Train des Pignes - Puget-Théniers to Annot

Train des Pignes Steam Train - from Puget-Théniers to Annot

The Train des Pignes steam train operates on the Nice - Digne one meter gauge line, which has daily traffic with four trains of railcars in each direction. This means that the steam train operated by GECP has to be sqeezed into "holes" in the railcar time schedule.

For the 10.45 departure, the steam train reverses into Puget-Théniers station from the GECP depot, located at the same station, well in advance of the arrival of the regular scheduled railcar.

The steam train passengers arriving to the station by buses or by car can well in advance of departure find their reserved seats on the train, or their reserved carriage.

While this loading of passengers takes place, the CP railcar from Nice arrives, carrying numbers of additional passengers heading for a yourney on the steam train.

When the CP railcar has left, the steam train can still not leave the station. It has to wait until it gets the report that the single-track line to the next station is cleared, i.e that the railcar has arrived there.

The steam train then leaves for Entrevaux, where it stops for some minutes to allow its passengers to disembark for a few moments to take pictures of the train and of the village on the other side of the river Var, with its impressive Vauban fort on the mountain top.

The steam train then continues up the Var valley towards the Pont-de-Gueydan station, which it passes without stopping.

After having kept the locomotive crew very busy, in particular the fireman, to keep the steam at sufficiently high pressure and use it economically despite the very steep grades up the valley, through tunnels and over a high bridge, the train arrives at Annot station.

The trip from Puget-Théniers has taken almost an hour and a half.

A few minutes later the hole in the time schedule is filled - the railcar from Digne arrives, and will after a short stop continue towards Puget-Théniers and further on to Nice.

The whole crew can now take a long lunch break. After that thet move the locomotive to the turntable in the other end of the yard, attach it to the other end of the train and fill its tanks with fresh cold water. And wait for the passengers to return from their lunches and sightseeing in the village of Annot.

The trip back to Puget-Théniers is a different story - in a different hole in the time schedule. Hardly any steam is needed to go down the valley to bring the steam train with its passengers back to the departure station and the GECP train depot. But a lot of breaking power is needed!

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