Jack May's visit to Paris

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Jack May's visit to Paris
Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 1:10 AM
fter returning from Scotland in May Clare and I discussed additional trips for the year and settled on a September-October journey to Ukraine, to pick up where we left off in 2017 when she fell in Kiev.  Another couple we know with ties to that country also was interested in traveling there during the same time frame, so that would be perfect.  In addition, I wanted to catch up on some tramway extensions in Paris, while Clare was interested in spending some time with her slightly younger sister, so we decided that such activities could take place concurrently in mid-August. 

However, fate would extend its hand, and Clare was injured again toward the end of July, when she slipped in our back yard.  It was rather painful, and after trips to the emergency room and consultations with various doctors, the consensus was that there was no permanent damage, but it would take some time to heal and to return to normal activities because of bruising.  Meanwhile, I had already made plans for my European trip, including the purchase of airplane tickets, and had arranged for a traveling companion, so it was going to be a tough decision on whether to abort or not.  But with our children nearby, especially our son and daughter-in-law just two miles away, and Clare's sister indicating she would stay at our house while I was away, Clare urged me to go ahead with our original plans, especially after she began driving again.

My traveling companion would be German traction enthusiast Karl-Heinz Roeber, with whom we previously spent time in North Africa, and who roomed with me on a German railfan group's tour of the Baltic states the previous year.  We both had similar agendas, so coming to a consensus about our itinerary was easy.  Basically the most important activities we wanted to undertake are reflected in the following:

1. Many new tramlines were introduced in Paris since our respective last visits
2. Three new international tram operations were created in the Basel and Strasbourg areas, plus there was an older international tram train from Saarbrucken to Sarreguemines.  

3. New tramway systems were opened in Luxembourg and Besancon.
4. A special festival event was going to take place at the tram museum in Thuin (near Charleroi) during the period of our trip.

In looking at a map it was clear that we could include visits to Valenciennes (a second tram line) and various other heritage/museum type diesel tramways in our itinerary, so we did just that, but that precluded the use of public transportation for the start of our clockwise circle.  As a result we decided to rent a car for the five days between Paris and Luxembourg.  Our major constraints in planning the exact itinerary was that we had to be in Thuin on Saturday, August 18 for the festival and that Karl-Heinz had to be back home for an important family event as early as possible on Saturday, August 25.  It turned out that the latter could be accomplished from Basel, so we decided to reverse the days for our visits to Besancon and the Swiss city.

In searching for auto rental possibilities we found we could avoid steep drop-off charges by returning our car to any city in France, so we initially planned to drop it in Metz after our visit to Luxembourg, and continue by rail to Saarbrucken.  But soon afterward we were surprised by a great piece of luck:  I received an email from Auto Europe, indicating that for a brief time they were offering 7 days of driving for the price of 5--for cars rented from Europacar.  That turned out to serve us very well, as it would allow us to keep the auto after Luxembourg and continue by road to Saarbrucken and Kehl, and finally drop the vehicle off in Strasbourg.  Our final itinerary is attached and here is an outline map (unfortunately Google only allows 10 locations--Strasbourg is across the Rhein from Kehl and the two diesel tram operations are pretty much on a straight line between Charleroi and Luxembourg).  
 

Luxembourg Basel France Circle – August 2018

Sun         Aug 12                  Lv  Newark                          18:22     DL20       GZ44P8
Mon       Aug 13                  Ar  Paris CDG                        7:55     B-767
Mon Aug 13 to Thu Aug 16, Stay in Paris, Hotel Le Rocroy  1687.742.114, 13 Rue De Rocroy  (6270)    
                                                                                                                        Tel:  33 1 49 707 070
Thu         Aug 16                  Lv  Paris Nord          7:48       7:54       8:00       8:06       8:12         8:18
Ar  Charles de Gaulle Airport                                8:23       8:29       8:35       8:41       8:47         8:53
Thu Aug 16 (9:00) to Thu Aug 23   Car Rental Europacar via Auto Europe                         5286333
 Seven Days for the Price of Five Promotion                1079283724
Thu         Aug 16                  Valenciennes
Fri           Aug 17                  Charleroi
Sat          Aug 18                  Thuin Vicinal Tramway Museum Asvi)
Sun         Aug 19                  Han sur Lesse (Tram des Grottes de Han)
Sun         Aug 19                  Aisne (Vicinal Tram Touristique de l’Aisne)
Mon       Aug 20                  Luxembourg
Tue         Aug 21                  Saarbrucken
Wed       Aug 22                  Strasbourg
Thu Aug 16 to Sun Aug 19               Stay in Charleroi,                Ibis Charleroi Centre Gare 1983.503.680,  Quai Paul Verlaine 12 (6552)                    Tel:  32 71 20 6060
Sun Aug 19 to Tue Aug 21               Stay in Luxembourg, Ibis Luxembourg Aeroport         1068.833.738, Route de Treves              (3678)                Tel:  35 243 8801
Tue Aug 21 to Thu Aug 23               Stay in Kehl am Rhein, Ates Hotel Kehl  1523.151.809 , (Strasbourg) Strassburger Str 18            (8988)               Tel:  49 78 5188 5650
Thu         Aug 23                  Lv  Kehl                   7:34       8:04       8:31       9:04
                                             Ar  Offenburg         7:52       8:22       8:49       9:22
                                             Lv  Offenburg         8:07       8:29       9:07       9:35
Ar  Freiberg            8:55       8:59       9:55     10:05
Lv  Freiberg 16:45, Ar  Mulhouse 17:30, Lv  Mulhouse 17:42,  Ar  Besancon-TGV  18:27, Lv  Besancon-TGV  18:49    Ar  Besancon-Viotte  19:04            
Thu Aug 23 to Fri Aug 24  Stay in Besancon, Ibis Besancon Centre Ville   1517.461.906,
21 Rue Gambetta  (3819)                    Tel:  33 381 810 202
Fri           Aug 24                  Lv  Besancon-Viotte           13:05     17:01    
                                             Ar  Besancon-TGV              13:18
                                             Lv  Besancon-TGV              13:31
                                             Ar  Mulhouse                      14:17     18:00
                                             Lv  Mulhouse                      14:46     18:16
                                             Ar  St-Louis                         15:00     18:30
Fri Aug 24 to Sat Aug 25   Stay in St-Louis,   Berlioz Basel Airport  1342.157.673, Rue Henner  (8063)       Tel:  33 389 697 444
Sat          Aug 25              Lv  St-Louis      16:39     SNCF,     Ar  Dijon  18:56    
Sat Aug 25 to Mon Aug 27  Stay in Dijon,  Kyriad Dijon Centre  1191.619.211. 24 Avenue Foch    (2699)   
                                                                                        Tel:  33 380 435 378
Mon Aug 27   Lv  Dijon   7:04     SNCF TGV 5152   RZNJAB  Ar  Roissy CDG 9:02   Coach 018 Seat 068
Mon Aug 27  Lv  Paris CDG       13:45     DL21   GZ44P8,  Ar  Newark  16:21               B-767
 


Once the auto was arranged and route settled we made hotel reservations and were pretty much ready for the trip.  Although the narrative will cover it in detail, it is fair to say that our experiences with the car (I drove and Karl-Heinz navigated) were pretty much without incident, although we got lost briefly a few times and had to contend with being in the path of a bicycle race on one occasion.

The weather for our journey turned out to be a mixture of clouds and sun, with temperatures ranging from hot and humid to cool enough for sweaters and jackets, but fortunately we encountered only a modicum of precipitation and it was light. 

Sunday, August 12 to Monday, August 13


I've had a great deal of luck traveling on Norwegian Airlines in the past few years and was pleased they had begun operating between Newark and Paris, so I thought I would be able to take advantage of their low fares.  But as I checked flight timetables and prices, it turned out Delta was matching the budget carrier's price and was offering more free amenities and better schedules in both directions, so I purchased my ticket from the legacy carrier (which also allowed me to increase my Skymiles balance).  We left home at 16:20 and Clare dropped me at Newark's Terminal B at 16:52; before 17:30 I had completed by navigation of Security.  Delta's lowest cost alternative called for my seat assignment to be provided at the gate, and it turned out to be 27D, in the center of the center section of a row (2-3-2 configuration), probably the worst possible location to get in a full Boeing 767.  And on top of that the lady in seat 27C was l-a-r-g-e.  But I knew that scenario had been a possibility and I really didn't mind--it was only to be for 7
½ hours.  The aircraft pushed away from the gate at 18:43 (27), but it wasn't until 19:21 that we left the ground.  Unfortunately, the complimentary dinner contained probably the blandest food I've ever eaten:  chicken, carrots, broccoli and a roast potato in a tasteless sauce.  The highlight of the meal was the roll and butter.

On the other hand, the flight was quiet and smooth, and the entertainment was good.  I saw the movie, The Post, which I enjoyed very much, and then listened an album by Charlie Byrd, followed by all 4 Brahms symphonies.  Soon enough we were over the English Channel, hitting the continent (not physically) just north of Brest.  We then proceeded south of Caen to Charles De Gaulle Airport, landing in overcast weather at 7:57 and making it to the gate at 8:03 (7:55), only 8 minutes late.  The non-EU passport line moved slowly, and it took from 8:17 to 8:52 for me to officially enter France.  Then I had to get on another line to buy my Navigo pass for public transportation in the Paris area.  Most tourists who want to get around Paris by public transportation buy Paris Visite tickets, which range in price from one day, three zones at 12 Euros to five days, all five zones at 65.80 Euros.*  With my transportation needs to include a round trip from CDG Airport (we would be picking up the car there on Thursday) and wanting the greatest flexibility to to ride all the tram lines, some of which reach into zone 4, I'd be stuck with the highest rate, which would cost over $70.00.  But Paris also offers Navigo weekly and monthly passes, which are aimed at regular riders and cover all zones.  The weekly version, which runs from Monday through Sunday, would be perfect for those like me arriving on a Monday, because its cost is only 22.80 Euros.  There was a slight hitch however, as users have to present a passport-like photo and pay 5 Euros for a Smart Card.  Thus I took a selfie and printed it out 
before leaving the U. S., and when I purchased the pass at the airport, encountered no problem other than having to wait in a long line.  Presumably, now possessing the Smart Card, I can purchase my next Navigo without the 5 Euro fee.

* A one day two zone Mobilis ticket costs only 7.50 Euros.

By 9:30 I had accomplished all my housekeeping (including acquiring up-to-date maps and finding out exactly where the Europacar office in the airport was located) and I reached the platform for RER route B trains in time for the 9:38.  It was an express, and reached Paris Nord at 10:13 (10:08), where I detrained and made my way to our hotel.  We chose the Rocroy, only a few blocks from the railroad terminal and its transit interchange, as the price was right and it had very good reviews.  As it turned out we were not disappointed, our twin room was clean and comfortable, and the breakfasts were excellent.  And upon my morning arrival the desk clerk indicated that the room was ready for occupancy.  We were staying in 3-star hotels for the entire trip (as opposed to 4- and 5-star ones), and were quite satisfied, as the reviews from Booking.com and TripAdvisor were accurate.  I generally look for two things in the user commentary when I choose hotels in addition to the location: references to cleanliness and breakfast quality.  Like so many (but not all) railfans I occasionally travel with, we prefer having large breakfasts, which allows us to skip lunch (except for maybe an ice cream cone), and then settling down for a good dinner once shadows get too long.  But, even when traveling with Clare, my main frustration is to end up in an accommodation where there is room to store only one piece of luggage at waist height.  Most rooms come with only one portable luggage rack, even if they have two beds!  But that question is not something that is easily pursued during the reservation process.  Fortunately some rooms have a radiator or a desk that can hold the second bag.

Karl-Heinz had indicated that his train was due to arrive at Paris Nord a little after 12 noon, but we would not have to meet up until dinner time, so at about 11:30, when I had freshened up and 
rested sufficiently, I got out onto the road.  But before describing this and our other tram riding experiences, I think it would be desirable to provide an overview of the wonderful Paris rail transit system.  Paris itself is the capital of France, its largest city and the center of all that is French.  Unlike New York and Washington, which are the political and economic centers of the United States, but disdained by many Americans (who have little regard for the mores of the population of big cities--perhaps opiods are not that easy to obtain), Paris stands for all that is French--its culture, sense of style and gastronomy.  France has a population of 67 million in its 250,000 square miles (a little less than Texas) on the mainland of western Europe.  It is split into 12 administrative regions (equivalent to states or provinces).  Paris is part of the Ile de France, the nation's smallest in area (the size of Maryland), but largest in population (12 million--Ohio).  The city of Paris has a population of 2.2 million and occupies only 41 square miles.  But for its residents the transportation system is regional; it covers the entire Ile de France, employing a single fare structure, even though the owners and the operators of the multitude of lines may be different.  It is administered and coordinated by the STIF (Syndicat des Transports d'Ile-de-France--now IDF Mobilites), while its main operators are the RATP (which grew out of the Paris municipal transit system) and the SNCF (France's national railway system).

Its main components are the famous Metro, its commuter rail system (RER and traditional suburban railways), and now, its tram lines.  There are currently 14 Metro lines (16, if you count two shuttles that used to be branches), covering 133 miles of route, utilizing both traditional steel wheels and rubber tires.  Some of these lines are totally automated, driverless as we say today (see 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paris_M%C3%A9tro).  The RER system was built by connecting most of the commuter lines, which once stub-ended at separate railroad terminals, via new tunnels through the heart of the city.  It now consists of five lines, with the E not yet completed, but soon to be connected with the suburban lines emanating from St. Lazare station (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/R%C3%A9seau_Express_R%C3%A9gional).  When that is accomplished the only commuter trains running from Paris that will not be part of the RER system will be those using Montparnasse station.

But the main purpose of this visit to Paris was to cover the newest of the tram lines.  The legacy streetcar system had been completely converted to bus operation by 1938, but in 1992 the tram was reintroduced to the metropolitan area as modern light rail transit.  None of the new lines reach the heart of the city; while a pair operates along a circumferential route, connecting various Metro and RER lines, most of them are radial in nature, reaching into the suburbs and feeding heavier rail lines at their inner ends.  The system has been very successful and now consists of 9 lines, and will soon be expanded further.  The following table describes the network at the beginning of 2019.

Line  Opening   Year of Latest  Current Length   Number   Running   Notes
        Year      Extension         Miles         Stops     Time
  1     1992        2012             11.0           36      69m     TFS-2 70% low-floor cars
  2     1997        2012             11.1           24      44m     Most on a former railway alignment
  3a    2006                          7.7           25      45m     Circumferential along original walls
  3b    2012        2018              8.9           26      50m     Circumferential along original walls
  4     2006        2020 coming       4.9           11      20m     Tram Train 25kV former railway route
  5     2013         -                4.1           16      25m     Lohr rubber tired system
  6     2014        2016              8.7           21      42m     Lohr rubber tired system
  7     2013         -                7.0           18      33m     
  8     2014         -                5.3           17      17m     Two branches, 16m and 18m
  11    2017         -                6.8            7      14m     Tram train 25kV alongside freight route
Future                                                              Grade separated
  9     2020         -                5.1           19
  10    2023         -                6.4           14
  12    2022         -               12.0           16
  13    2021         -               11.7           11
                
I hadn't ridden lines T6, T7, T8 and T11 yet, so my work was cut out for me--and Karl-Heinz shared that sentiment.

The weather forecast for my arrival date had indicated overcast skies, with some sun in the late afternoon, and that turned out to be accurate.  In fact the same was forecasted for Tuesday.  The least important of my "must do" lines was the T6, as to me rubber tired tramways do not rate as high as steel wheeled ones.  Thus I headed out to the T6 by riding Metro route 4 from Gare du Nord to Montparnasse-Bienvenue (14 stops), where I transferred to route 13 and continued out to its Chatillon Montrouge terminal (7 more stops), which is also the inner terminal of the streetcar line.  It was a time consuming trip to the other side of town, made especially onerous by the l-o-n-g underground walk to make the connection between the 4 and 13 near the Montparnasse railroad station.                             

As can be seen from the table, the T6 was inaugurated in 2014.  Its terminal is directly under the elevated tracks of Metro line 13, with tail tracks continuing beyond the platforms for cars to cross over and lay over.  The line is virtually all on private right-of-way, which has to be paved to accommodate the rubber tires of its 28 Translohr STE6 cars.  This would be my first ride on these 6-section units, as the T5 uses the STE3 model, which has half the number of sections and is approximately half the length.

I rode the entire 8.7-mile long, 21-station line, stopping off here and there for photos.  Service was operating every 8 minutes (4 in rush hours), and the platforms, just like those at all other rail stations in the Paris area, were equipped with annunciators indicating the arrival of the next cars (or trains in the case of heavy rail).  
I didn't find much difference in comfort between the T6 and the other Translohr lines I've sampled in the past.  Thus I will repeat my negative review of rubber-tired tramways, which comes from riding on the Translohr system in previous years in locations like Cleremont-Ferrand (where it was introduced), Padova and Venice, in addition to earlier trips to Paris.  Touted as being less costlier that light rail, from the numbers I've seen it appears to be actually more expensive in both capital expenditures and maintenance.  I found the ride in the Lohr cars noisier and bumpier than in equivalent steel-wheeled units.  Much of the latter seems to come from the fact that the exact same areas of the concrete right-of-way are pounded by all the guided vehicles, causing the grooves they make to crumble.  Nevertheless, at least when the line is relatively new, the ride is acceptable (I rode the guided trolleybus system in Nancy back in 2007, where I was almost thrown out of my seat on several occasions due to deterioration of the rolling stock and roadway).  The best I can say about the Translohr system is that it is more attractive than Bus Rapid Transit.

The most unusual portion of the T6 is the mile-long tunnel (completed in 2016) at its outer end.  I did not take photos of the two attractive underground stations as there was insufficient light for my ASA-100 film.  However, Karl-Heinz and I did come back in better weather for additional photos of the line on Tuesday afternoon, including some at the tunnel portal, so I'm including examples from both trips in this series of views.



The Chatillon Montrouge terminal of rubber-tired tramway route T6, directly under Paris Metro line 13, whose entrance and exit are in the shadows on the left.  Passengers board the car on the left while others detrain from the one at right, which will soon head away from the camera to cross to the outbound track.  The rails shown serve to guide the trams and return the electric current to the powerhouse.



The rear of an outbound T6 tram near its inner terminal.  The construction of the line has resulted in development along the Avenue de Paris arterial road.




Above and below: Two views along Avenue de Verdun in a neighborhood called Division Leclerc.  Named after General Philippe Leclerc, a World War II hero (see http://www.privateletters.net/featured_2ndArmoredFrench.html), who some (lacking patriotism) might describe as a loser, because he had been a Prisoner of War.  After escaping he served under General Patton. 







Above and below: Two views of the entrance to route T6's mile-long tunnel through the hill between Velizy and Viroflay.  The upper photo was taken from the road above the portal.  I suspect it will be fun to repave the roadway inside the tunnel once it has deteriorated from erosion caused by the constant pummeling of a portion of its road surface.  Maybe someone will invent a road-grinder. 




I transferred to a St. Lazare station-bound eMU at Viroflay Rive Droite,* the terminal of the T6 line, which is in a deep cavern.  The stop is one on a group of lines that 
operate from various points in Paris to Versailles, home of one of France's greatest tourist attractions, the Palace of Versailles.  I toured the chateau on previous visits, but transportation to the city has changed significantly since my first trip to France's capital.  In 1960 trains on two of the three lines operating to Versailles were powered by third rail (from Invalides and St. Lazare), while the one from Montparnasse used 1500 v DC overhead.  I would now ride the line to St. Lazare in an eMU under 25kV AC catenary (but would be alighting at the intermediate La Defense stop).  In the period between my first and current visit, that line and others emanating from St. Lazare were electrified or re-electrified (and soon some will become an extension of RER route E), while the one that stub-ended at Invalides was tunneled through to Orsay station (the building is now an important museum), and electrified at 1500 v DC to become the central trunk of RER route C.  The line to Montparnasse has not changed.

* Rive Droite (R. D.) refers to the right bank of the Seine, while the other station in Viroflay, Rive Gauche (R. G.) indicates the left bank.  Both of these stations, which also serve the T6, are just short of their lines' corresponding terminals in Versailles.  The left and right bank designations relate to the destinations in Paris of the trains serving those stations (the Seine not going through Versailles).



A Francilien, or Z 50000 train, is shown operating outbound to Versailles R.D. at the Viroflay R.D. station of the network of lines serving Paris St. Lazare station.  These articulated eMU trains of 7 or 8 cars were built by Bombardier starting in 2009 to replace the SNCF push-pull operation that served the traditional suburban lines running to the north and west of Paris, which date back to steam locomotive days.  I found the train to be smooth running and comfortable.


It took 17 minutes to get to La Defense, where I transferred to the T2 tram for a ride to its northern terminal, Pont de Bezons.  The T2 was inaugurated in 1997 to operate trams over one of the third-rail lines that connected the St. Lazare routes with the Invalides line.  The area through which it operated had grown and had become a prime location for a high-frequency service.  It was a success immediately and has been since extended on both ends, and also has had its platforms extended to serve two-car trains of trams.  One of its principal features is its architecturally significant station buildings, which have been preserved and renovated--and photographed on previous trips.  But this time I wanted to ride to the north again, as it was raining hard on my only previous visit to the extension, and I hadn't gotten any decent photos.

As I emerged from the gloom of the underground platforms aboard a T2 car, I saw that the clouds were starting to dissipate, and I was optimistic about getting some photos in sunlight.  And my wish was granted.  The cars were running every 8 minutes so I could take my time and wait for the confluence of sun and tram.




Above and below:  Two views on the northern extension of route T2, which opened in 2012.  Two-car trains of stylish Citadis 302 cars are now the norm on this busy line, as shown in the upper photo of a southbound pair of units entering Charlebourg station.  The tail tracks at the Pont de Bezons terminal are the subject of the lower photo.  A fleet of 66 cars serves the 11-mile long T2.
 




I then returned to La Defense as the sun was in the right place to shoot a photo of one of the new cars on Metro route 1 crossing the Seine with a Paris landmark in the background.  There is a promenade that looks over the river at the appropriately named Esplanade de La Defense stop of the automated rapid transit line so I rode for one station to get there.  It was already getting a little late, so I had to use a telephoto setting to get past the shadows from the skyscrapers in the La Defense complex.



The Arc de Triomphe at Place 
Charles de Gaulle Etoile, is in the background of this view looking east across the Seine from the Esplanade de La Defense.  La Defense began becoming a major center of commercial activity when the first RER line (A) was being built in the mid-1960s (see https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_D%C3%A9fense).  The M1 line is the heaviest used of all Metro lines and became fully automated in 2012.  Its fleet of rubber-tired MP05 type cars, built in 2011 by Alstom, operates at 1½-minute headways during peak hours.  Although it is the oldest Metro line in Paris, dating from 1900, the extension to La Defense wasn't opened until 1992.


That completed, I then rode the T2 further south, to cover the remainder of the line.  Shadows were long, but when I saw a clear area a few stations before the terminal at Porte de Versailles, I took a stopover at Henri Farman.  It was now the heart of the rush hour and service with two-car trains was operating every 3
½ minutes.



A two-car train of Citadis 302 cars is shown operating southbound to Porte de Vincennes near the line's Henri Farman stop.  This extension, to a junction with the Metro and tram line T3, was opened in 2009.


It was now time to head back to the hotel, meet Karl-Heinz and actually eat some food.  It was getting close to midnight in the New York area and I was getting a bit tired, having (I felt) made a successful fight against jet lag.  There were several direct routes to Gare du Nord, and the best were Metro line 12 to Montparnasse-Bienville and then then the 4, or tram route T3a for a couple of stops to Balard, followed by Metro line 8 to Strasbourg-San Denis and then the same 4.  Of course I did the latter, as it meant another tram ride, albeit brief.  In thinking back on my half-day's activities, I felt I had covered more than I thought I would, although my photographic production was a bit short of my usual output.  While it wasn't a surprise, I truly felt a renewed appreciation for the French capital's mass transit system.  I rode three different tram lines, and interestingly, saw the difference the width of rolling stock makes with regard to the number of riders that can be carried and their comfort.  The Translohr cars on the T6 are 2.20 meters wide, the Citadis 302s on the T2 have a width of 2.40 meters, and the Citadis 402s on the T3a (and T3b) are 2.65 wide.  The difference between the widest and narrowest is more than one and a half feet.

Karl-Heinz arrived back at the room a half-hour after I did and we discussed our respective afternoon activities.  His train from Germany arrived at Paris Nord a half-hour late, and he had a good day on some of the other tram lines.  We found a good restaurant and ate outdoors.  The next table was occupied by an American ex-pat from Glenview, Illinois, who was living with her German husband in the City of Lights, and appreciated our intense avocation; both the food and conversation were enjoyable.  But I was happy to get back to the hotel, and fell asleep as soon as my head touched the pillow.

To be continued.

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Tags: Paris
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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 8:27 AM

Continued from 01.


I woke up early on Tuesday, August 14 
without the slightest feeling of jet lag, anxious to continue riding and photographing the tramways of Paris.  Karl-Heinz was also hot to trot and as soon as we finished breakfast we were on the road (I mean on the rails) with our cameras and maps.  We rode Metro line 5 from Gare du Nord to Place d'Italie (its end point) and then transferred to the 7 to get to Villejuif Louis Aragon, the terminal of one of the rapid transit line's two branches, but more importantly, the starting point of tram line T7 (see http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/fr/paris/paris-map-giant.png again).

The weather was overcast, so we rode out to the end of the line at 
Athis-Mons/Porte de l'Essonne without stopping for photos.  The T7, which was opened in 2013, is 7 miles long and has 18 stations.  With 19 Alstom Citadis 302 cars on its roster, the route's inner portion was very cleverly sandwiched through an existing street pattern, but appeared to be occasionally subject to red traffic signals at points where the cars do not have priority.  Further on, the line has some trackage through partially undeveloped areas, albeit with a few right-angle turns that limit speed.  Nevertheless, it was still an enjoyable ride.

The line's endpoint is at Orly Airport, which has been served since 1991 by Orlyval, an automated rail line that connects with RER line B at Antony station.  Unfortunately this VAL system line (similar to the distribution operation at O'Hare Airport in Chicago,* charges a high fare and does not accept most passes, such as Mobilis and Navigo.  But its route is superior to that of the T7-Metro combination, which cannot get passengers to and from the center of Paris very quickly.  Thus it is doubtful that a substantial number of tram riders to the airport are travelers, but more likely employees. 

* VAL technology is used for Metro operations in cities including Torino, Lille and Toulouse, where tramways are also in the mix of local transit.  Orly will eventually be served by an extension of Metro line 14 and a new route 18, both parts of the future Grand Paris Express project, which calls for an additional 125 miles of high-speed automated rapid transit.  See 
https://www.societedugrandparis.fr/info/grand-paris-express-largest-transport-project-europe-1061
 .
The southern terminal of Paris tram route T7 at Athis-Mons Porte de l'Essonne, just south of Orly Airport and adjacent to the Musee Delta .

The T7 runs through a tunnel under some runways just beyond the Orly station, and to our surprise (although good research would have probably indicated this), we ended up adjacent to the Musee Delta (https://museedelta.wixsite.com/musee-delta), whose most noted feature is its possession of both a retired Concorde supersonic aircraft and a Mirage fighter jet, which both capitalized on the Delta Wing (as opposed to Delta Airlines).  This enabled us to get some photos of the trams sailing past the iconic airplanes.

  

Above and below
:  Two views of the Musee Delta's most striking artifacts, a supersonic Concorde aircraft and a Mirage fighter jet.  The Concorde, capable of cruising at a speed of 1,338 mph, faster than the speed of sound, is painted for British Airways on one side and Air France on the other, the owners of 12 of the 20 that were built.  Between 1976 and 2003 passengers who patronized the very costly service between Paris or London and New York JFK would make the trip in under 4 hours.  The lower view shows an Alstom Citadis 302 tram traveling toward its southern terminal at a speed infinitely greater than the Concorde it is passing.





On the other side of the airport, the line has long stretches of grassed-in trackage that made a good background for our photos, unfortunately still without shadows from a sun that seemed to  tantalize us, unwilling to break through the clouds.



Above and below:  Two views of the T7 running through fields between the Helen Boucher and Caroline Aigle stops near the southern end of the line.  Lots of blue sky, but not behind the photographer.




We gradually worked our way back to Porte de Thais, where the T7 briefly runs alongside a busway, but then reversed direction again and headed to La Fraternelle, where we transferred to an orbital branch of RER line C.  


 
Just south of Porte des Thais at the La Belle Epine stop, the T7 turns sharply west to go under the Avenue de la Cite, from which this photo was taken.


It was now getting brighter and we both wanted to take photos at the tunnel portal on line T6, so we rode to Viroflay R. G., where we could transfer to the rubber-tired tramway.  It took us just under an hour, as we had to ride three commuter trains to accomplish the journey:  First RER Line C (MONA*) for 11 minutes to Massy Palaiseau, where we had a 6-minute connection to an RER Line C (CIME*) train to Versailles Chantiers (22 minutes), for another transfer 
after 12 minutes to an SNCF (PORO*) train bound for Montparnasse, where we backtracked one station (3 minutes).  It turned out that the MONAs and CIMEs were through routed, but we still had to wait for time.  I should have mentioned in part 1 that the train I rode from Viroflay R. D. to La Defense was a PASA.

* All Paris commuter trains carry a four-letter designation code that defines their route, terminals and intermediate stopping pattern.  It is displayed on the front of each train (using LEDs), as well as in timetables and on electronic annunciator boards at stations.  The codes are usually constructed to be pronounceable so they can easily be remembered by passengers.  In a sense they work just like the marker lights formerly used on New York subway trains (green-green for Lexington Avenue express to Woodlawn), but upgraded to serve a much more complicated route network.


The photos of the T6 were shown in the preceding segment of this report.  By the time we completed our work, there was little time for further rail activities, so we headed back to our hotel.  Instead of riding Metro line 13 and then transferring to the 4 at Montparnasse-Bienville, because it was rush hour and we already had seats, we decided to continue on the 13 to St. Lazare from where we rode the 26 bus to a stop near our final destination.  We had an excellent dinner at a bistro close by our accommodations, chicken prepared so well that I think I will seek out the restaurant on a future trip.  We went to sleep early, as we knew we had much on our plates (but no leftover chicken) for our last full day in Paris.

Specifically we wanted to see progress on what was then the forthcoming extension of tram route T3b, and then cover the T8 and the T11 lines.  The weather forecast was mostly sunny for Wednesday, August 15, and indeed we saw shadows when we woke and consumed our substantial breakfasts, but by the time we got out on the road, it was the same old, same old overcast that had graced the mornings on the preceding days.  Nevertheless, that would not interfere with the enjoyment of our tram riding.

Our first task of the day was to get over to Porte de Chapelle to see if there was any testing going on along the next segment of the T3b circumferential tramway, which was being pushed westward 
to Porte d'Asnieres.  We could have ridden to Chapelle by Metro, specifically line 4 to Marcadet Poissonniers and then the 12, but we thought we'd like to ride some of the tram line, so instead we took Metro line 7 to Porte de Pantin (see http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/fr/paris/paris-map-giant.png).  We enjoyed the 7-stop ride (and of course thought of "the first lady of song" when our tram paused at the Ella Fitzgerald station).  Upon arrival at our destination we saw a certain amount of work still had to be accomplished before live testing could begin.  And now we know it was achieved in the next three months, as the 8-stop, 2½-mile extension opened on November 24, 2018.  The entire T3 is now 16½ miles long and has 51 stations.  It is called the tramway des Marechaux because it follows the Boulevards of the Marshals, a series of wide thoroughfares that encircle Paris along the alignment of a former wall that was completed in 1850, but only lasted for 85 years.  (I suspect it may have been envisioned as the Maginot line of its day.)

Sixty Citadis 402 trams provide service on the extremely successful line.  With frequencies as high as every 3 to 4 minutes in peak periods, prior to the newest extension last year the daily average ridership was 150,000.  A further extension along the boulevards to Porte Dauphine will be built, but it is doubtful the line will complete the circle, as future plans call for it to branch off to the west.



Late in the afternoon of Monday, May 13, a 7-section Citadis 402 approaches Balard, near the end of its clockwise run on route T3a.  These 100-percent low-floor units are the widest on all the RATP's tram routes, at 4.65 meters. 


Looking east toward what was the temporary end of the line at Porte de Chapelle, some three months before service was inaugurated on the extension of route T3b to Porte d'Asniers.  It appears the stop was relocated to this exact point.


Porte de Chapelle was a good starting point for accessing the southern end of the T8, and after some photographs we waited for one of the many bus lines that would take us to Porte de Paris.  Our activities on the two new lines--and more--will be described in the next chapter of this trip report.
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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 8:59 AM

Photos for previous posting.    Bit-count too great for server to permit my edit on is thread,

 

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 5:34 PM

David's missing pictures:

 

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 5:42 PM

Two more:

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Posted by daveklepper on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 10:28 PM

Thanks!

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Posted by Miningman on Wednesday, July 31, 2019 11:13 PM

No problem David. Glad to assist. 

Don't get discouraged by those ganging up on you on the other thread. Your well thought out and respectful comments have run into a deranged mob. 

Leave it alone, it will only get you put in moderation again or worse banned. 

Their comments are crude and disrespectful.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Thursday, August 01, 2019 5:32 PM

The narrative and pictures by Jack May would be a lot more interesting if he were a forum member and we could ask questions. 

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Posted by daveklepper on Friday, August 02, 2019 2:43 AM

I'll be glad to forward the questions.  He does read the Forum on occasion.  His decision not to participate is his.  I respect that and perhaps you should also.

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Posted by Miningman on Saturday, August 03, 2019 10:46 PM

From David

Fwd: 03 - Paris, North and
East - 2018 Trip Report - Paris Part 3
  May 13, 2018 continued from part 2.

 Upon arriving aboard a route 153 bus at Porte de Paris, which is a
stop on Metro Line 13, but also the southern terminal of tram route
T8, we boarded a car that was just changing ends and began to head
northward.  That T8 was marked for Epinay Orgemont, one of the outer
terminal stations of the line, as it has two branches (the other goes
to Villetaneuse Universite).  Our ultimate destination is one of the
transfer points to the T11, the Ile de France's newest tramway, which
was inaugurated on June 30, 2017.

 The T11 is unusual in a number of ways:  it is strictly an orbital
line located wholly within the suburbs of Paris, and runs left-handed
entirely on a railroad-style right-of-way under 25,000-volt AC
catenary.  It is operated by a private consortium instead of the SNCF
(which operates the T4 tram train) or the RATP (which is responsible
for the other 8 tram lines).  The 6.8-mile route with 7 stops opened
between Epinay-sur-Seine and Le Bourget on July 1, 2017, as the first
segment of what will be a much longer line.  Originally called Tram
Express Nord, it was constructed to intercept (and therefore serve to
distribute passengers to and from) a large number of radial lines,
including RER lines B, C and D, suburban rail route H, Metro lines 7
and 13, tram route T8 and the currently under-construction high-speed
(Grand Paris Express) metro lines 16 and 17.  It, and its future
extensions at both ends (that are planned to be in service by 2027),
will result in an 18-mile long route with 14 stops, intersecting 7
more lines, including RER routes A and E, suburban rail routes J and
L, Metro line 15 and tram routes T1 and T2, over a Satrouville to
Noisy-le-Sec trajectory (see
http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/fr/paris/paris-map-giant.png).

 The existing double-track line runs directly alongside the Grande
Ceinture de Paris (outer belt) freight railroad,* as will its entirety
once it is completed.  The portion of that freight-only line, north
and east of Paris, also consists of double track, and is electrified
at 25,000 volts AC, the same as the new T11, making them compatible in
a number of ways.  In fact many say that the project to construct the
tram-train was a way of killing two birds with one stone, benefiting
the territory in which it runs by creating a new passenger service
while improving the freight line, because all of its grade crossings
will have been eliminated once the entire line reaches fruition.

 *The Grand Ceinture was completed in the late 1800s as a cooperative
project of the French army and the individual railroads serving Paris.
Because of its distance from the city center, it did not have much in
the way of passenger service and by 1939 most of its trackage had
become freight only.  But as the suburbs grew passenger service
gradually came back, first along the southern section that had been
electrified at 1,500 v DC (when the RER was created, it became a part
of Line C).  Meanwhile, with the 25 kV electrification of SNCF lines
to the north and later to the east, that voltage was applied to the
remaining portion.  Today, most of the railroad's fleet of electric
motors are dual-voltage.  Karl-Heinz and I rode much of the southern
portion of the circumfrential route on the previous day, from Rungis
to Versailles via Massy Palaiseau.  Now with demand for orbital travel
growing, two additional tram-train lines will be added to the Grand
Ceinture's alignment, the T12 and T13, both currently under
construction (the 12 taking the place of the railroad lines we rode).

 When thinking about applying this concept in the United States, the
closest networks that come to mind are the freight-only belt railroads
in the Chicago area, which intersect rail lines heading to the city,
allowing shipments to be exchanged between the roads to avoid and
bypass congested areas of the inner city.  Names like the Baltimore &
Ohio Chicago Terminal, Indiana Harbor Belt, Belt Railway of Chicago
and Elgin, Joliet & Eastern strike a note--and Metra floated a
proposal to operate dMUs along the EJ&E about a decade or two ago, as
the STAR line.  Unfortunately, interest has since died.  Well, Paris
has it!


 The T11's rolling stock consists of 15 Citadis Dualis tram-train
vehicles, 2.65 meters wide (like the equipment on the T3), which can
run in 2-car and 3-car trains (but during our visit in off-peak hours,
were running as single units).  The tram-train designation is used,
but I consider it somewhat misleading, since the line does not operate
in street traffic--the T11 doesn't even have grade  crossings--but I
suspect the nomenclature was chosen because the cars are capable of
running under two different voltages, 750 v DC in urban-style traffic,
plus the 25kV AC used by the T11.  [Other Dualis LRVs run in
tram-train service on SNCF rights-of way in the Lyon area (750 v
DC/1,500 v DC) and in the Nantes area (750 v DC/25,000 v AC), with
neither currently using the 750 v option as they do not operate over
the tracks of their respective local tramways.]  These Dualis trains
are capable of speeds of 62½ mph.  Current schedules on the T11
provide for a 5-minute frequency in rush hours (10 off-peak) and
running time from end to end is 14 minutes, which computes to an
average speed with stops of just under 30 mph.  I would best describe
the line as a modern light electric railway using interurban-like
rolling stock.

 We rode the T8 back one-stop to Epinay sur-Seine, the T11's western
terminal and then after some photos, took the next T11 all the way to
the line's other end at Le Bourget.  It was still cloudy, and here,
prior to our boarding a return trip and while photographing at the
joint station with RER Line B (on different levels), my Navigo pass
was inspected for the first (and only) time, and I was told in no
uncertain terms to sign it, which I dutifully did.  We then rode to
Villetaneuse Universite, the terminal of the second branch of the T8,
two stops in from our starting point at the other end of the line.  It
is an enormous elevated station, with the tracks located below its
attractive concourse.  We transferred to the T8 here and headed back
toward St. Denis.  With the weather remaining cloudy we limited our
photography to save time, feeling that were conditions to improve, we
could easily come back later.  It did and we did, so here are some
views of the T11, dark in the morning and bright in the afternoon.



 The Le Bourget terminal of the T11, as seen from the unused platform
of the station.  All trains use the track on the north side to reverse
ends.  Both the elevator and escalators to this platform were out of
service, possibly their construction still incomplete (the line having
been opened one year before).  The stairway at left leads down to a
mezzanine from which surface running RER line B can be accessed.  When
the T11 is extended, this will be just a way station, and the two
trains seen in the background, waiting for the afternoon rush hour
before going back into service, will have to lay over elsewhere.  As
mentioned earlier despite the platform's incomplete access, the only
thing that the authorities cared about was whether I had valid fare
media.



 With left-hand operation the single-car train is shown running in the
eastbound direction away from the camera, which is being focused from
the westbound platform of the Villetaneuse-Universite station.




 Above and below:  Two views at the Villetaneuse-Universite station of
the T11, which is relatively busy, being the transfer point between
the T8 and T11 routes, as well as a major traffic generator because it
is frequented by students.  It is rather monumental (not quite as much
as Secaucus on NJ Transit) with elevators and escalators connecting
the platforms and the superstructure above.  The upper photo was taken
at track level and shows an eastbound car entering the station.  The
lower view was taken from the station's concourse, looking west.  The
pair of tracks on the left, south of those of the T11, serve the Grand
Ceinture line, which carries freight trains.



 The next two photos show the same station, with the camera pointed at
the corresponding T8 terminal.



 Above and below:  Additional views of the Villetaneuse-University
transfer point.  The upper photo, showing an inbound T8 tram about to
leave its terminal, was taken from the upper level of the station
building.  At left is the pedestrian approach to the structure, which
is more explicitly shown below.  It consists of both a ramp and
stairway, with elevator access as well, to and from the platform that
serves as the T8's outbound terminal.  The lower photo also shows an
inbound car loading passengers after it has returned from laying over
under the ramp.




 As mentioned earlier, the T8 divides into two branches.  With an
11-minute frequency on each, headways on the common section result in
the line's 5-section, 2.40-meter wide Citadis 302 trams coming by
every 5½ minutes in each direction.  The T8, which opened in December
2014, is 5.3 miles long and has 17 stops.

 As for the weather, we encountered the same issue with regard to the
T8: cloudy on our first encounter, but sunny later when we rode it
again to go back to the T11.




 Above and below:  Much of the T8 operates in grassed reservation
between two roadways.  The upper photo shows the rear of an outbound
tram turning westward to cross under the SNCF and RER line D just
after stopping at the Delaunay-Belleville station, the last before the
line splits into its two branches.  The lower view was taken along Rue
Maurice Thorez, slightly to the south of the location of the upper
photo, just north of Paul Eluard stop.





 It still was overcast when we got to St. Denis (RER/SNCF), where the
T8 crosses the T1 on a traditional double track diamond in the middle
of a street.  We immediately saw that the center portion of the T1,
the first light rail line built in the Paris area, was out of
commission due to track work, so  we had no choice as to which
direction to ride, being limited to a westward journey over the line's
2012 extension.  Tram route 1 was inaugurated in 1992, and immediately
became a tremendous success, opening the door for the expansion of the
Ile de France's tram system.  The route was not the first in the new
wave of French tramways, having been preceded by a line in Nantes
(1985) which introduced the Alstom high-floor TFS-1.*  But the next
systems (Grenoble, Paris and Rouen) were soon to come, and were
equipped with 70-percent low-floor TFS-2 models, the first
"accessible" units to operate in France.  (The French systems that
followed employed Alstom Citadis virtually 100-percent low-floor cars
or their counterparts from other manufacturers.)  Now, 44 years later,
the TFS-1s still see service in Nantes, while TFS-2s continue to run
in Grenoble and Paris (but not for long, as new cars are on  order),
while the TFS-2s from Rouen are now carrying happy passengers in
Gaziantep, Turkey, the French city having replaced them with Citadis
402 units in 2012.

 * Low-floor center sections were added later and the next orders came
with low-floor sections already installed (much like the modern
history of LRVs in Dallas).



 It was obvious we couldn't ride eastward from the St. Denis station
of tram route T1.  The TFS-2 tram shown here has arrived from Les
Courtilles and changed ends, and is about to leave after having loaded
its passengers.  The T8 line crosses beyond the barriers.  The
platform at left was out of service during this period of
construction.  When they first went into service, these cars were
painted in a silver color scheme, but were later redecorated into the
official RATP livery.

 The entire T1 is now 11 miles long, with 36 stations and a fleet of
35 TFS-2 cars, and in St. Denis alone the busy crosstown route
intersects the T8 and T5 tram routes along with Metro line 13.  We
rode to the end of the line at Asnieres-Gennevilliers Les Courtilles
(Metro route 13), where we actually spied the clouds finally
dissipating.  So we immediately about faced and headed back to St.
Denis, where we transferred to the T8 for a round-trip, as mentioned
above.  After we completed our photographic efforts on the T8 and T11,
we saw there was still plenty of light for another trip on the T1 for
additional photos.




 Above and below.  Two views of the verdant western extension of the
T1.  The upper photo was taken near the Parc des Chanteraines stop,
which lies along the southern end of one of the largest parks north of
the Seine.  Occupying over 200 acres, it has miles of landscaped
walking trails, meadows, gardens and groves, including ponds and one
large lake.  The location of the lower view is just east of the old
village of Gennevilliers, which has expanded and is now is endowed
with high-rise  structures in business parks and new residential areas
along the tramway between Metro route 13 and RER line C.  The green
carpet between and surrounding the rails is typical of modern French
LRT practice.  Unlike New Orleans, whose neutral ground is not
maintained well enough to stay green, the ones in France are carefully
groomed to create an elegant and attractive habitat for their trams.







 Just west of the location of the previous photo is the village of
Gennevilliers, which has retained its charm despite all the growth
surrounding it.  Some might say the town is made even more pleasant by
its local transportation.  Pictured is its main street, Rue Pierre
Timbaud, which is too narrow to carry both tracks of the T1, so the
eastbound rails are embedded in the pavement one block to the south.
Jean-Pierre Timbaud, a nationalist and trade unionist, was shot, along
with 26 other members of the resistance, by German invaders in
retribution for the death of one of their commandants.


 All in all, we had a very good day, and returned to Gare du Nord and
our hotel via RER line D from the center of St. Denis in rather
crowded rush-hour conditions.  After another good French meal (Asian
actually), we packed up to ready our departure the following morning
and went to sleep.

 To be continued in segment 04.

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, August 04, 2019 2:24 AM

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, August 04, 2019 2:28 AM

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Posted by Miningman on Sunday, August 04, 2019 2:31 AM

There are many many more pictures that David sent .. it is difficult to get them formatted though this site but they can be emailed to anyone quite easily. If you would like to see about 20 more I suggest you PM to David and ask him to forward them to you. I'm certain he will be glad to comply. 

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Posted by Overmod on Sunday, August 04, 2019 5:03 AM

It might be better if he gives you permission to e-mail them through PM.  As I understand it he is severely bandwidth-limited, and may not have access to programs that reduce the size of a transmitted JPEG image, so it may make better sense for him to transmit the images once, and someone better connected to good Internet bandwidth send them on to the 'interested parties'.-

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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, August 04, 2019 5:09 AM

Thanks!

unexpected visit to hu and wifi-----

May 13, 2018 continued from part 2.


Upon arriving aboard a route 153 bus at Porte de Paris, which is a stop on Metro Line 13, but also the southern terminal of tram route T8, we boarded a car that was just changing ends and began to head northward.  That T8 was marked for Epinay Orgemont, one of the outer terminal stations of the line, as it has two branches (the other goes to Villetaneuse Universite).  Our ultimate destination is one of the transfer points to the T11, the Ile de France's newest tramway, which was inaugurated on June 30, 2017. 

The T11 is unusual in a number of ways:  it is strictly an orbital line located wholly within the suburbs of Paris, and runs left-handed 
entirely on a railroad-style right-of-way under 25,000-volt AC catenary.  It is operated by a private consortium instead of the SNCF (which operates the T4 tram train) or the RATP (which is responsible for the other 8 tram lines).  The 6.8-mile route with 7 stops opened between Epinay-sur-Seine and Le Bourget on July 1, 2017, as the first segment of what will be a much longer line.  Originally called Tram Express Nord, it was constructed to intercept (and therefore serve to distribute passengers to and from) a large number of radial lines, including RER lines B, C and D, suburban rail route H, Metro lines 7 and 13, tram route T8 and the currently under-construction high-speed (Grand Paris Express) metro lines 16 and 17.  It, and its future extensions at both ends (that are planned to be in service by 2027), will result in an 18-mile long route with 14 stops, intersecting 7 more lines, including RER routes A and E, suburban rail routes J and L, Metro line 15 and tram routes T1 and T2, over a Satrouville to Noisy-le-Sec trajectory (see http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/fr/paris/paris-map-giant.png).

The existing double-track line runs directly alongside the Grande Ceinture de Paris (outer belt) freight railroad,* as will its entirety once it is completed.  The portion of that freight-only line, north and east of Paris, also consists of double track, and is electrified at 25,000 volts AC, the same as the new T11, making them compatible in a number of ways.
  In fact many say that the project to construct the tram-train was a way of killing two birds with one stone, benefiting the territory in which it runs by creating a new passenger service while improving the freight line, because all of its grade crossings will have been eliminated once the entire line reaches fruition.

*The Grand Ceinture was completed in the late 1800s as a cooperative project of the 
French army and the individual railroads serving Paris.  Because of its distance from the city center, it did not have much in the way of passenger service and by 1939 most of its trackage had become freight only.  But as the suburbs grew passenger service gradually came back, first along the southern section that had been electrified at 1,500 v DC (when the RER was created, it became a part of Line C).  Meanwhile, with the 25 kV electrification of SNCF lines to the north and later to the east, that voltage was applied to the remaining portion.  Today, most of the railroad's fleet of electric motors are dual-voltage.  Karl-Heinz and I rode much of the southern portion of the circumfrential route on the previous day, from Rungis to Versailles via Massy Palaiseau.  Now with demand for orbital travel growing, two additional tram-train lines will be added to the Grand Ceinture's alignment, the T12 and T13, both currently under construction (the 12 taking the place of the railroad lines we rode).  

When thinking about applying this concept in the United States, the closest networks that come to mind are the freight-only belt railroads in the Chicago area, which intersect rail lines heading to the city, allowing shipments to be exchanged between the roads to avoid and bypass congested areas of the inner city.  Names like the Baltimore & Ohio Chicago Terminal, Indiana Harbor Belt, Belt Railway of Chicago and Elgin, Joliet & Eastern strike a note--and Metra floated a proposal to operate dMUs along the EJ&E about a decade or two ago, as the STAR line.  Unfortunately, interest has since died.  Well, Paris has it!

 
The T11's rolling stock 
consists of 15 Citadis Dualis tram-train vehicles, 2.65 meters wide (like the equipment on the T3), which can run in 2-car and 3-car trains (but during our visit in off-peak hours, were running as single units).  The tram-train designation is used, but I consider it somewhat misleading, since the line does not operate in street traffic--the T11 doesn't even have grade crossings--but I suspect the nomenclature was chosen because the cars are capable of running under two different voltages, 750 v DC in urban-style traffic, plus the 25kV AC used by the T11.  [Other Dualis LRVs run in tram-train service on SNCF rights-of way in the Lyon area (750 v DC/1,500 v DC) and in the Nantes area (750 v DC/25,000 v AC), with neither currently using the 750 v option as they do not operate over the tracks of their respective local tramways.]  These Dualis trains are capable of speeds of 62½ mph.  Current schedules on the T11 provide for a 5-minute frequency in rush hours (10 off-peak) and running time from end to end is 14 minutes, which computes to an average speed with stops of just under 30 mph.  I would best describe the line as a modern light electric railway using interurban-like rolling stock.

We rode the T8 back one-stop to Epinay sur-Seine, the T11's western terminal and then after some photos, took the next T11 all the way to the line's other end at Le Bourget.  It was still cloudy, and here, prior to our boarding a return trip and while photographing at the joint station with RER Line B (on different levels), my Navigo pass was inspected for the first (and only) time, and I was told in no uncertain terms to sign it, which I dutifully did.  We then rode to 
Villetaneuse Universite, the terminal of the second branch of the T8,two stops in from our starting point at the other end of the line.  It is an enormous elevated station, with the tracks located below its attractive concourse.  We transferred to the T8 here and headed back toward St. Denis.  With the weather remaining cloudy we limited our photography to save time, feeling that were conditions to improve, we could easily come back later.  It did and we did, so here are some views of the T11, dark in the morning and bright in the afternoon.



The Le Bourget terminal of the T11, as seen from the unused platform of the station.  All trains use the track on the north side to reverse ends.  Both the elevator and escalators to this platform were out of service, possibly their construction still incomplete (the line having been opened one year before).  The stairway at left leads down to a mezzanine from which surface running RER line B can be accessed.  When the T11 is extended, this will be just a way station, and the two trains seen in the background, waiting for the afternoon rush hour before going back into service, will have to lay over elsewhere.  As mentioned earlier despite the platform's incomplete access, the only thing that the authorities cared about was whether I had valid fare media.



With left-hand operation the single-car train is shown running in the eastbound direction away from the camera, which is being focused from the westbound platform of the Villetaneuse-Universite station.




Above and below:  Two views at the Villetaneuse-Universite station of the T11, which is relatively busy, being the transfer point between the T8 and T11 routes, as well as a major traffic generator because it is frequented by students.  It is rather monumental (not quite as much as Secaucus on NJ Transit) with elevators and escalators connecting the platforms and the superstructure above.  The upper photo was taken at track level and shows an eastbound car entering the station.  The lower view was taken from the station's concourse, looking west.  The pair of tracks on the left, south of those of the T11, serve the Grand Ceinture line, which carries freight trains.



The next two photos show the same station, with the camera pointed at the corresponding T8 terminal.



Above and below:  Additional views of the Villetaneuse-University transfer point.  The upper photo, showing an inbound T8 tram about to leave its terminal, was taken from the upper level of the station building.  At left is the pedestrian approach to the structure, which is more explicitly shown below.  It consists of both a ramp and stairway, with elevator access as well, to and from the platform that serves as the T8's outbound terminal.  The lower photo also shows an inbound car loading passengers after it has returned from laying over under the ramp.



As mentioned earlier, the T8 divides into two branches.  With an 11-minute frequency on each, headways on the common section result in the line's 5-section, 2.40-meter wide Citadis 302 trams coming by every 5½ minutes in each direction.  The T8, which opened in December 2014, is 5.3 miles long and has 17 stops.  

As for the weather, we encountered the same issue with regard to the T8: cloudy on our first encounter, but sunny later when we rode it again to go back to the T11.

 


Above and below:  Much of the T8 operates in grassed reservation between two roadways.  The upper photo shows the rear of an outbound tram turning westward to cross under the SNCF and RER line D just after stopping at the Delaunay-Belleville station, the last before the line splits into its two branches.  The lower view was taken along Rue Maurice Thorez, slightly to the south of the location of the upper photo, just north of Paul Eluard stop.






It still was overcast when we got to St. Denis (RER/SNCF), where the T8 crosses the T1 on a traditional double track diamond in the middle of a street.  We immediately saw that the center portion of the T1, the first light rail line built in the Paris area, was out of commission due to track work, so we had no choice as to which direction to ride, being limited to a westward journey over the line's 2012 extension.  Tram route 1 was inaugurated in 1992, and immediately became a tremendous success, opening the door for the expansion of the Ile de France's tram system.  The route was not the first in the new wave of French tramways, having been preceded by a line in Nantes 
(1985) which introduced the Alstom high-floor TFS-1.*  But the next systems (Grenoble, Paris and Rouen) were soon to come, and were equipped with 70-percent low-floor TFS-2 models, the first "accessible" units to operate in France.  (The French systems that followed employed Alstom Citadis virtually 100-percent low-floor cars or their counterparts from other manufacturers.)  Now, 44 years later, the TFS-1s still see service in Nantes, while TFS-2s continue to run in Grenoble and Paris (but not for long, as new cars are on order), while the TFS-2s from Rouen are now carrying happy passengers in Gaziantep, Turkey, the French city having replaced them with Citadis 402 units in 2012.

* Low-floor center sections were added later and the next orders came with low-floor sections already installed (much like the modern history of LRVs in Dallas).



It was obvious we couldn't ride eastward from the St. Denis station of tram route T1.  The TFS-2 tram shown here has arrived from 
Les Courtilles and changed ends, and is about to leave after having loaded its passengers.  The T8 line crosses beyond the barriers.  The platform at left was out of service during this period of construction.  When they first went into service, these cars were painted in a silver color scheme, but were later redecorated into the official RATP livery.

The entire T1 is now 11 miles long, with 36 stations and a fleet of 35 TFS-2 cars, and in St. Denis alone the busy crosstown route intersects the T8 and T5 tram routes along with Metro line 13.  We rode to the end of the line at Asnieres-Gennevilliers Les Courtilles (Metro route 13), where we actually spied the clouds finally dissipating.  So we immediately about faced and headed back to St. Denis, where we transferred to the T8 for a round-trip, as mentioned above.  After we completed our photographic efforts on the T8 and T11, we saw there was still plenty of light for another trip on the T1 for additional photos.
 


Above and below.  Two views of the verdant western extension of the T1.  The upper photo was taken near the Parc des Chanteraines stop, which lies along the southern end of one of the largest parks north of the Seine.  Occupying over 200 acres, it has miles of landscaped walking trails, meadows, gardens and groves, including ponds and one large lake.  The location of the lower view is just east of the old village of Gennevilliers, which has expanded and is now is endowed with high-rise structures in business parks and new residential areas along the tramway between Metro route 13 and RER line C.  The green carpet between and surrounding the rails is typical of modern French LRT practice.  Unlike New Orleans, whose neutral ground is not maintained well enough to stay green, the ones in France are carefully groomed to create an elegant.habitat for their trams.
 





Just west of the location of the previous photo is the village of 
Gennevilliers, which has retained its charm despite all the growth surrounding it.  Some might say the town is made even more pleasant by its local transportation.  Pictured is its main street, Rue Pierre Timbaud, which is too narrow to carry both tracks of the T1, so the eastbound rails are embedded in the pavement one block to the south.  Jean-Pierre Timbaud, a nationalist and trade unionist, was shot, along with 26 other members of the resistance, by German invaders in retribution for the death of one of their commandants. 


All in all, we had a very good day, and returned to Gare du Nord and our hotel via RER line D from the center of St. Denis in rather crowded rush-hour conditions.  After another good French meal (Asian actually), we packed up to ready our departure the following morning and went to sleep.

To be continued in segment 04.
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Posted by daveklepper on Sunday, August 04, 2019 9:21 AM

In the end. then, was Miningman's posting a waste of time?  Absollutely not!  I used Imgur for some of the photos from jpgs on my hard-drive.  But then I found I could stay with thread, copy from the images Miningman posted, and use the edit button, past, and upgrade to place the photo in the right place in the text.  Without Mingingman's posting the process would have taken two or three times as long using Imgur.  The result:  I had enough time to do the same for Jack May's second installment as well!

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, August 05, 2019 12:55 AM

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, August 05, 2019 1:10 AM
Subject: 04 - Paris, North and East - 2018 Trip Report - Paris to Valenciennes to Charleroi
 
It was with a little bit of sadness that we left the comfort and ambience of Paris and the Rocroy on the morning of Thursday, August 16, but we were also looking forward to our rather robust agenda for the bulk of the trip .  After riding RER line B to Charles De Gaulle Airport we would become road travelers, as for the next few days we would be visiting points not well served by mainline railways.

We had rented a Fiat 500L through Auto Europe in Maine and prepaid about $215 for the 7 days in which it would be in our possession, with the understanding there would be another 40 euros due at the Europcar office at CDG upon our picking it up.  But after an uneventful ride to the airport in an eMU and a short walk to the car rental area in Terminal 2, we came upon our first glitch.  Yes, they had our reservation and car, but my credit card for the additional payment was rejected.  It would have been easy to pay the clerk in cash, but I wanted to be sure I wouldn't have credit problems for the rest of our trip, so I turned on my Android and called the 800 number on the back of the card.  Apparently Chase was worried about fraud.  I was able to assure the bank about the charge's legitimacy after supplying a whole bunch of numbers to their representative in Illinois (why is it when I call them from the U. S. I get somebody in India, but not when I call from France?).  The card went through on the next attempt and after a quick primer on the knobs and buttons, we were soon ready to depart De Gaulle and access the toll motorway to Valenciennes.  But all that took a little time, so we didn't get on the road until about 9:45--not a major issue.

Our plan for the partly cloudy day had us spending the lion's share in Valenciennes (France) to ride its two-line tramway/interurban network, and then to continue on to Charleroi (Belgium), which would be our home for a further two days of activities.  According to Google maps, it was about 200 km. to Valenciennes and 90 more to Charleroi, with driving times of 1
¾ hours and 1 hour respectively, not overambitious for a day's outing.  Our car, which ran on diesel fuel and had ample room for our two bags, was perfect for us, and we decided that I would drive and Karl-Heinz would navigate, which worked out reasonably well (actually perfectly, with a few minor exceptions--to be related).  Upon our departure the odometer showed 21,062 km.

I am not going to provide the exact mileage readings and times for our driving, including when and where we stopped for fuel, snacks and other needs, as record keeping was not important to us--but suffice to say that we never ran out of gas or became especially hungry or thirsty.  But I do want to comment that had we tried to reach Charleroi from Valenciennes by rail, it would have taken a minimum of 2
½ hours, and after completing our visit to the tramway/light rail/metro system in Charleroi, we would not have had the flexibility to chase the operations of the out-of-the-way museum and heritage lines so important to our plan.

Valenciennes has a population of about 44,000 within its municipal boundaries, extending to just short of 400,000 in the metropolitan area.  Historically, I think it would be fair to compare the economy and topography of the region to those of Pittsburgh and Upper Silesia in Poland, as well as the Charleroi-Mons area across its nearby border with Belgium.  An industrial area steeped in mining and steel production, it had a network of meter gauge tramways consisting of rural and interurban lines connecting nearby villages until its economy began to falter after World War II.  Stretching all the way to a connection with the Vicinal network across the border in Quievrain, Belgium (9 miles), the lines were replaced by buses with total abandonment occurring in 1966. 

The first 6 miles of today's modern Valenciennes tramway was opened in 2006, but the system has since been expanded, with the first line (T1) being extended through farmland to the nearby city of Denain a little over a year later, almost doubling its length (to 11
½ miles) and reintroducing the interurban character of its previous incarnation.  In 2014 a second line serving the northern section of the city opened, ending in Vieux Conde, just short of the Belgian border at Quievrain, roughly doubling the size of the system to 22 miles.  Thirty Alstom Citadis 302 double-ended low-floor trams provide service over the two lines (see http://www.urbanrail.net/eu/fr/valenciennes/valenciennes-tram.htm for a map).

I visited Valenciennes just after the original opening in 2006 and then briefly again in 2009, subsequent to the first line's extension to Denain.  Although I considered the area to be a bit sleepy, I enjoyed its small-town ambience.  And now here was my opportunity to cover the new T2 and concentrate on some photography along the rural section of the T1.  But even before departing for the city, we knew that our plans would not be totally met, as when I checked the website of the operator, Transvilles, for information on schedules, I found out that during this summer, the T2 would be operated by buses and the frequency of service on the interurban section of the T1 would be every 24 minutes--not very encouraging. 

Although the T1 is a traditional double track line, the newer T2 was built to a mostly single-track configuration with passing sidings.  An there lay the rub.  Apparently the automatic control system to support safe and reliable operation (especially the avoidance of cornfield meets) of the T2 has never worked properly.  Thus during the summer of our visit the line was replaced by buses to allow this "KFS" system to be fixed.*  But we were still able to take advantage of the partly cloudy skies to ride all of the T1, whose southern portion, which would normally overlap with the T2, was operating every 12 minutes.

* It is still not working properly and currently service consists of buses and trams alternating in order to maintain the required 12-minute headway during peak and midday hours.

Our first objective was to get some photos along the rural portion of the T1, where stations are few and far between and where only a small number of roads exist, accounting for the occasional grade crossing.  In hindsight a bicycle would be a better approach for photographing this bucolic section of the line.  Finding the edge of the area was no problem, but then we had to use our sense of direction to guess which side roads to use, as signs indicating the route numbers shown on our Google map were mostly absent from the roads themselves.  But we did what we had to do, as shown by the photographs below. 

 
Above and below:  Two views through verdant farmland along the route of the T1 between Valenciennes and Denain.  A bicycle path runs along the line, as shown in the upper view between the Bois de Montagnes and Le Galibot stops.  The lower photo was taken between Le Galibot and Solange Tonini, and illustrates the rural nature of the territory and its cereal crops.
 





Another photo of the bucolic interurban tramway on the long stretch of virtually straight-as-an-arrow right-of-way between Valenciennes and Denain.  
The alignment of the abandoned Somain-Peruwelz railway was used for 4 of the 6 miles between the centers of the two cities.  That line was among France's first, built in 1838 (!) to tap the mines in the Valenciennes-Anzin region.  Passenger service was discontinued in 1963 and the tracks were ripped up in 1975.  Thirty years later the tracks were back.

We ended chasing the tramway at a point close to the beginning of center-of-the-street reservation in Denain and then parked the car (plenty of spaces) at the Bellevue Park-and-Ride stop of the line.
 
Above and below  :  Bellevue Park and Ride.  The station's furnishings are spartan, but contain handicapped-accessible features.  Could the rocks in the lower photo have been scientifically positioned to create a barrier to calm bicycle traffic approaching the platform? 
 





The stations have countdown clocks so we knew we had plenty of time to buy day passes from the ticket vending machines, but we were unable to figure out how to accomplish that.  Since the headway on this section of the line was infrequent, we boarded an outbound car anyway.  We were still unsuccessful at the Denain Espace Villars terminal, and boarded the same tram heading inbound, as we didn't want to twiddle our thumbs for an additional 24 minutes.  But as soon as we got to a stop near the carhouse, where crews were being changed we got off, and were shown by one of the operators going off duty how to buy our day tickets.  It turned out the machines would take only coins and "contactless" credit cards.  We didn't have a sufficient number of coins, but were lucky that Karl-Heinz had one card with the requisite technology.  We boarded the next car and soon we were on the busier section of line with 12-minute headways, so we now had ample opportunities to pause for photographs.  Interestingly, one of the stops is named Nungesser, which is also the name of what was a major junction on New Jersey's Public Service streetcar system at the Hudson County-Bergen County border.  But we didn't stop there--probably should have.



The tail tracks at the Denain terminal of line T1.  An Alstom Citadis 302 switches onto the inbound track prior to picking up passengers gathering on the platform.  The station's canopy is rather striking (if not overpowering), befitting the center of the region's principal commune.  Clearly the station's architecture is drastically different than most of the system's spartan tram stops.



Within Valenciennes' urban area, the T1 line's tracks are mostly surrounded with grass, similar to most other French tramway systems and also New Orleans, making for a very inviting landscape.  This view shows a westbound Citadis tram approaching the St. Waast stop.



Just short of the Vosges stop on the southern end of the system, the median widens out to provide the necessary clearance for a center platform. 

I apologize for not including photos of the urban section of the line as we didn't stop along that portion because I covered it extensively on my first trip and haven't scanned any of those slides.  After completing our photography, we decided to take a look at the T2 tram line and made a round trip to the end of the line aboard a substitute bus.  The inner portion of the T2 has been placed on raised concrete, somewhat like the N line along Judah in San Francisco, but mostly single track here.  Toward the outer end there is some reserved away-from-the-road trackage, and the bus had to meticulously navigate the convoluted street network to serve each car stop, which was quite tedious and time consuming--although I thought that section of the line, which partially uses a ballasted trackbed, was the most interesting part--and hope to ride it properly someday.

The bus's seemingly endless circuit resulted in its lateness in arriving at the transfer point to the T1 and we had to wait 23 minutes for the next tram to Bellevue, where we finally retrieved the car.  The drive to Charleroi was quick--until the next installment of our day's luck stuck its grizzly head out again.  For the last lap our journey through the city to our hotel we drove along one of the city's tram lines and then onto an inner belt freeway, where I missed the turn off twice (!) before getting it right (round and round we went).  And then after finally leaving the highway we still had to find the Ibis.  That became an ordeal because we didn't realize we had to drive through a pedestrian street, well marked as such to discourage motor traffic with signs indicating that automobiles were forbidden (under pain of death).  After finally realizing that we had to ignore the signs we were able to park temporarily and check in--only to be told after we left our vehicle in the hotel's fenced-in parking lot (on a side street and reachable through gates using a token given to us by the desk clerk), that we could not leave it there on the following day, as the large, then mostly empty expanse was reserved for a bikers convention starting on Friday night.  By that time we had had enough, and so decided to "forget" those instructions, as we weren't going to touch the car on the next day.  But that will be described in part 06.

However, I will let you know that in retrospect, despite being the least successful day of our entire trip, it was actually not that bad, as we obtained some good photos (I hope readers will think so) and enjoyed an interurban ride much like what can be experienced when soaring through the cornfields of western Illinois on St. Louis's Metrolink, or at either end of Portland's MAX Red Line.  We finally settled in to an excellent dinner (albeit late) and a good night's sleep.

To be continued in part 05.


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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 05, 2019 8:19 AM

The experiment on posting pictures is so far a failure.  Firefox shows no pictures at all; Opera shows 'broken image' icons in the experiment post and nothing at all in 'part 4'

I was amused to see Nungesser's Corner in a post -- many happy hours on the 78 before it was the 178, and at the Castle.  Interestingly it has nothing whatsoever to do with Nungesser the WWI ace (in what I suspect was a series of 'Vieux Charles'*) and unsuccessful transatlantic flyer, for whom the street was almost certainly named; the New Jersey Nungesser owned a racetrack in the 19th Century which was the 'local landmark' giving the neighborhood its name (and fortuitously distinguishing it from GuttenbergSmile).

Ask Jack if he noted any nearby street being named "Coli" after Nungesser's co-pilot in L'Oiseau Blanc -- apparently most of the street-naming was done out of national passion following their disappearance in 1927, not Nungesser's wartime defense of France, and you find the names together.

As a little 'aside', someone in New York published a fictitious account of Nungesser's triumphant arrival in town, and the stirring reception he received there.  This apparently so enraged the French that Charles Lindbergh was advised to delay his flight several weeks.  This seems a bit strange (the official Lindy legend often making much of the 'race' between contenders for the first solo flight) but that's the alleged connection. 

*as pointed out in a later post, this just ain't so -- and I can't plead anything but stupidity, as I'd confused it since the 1960s.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, August 05, 2019 8:42 AM

Actually, "Vieux Charles"  was Georges Guynemer's airplane, but that's OK, you remember Charles Nugesser, a great combat pilot and a fine, fun, and very colorful man to boot.  That's good enough!

It's a tragedy "L'Oiseau Blanc" didn't make it to New York, but as Nungesser himself might have said, "C'est la vie!"

I remember reading about the ficticious account of Nungesser and Coli's arrival in New York.  I'm tempted to say "Well, there's nothing new about 'fake news,' is there?"  but that would be a bit unfair.  More likely it was some editors attempt to "scoop" the competition that blew up in his face.

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Posted by daveklepper on Monday, August 05, 2019 9:00 AM

I hope to use Imgur again at the University tomorrow, and should be able to post both these Part 4 photos in the right places and the new Sydney Metro pictures.

Unhhappy it didn't work ouit.  Carrying my laptop to the U at age 87 is a drag.

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 05, 2019 9:40 AM

Flintlock76
Actually, "Vieux Charles"  was Georges Guynemer's airplane...

Oh my God, that's dumb!  And I love WWI flying and aircraft, too, which makes it particularly amusing.  For some reason I never asked the right question to distinguish the aircraft!

So far the best fuselage art I've seen for a WWI fighter was what Henry Forster had on his SPAD.  Don't know if it's anywhere on the Web, and my copies of family pictures are buried impossibly in storage, but I believe Old Rhinebeck can provide a couple if you asked nicely.  You'll relish it when you see it!

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, August 05, 2019 10:35 AM

No problem, Mod-man!  Easy mistake to make.

I've loved the First World War pilots and their aircraft since I was a kid in the 1960's, just around the time of the 50th Anniversary of WW1.  Those men were my heroes, and nothing I've read about them since that time has caused me to change my opinon of them.

One odd thing though, when I was a kid I thought they looked old, but now that I'm 65 I look at photos of them and realize they weren't more than kids themselves!  

I'll have to do some searching for Henry Forster's SPAD.  It's an odd thing, but of all the varieties of WW1 fighters that have been replicated there aren't too many SPADS.  Wonder why?  Too complicated?  I wouldn't think so.

For your enjoyment, here's two SPAD XIII videos, the first is one restored by the French, with "Stork" squadron markings and with a Hispaono-Suiza 220 HP engine, and the second a replica of the great Italian ace Francesco Baracca's SPAD.  Both so beautiful it'll break your heart to look at them!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uPeycw_By4E  

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=74FbQLb-AqY  

One last thing, the late Cole Palen (what a guy!) was once asked if he had to take any of the WW1 fighters in his collection out to fight someone, which one would he take?

Without hesitation he replied  "The SPAD!

PS:  Is this the Henry Forster you're speaking of?

https://www.findagrave.com/memorial/91417484/henry-forster  

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 05, 2019 3:22 PM

Flintlock76
Is this the Henry Forster you're speaking of?

It most certainly is.

He taught me about the right ways to fly a 220 in combat, and about the United States efforts after the War to get rid of the Bolsheviks (which of course conventional American history at the time didn't teach much about!)  It was an honor to have known him, and every time I think of him I miss him.

I suspect you don't see many SPAD replicas because they're a relatively heavy, complex airframe (requiring a number of good skills including casting and joinery to make) with a decidedly nonstandard V-8 engine (mine started out with the intent of using an aluminum Chevy dry-sump small block, and finished with the intent of using a BMW engine (some of the airworthiness modifications to which had been pioneered by a contemporary twin-engine bomber replica using V-12s).  Some of the production in wartime was contracted out to a piano factory (I believe the one at Dayton came from there) and that's the level of craftsmanship and fabrication I think necessary to do it right.  Another good demonstration of what's involved is the replica in the Selfridge museum (north of Detroit on Anchor Bay) for which there is some photographic documentation -- it took a team of skilled people three years.

Nungesser was somewhat famous for preferring the Nieuport (which was much more agile) to the SPAD.  Different tastes in handling -- and the aircraft handle VERY differently.

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Posted by Flintlock76 on Monday, August 05, 2019 3:40 PM

There's a YouTube video of that Italian replica being built, unfortunately the video quality's not that good.  From what I saw building a SPAD was  a complicated process, but then that's what probably made them as good and rugged as they were.

I don't know what kind of engine that Italian plane has but it's certainly modern.  I see the owner installed a self-starter for convenience, and I don't blame him, saves having the trouble of a ground crew.

You know, Baracca preferred the older SPAD VII, considering it more manuverable than the XIII.  He didn't mind that it had only one machine gun.  As he said...

"If you know how to shoot one gun's all you need!"

However, it was a XIII he was killed in.

Sorry we've hijacked your topic David!  Couldn't help ourselves!

And on the American effort to stop the Bolsheviks, and we weren't the only ones, there's a story about a Jewish American Doughboy who's parents left Russia to escape the pogroms.  He joined the army expecting to fight the Germans and wound up in Russia fighting the Bolshies!

In a letter home he said "Hi Mom!  Hi Dad!  You'll never  guess where I am!" 

Sadly, I don't remember his name.  New York City kid by the way, and he did make it home all right.

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Posted by charlie hebdo on Monday, August 05, 2019 6:09 PM

Overmod

 

 
Flintlock76
Is this the Henry Forster you're speaking of?

 

It most certainly is.

He taught me about the right ways to fly a 220 in combat, and about the United States efforts after the War to get rid of the Bolsheviks (which of course conventional American history at the time didn't teach much about!)  It was an honor to have known him, and every time I think of him I miss him.

I suspect you don't see many SPAD replicas because they're a relatively heavy, complex airframe (requiring a number of good skills including casting and joinery to make) with a decidedly nonstandard V-8 engine (mine started out with the intent of using an aluminum Chevy dry-sump small block, and finished with the intent of using a BMW engine (some of the airworthiness modifications to which had been pioneered by a contemporary twin-engine bomber replica using V-12s).  Some of the production in wartime was contracted out to a piano factory (I believe the one at Dayton came from there) and that's the level of craftsmanship and fabrication I think necessary to do it right.  Another good demonstration of what's involved is the replica in the Selfridge museum (north of Detroit on Anchor Bay) for which there is some photographic documentation -- it took a team of skilled people three years.

Nungesser was somewhat famous for preferring the Nieuport (which was much more agile) to the SPAD.  Different tastes in handling -- and the aircraft handle VERY differently.

 

The Nieuport models,  like the Fokker Eindeckers and the Dr.I,  along with Sopwiths, are unstable, as are all rotary-engined planes.  That's an inherent feature but it is also why they are so damn maneuverable. It  takes a skilled, experienced pilot to handle one. 

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Posted by Overmod on Monday, August 05, 2019 8:27 PM

charlie hebdo
The Nieuport models, like the Fokker Eindeckers and the Dr.I, along with Sopwiths, are unstable, as are all rotary-engined planes. That's an inherent feature but it is also why they are so damn maneuverable. It takes a skilled, experienced pilot to handle one.

More than just dynamic instability: it's a consistent instability, born of the tremendous gyroscopic torque generated by the spinning rotary. (This is of course part of what charlie hebdo meant, but that might not be apparent to 'lay' enthusiasts...)  So certain strong or quick control inputs also result in attitude changes at right angles to them, as you can readily re-create holding a spinning gyroscope horizontally in front of you and manipulating it.  Add this to the fundamental characteristic that sticking your hand out of the cockpit creates enough moment to bank and even yaw the plane a bit... this before the gyroscopic torque acts.

One lesson from this has to do with becoming an ace without a long and tiring learning curve in dogfighting stamina.  If you get your guns to bear on target in a rotary-engined fighter, walk the rudder pedals quickly left and right.  This doesn't 'turn' the airplane (you need to bank to do that) but it does YAW the airplane, making the gun bearing point walk back and forth too ... but the gyro torque automatically pitches you up and down 90 degrees out of phase but equally quickly, and without affecting much about your actual state vector as it were.

The result if you sustain firing for a few rounds is a cone of fire, that widens or tightens proportionally to how you kick the pedals.   Think of this as analogous to spiraling a laser to ensure contact at a distance.  It was said to be an effective technique.

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, August 06, 2019 5:33 AM

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Posted by daveklepper on Tuesday, August 13, 2019 5:16 AM

Continued in a new thread

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