Thursday, 9 June 2016

Grand Train- Paris La Chapelle

Inside the traverser cabin looking towards the train shed.
The depot at Paris La Chapelle was opened in 1845 by the Chermin du Fere du Nord and served the railways north of Paris for 167 years until it finally closed it's doors at the end of January 2013. Now the site is to be put up for sale by SNCF. This prime spot in inner Paris is sure to realise it's value to the property developers but before it does in the summer of 2016 for probably the final time La Chapelle is opening it's doors to trains- and the public- as part of an exhibition 'Grand Train'.

Grand Train is a celebration of railway history though exhibitions as well as a venue with pop-up bars restaurants and stalls. Many of the exhibits have been brought from the French national railway museum, Cite du Tren at Mulhouse for exhibition in Paris for one summer only. The public can wander parts of the depot and admire the trains. Areas which once would have been off limits can be seen, and you can even sit and enjoy a beer from a deck chair in the traverser pit should you so choose!

Beer in the traverser pit- there may not be many opportunities other than here!
For the railway enthusiast many of the exhibits are well laid out within the old engine sheds with displays of mostly diesel and electric locomotives. There is one steam engine and also exhibits including a TGV power car and diesel railbus (though these are not so easily accessible). Early in the afternoon the venue was fairly quite with plenty of opportunities to photograph the visits however I suspect it may become somewhat more difficult as the evening draws the crowds in. The oldest exhibits include some very ancient electric locomotives dating to the 1930's while the newest include a freshly painted 'Sybic' loco BB26172 withdrawn just last year.

Whether you fancy having a beer and a bite to eat in an unusual environment or long to see some of the preserved SNCF fleet (but don't really have an excuse for a visit to Mulhouse) I would definitely recommend a visit to Grand Train if you are passing through Paris this summer. The venue is open Wednesday - Sunday from 11am to midnight until October 16, 2016. Best of all- admission is free!

Parts of the depot retain their abandoned industrial feel.
Locomotive name crests hang on the wall of the old depot.

'Steeplecab' B13052 is one of the nicest electric locomotive exhibits at Grand Train- part of the collection from Mulhouse.

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