Friday, November 28, 2014

Friday 28 November - Blanc à Argent

An ancient locomotive at the Gare D'Austerlitz early morning
We arrived at the Gare d'Austerlitz in good time but SNCF were seven minutes late in departing which was the amount of time we had to make the connection at Salbris. Visiting the toilet was an interesting experience. The soap dispenser was leaking into the sink and the speed of the train created a draft up the plug hole with the result that large soap bubbles were coming out of the sink and floating around. The BA crew were waiting for us at Salbris and we made the connection easily.
There was nothing exceptional about the ride to Romorantin. The track is in quite good condition but the train took the curves poorly, maybe as a result of the beating the trucks took before the track was rehabilitated.
At Romorantin I asked a railway official if we could have permission to look around. He took us around personally, complete with high visibility vests. We were taken into the maintenance shop and also to see the old diesel locomotive, number 13, which was built on a steam locomotive frames and wheels. A similar locomotive, number 14, is now at the preservation group in Argy.
These heritage cars cannot now be used because they are not handicapped accessible and they do not have the SNCF signalling

Number 13 is sleeping in a dry shed
This water crane has recently been painted yet it cannot have been used for many years

Romorantin is always pleasant
We had a look around the town and had a coffee. A good part of Romorantin remains derelict and business is not good.
We continued on to Valencay after a lunch sitting in a park beside the river Saulde. The wagons stored for many years at Prunier have been sold to a preservation group. A large part of the Valençay station yard, including a couple of small wagon turntables have gone. There remain traces of track across the front of the station but no clues as to what function it performed. The service to Luçay le Male has been discontinued as of last December. There is a replacement school bus service.
Valencay is still on bad times with a large number of vacant storefronts.

The Waiting Room/Ticket Office at Valencay is a restored gem
Click here to see all pictures taken of the Blanc a Argent this trip
We returned to Gièvres. The station mistresses are still in place, the lady at Chabris still having to crank the crossing barriers up and down by hand.
From Gievres we took the train along the Cher valley to St. Pierre des Corps. In several places there are chalk cliffs with houses built into them. There were also windows and doors set into the chalk.
From St. Pierre des  Corps we took the TGV back to Paris Montparnasse.

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