Train des Pignes - Sud France B-505

This passenger carriage, by GECP used for the Train des Pignes steam train between Puget-Théniers and Annot, is of the type originally used for the two Compagnie des Chemins de fer du Sud de la France (SF) railway company narrow gauge (one meter) lines Nice - Digne and Nice - Meyrargues.

It was part of an SF order in 1892 for 8 carriages for the then so far inaugurated parts of the lines from Nice, viz. Nice - Puget-Theniérs and Nice - Grasse. They were built and delivered the same year by Desouches & David in Pantin, NE of Paris.

During WWI it was requisitioned for use by the French Army. On June 13, 1915, it was sent to Chemins de fer de la Camargue (Camargue Railway), and there used to transport workers to and from the gun powder factory in Salin-de-Giraud (near Arles, NW of Marseille).

In March the following year it left Camargue and was sent to the war zone near Verdon, to the 10ème Section des Chemins de fer de Campagne, a French military railway unit. It was there used for military transports on the narrow gauge line "Le Meusien" (owned by Compagnie Meusienne de Chemins de Fer) in the French department of  Meuse.

After the war, it was restituted to SF on April 12, 1919. However, the years of military had left some traces ... It took two years to get it back to operational condition, on 2 April, 1921, to be in duty at SF for another almost three decades.

When use of  steam engines ceased after WWII, it escaped from being scrapped. It was instead rearranged into a service vehicle, used for railway line maintenance work. To suit this purpose, the interior installations were taken out to make place for various kind of tools and supplies. Even a sliding door (!) was installed on its side to allow loading of bulky apparatus. It provided this service for about a decade, until it was retired during the second part of the 60s.

After the creation of GECP and its steam tourist train, it was made available to GECP on June 20, 1979 for its restoration.

The brutal modifications to its interior to more or less convert it into a goods wagon and the subsequent detoriation of the wooden parts had put it in a position beyond repair. Should it be scrapped or be entirely rebuilt? It was torn down into pieces in 1982.

Happily, among its membership GECP had an experienced carpenter. Under his leadership, the carriage was rebuilt with new parts and material, on the basis of the original blueprints. A work that took seven years to finish.

In 1990, the passenger carriage  B-505 was put back into service, once again hauled by a steam engine. And has been in service for the Train des Pignes heritage steam train for more than two decades since.

The length of B-505 is 12.3 m (40.35 ft), its height 3.25 m (10.66 ft), its weight 10.5 t. The seating capacity is 52 passengers.

(Ref traindespignes.fr

But B-505 isn't alone on the track ...

GECP has in addition to B-505 one more of the same type in operation, B-508. Together with B-505 it forms part of the Puget-Théniers to Annot steam train service.

B-508 in the Puget-Théniers workshop, September 2014

Passenger carriage Sud France B-508 at Annot station

And there are more in line ...

We find three more carriages in the GECP depot at different stages of restoration.

In an advanced stage of restoration, in the GECP workshop

Waiting for restoration, in the carriage shed
Waiting in the GECP trackyard
No doubt the volunteers at GECP are guaranteed to be kept busy for years to come ... !!

See also Vehicles in the Train des Pignes Steam Train