Sunday, 26 April 2020

TGVs in Northern France, July 1999

I drove from the UK outward on Sunday 11th July, business class turn up and go service via the tunnel, where you could park, freshen up, pick up meal to eat during the transit, in a neat wicker tray, which I still have, then be first to drive onto the next available shuttle - it now seems to be called Flexiplus. I am sure my access was a corporate deal. Onward via Antwerp and Aachen, to Mainz, Germany, with a load of materials to support a training course, probably the furthest I ever drove in one day. Return through two days with stops near Metz, for Hagondange (freight trains for Woippy), and Douai. Then to the hypermarket at Calais, from where, with the air-con set low, I drove my French groceries for the next week all the way back to Hampshire.

TGV Réseau set 550 makes a stop at Douai, Friday 16th July, heading in the Paris direction. The TGV Réseau series were developed from the preceding  TGV Atlantique, and were delivered between 1992 and 1996. 550 was the last built of the dual voltage sets, delivered in 1994, and remains in service

Similar set 526 and another beyond. This set has been reformed, in 2006-07 and this power car is now formed in a TGV Duplex of series 601.

TGV Réseau (English) - TGV Réseau (French)

The residents of Douai, and surrounding area, appear to have been recently fighting to retain their TGV service: 12Dec15 - 28Feb19  28Feb19 - 02Mar19 - 02Aug19. The underlying story, however, is that of economic decline of the traditional heavy industries led by coal and steel.

Douai was where the FIA, FSA, FTA, IKA, IFA and JGA wagons were constructed by Arbel Fauvet in the 1990s, now Millet AFR.

To the LGV Nord on Saturday morning, 17th July. It took an evening in 2020 to locate where I was in 1999, as I have no clear recall of the drive, however a review of my atlas, and of where I parked the car, led to a location, which is also characterised by the distinctive long building in the background, which turns out to be a Best Western Hotel near Fresnes-Les-Montauban, to the east of Douai. I believe that this was a second visit there, the previous being in 1994, and the location may have originally been chosen from an issue of Today's Railway's Europe.

TGV Réseau 528 is seen with a working from Paris heading towards Lille.

Thalys TGV PKBA set 4304, owned by SNCB, and likely a Paris - Brussels working.