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 October 22, 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 fatality 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.
  • Lists of rail accidents

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