Saturday, 4 November 2017

Steaming up to the Alsace

Every so often, approx. 6 x per year, one can recognise the unmistakable sound of a steam locomotive not so far from where we live. And I am not talking about a small narrow-gauge locomotive, or a shunting locomotive, no, this concerns one of the last great express train locomotives in the series 241P that crossed France until the end of the 60-ies. The train has a power of 4000 hp, and can easily drive at 120 km/h even though the French railways have restricted the speed limit to 100 km/h.

Between Chagny and Beane
The locomotive's home base is Le Creusot (wher she was built as well with the Schneider Company) and makes yearly trips to amongst others Nevers, Aix-les-Bains, Villars-les-Dombes, Lyon and Dijon, the Loire Valley… This year there was a special trip planned. The idea was to travel from Le Creusot to Mulhouse, have a dinner with candle light in the Cité du Train (one of the biggest museums if not the biggest railway museum of Europe), stay in a hotel near the railway station.
The next day there would be a visit to the museum proper and then of course the return trip under steam.

Public in Vesoul
We had watched the train go by standing on a viaduct near Rully, but we had never been on board. Until September.
Because we had something to celebrate we had splashed out financially in order to make the trip with some friends.

A young spectator
The smell of oil, coal and steam, the sound of the cylinders and of the steam whistle, combined with a beautiful late summer's day which allowed us to hang from the windows to take pictures, the stops at various stations on our way to take in water with the help of the local fire brigade, the spectators along the tracks and especially the crowds on the stations of Chagny and Vesoul, all this made the weekend to be an unforgettable one.

Dinner Cité du Train
And not only the trip itself had been perfectly organised (the steam train had to be fit into the SNCF timetable). The lunches we had ordered were of good quality, the dinner in the museum was excellent with local specialities, the hotel was very efficiently organised, the museum which we had visited before was certainly worth another visit, and this is hopefully not the last time we boarded the 241P17.

A sister of our locomotive
For our own website click here.

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