main platform of the station, currently just terminal for Chemins de Fer de Provence metre gauge railway to Nice.

At the mountain village of Le Fugeret I moved into my hostel which was located inside an old inn, and subsequently took an evening walk to visit the local attraction: the narrow gauge line descends down the mountainside in two loops and can be seen on three levels, the lowest featuring the station. A single railcar came by as last train from Digne.

On the way home I captured the last train in the opposite direction, Nice - Digne, a new class AMP 800 DMU with antique contrast next to it.

On Sunday morning, August 12 2012, I managed to sleep a little longer as the first train would only come by at 8:23 a.m.. Once more it was the single railcar returning to Digne, I took the photo with church and adjacent graveyard in view.

Now I had to move on, a two-part older DMU rake picked me up from the quite overgrown station, you can spot it again on the third level.

Elephants, that's how these constructs across the railway are called (the "trunk" can be seen to the right behind tinted glass), being passed here at un-narrowgaugelike 80 kph. Inside an older DMU, which features AC as well, on the way to Puget-Théniers. The driver's seat is located right inside the passenger cabin.

Arrived at the rustic (as most) station of Puget-Théniers, one of the main reasons for my trip would await me here...

A small narrow gauge steamer rolled towards us...

Small? Not at all!
It was former Portuguese 2-4-6 monster-Mallet (for metre gauge standards) E 211 (Henschel #19874 / built 1923), which had arrived at France in 1986 and was only recently returned to service after a long absence. "CP" could stay the same for Chemins de Fer de Provence.


Departure of big Henschel-Mallet E 211 for the first of two short commutes to Villars-sur-Var. The specials still were full to the brim, a crowded double class AMP 800 had arrived from Nice shortly before.

After a brief snack break the train returned uphill along Var river.

Panoramic view at the the nice mountain town in Var river valley, issuing into the sea between Nice and Cannes. You almost might have thought time had stopped here, if it were not for the modern bridge which still fits into the ensemble nicely.

And a last picture of the runpast looking up Var river.

After arrival E 211 soon disappeared into the shed for a lunch break.

Rest for the nostalgic rake.

Not that you think I was alone using the trains - it always depended on direction and time of day. Early trains from Nice and back later in the afternoon were packed. I only went for a short bit to the other terminal of the steam special, Villars-sur-Var.

Arrived at Villars station I discovered a small path down to the river, there you had to wade through a side arm featuing a quite strong current, so I only took my photo bag above my head to the island. The DMU pair from this morning returned to Digne, some canoeists also came down the river.

I had found a spot looking down a wall from the road, but it seemed too dangerous with only a few inches for me next to the traffic lanes. So, I rather took this view through a garden into the valley. The train arrived too early and very quietly, so I only just caught it.

At least the proper Front is advertised here...

We will continue in part 2 with the following shunting orgy... is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to - An online railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used railroad books. Railroad pictorials, railroad history, steam locomotives, passenger trains, modern railroading. Hundreds of titles available, most at discount prices! We also have a video and children's book section. - An online model railroad bookstore featuring a curated selection of new and used books. Layout design, track plans, scenery and structure building, wiring, DCC, Tinplate, Toy Trains, Price Guides and more.

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