Ligne de Cerdagne

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Ligne de Cerdagne
Pont gisclar 082004.jpg
The unusual rail suspension bridge at Pont Gisclard between Sauto and Planès
Other name(s)Yellow Train
Line length63 km (39 mi)
Track gauge1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) metre gauge
Electrification850 V DC third rail
Operating speed55 km/h (34 mph)
Highest elevation1,593 m (5,226 ft)

The Ligne de Cerdagne, usually referred to as the Train Jaune (English: Yellow Train, Catalan: Tren Groc), is a 1,000 mm (3 ft 3 38 in) gauge railway that runs from Villefranche-de-Conflent to Latour-de-Carol-Enveitg in the French Pyrenees. Construction started in 1903 and the section to Mont-Louis was completed in 1910, followed by an extension to Latour-de-Carol in 1927.[1][2]

It is 63 kilometres (39 mi) long and climbs to 1,593 metres (5,226 ft) at Bolquère-Eyne, the highest railway station in France; the line serves 22 stations, fourteen of which are "request stops" (i.e., the train only stops when specifically requested by passengers). There are 19 tunnels and two bridges, one of which is, unusual for a railway bridge, a suspension bridge; the line is single-track with passing loops at, for example, Mont-Louis and Fontpédrouse-Saint-Thomas-les-Bains.

The trains are powered by electricity at 850 volts DC, supplied by third rail; the power is supplied by hydro-electric generators on the River Têt. The maximum speed of the train is 55 km/h (34 mph). Two types of train are used; ones using modern, entirely closed two-car multiple units and others using old style trailer carriages and powered carriages - most are enclosed but when the weather allows, open carriages are also used; the open carriages allow dramatic views as the train traverses the twisting route and are popular with tourists. Line maintenance vehicles are stored at Villefranche-de-Conflent.

It is named after its yellow and red colours, derived from the Catalan flag; the line was constructed to provide an all-weather route from the high Cerdagne valley to the coast, but the adjacent N116 road has been progressively improved, there has been population loss in the Cerdagne and the rail link is now chiefly a tourist attraction whose long-term future is in doubt.[citation needed]

List of stations[edit]

Crossing a viaduct
Station Altitude (m)[2] Local attractions[2]
(interchange with services to Perpignan)
427 walled town, Fort Liberia, Grottes Les Canalettes
Serdinya 526
Joncet 550
Olette-Canaveilles-les-Bains 608
Nyer (halt) 664 Nature reserve, exhibition of bats at the Maison de la réserve
Thuès-les-Bains 747
Thuès-Carança 789 access to the Gorges de la Carança
Fontpédrouse-Saint-Thomas-les-Bains 1051 Baths at St-Thomas-les-Bains
Sauto 1224
Planès 1373 11th-century church
Mont-Louis-la Cabanasse 1511 Citadelle de Mont-Louis; Mont-Louis Solar Furnace
Bolquère-Eyne 1593 summit of the line
Font-Romeu-Odeillo-Via 1534
Estavar 1328
Saillagouse 1302
Err 1335 10th-century church of Our Lady of Err
Sainte-Léocadie 1281 Musée de Cerdagne
Osséja 1241
Bourg-Madame 1144 Espace d'Art Contemporain; border town
Ur-les-Escalde 1188 romanesque church
Béna Fanès
(interchange with services to Toulouse and Barcelona)
1247 Enveitg castle and baroque chapel

Electrical discharges[edit]

In 1911, railway workers reported a fireball on the third rail between kilometres 28 and 40. A similar phenomenon occurred again when a train was hit by one of these fireballs during a thunderstorm. Lightning rods were installed where these events had occurred and the phenomenon has not been reported since installation.


  1. ^ Pourageaux G (2008), Les cent ans du Train Jaune, Editions La vie du rail. ‹See Tfd›(in French)
  2. ^ a b c "The yellow train". Pyrenees - Cerdagne. Retrieved 14 September 2015.[permanent dead link]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 42°30′14″N 2°07′40″E / 42.50389°N 2.12778°E / 42.50389; 2.12778