Chemins de fer de l'Ouest

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Compagnie des Chemins de fer de l'Ouest
Ouest.png
Locale Normandy, Paris and Brittany
Dates of operation 1855–1909
Track gauge 4 ft 8 12 in (1,435 mm) standard gauge
Headquarters Paris

The Compagnie des chemins de fer de l'Ouest (CF de l'Ouest), often referred to simply as L'Ouest or Ouest, was an early French railway company.

History[edit]

Birth of the company[edit]

St Germain en Laye train station. The station is now underground.

The Compagnie de l'Ouest was created in 1855 by the merger of various small railway companies active in the western outskirts of Paris, in Normandy and in Brittany. These were:[1]

Paris à Saint-Germain[edit]

The Ouest's oldest line (still open to this day) is the line from Paris to Le Pecq, built by Émile Péreire's Compagnie du Chemin de fer de Paris à Saint-Germain and inaugurated on 24 August 1837 by Marie-Amélie, wife of King Louis-Philippe. The line was 19 km (12 mi) long and the trip took 30 minutes. Initially greeted with fear and lack of interest, the railway was a success that paved the way for other new railways, for instance to Rouen. In 1847, the line to Le Pecq was extended to Saint-Germain-en-Laye. The section between Saint-Germain-en-Laye and Nanterre – Université is now part of the RER line A. The section between Paris Saint-Lazare and Nanterre is part of the main lines to Rouen and Caen.

The old Ouest[edit]

While the line to Saint-Germain-en-Laye was being built, a line to Versailles, another popular Sunday destination, was projected. Two lines were built, one from Gare Saint-Lazare to the terminus Versailles-Rive-Droite, the other from Gare Montparnasse (Barrière du Maine) to the terminus Versailles-Rive-Gauche. James Mayer de Rothschild in conjunction with the Chemin de Fer de Versailles-rive-Droite, created in 1837, were given the concession to operate the lines. The line to Versailles-Rive-Droite, opened on 4 August 1839 and still in use today as Transilien line L, is 19 km (12 mi) long, branching off the line to Saint-Germain at Asnières-sur-Seine. The line to Versailles-Rive-Gauche is also still in use today. The part between Montparnasse and Viroflay is used by trains from Paris to Chartres and Brittany as well as Transilien line N. The part between Viroflay and Versailles is used by RER C local trains.

Paris à Rouen[edit]

Two lines to Rouen in Normandy were projected: one passing through La Garenne-Colombes and following the left Seine bank from Poissy, the other passing through Pontoise and following the high plateaux on the right Seine bank. Due to the lack of confidence in the second project, the first one was granted and the concession given to Charles Laffitte and Edouard Blount. Construction began in 1841 under the orders of engineer Joseph Locke and with the help of British workers. Inauguration of the line was on 9 May 1843. It was an immediate success, so much so that issues with the Chemin de Fer de Saint-Germain with platform allocation at Gare Saint-Lazare occurred.

Expansion[edit]

The Imperial Government imposed the construction of several lines:

The Government also imposed several secondary lines.

The network was rapidly expanded:[2]

To better use the Rive-Droite line, a 15 km (9 mi) long branch was built from Saint-Cloud to Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche at the cost of the French State. The line was declared of public utility in 1880 and the Chemins de fer de l'Ouest opened the line to l'Étang-la-Ville in 1884. Passenger services were extended to Saint-Germain Grande-Ceinture in 1889, services were then reported back to Saint-Nom-la-Bretèche in 1894 when passenger services on the Chemin de fer de Grande Ceinture were stopped.

A second line from Saint-Lazare to Mantes-la-Jolie was opened in 1892, following the right Seine bank. The new line started at Argenteuil, and passed Conflans-Sainte-Honorine, Triel and Meulan.[3]

Because of the company's bad financial situation due to the region it served (agricultural for the most part), the law of 13 July 1908 saw the integration of the Companie des Chemins de fer de l'Ouest into the Chemins de fer de l'État on 1 January 1909.

Accidents[edit]

Train goes too far at Gare Montparnasse, Paris
  • On a Sunday in May 1842 one of the worst accidents in French railway history happened near Meudon: 164 victims; the 55 dead were burnt alive (see Versailles train crash). After this incident the company no longer locked doors on passenger coaches.
  • On 22 October 1895 an express train originating from Granville traversed Montparnasse station, ploughed into the buffers, wrecked the station building's front wall and dropped to the ground on the street below. The only victim was the wife of a newspaper vendor, filling in for her husband (who had gone to get the evening newspapers), who was killed by falling masonry from the wall.
  • In 1881 there were 2064 railway related accidents: 185 derailings, 190 collisions, 692 accidents on the line. 512 passengers died in these accidents, 1/10 of those who died in accidents on stagecoaches.

Paris stations[edit]

L'Ouest built several stations within Paris; the two main terminals St Lazare and Montparnasse as well as Pont Cardinet at the beginning of the line to Auteuil.

In 1851 the Ouest's Paris terminus, the Gare Saint-Lazare, was enlarged to comprise six groups for each main destination served:

La Ligne d'Auteuil[edit]

Courcelles-Levallois station now part of Paris' RER C line but originally part of La Ligne d'Auteuil.
L'Ouest was the first company to pioneer suburban transport. St Lazare station was by 1931 dealing with 13.2 million passengers annually compared to merely 3 million in average in the other Parisian stations. In 1854 L'Ouest opened a typically Parisian line; 'La Ligne d'Auteuil'. This line started within Paris and ended in Paris, serving the Parisian inhabitants mainly for work purposes. The line was 7 kilometres long (4.3 mi) and served St Lazare, Bâtignoles, Courcelles-Levallois, Neuilly Porte-Maillot, Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, Avenue Henri-Martin, Boulainvilliers, Passy and Auteuil. The line was built in a cutting, removing the need for any level crossing, which was the first line of its kind. The line also boasted elegant station buildings such as the Auteuil terminus and Courcelles-Levallois station. All stations were built above the line with access to the platforms. The line was part of the Petite Ceinture circular line, which linked all Parisian termini for freight purposes.

Line openings[edit]

Date Section Length (km)
26/08/1837 Paris St Lazare - Le Pecq 19
02/08/1839 Asnières - Versailles Rive Droite 18
10/09/1840 Paris Barrière du Maine - Versailles Rive Gauche 17
09/05/1843 Paris St Lazare - Rouen Saint-Sever
22/03/1847 Rouen Saint-Sever - Le Havre 94
14/08/1847 Le Pecq - Saint-Germain-en-Laye 3
01/08/1848 Malaunay - Dieppe 50
12/07/1849 Viroflay - Chartres 73
28/04/1851 Asnières - Argenteuil 4
20/07/1852 Viroflay - Porchefontaine 1
07/09/1852 Chartres - La Loupe 36
16/02/1854 La Loupe - Nogent-le-Rotrou 25
02/05/1854 Les Batignoles - Auteuil 7
01/06/1854 Nogent-le-Rotrou - Le Mans 63
01/07/1855 Mantes-la-Jolie - Lisieux 133
14/08/1855 Le Mans - Laval 89
29/12/1855 Lisieux - Mondeville (near Caen) 49
25/02/1856 Beuzeville - Fécamp 20
15/03/1856 Le Mans - Alençon 52
01/05/1857 Laval - Rennes 73
01/05/1857 Mondeville-Caen 2
01/02/1858 Alençon - Argentan 43
01/07/1858 Lisieux - Pont-l'Évêque 18
17/07/1858 Caen - Cherbourg 133
20/11/1858 Through Fécamp 2
01/02/1859 Argentan - Mézidon-Canon 43
01/11/1859 Falaise 7
01/05/1860 Lison - St-Lô 19
07/07/1862 Pont-l'Évêque - Honfleur 25
23/03/1863 Le Mans - Sablé 48
07/07/1863 Pont-L'Évêque - Trouville-Deauville 10
07/12/1863 Sablé - Angers 47
15/06/1864 Saint-Cyr-l'École - Dreux 59
27/06/1864 Rennes - Saint-Malo 81
24/07/1865 Serquigny - Oissel 57
02/07/1866 Argentan - flers 43
01/10/1866 Dreux - L'Aigle 60
05/11/1866 L'Aigle - Conches 40
06/11/1866 Laval - Mayenne 20
23/04/1867 Saint-Pierre-du-Vauvray - Louviers 7
05/08/1867 L'Aigle - Surdon 41
23/08/1867 Glos-Montfort - Pont-Audemer 17
16/09/1867 Flers - Vire 29
04/10/1867 Pontoise - Gisors 40
09/11/1868 Flers - Berjou-Pont-d'Ouilly 19
28/12/1868 Gisors - Pont-de-l'Arche 54
15/07/1869 Gisors - Vernonnet 36
14/02/1870 Rouen - Le Petit-Quevilly 3
15/05/1870 Vernonnet - Vernon 2
03/07/1870 Vire - Granville 57
25/01/1872 Fougères - Saint-Brice-en-Coglès 18
10/05/1872 Louviers - Évreux 26
10/10/1872 Saint-Brice-en-Coglès - Moidrey 29
01/05/1873 Vernon - Pacy-sur-Eure 19
06/05/1873 Alençon - Condé-sur-Huisne 66
10/05/1873 Caen - Berjou-Pont-d'Ouilly 46
02/06/1873 Lisieux - Orbec 18
02/08/1873 Chartres - Dreux 42
22/12/1873 Neufchâtel-en-Bray - Dieppe 34
15/04/1874 Falaise - Berjou-Pont-d'Ouilly 28
18/05/1874 Flers - Domfront 21
21/09/1874 Domfront - Mayenne 38
15/08/1875 Louviers - Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf 18
14/01/1876 Caudebec-lès-Elbeuf - Elbeuf 1
01/07/1876 Motteville - Clères 22
01/10/1878 Harfleur - Montivilliers 5
30/12/1878 Saint-Lô - Coutances 29
30/12/1878 Avranches - Dol-de-Bretagne 43
15/06/1879 Mézidon - Dives-sur-Mer 28
29/12/1879 Coutances - Lamballe 112
11/06/1880 Motteville - Cany 38
19/09/1880 Alençon - Pré-en-Pail 27
22/11/1880 Sainte-Gauburge - Gacé 17
03/01/1881 Mamers - Bellême 20
11/04/1881 Redon - Châteaubriant 45
26/05/1881 La Ferté-Macé - Couterne 15
26/05/1881 Pré-en-Pail - Domfront 41
20/06/1881 Bréauté-Beuzeville - Bolbec 5
20/06/1881 Barentin - Duclair 14
20/06/1881 Through Courbevoie 2
27/06/1881 Questembert - Ploërmel 34
09/10/1881 Gacé - Ticheville-Le Sap 13
16/10/1881 Bellême - Mortagne 18
23/10/1881 Pré-en-Pail - La Selle-en-Luitré 86
13/11/1881 Plouaret - Lannion 16
22/12/1881 Échauffour - Bernay 46
28/12/1881 Châteaubriant - Vitré 98
28/12/1881 Mortagne-au-Perche - L'Aigle 37
29/12/1881 Mortagne-au-Perche - Sainte-Gauburge 35
24/07/1882 Auray - Quiberon 26
31/07/1882 Duclair - Caudebec-en-Caux 15
31/07/1882 Bolbec - Lillebonne 9
04/09/1882 Achères - Versailles-Matelots (GC) 23
18/09/1882 La Trinité-de-Réville - Orbec 13
18/09/1882 Dives - Beuzeval (Houlgate) 2
18/09/1882 Trouville-Deauville - Villers-sur-Mer 9
08/01/1883 Gare de Rouen Rue Verte - Elbeuf 23
30/06/1883 Through Rouen (Gare de Rouen Saint-Sever - Gare de Rouen Rue Verte) 2
22/10/1883 Pontorson - Mont-Saint-Michel 1
27/01/1884 Sottevast - Coutances 72
06/04/1884 Ploërmel - La Brohinière 41
06/04/1884 Miniac - La Gouesnière 12
05/05/1884 Saint-Cloud - L'Etang-la-Ville 15
26/05/1884 Sablé - Sillé-le-Guillaume 44
20/07/1884 Beuzeval (Houlgate) - Villers-sur-Mer 9
18/05/1885 Châteaubriant - Saint-Nazaire 72
18/05/1885 Saint-Mars-la-Jaille - Nantes 49
22/08/1885 Eu - Dieppe 37
27/07/1886 Verneuil-sur-Avre - Damville 28
22/08/1886 Caen - Aunay-Saint-Georges 32
18/04/1887 Saint-Brieuc - Légué 6
10/07/1887 Dinan - Dinard 18
21/08/1887 Dreux - Maintenon 25
18/12/1887 Mortain - Vire 30
20/12/1887 Saint-Aubin-du-Vieil-Évreux - Évreux 7
02/01/1888 Évreux - Le Neubourg 24
01/07/1888 Le Neubourg - Glos-Montfort 24
01/07/1888 Saint-Aubin-du-Vieil-Évreux - Damville 20
02/12/1888 Pouancé - Laval 58
01/05/1889 Javel - Puteaux 12
08/06/1889 Pont-Audemer - Quetteville 16
16/06/1889 Pontaubault - Mortain-Le Neufbourg 39
11/07/1889 Saint-Georges-Motel - Prey 24
11/11/1889 Verneuil-sur-Avre- La Loupe 39
01/06/1891 Aunay-Saint-Georges - Vire 40
03/04/1892 Auneau - Maintenon 25
03/04/1892 Saint-Lô - Guilberville 25
01/06/1892 Argenteuil - Mantes 52
12/11/1893 Domfront - Romagny 27
08/07/1894 Carentan - La Haye-du-Puits 22
08/07/1894 Fougères - Saint-Hilaire-du-Harcouët 36
22/06/1895 Les Ifs - Étretat 15
31/05/1896 Saint-Pierre-du-Vauvray - Les Andelys 17
26/07/1896 La Brohinière - Dinan 38
09/08/1896 Châteaubriant - Messac 41
14/08/1896 Rolleville - Montivilliers 6
24/12/1896 Rolleville - Les Ifs 22
20/02/1898 Dieppe - Saint-Vaast-Bosville 37
12/04/1900 Courcelles-Levallois - Champ de Mars 4
12/04/1900 Champ de Mars - Invalides 4
30/08/1900 Épône - Plaisir-Grignon 18
25/10/1900 Cany - Fécamp 24
01/07/1901 Issy-les-Moulineaux - Meudon-Val-Fleury 4
19/08/1901 Blain - La Chapelle-sur-Erdre 29
31/05/1902 Meudon-Val-Fleury - Viroflay Rive Gauche 6
03/08/1902 Coutances - Regnéville-sur-Mer 8
05/04/1903 Messac - Ploërmel 51
13/07/1907 Charleval - Vascœuil 10

Architecture[edit]

A sense of identity[edit]

As with many other railway companies, the Ouest adopted its own architectural style. Stations in large cities such as Le Havre, Lisieux, Deauville and Paris are unique. More modest halts were graced with 'type' building, which are called 'type Ouest', the best-preserved examples can be found in Dives-sur-Mer and Houlgate. According to the size of the town or village close to the proposed site for the station, a station of a certain size was built. There are three generic types of station buildings; the BV3, BV5 and BV7. BV stands for Bâtiment Voyageur (station building) and the number, the number of doors accessible. The larger the town, the larger the station building.

As well as stations, infrastructure was also in mind when saving money so the Ouest created a level crossing guard house template (see below).

Station photos[edit]

Locomotives[edit]

CF de l'État 2-2-2T No 12-010, formerly CF de l'Ouest No 0134. The locomotive was built in 1844.
Heilmann locomotive No. 8001

Heilmann locomotives[edit]

Main article: Heilmann locomotive

In 1893, Jean Jacques Heilmann built a steam-electric locomotive of Do-Do wheel arrangement, which was trialled on the CF de l'Ouest. Named Le Fuseé Electrique (English: The Electric Rocket), it was successful enough that two larger locomotives were constructed in 1897. These were numbered 8001 and 8002. Although considered successful, the design was not proceeded with and all three locomotives were dismantled.


References[edit]

  1. ^ Joanne, Adolphe (1859). Atlas historique et statistique des chemins de fer français (in French). Paris: L. Hachette. pp. 21–22. 
  2. ^ Direction Générale des Ponts et Chaussées et des Chemins de Fer (1869). Statistique centrale des chemins de fer. Chemins de fer français. Situation au 31 décembre 1869 (in French). Paris: Ministère des Travaux Publics. pp. 146–160. 
  3. ^ History of Triel

Sources[edit]

  • (French) Histoire du réseau ferroviaire français, 1996, Editions de l'Ormet / Imprimerie Bayeusienne Graphique. ISBN 2-906575-22-4
  • (French) Le tour du Calvados en 80 cartes, 1996, Direction Départementale de l'Equipement (Calvados).
  • (French) Paris et l'Île de France - Tome 1: Les réseaux Est, Nord et Saint-Lazare, 2002, Le Train. ISSN 1267-5008
  • (French) Electrification des lignes Paris-Caen-Cherbourg et Paris-Trouville-Deauville, 1996, Conseil Régional de Basse Normandie (Rémy Desquesnes).

External links[edit]