PART 1 -
from the Evolution of Modern Traction Seminar on 5th November 2005
This paper looks at historical experience of transport in Nice and surrounding regions, how and why it has developed, then looks beyond the present into the future. A better view of current proposals for new transport networks can be reached with an understanding of experience; both of regional demography, and of proved technology. Such experience ('world 3' in terminology of Popper and Checkland) combined with conceptual thinking helps us define new ways of moving about. Hence Part 1 is devoted to setting the demographic scene (a 'rich picture'), and studies rail transport in SE france and the Tramways Alpes-
This paper is the author's personal opinion and does not necessarily represent the policy of his company or its clients.
1. Introduction to Part 1-
There are many proposals for adoption of the 'Tram-
In 1860 the departement of Alpes-
2. Historical Background
Soon after the creation of the departement, the administration of Ponts et Chausses began building many roads and bridges along the valleys.
The Sud de France (SF) railway (now CP)
The section to Puget Theniers opened in 1892, it very closely follows the trace of the road (N202) between Lingostiere (7,78km) and Puget Theniers (58,35km). It quickly became very well used to La Vsubie (Plan du Var), where most passengers transferred to horse buses serving local valleys. In xxxx the SF was restructured and became the Chemins de fer de Provence (CP). Following the destruction of the viaduc du Loup on 24 August 1944, the route to Grasse and Meyrargues became unsustainable and closed completely on 2 January 1950.
Today, the Nice-
The TAM network from 1895-
In December 1895 a branch line from La Vsubie to St Martin was proposed using electric traction. In January 1906 the SF was granted a concession to build and operate 7 lines, 4 radiating off the SF main line to Puget Theniers, and 3 off the SF line to Grasse. The decree of Public Utility allowing work to proceed on the 145,342km network was signed on 10 February 1906. The first line, to St Martin, opened on 15 September 1909, the other lines opening during the next 4 years.
All routes were electrified at 6,6kV 25Hz. The four lines of the 'montagne' group, totalled 108,5km, (plus 9,7km over the SF over which the trams ran). Motor trams were on 2 axle Brill trucks, controlled by contactors and a 4-
The choice of 6,6kV 25Hz was made because of the length of these lines and the distance from the points of supply. In the case of the Pont de Gueydan -
Gradients and curves were severe, up to 72mm/m and down to 30metres radius. Civil engineering was impressive, with numerous tunnels. Majestic viaducts used the then modern reinforced concrete, most of which remain today.
The Pont de Gueydan -
The 26,5km La Tinee to St.Sauveur line rises from 171m to 493m. Originally the connection with the SF was a simple halt 100m from the junction. Due to the danger of falling rocks and very limited space, the trams were extended to run over the SF to La Tinee station 2,7km further south. Many of the overhead fittings and insulators are visible to this day in the tunnel du Mescla. A 60m span bridge immediately after the SF junction carried trams across the Var.
The Plan du Var -
The ligne de lEsteron from Pont Charles Albert to Roqusteron was almost entirely in or alongside the road. It was electrically connected to the lines to St Martin and St.Sauveur over the SF to permit exchange of vehicles for maintenance.
Desertification of the population in these rural areas was significant (around 30% during this period), coupled with new motor transport the deficits grew and closures took place in less than 24 years of life.
The Coastal Routes (TNL)
Tramways of the TNL and their predecessors operated in Nice and along the coast from 3 March 1878 until 10 January 1953. A particularly narrow body profile (198cm) was originally imposed to prevent the PLM carrying goods through the streets.
Two companies, Tramways Cote dAzur, and Tramways de Cannes, operated lines from Cannes to Grasse and from Mandelieu to Antibes. The TCA often described itself as Cote dAzur Electrique.
The Marcel Cavaille decree of 14 January 1974
A decree of 11 November 1917 made a distinction between:
Since that date legislation affecting local railways and tramways has remained generally static until the 14 January 1974 decree by Transport Minister Mr Marcel Cavaille. This decreed that tramways should improve and be used to renew transport in urban areas and cities. Two months later the Minister invited the Mayors of Bordeaux, Grenoble, Nancy, Nice, Rouen, Strasbourg, Toulon and Toulouse to begin studies on the part new tramways could play in the improvement of public transport and the environment in their cities. In August 1975 the Union des Transport Public Urbain et Regionaux was formed to study tramway technology from around the world and was instructed to develop a Materiel Tramway Standardise Francaise. (Only one of these does not yet have some kind of tramway, Toulouse. Nancy has a sort of tramway but its trams can be driven like a bus). Nice has a limited urban service on the CP (former SdF) that functions like a tramway.
Effects of Legislation on the Implementation of Tramways in France
Responses to the Ministers invitation included recommendations for 6 types of tram based on the German VOV Stadtbahn M6/M8 design. The UTPUR then called for detailed designs to be submitted by midday 28 November 1975. 9 designs were submitted, 3 of which were rejected, these were:
Six others received further consideration, these were:
Submittals 7, 8 and 9 were selected for further development undertaken by Alsthom and MTE Francorail. Dr Philippe Neerman of the BN Matra group was retained to develop the vehicle body designs.
Submittals 4 and 5 were not selected for further study because they did not fully comply with the Standards, and submittal 6 was rejected because of non-
Transport Alpes Maritime
In 1990 the departement Alpes-
3. Transport in Nice and the 'small bus' network
Comparison with other urban transport systems of similar size highlights one particular difference which makes public transport in Nice unique in France. It is suggested this is a result of the physical geography of the area. Analysis of the SUNBus routes, their length, distribution and average passenger loadings shows that Nice and its urban environs has a very extensive penetration of many bus routes into populated areas. Correspondingly, the average loadings of some routes is much lower than in other cities of similar size. The lightly loaded routes are those that provide a service to the collines, because of these the routes are constrained to the valleys and the sides of the hills. In many cases it is impractical for some residents to access routes close to them but which may be on the opposite side of an adjacent hill.
The SUNBus network has therefore evolved with a relatively large fleet of small buses which are able to negotiate narrow roads, steep gradients and tight corners.
Larger buses would be neither fully loaded nor practical. An example is route 60 between Ferber and Magnan, both these termini are on one of the proposed Est-
Introduction of the two proposed tramway routes (E-
4. Nice Tramway Politics 1974-
Current and Future Developments
Awareness of increasing congestion and pollution, whilst economic prosperity depends on mobility has in the last 10-
Other cities have demonstrated how tramways provide an attractive and effective alternative method of transport. Successful examples of new tramways are seen in Grenoble, Lausanne, Manchester, Nantes, Saarbrucken-
An example of an existing tramway which has been modernised and extended and which has proved to be exceptionally successful is the Karlsruhe/Altalbahn network. A main feature of this network is the through running of services between the main line and local railways and the urban tram routes.
New Tramways for Nice
The following three main objectives might be achieved:
The new tramway consists of two principal routes, one a North-
The route of the new tramway between Place de Gaulle and Bd Auguste Reynaud has been subject to intense discussion, called locally the question diagonale, and reported in Nice Matin 2000-
Jean Nano Icart and the former dput-
The movement termed La dfense du patrimoine Belle Epoque, successfully obtained a revised POS for the route of the tramway between the two roads with much less destruction.
Gare du Sud: Hotel de Ville, Le Maire de Nice & Ministere de Cultur
Jaques Peyrat, the Mayor of Nice and Senator in the National Assembly, has for a long time campaigned for the reconstruction of the Gare du Sud site for the new hotel de ville. The existing offices are undistinguished buildings on a cramped site in Old Nice. Under the former minister of culture, Catherine Trautmann, Mayor of Strasbourg, the ministry classified the station structure as an historical monument. There was uncertainty as to what parts were subject to the order. The next minister, Catherine Tasca, clarified this somewhat by implying that the order applied to the entire structure. This did not please M. Peyrat who is not socialist, but a staunch supporter of the former RPR. When Jacques Chirac became president of the Republic with 17% support, the next minister of culture obligingly told M. Peyrat that the municipality could clear the entire site providing the frontage was reconstructed at another location.
Later, a suggestion appeared in the form of a question in Nice Matin on Thursday 14 novembre 2002 asking if the building was to be reconstructed on the future gare multi-
A Statement of Intent to Operate the new network?
Seen in the SUNbus station in May 2002 was a former TAM bus (operated by Transport Regie Alpes Maritime) sporting the appelation on its LCD destination indicator: TRAM. This was shortly after the public consultation exercise for the new tramway had started. A few buses also sported the Connex logo.
5. The Chemins de fer de Provence (C.P.)
Formerly the Chemin de fer de Sud du France (SF), it consisted of two main lines terminating at Nice, and a physically separate coastal route running eastwards out of Toulon. These notes deal with the two routes to Nice; Nice to Meyrargues and Digne to Nice. These two routes merged at Colomars on the east bank of the Var.
Built partly as a result of a military strategy to protect the coast and its hinterland from naval attack, it was opened as a dual gauge (100cm and 144cm) railway between Nice and Vence. There had been a purely military tramway along the east bank of the Var before the line opened. Even those bridges on the rest of the system were designed and built to, and still are, capable of carrying both gauges.
Curiously, the tunnel de l'Hermitage near Digne has a narrow section over one tenth of its length. Legend has it that this is the result of a clause in the Treaty of Frankfurt, insisted upon by the Emporer Bismarck, that France should be prevented from allowing the easy passage of weapons and troops towards the French frontier. But it is more likely that as part of the tunnel had been built by the PLM for a metre gauge branch in 1883, when they withdrew the scheme, then the project was taken over by the SdF who envisaged dual gauge operation.
The Commissions of Four Rails and of Small Radii
On 12 February 1890 a military and technical commission was constituted to decide on the crucial question of whether the dual gauge should consist of three (assymetric) rails or four (symmetric) rails. A SdF metre gauge locomotive successfully hauled a standard gauge train at Callas on 22 February. Prsident Carnot made an official visit on 25 April 1890 to accept a decision to adopt four symmetric rails.
However, the commission d'tude des voies ferres courbes de faible rayons was instituted on 18 July 1890 to further study the question of the logistic operation of secondary and light railways. Desdouits dynamometer car tests were conducted using standard gauge Mallet locomotives of the CF d'Herault and double headed light PLM 030T locomotives with a trailing load of 125 tonnes. Performance was found to be satisfactory without the locomotive axle loads exceeding that permitted on the rails used for metre gauge trains.
On the 19 November 1891 the ministre de la Guerre accepted the three rail principle, approved by a ministerial decision on 12 May 1892. Therefore the four rail section Grasse -
This section remains as a 151km long metre gauge line operated by 6 Soule autorails each with 2 MAN 165ch engines. A double unit no 350 built by Carosserie Garnero near Nice with a single 500ch engine often provides the summer daytime return service. Digne-
This was the longer of the two SF lines from Nice, 210km247, of which the first 12km795 were common with the Digne line. At Colomars the line crossed the Var on the upper of a double deck bridge, six spans of 61m. The viaduc du Loup was built on a quarter circle with 11 arches of 20m spans. A further impressive bridge was the 4 span viaduc de la Siagne, 231m long and 72m high. At Vence and Grasse there were connections with the Cagnes-
Operations of CP by SYMA
In 1988 SYMA (responsible for financing the railway) authorised a new partnership between the operator and T.N.L. (Transports Nice Littoral formerly Tramways Nice Littoral). CGEA group continued to operate the railway but with a specific urban service commitment between Nice and Carros. This new agreement was for an initial but renewable period of 5 years. The function of SYMA is to ensure that the relevant communes in both departements (04, 06) are represented and their interests are satisfied. Following the restructuration of the Vivendi group the CGEA interests (Connex) have been transferred to Veolia Environnement.
C.P. Operations and Operating Rules (ex SdF)
Rules governing the running of trains were introduced with ministerial approval on 7 August 1888, entitled Reglement general pour les services de exploitation and are still in force today with revisions made by the C.P. in 1925 and by the C.F.T.A. in 1977. Some of the rules relating to operating conditions last century have fallen into disuse and others have been annulled by later service orders.
Current Single Line Operating Rules
Train operation (departure, crossing and stopping instructions) is regulated by a train operation record book (livret de la marche des trains) which is issued twice yearly. It defines train times at all stations, crossing points and stops. Details from the record book relating to a particular train are inserted into the train crews book (journal de train, chefs du trains), telling them where to stop and how long to stop for, and which trains to wait for to make connections and to cross. In the case of late running, unscheduled stops or special trains, additional entries are made in the Station Agents record book and in the journal de train. Where two trains have to cross their paths at a different station to the normal station, the Controller through the Station Agents make entries in the journal de train for both trains. When the controller has received confirmation that all the necessary entries have been made in the journals de train he authorises the Station Agents to despatch the trains. When there is no Controller to authorise a movement (more frequently the case some years ago), the Agent at the entry station obtains the agreement of the Agent at the exit station to block the line. The Agent at the entry station enters this in his record book and in the journal de train of the train that is waiting to depart. The Agent at the exit station enters line blocked in his record book. Neither record is valid until counter-
Where two trains travel through the section in the same direction a simple procedure of reporting the position of the first train by radio or by telephone is used to authorise the second train to proceed to that reported position. The first train cannot proceed until the Agent at the section entry station authorises the train to proceed in accordance with the procedures described above. The Agent at the exit station will not unblock the line until the second train has arrived. It is particularly important that the entry station Agents record book entry clearly states that two trains are to travel through the section and that the exit station Agents record book entry corresponds exactly before the two trains are allowed to depart. The correspondence is assured by telephone or by radio.
Crossing at Unmanned Stations
Where trains cross at unmanned stations, these are authorised by a Agent special voie unique, who can also be the Controller, and is located in the Nice control office, the train crew are provided with a long spanner to unbolt and bar over the points where the trains cross. If the two entry stations are also unmanned the train crew undertake the duties of the Station Agents, and communicate directly with the Controller/Agent special voie unique. After the trains have passed each other safely the two Chefs du Train countersign each others journal and confirm to the Controller that both counter-
Initially, communication between stations used the Breguet telegraph system. This was replaced by a Siemens telephone system in 1930. Following the plans for improvements in operations in 1977, a radio-
Alignment Standards and Design
When the CP was first built (as the Sud de France) there were no transitions between circular curves and tangent sections. From 1946 parabolic transitions of the Combier or Nordling form were introduced to reduce the effective rate of change of cant experienced by the Renault autorails. The maximum cant was 68mm until 1935 when it was increased to 106mm, and from 1947 when it was increased to 136mm. The current value is equivalent to 195mm on standard gauge.
If standard gauge cants are adopted these would permit 125km/h on curves down to 695m radius and 140km/h on curves of 870m radius. It is suggested that where the track with parabolic transitions is upgraded the realignment should be based on clothoid transitions, giving a neutral lateral force with an arithmetical rate of increase in cant gradient.
In November 1994 much of the railway was closed because of unsatisfactory maintenance and accidents. In April 1996 the railway was reopened after much work. Although there have been many technical changes to the railway in 108 years, the principles of operation introduced in 1888 are very little changed.
The plans to develop a Nice metro / tramway may cause more significant changes to the railway if one of the routes follow the CP line to Colomar and La Vesubie. One possible effect is that the line may be curtailed at le Plan du Var de La Vesubie, some 25km short of its former terminus at la Gare du Sud. There has long been agitation by several interests to extend the operation of the CP over the former PLM branch from Digne to St Auban, where it would make connexions! with the regional services operated by SNCF between Brianon and Marseilles.
6. Examples of Tramways and Light Railways East of Lyon
Cie. des Omnibus et Tramways de Lyon (OTL) -
Line 16 to La Balme les Grottes was planned by Messieurs Laurent & Peyret in 1901, being part of a scheme to construct a line of local interest between Lyon and Chambery. In 1905 the concession was transferred to the OTL for the construction of the section within the Departement of Isere. The first part to open was from Villeurbanne to Jonage in 1907 using a direct current power supply, and trams built in 1899 for the urban sections. These arrangements were temporary until 1909 when the line was extended from Jonage to Jons with power fed at 6600V 162/3Hz. It was further extended bit by bit in the central Lyon metropolitan area to Place Cordeliers in 1913, taking over the then line 3 from Villeurbanne. The voltage changeover point was at Villeurbanne from 1913 to 1914, when it was transferred to Meyzieu, as part of a plan for complete conversion to direct current.
Construction of the complete line was interrupted by the war in 1914 and was not completed until 1921.
In 1988, at the site of Amblerieu, the penultimate station on the line, a long section of original track was brought to light when the local farmer cleared undergrowth alongside the road, but within a few years that too had disappeared.
OTL Monophase Trams -
For the operation of the line, the OTL purchased 15 Paris trams from the Est Parisien and Ouest Parisien companies. A further 8 redundant trams built for the Vanves-
These trams were introduced from February 1909 onwards and operated on the long rural line 16 to La Balme and Cremieu and line 17 to Montluel. They would often be used in a train hauling one or two 2 axle trailers. Monophase operation was a temporary expedient for low cost electrification and on line 17 was short lived, being converted to dc between 1912 and 1915. Ac operation of line 16 continued until the end of passenger services in December 1937.
All these vehicles were equipped with two trolley poles for dc power in the urban sections and a Westinghouse pantograph for 6.6kVac operation on the rural ac sections. The Westinghouse direct "hand control" circuits with a 6600/600Volt auto transformer are believed to have been fitted.
OTL Type A Trams (Stock nos 249-
This series of eight trams were purchased by the OTL in November 1908 and entered service on 14 February 1909. It is assumed that these were built on ex Est Parisien trailers, and following their acquisition were stripped of mechanical parts, probably at the EP Lilas depot before being delivered to the OTL. The OTL then appears to have panelled the body framing, fitted platforms and lifeguards, and made provision for Brill MT Eureka trucks and ac electrical equipment which is believed to have been supplied by the Westinghouse company. The motors were probably 43hp Westinghouse type 307, being within the maximum capacity of 50hp for the Brill trucks.
These cars weighed 16400kg, had 9 first class seats, 15 second class seats, and carried 23 standing passengers.
OTL Type B Trams (Stock nos 257-
These 7 vehicles were similar in size to the type A cars but were of a different body style, believed to have been derived in 1910 from the Ouest Parisien Type A trams. The control gear, ac electrical equipment, trucks and motors was similar to that fitted to the OTL type A cars.
These cars weighed 17400kg, had 12 first class seats, 12 second class seats, and carried 24 standing passengers.
OTL 'Vanves' (Stock nos 264-
These cars weighed 17000kg, had 10 first class seats, 10 second class seats, and carried 22 standing passengers.
OTL Manage (type "chemin de fer") (Stock nos 2051-
In 1914 25 luxurious bi-
These 25 standard gauge cars nos 2051-
There were also 10 metre gauge cars nos 1211-
OTL Locomotive no 2156
Because line 16 was built under a joint concession in conjunction with the CF du Haut Rhone to carry through goods and mineral traffic, a locomotive was required. Although steam and diesel locomotives of the Est de Lyon were used to haul trains to Cremieu EL station, the OTL built a dual voltage locomotive principally to haul the HR and Optevoz traffic to and from yards in the Lyon urban area. This bi-
OTL Locomotives no 2151-
The OTL also possessed three "petrole-
SLM Steam Tram Locomotive
Works trains were often hauled by the SLM steam tram locomotives built in 1899 for the Neuville line (converted to metre gauge electric operation in 1932).
OTL (ex PLM) Locomotive 3-
A PLM steam loco was used for haulage of the Optevoz cement traffic between Cremieu (Est de Lyon exchange siding) and Hieres s'Amby.
OTL Rolling Stock
Trailer stock consisted of 15 passenger carriages nos 680-
Goods traffic was carried by 40 vans, 37 wagons, and 35 flat wagons, all of which had 2 axles and were of the restricted 2,1metres body width for operation over the city sections of the OTL tramway. There were five 2axle flat wagons and 7 bogie flat wagons used for the carriage of stone from the several quarries in the Rhone valley.
Chemins de fer de l'Est de Lyon (EL)
The Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Est de Lyon was formed in February 1878 with Belgian finance, based on plans originally proposed by Freres Mangini. The line to St Genix opened in 1881, and in 1913 an extension to Chambery using electric traction was planned. The conflict of 1914-
In July 1937 the OTL closed line 16 to passengers beyond Meyzieu and the ac electrification was removed. From this time the EdL took over the operation of all the goods services on the outer end of line 16 and its branch to Cremieu. Although there were direct connections between the OTL and the EdL at Lyon Brotteaux, the EdL locomotives and trains gained access to the OTL for these goods services at Cremieu EdL station. There was still some grooved tram rail on the site of the connecting line here in 1988. There are proposals to open a metro line to the airport at St Exupery (Satolas) using some of the former EdL alignment.
In July 1987 the remaining EdL section, 15km Part Dieu-
Chemin de Fer du Haut Rhone
There is very little trackwork still visible today of OTL (Lyon Tramways) line 16, the long rural high voltage tramway, and none of the connecting C.F.du Haut-
In 1901 they received a concession to build 56km of the route between Lyon and La Balme with a branch to Cremieu, this became standard gauge line 16 of the OTL and was electrified at 6,6kVac. In 1906 they obtained another concession to build and operate a further 35km of line from La Balme to Bregnier-
It was possible at the height of the service to make one through journey a day from La Balme to Bregnier-
After the war the service was increased to two services each way over most of the line with four services on some sections. In 1935 all the traffic was transferred to road, except for one train per day which ran in one direction only from Lhuis to Villebois until the winter of 1938/9.
The rolling stock consisted of 4 Buffaud & Robatel locomotives built in 1910. These were of the same design as the metre gauge locomotives of the TA except that they had inside frames to suit standard gauge. The body profile was 2,2metres wide to suit the tramway dimensions of the OTL and vehicles were fitted with central tramway type buffers and side screw couplings to match the OTL tramway stock. In 1930 another locomotive of the same design as the first 4 was delivered from Pinguely.
Passenger vehicles consisted of 4 wheel end platform saloon carriages, some with baggage compartments. The line earned more income from the carrying of building stone from quarries at Glandieu and marble at Sault-
The depot was located at Villebois, where there was also the works and a connection with the main line PLM railway.
The physical continuation of line 16 of the OTL from La Balme les Grottes to Bregnier Cordon became the 42km CF du Haut Rhone. The Laurent & Peyret concession for this section was transferred to this company in 1906, and in 1907 the decision was made to build it to standard gauge in conformity with the OTL enabling through operation of goods traffic. An inter-
Tramways in Grenoble and Isere
In 1888 the CEN received a concession to build and operate a 16km line from Place Bir-
In November 1894 and June 1895 MM Merlin and Chassery proposed three lines Grenoble-
Villard de Lans, (G.V.L.)
The PLM studied a steam rack line (950m rise) to St Nizier in 1893, but abandoned it due to cost. The departement of Isere invited concessionaires to build and operate a line without success. In 1906 they issued contracts to build the line and stock as a public work metre gauge adhesion tramway, opening in 1911 to Seyssins. It was at this time that the caf Le Tram in Av. Aristide Briande first had a tram service passing its doors (now served by TAG ligne A). By 1914 although construction was well advanced further opening was delayed until July 1920 when trams reached Villard de Lans. Less than 18 years later this last section was abandoned because of lack of traffic. On 21 August 1944 both bridges over the Drac were destroyed in American bombardments. On 8 September a temporary bridge and tram service was restored (Pont du Vercors). While this temporary service was running a new concrete bridge was built. The former SGTE terminus at Cours Berriatt was extended to the caf Le Tram along the route of the new TAG Ligne A. The concrete deck of the bridge has a stepped down recess along its north side which was to accommodate the tram rails. This formation was opened up to view during conversion of the bridge in the 80s to a tram only bridge. GVL voltage was 600V in town and 800V in country.
Voie Ferree Dauphine (V.F.D.)
In 1892 Societe Voie Ferree Economiques received a concession for a 33km light railway from Jarrie Vizille to Bourg dOisans. The company became the VFD in 1893 and opened the line during 1893-
Tramway Grenoble Chapareillan (T.G.C.)
A concession was granted in 1895 to M. Claret to build a tramway. The TGC opened to Chapareillan terminus in March 1900. In 1930 the line was taken over by the departement and was operated by the V.F.D., who also used the TGC depot at Ile Verte for its other lines. It closed in sections between 1933 and 31 October 1947. Power supply was the two wire 600V. VFD trams were able to operate to the depot using only one wire.
Concession granted 1891. Opened 1894/5. Taken over by EdL from 1922 until ceded to Isere and brought under VFD. Busstituted from 1932-
Sud de France Tramways Ouest Dauphine -
Concession to MM Rolland et Cie in 1898, opened starting in 1908. Concession transferred to SF 1903. Ceded to departement in 1919 and operated under VFD 1922. Closed pass 1927-
Chemin de fer des Economiques du Nord (CEN)
Joint between Vicinal & Baron Empain. Concession 1889 to work Vienne-
S.G.L.M.G. (St George de Commiers, La Mure, Gap)
Originally planned in 1881as a standard gauge steam railway and built as metre gauge in August 1888 to carry anthracite coal from the HBD collieries near La Mure to St George de Commiers on the PLM, it was soon electrified at the end of the 19th century. Construction took six years over difficult terrain with many tunnels, viaducts and cliff side shelfs. Fives-
In 1989 the SGLMG held a conference Tourism and the Narrow Gauge Railway during and after which ideas were developed with other tourist railways. From 1982 to 89 tourist numbers grew tenfold with train loadings being around 200. During the 1950s it was converted to a single wire + 2400V overhead. In 1929 a fleet of powerful locomotives with flexible Secheron spring drives were purchased from Secheron of Geneve.
Recent Developments on the SGLMG
Since the ending of the Houillieres Basse Dauphine traffic, a voluntary association with the assistance of the regional and departmental tourism offices has reformed the company to continue operating as a tourist railway. It has acquired A1 & A5 automotrices and trailers 22/3, 52, 62 from the Nyon-
The company also expressed an interest in the 2200Vdc trams of the Rhtische Bahn, which became redundant after conversion of the Arosa line to ac traction.
Tramways (Transport) de Agglomeration de Grenoble (TAG)
Alain Carignon, former Maire de Grenoble drove the first official tram before he went to prison. Line A opened in 1987, and line B to the Universite opened a few years later.
A third branch to the Trade Centre has also opened. Further major extensions are being built.
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