Saturday, 18 December 2010


We (almost) live along the old local railway between Chalon-sur-Saône and Mâcon (nowadays a cycle and walking track, the Voie Verte). The heavy duty railroad between those two towns is still in use, and follows more or less the Saône. Further, luckily outside earshot, there is the TGV line between Le Creusot and Mâcon. Whenever one wants to hear the sound of trains, one has to travel. One of the tourist attraction around here is the Parc des Combes in Le Creusot. Le Creusot is a former industrial town, in its heyday heavily involved in coal and steel industries. The Parc is mainly aimed at children, but it also hosts steam events every so often. Besides it offers home to one of the fastest steam locomotives ever built, the 241P17 .
It is not only here where the locomotive was restored and is maintained; throughout the year Le Creusot is the starting point for trips, often made in double traction with the Mistral - the name of the 241P17, to places like Mulhouse, Aix-en-Provence, Lyon, Dijon or Marseille, using the SNCF network. The loc was designed by the French engineer André Chapelon, the inventor of the Compound loc. I quote a friend of mine, an expert on steam and trains: “Compound machines are machines with small high pressure and big low pressure cylinders. The steam expands in two steps from boiler pressure to atmospheric pressure. When starting up all steam goes full on the cylinders; once at speed the compound cylinders are utilised. The machines are not easy to handle, but the French were experts at it.”
One can see the Mistral regularly in the neighbourhood, because quite a number of the train’s trips are coming past or through Chalon, Chagny, Tournus and Mâcon. In Chalon, Tournus and Mâcon there is normally a long stop to enable the Anoraks to shoot their films, photos or sound bites. The picture with this Blog was taken while the train came towards a viaduct near Chagny with a speed of approx. 100 km/h. What is more thrilling than seeing this piece of technical ingenuity ploughing through the beautiful Burgundian landscape?

The website of La Tuilerie de Chazelle

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