Saturday, 11 March 2017
Jonction Triangulaire Mystérieuse (1)
Big Walls and Small Belts
This is Adolphe Thiers, French politician and author who lived from 1797 to 1877. As Prime Minster he out-Trumped Trump by authorising the building of a wall right round the city of Paris.
It was a substantial affair with real gates that could be closed and guarded.
There was a broad swathe of open ground outside the wall enabling soldiers with their pop guns to mow down anyone who threatened the city. The gates (Portes) provide the historic names for bus, tram and metro stops still used today.
Work started in 1841 and was completed three years later. This massive construction was evidence of the instability of European Politics for much of the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Then in 1852 a circle line of full-sized rail was opened incorporating various bits of track that the rail companies had installed to provide links with their various termini.
The "Petite Ceinture" (Small Belt) line offered a train every 15 minutes in both directions.
Much of the infrastructure is still in place ...
... with just a short section incorporated into RER line C. There have been vociferous campaigns to re-open some sections since the line closed in 1934, only to be replaced by bus route "PC".
The bus service did not, at first, complete the full circle. The western side had a gap (dotted line, map below) which was filled by a local train service from Gare St Lazare.
In later years the service was split and ran as PC1, PC2 and PC3 ...
... as shown on this fbb simplified diagram.
But change was in its way.
The first section of a new Tramway, between Pont du Garigliano and Porte d'Ivry, opened as T3 on 16 December 2006.
Work began in early 2009 on a 14.5 kilometres (9.0 mi) extension from Porte d’Ivry to Porte de la Chapelle, via Porte de Charenton. The extension project was then split into a smaller extension to Porte de Vincennes and a separate tramway line for the remainder of the route, which became T3b. The opening of the extension and renaming to T3a occurred on 15 December 2012.
At Porte de Vincennes the routes stand on opposite side of the road; T3 on the left ...
... just in front of the bridge that carried the former Petite Ceinture railway across the road.
3b is on the opposite side:-
Here fbb changed from 3a to 3b on his recent visit to Paris.
And apologies for an extra "g" in Garigliano! But here's how it was at Porte de Vincennes when the trains were running ...
... with the station (Cours de Vincennes) just off shot to the right.
There are a few remains today, notably the doorway as illustrated above.
The creation of the tram route will, obviously, preclude any re-opening on this section.
Track and overhead are all in place on the through line joining route T3a and T3b but this is not the "Jonction" referred to in today's heading.
For that we need to go back to 1841 and the "Thiers Wall". Work started in 1958 and was competed in 1973 to use the open strip of land outside the former walls to build "Le Boulevard Periphérique", a circle of motorway style road right round the city.
It can be seen in the aerial view of Porte de Vicennes. (click on the pic for an enlargement)
Petite Ceinture bridge far left, former PC2 bus, present tram T3a and T3b to the left of the eight tower blocks and the Periphérique on the far right.
It was a phone call from lorry driving chum and Sheffield resident David that excited fbb's "leedle grey cells". The message went something like this:-
"I've just driven past Porte de Pantin on the Periphérique and there's a triangular tram junction. What is it and where does it go?"
Our regular readers would not expect the opinionated and obese one to shrink from such a challenge and results of his investigations will appear tomorrow.
One last point. Line T3b is currently being extended beyond Porte de la Chapelle ...
... to Porte d'Asnières and due to open in 2018 predicating more changes to the PC bus routes.
Next "jonction" blog :Sunday 12th March