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Thread: French Metre-Gauge Railways

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    After a detour up the tramway to Guillaumes we continue on our way towards Digne and travel as far as Annot.


    https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com...de-provence-70


    The first two significant structures on this section of the line are a bridge which carries the N202 over the railway and then the Tunnel de Saint Benoit which is also known as the Tunnel du Pont de la Reine Jeanne and is curved in plan and 110 metres long. This tunnel's north-east portal is a matter of metres from the road bridge.



    The line has left the River Var behind and now wends its way along a number of different watercourses.

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    Our journey along the Nice to Digne line recommences at Annot. We are halfway between Nice and Digne. My memory of travelling on the line is that Annot was touted as being an excellent destination when travelling from Nice, to allow access to mountain walking. A little research shows that to be the case. The map below is a copy of the hiking route map which includes an extensive range of walks. The ".pdf" from which it is taken can be accessed by following the link in the references at the bottom of this post. [1] The train we travelled on through Annot to Digne in 2001 was full of hikers who left the train at Annot.



    https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com...de-provence-71


    We are close to the highest point on the route by the time we complete this section of the journey. Soon, after a long tunnel we will be on a downward ruling grade.

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    This is an aside from the string of posts about the Nice to Digne Line. The valley of the River Var has been prone to flooding over many years. A friend mentioned landslips which occurred at Annot in 1994 and 1996 as a result of heavy rains. The 1994 incident was part of a much wider catastrophic event affecting the whole River Var catchment area. The link below provides some details of the 1994 floods:


    https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com...de-provence-72


    On 5th November 1994 an extreme flood event caused the lowest and the second-lowest dams on the Var to collapse. The flood wave inundated parts of Nice, including Nice’s international airport which is situated near the river mouth. It was out of service for several days. The airport lost the business of 50,000 passengers, with damages running up to an estimated 4.5 to 6 million euro. Elsewhere roads like the RN202 were cut, power and telephone lines were interrupted, and three people died and four disappeared. This estimate of lives lost is low compared with some, for instance HydroEurope say that 70 people were estimated to be killed, with large scale infrastructure damage and economical losses from the closure of the airport. The economic damage is estimated at 550 – 800 million Euros. Of the three most recent flood events the flows of 1994 were an order of magnitude higher than the others - 1994 (3680 m3/s), 2011 (1330 m3/s), 2016 (1280 m3/s).



    The volumes of water involved in the 1994 floods were unbelieveable!

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


    https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com...de-provence-73


    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.


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    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!


    https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com...de-provence-74

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    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.


    https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com...de-provence-75


    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.

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    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.


    https://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/08/1...de-provence-76


    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.

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    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...de-provence-77


    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). The diorama is 602 x 400 x 250 mm in size and costs 875 euros.

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  10. #49
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    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...de-provence-78




    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.cent...teron-manosque.


    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?


  11. #50
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    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.


    http://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/08/28...de-provence-80

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