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Author Topic: Macron announces big investment in French railways  (Read 5746 times)
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« Reply #15 on: September 25, 2021, 04:13:22 pm »

More good news - Association Chemins de fer de Center-Bretagne (CFCB) have concluded an operating and circulation agreement with SNCF (Societe Nationale des Chemins de fer Francais - French National Railways) Reseau to run tourist trains from Pontivy southwards to Lambel Camors from next summer. These will initially run on Wednesdays and Sundays, which are the 2 days per week that no freight paths are scheduled.

If this is successful, then a joint passenger/freight operating agreement will be sought to expand the number of operating days, and extend towards the junction with the main line at Auray, which is served by TGVs (Train a Grande Vitesse) to Rennes and Paris, and local trains to Quimper, Lorient and Vannes. The ultimate aim is to have a 7 days a week "national rail" SNCF service from Pontivy-Auray providing all of the above connections, coexisting with freight trains, and with tourist trains that would continue to run in the summer months.

Could something similar work in the UK (United Kingdom)? Now, there's an idea...

The big day has arrived - Today Pontivy Interchange has opened, and the first tourist train has run:

I visited Pontivy Interchange last Wednesday (22 September 2021) and travelled on the tourist train. Report and pictures can be found here.

The summer operating season is now over, and the tourist trains have been more successful than anyone dare hoped, selling out every single service since the beginning of August. They are now taking a short break before resuming Winter/Santa specials in November, which I am sure will prove just as popular.

Although you obviously cant read everything into the performance of tourist trains, one cannot help but be encouraged as we continue to prepare for eventual full "national rail" reopening between Pontivy-Auray, for which - as I have mentioned on the forum before - the ball is now very much in our court:

Whilst in the UK, the idea of mixing national rail and heritage operations is viewed as radical and controversial, over here in Brittany it is far more commonplace. The Guingamp-Paimpol line has a national rail service during the winter months, and this is mixed with a steam service timetable over part of the route between Pontrieux-Paimpol during the summer months.

Similarly, once the final phase of the Pontivy Reopening Project is complete, there will be a national rail service between Auray-Pontivy during the winter months, mixed with a heritage tourist train operation during the summer months.

What we are waiting for with Pontivy is the completion of the development, construction and deployment of our own battery trains, which will also provide additional services on non-electrified routes such as Guingamp-Carhaix, Guingamp-Paimpol and Saint Brieuc-Dinan-Dol. These additional services cant be provided at present because a) we dont have sufficient spare DMU (Diesel Multiple Unit) rolling stock and b) even if we did, our budget wouldnt stretch to the level of subsidy that, at least initially, would be required to operate those additional services with them.

Our experts tell us that once operational, our battery trains operating costs would be low enough to break even with just a handful of passengers on board per service, and as broadgage suggests for the WSR, we see them as the way forward for such services to be both economically and environmentally viable into the future.

I had my work hat very much on throughout my visit, and gained a lot of very useful insights. I will in the next few days post in "How Stuff Works" an overview of how our reopening business cases are progressing, and the processes we are going through.

I have been watching The Damned United, which is a lesson relevant for today.
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