Trains en Alsace Lorraine


This story invites you to a walk in four dimensions: space for the site of the station but also time to evoke a 8 years period (1947-1955). It is a question here of recalling scenes of a long time completed lives but still so close to us.

Installed well over a wall of the old medieval castle, I dominate all the valley. Founded during the last quarter of Xth century, ruined into 1523, the keeps septentrional and of Fénétrange still overhang the surrounding landscape. Flooded by a beautiful sun of autumn, the country is shining of thousand fires of the multicoloured glares of wood and forests .

A circular glance on the basis of the East enables me successively to discover the railway double track line from Paris to Strasbourg skirted by the secondary road D 132, then Zorn, a river which is parallel to the channel of the Marne to the Rhine. I now see the first houses of the village of Lutzelbourg, which skirt the port of the channel where charge some barges with imposing freestones. While following the curve which follows the valley around the hill supporting the castle I discover a valley perpendicular, narrow and with the slopes abrupt delivering the passage to the road and the metric gauge railroad track towards Maison-Rouge, Phalsbourg and Drulingen. Then, I see the town hall, the two churches and the few restaurants and hotels. Lutzelbourg is indeed a tourist resort and starting point of many paths borrowed by the Sunday walkers.

Then the SNCF railway station with its long platforms, its goods shed where reign a feverish animation, and where are amoncellent the tree trunks brought of the neighbouring forests. I see there also pink sandstone grinding wheels extracted in the careers of Vilsberg and brought by the metric railroad.

A strident whistle resounds with the distance, a deaf puffing approaches from the West. Still a few moments and a long convoy of passenger cars appears beyond the semaphore. It is the 11, an express train which left Paris-Est at 8.10 AM. It curves the side of the valley, exceeds tower 2, then leans in a curve of 800 meters radius before being engulfed under my feet in the tunnel of Lutzelbourg, accompanied by a whistle, disappearing one moment then to reappear in my back to continue to the plain of Alsace. I had recognized as engine the 241A10 of the depot of Bar-Le-Duc.

Traction vapor is still omnipresent at the beginning of the 50th. But its days are counted. The electrification will make its appearance in 1956 and will definitively banish the vapor of this line. For the moment, the valley still resounds under the blows of exhaust of the steel monsters which rise since the plain of Alsace towards the Lorrain plate while following the meanders of the valley of Zorn, and thus swallowing a declivity from 4 to 6 mm per meter on a few 20 kilometers. I decide to leave my observation post and to join the railway station. A relatively stiff path enables me in a few minutes to be on the road which goes up in Hultehouse. This one passes just to the top of the input of the Tunnel of Lutzelbourg. I settle there. The station - km No 448- (mileage from Paris), begins in fact by the input from the tunnel from Lutzelbourg from 439m. In slope from 6 0/00 at this place, the line passes on the level on a few hundred meters, to include in the curve after the platform.

Having a siding track in the two directions, a quay goods, a court goods with junction with the metric gauge railroad, the station has few architectural elements but those are various origins: The station of 1850 which cannot deny its French style of the time of Napoléon 3 is in masonry with freestone apparatus to the angles. It is made conspicuous vis-a-vis with the goods shed and the signal tower, out of sandstone of the Vosges of the German time of the end of the last century. Classified station of 3rd class, the installations quickly become insufficient with the contribution of the traffic of the freestones.

The passenger traffic is also significant, since serving nine communes in a radius of 5 km, of which the garrison town of Phalsbourg. An abrupt whistle, some blows of exhausts then already noise characteristic of the brake coming to rest against the wheels. They is the 1464, a slow passenger train bound for Sarrebourg, which emerges of the tunnel. Today they is the 230 F 373 which ensures this convoy made up of a van and five cars with side doors. The oar slowly comes to die along the platform.....

  After the departure of the 1464, calms falls down on the place. I profit for better contemplating the semaphore planted at the top of the retaining wall of the tunnel. It is a semaphore ex Alsace-Lorraine and its position for the least curious must allow of a better visibility since the input of the curve contrary to the station. I go up the street of the station now. I will not hear unfortunately any more class T37 at the head of a beautiful oar of bogie cars coming in the ultimate rise of his course towards the station. Only the rails posed at the edge of the roadway point out the existence of the metric railroad connecting Lutzelbourg to Drulingen. Until a few months ago, the convoys still passed to a few meters of the Hotel of the Station, famous for its trouts of Zorn!  


I have just time to join the platform to see the arrival of the 4411, one passanger and goods train coming from Lunéville. The locomotive is a class 230 B of the EST, and the oar is composed of C6tf and a pleiad of cover, dishes and other goods cars. This train carries out the 74 km which separates Lunéville from Saverne - its station of destination, in two hours! After his departure, I decide to go along the court goods to join the signal tower n°2 at the opposite of the station. The essence of the traffic rests on the brought wood of the drills surrounding and the freestones extracted in the sandstone careers of the Vosges located on the course of the metric gauge and brought by its care. It is in the court of overflow goods that begins the metric gauge track. There was little place to build all the installations worthy of a terminal such plates or even depot. This is why only a pit with handle with water as well as a pier with coal were built. The depot of the line being with a few 10 kilometers in Maison-Rouge.

It is the hour of the passage of the train 14, the Strasbourg-Paris express train is towed today by a Pacific class 231K. Its composition now became traditional, because made up almost exclusively of DEV passenger cars. To find more heteroclite on the express trains, it is necessary to turn to the trains coming from Belgium, of Holland or Italy - dutch blue cars , two tone of brown ones for Italian, green for the Swiss ones and the Belgians. Are added to it the cars of the CIWL. Let us stress that the express train 36 Ostend-Milan carries out a stop in station of Lutzelbourg, It was another time! But I must think of reconsidering my steps if I do not want to miss the train which must bring back to me to Strasbourg. I have just crossed the tunnel which passes under the ways and which delivers passage to the secondary road towards Garrebourg. I fork on the left and takes a path which brings me to the foot of signal tower 1.

Realized out of freestone, with an unquestionable richness on the level of the ornamentations, it nevertheless is covered with sheet corrugated!!. A traditional technique of construction for the buildings of the beginning of the century .

The day starts to fall and I despair to see passing the flag train under the last rays of the sun. Would it have delay today? My waiting is finally rewarded. The deaf exhaust of one four cylinders compound arrives at far, whistle, a short silence then the ' Blue Whale' emerge from the tunnel. In fact the 230K276 has the privilege to tow the ' Gummizug' today - Alsatian nickname given to the tyred train (translation literal: train rubber). It is the train flag of line 1., rapid 4, which will carry out the 504 kilometers from Strasbourg in Paris in 5H15 with stops in Nancy and Bar-Le-Duc, without changes of machine or team!!!

At the time, the area Est of the SNCF had the European blue ribbon of the longest stage realized with only one machine with vapor. (Section Paris-Mulhouse - Hausbergen by line 4) the convoy approaches quickly, the machine is in full work, this oar of six cars assembled out of 120 Michelin tires and not taring that 90 tons offers as much resistance than a traditional oar. Already it passed, the silence of the bearing of the oar slices resolutely with the blows of exhausts dryness of the machine

Two more years ago, I will have been able to admire the BUGATTI Double Railcar instead of Gummizug and me gaver of the vombrissements of the four Royal engines of 200Ch. The success of this fast relation also contributed to its replacement by the oar tractor drawn in 1948, it even replaced in 1952 by DEV passenger cars.

The night fall. I am on platform 2. Direct the 309 coming from Metz has just stopped. The convoy is drawn by the 230D949 ex Class S9 of the AL, and is composed of primarily Prussian cars. I go up in a compartment of third class and installs me on a bank out of wooden. I throw a last glance on the surroundings which slowly disappear in the half-light. The furnace of the waiting room is lit, I between see his reddish glow through the pane. The weather will be fresh this night. Whistle of the Head of Station, starting, the oar takes speed gradually and plunges in the tunnel for Strasbourg. Goodbye Lutzelbourg, so long surely .

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