Les Chemins de Fer et Tramways de Provence - la Ligne Nice a Digne (voie-metrique)

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The Nice to Digne metre-gauge line is the only one of the metre-gauge lines near Nice to remain open. Despite a chequered history its future now seems relatively secure. This is the first post about this line. I have travelled on it a few times in recent years and will do again when we are in Nice once more. It has seen some dramatic improvements in the permanent way and rolling stock in the past 5 or so years.

The next length of the journey along the Nice to Digne railway line starts at La Manda and takes us to Plan du Var, where the TAM formed a junction with the Nice to Digne line. The TAM operated the line from Plan du Var to St. Martin Vesubie.


We begin the next stage of our journey along the Nice to Digne les Bains line at Colomars Station. The modern halt is on a section of railway line which was not part of the original alignment. The as-built alignment had to accommodate access for the branch-line to the bridge over the River Var and had to allow for a height gain to permit trains to travel over the top girders of the truss-bridge over the Var.
In the last post we noted that there was a short-lived tramway which left the Nice to Digne line at Plan du Var. It travelled up the Valley of the River Vesubie as far as St. Martin Vesubie.


Tramway services left Plan du Var Station travelling North and diverged from the Nice to Digne line before reaching the Vesubie River. The images below are old postcards of the location of the junction and show the development of the site over a number of years. Initially a stone arch bridge took the road over the Vesubie, but when this failed it was replaced by the concrete arch bridge visible in some of the pictures.
This is the next stage of the journey up the Valley of the River Var on the Nice to Digne metre-gauge railway:


After a detour to look at the metre-gauge TAM tramway from Plan du Var to St. Martin Vesubie we continue along the main line toward Digne. We board the train once again and head North from Plan du Var. ..... North of the Station the line crosses the River Vesubie and continues on the east side of the River Var towards Chaudan, about 2 kilometres north of Plan du Var. .......
This post covers another short-lived tramway which provided a service up the valley of l'Esteron from Pont Charles Albert over the River Var to Roquesteron, a distance of more than 20 kilometres.


Before the tramway was constructed the Charles Albert Bridge was a suspension bridge (built by Marc Seguin in the mid-19th Century) [2] but this bridge was not designed to accommodate tramway loading. In 1913 it was rebuilt to accommodate the trams, just as was necessary with the Pont de la Mescla on the Tinée tramway. The replacement structure had six spans of over 30 metres in concrete built by the company Thorrand. In the foreground of the image immediately below, there is the Pont-Charles Albert stop and the lime kilns at La Lauziere overseen by the perched village of La Roquette sur Var, © Yann Duvivier. [6] This 'new' bridge was replaced in the mid-20th Century by the one which is in use today.

Another of the branch tramways left the Nice to Digne line close to La Mescla Station and travelled up the valley of La Tinee.


I first looked at this tramway in 2013. It was only a short blog recognising the existence of the line in the valley.


This line was 26.5 Km long and connected villages in the Tinée valley to Nice to Digne line. Like other lines of the Tramways Alpes Maritimes (TAM), the electric current was single phase. The civil engineering works (bridges, tunnels) were executed by the Department.

The line was built in 1911 and operation started on 1st April 1912. Landslides affected the operation of the line in the early months. The original opening was delayed from January to April because of landslides and on 2nd April a further landslide affected several hundred metres of track and destroyed power lines.

The line ceased operations in 1931.
The available imagery from the time of the tramway is limited in extent and is supplemented by images from later dates.

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