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» RAILforum » Passenger Trains » Light Rail and Transit » Trams and Tramways in Provence

   
Author Topic: Trams and Tramways in Provence
Roger Farnworth
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There was an extensive network of Tramways in Southern France. Many of these have now disappeared. They were present in most French Departementes. This topic will illustrate what was constricted an operational in the early 20th Century in Provence, France.

Nice and the Cote d'Azur had an extensive network of urban and rural tramways all of which have disappeared. There has been a renaissance in attitudes to the trams in recent years and I thought it might be good to provide some details of the new trams in Nice before providing some of the stories of the older tram networks.

These first two links are to information about the new trams in Nice ........

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/13/a-first-tramway-for-nice-since-1953-and-the-closure-of-the-cote-dazurs-vast-tram-network

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/14/2342

And one post from the past - this post collates a number of old postcard images of the historic tramways when they were in action across the Cote d'Azur.

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/23/various-railway-and-tramway-postcards-from-around-nice-2-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-16

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Roger Farnworth
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My wife and I spend two weeks each year in November in Nice or nearby. When we were travelling between Sospel and Menton a few years back we notice two viaducts which were no longer in use. The most dramatic of the pair was the Viaduc du Caramel which was a curved structure extending out from the hillside. Investigating this route drew my attention to the number of tramways in and around Nice and the local practice of creating tramways which reach back into the hinterland behind the coast.

Since then, in our many trips to Nice and Les Alpes Maritimes, my wife and I have seen a significant amount of engineering works, bridges, viaducts and tunnels, all on lines which were neither part of the PLM network of standard gauge railways, nor part of the general metre-gauge network of secondary lines. It turns out that there were a significant number of lines operated by two main tramway companies in Provence, Tramways de les Alpes Maritime (TAM) and tramways de Nice et du Littoral (TNL).

These tramways ran on metre-gauge tracks but had a loading gauge not much wider than the track-gauge. In many places they ran alongside roads or within the highway itself, but often they deviated away from the highway on their own formation.

The one which first drew our attention was the tramway between Sospel to Menton which was operated by the TNL. This is the story of that line:

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/the-sospel-to-menton-tramway-revisited-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-51

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Roger Farnworth
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There were two different significant tram networks in the Nice area. The TAM network (Tramways of the Alpes-Maritimes) was part of the Railway of the South of France (Chemin de Fer du Sud de la France) . The other network was the Tramway Company of Nice and Littoral (TNL). This post covers the history of the entire TNL network. Other posts will cover specific lines on the TAM and TNL networks.

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/03/15/the-network-of-the-tramways-of-nice-and-the-littoral-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-53.

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Roger Farnworth
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The tram from Vence to Cagnes-sur-Mer was part of the TAM network.

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/25/tramway-between-vence-and-cagne-sur-mer-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-17

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Roger Farnworth
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Grasse was at one stage full of different rail transport. Two tramways, one from Cagnes-sur-Mer and one from Cannes approached the town from the south. A PLM branchline also linked Grasse to Cannes. There was a funicular railway linking the PLM (SNCF) railway station to the town centre, and there was the Chemins de Fer du Sud de la France Central Var line crossing the town on its way between Nice and Meyrargues.

This next post covers the first part of a story of the TAM tramway between Cagnes-sur-Mer and Grasse:

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/28/the-tramway-between-grasse-and-cagnes-sur-mer-part-1-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-20

And this is the second half of the story of the TAM tramway between Grasse and Cagnes-sur-Mer:

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/the-tramway-between-grasse-and-cagnes-sur-mer-part-2-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-21

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Roger Farnworth
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There was one other tramway that served Grasse. It ran from Grasse to Cannes. It was a private concern and was not run by either the TAM or the TNL. Here is its story:

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/11/29/tramway-between-grasse-and-cannes-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-22

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Roger Farnworth
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The TNL built a line from Nice to Levens, it extended the urban line that went from Nice to Saint-André-de-la-Roche.

This is the first of two posts that focus on the line and covers the length from Nice to Tourrette-Levens.

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/03/20/the-nice-to-levens-tramway-part-1-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-54

The next post below covers the TNL tramway line from Tourette-Levens to Levens. As part of the blog, I have used what railway modellers sometimes call 'modeller's license' ... the freedom to use our imagination.

The first half of the blog post follows the tramway that might have been built via Aspremont and Saint-Blaise to Levens. It was certainly planned.

The second half of the blog focuses on the route that was built along the M19.

I hope you like it!

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/03/27/the-nice-to-levens-tramway-part-2-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-56

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Roger Farnworth
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I have already posted this elsewhere, but for the sake of completeness, this post was written when thinking about the coastal line leaving Toulon for Saint-Raphael.

It relevance here is that it focusses on the tramway system in Toulon. A further post about Toulon will be required at some stage to complete the story of the whole network.

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2017/12/23/ligne-du-littoral-toulon-to-st-raphael-part-3-trams-in-toulon-and-hyeres-chemin-de-fer-de-provence-38

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Roger Farnworth
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As part of my birthday present in 2018 my wife has given me two books written in French about the Trams of Nice. I am enjoying working out what the books say! This post relates to the relatively unusual practice of regular transport of goods on a tram network, which was common practice in Nice.

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/05/29/goods-services-on-the-network-of-the-tramways-of-nice-and-the-littoral-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-60

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Roger Farnworth
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Reading a book written in French by Jose Banuado, I have discovered more about the Sospel to Menton tramway.

quote:
The Menton-Sospel line is the only one in the TNL network to have seen steam locomotives.
https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/06/08/the-menton-to-sospel-tramway-revisited-again-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-61

This post builds on previous ones, particularly ...

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/02/23/the-sospel-to-menton-tramway-revisited-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-51

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

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/07/06/the-network-of-the-tramways-of-nice-and-the-littoral-tnl-at-its-height-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-62

quote:

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.


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Roger Farnworth
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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.

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/07/10/tam-tramway-from-plan-du-var-to-st-martin-vesubie-revisited-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-64

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Roger Farnworth
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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.

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/07/16/tam-tramway-in-the-valley-of-the-river-esteron-revisited-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-66

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Roger Farnworth
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Another of the branch tramways left the Nice to Digne line close to La Mescla Station and travelled up the valley of La Tinee.

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/07/18/tam-tramway-from-la-mescla-to-saint-sauveur-sur-tinee-revisited-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-67

quote:


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

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2013/12/19/chemins-de-fer-de-provence-8-tramway-in-the-tinee-valley.

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.
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Roger Farnworth
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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/tnl-tramways-during-the-first-world-war-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-80

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Roger Farnworth
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This next post reflects on the conditions on the tramway network in Nice in the years after the war:

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2018/12/28/tnl-tramways-recovery-after-the-first-world-war-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-83

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Roger Farnworth
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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.

http://rogerfarnworth.com/2019/04/09/the-tnl-tram-network-the-beginning-of-the-decline-1927-1934-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-84

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Roger Farnworth
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New territory for me. The now removed TAM tramway from Pont de Gueydan to Guillaumes up Les Gorges de Daluis .....

https://rogerfarnworth.wordpress.com/2018/07/25/tam-tramway-from-le-pont-de-gueydan-to-guillaumes-chemins-de-fer-de-provence-69

quote:

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.
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