Monday, June 11, 2012

The Gare de l'Est

TGV SNCF 508 in Paris France
You may have noticed that I haven't posted much in the past few weeks. Well, there are two reasons, the most important of which was that my wife and I were in Europe on vacation for our 10th wedding anniversary. We were in Paris (and then Normandy) and then in London. So blogging was not high on my priority list!

I did see a few trains while I was there, although railfanning was also not high on my priority list. In Paris we were staying half a block south of the Gare de l'Est ("east station"). This station serves high-speed trains heading east as well as local trains and is on several subway lines. We chose to stay near this station because of the easy connections to the subway ("Metro" as it is called).

One evening I took a quick walk through the station, shooting the trains waiting at the platforms, and then walked around the outside a bit. There were TGV trainsets there and a few local trains. Note that most passenger trains in France seem to be electric, not diesel-electric, so there is a lot of caternary wire around.
SNCF 17076 in Paris France
SNCF 17076 is a "class BB 17000" running on 25 kV AC power. I'm assuming the BB means two trucks, two powered axles on each truck. These engines are about as old as I am and are nicknamed "danseuses" (dancers).

Some of the local trains are called RER, which stands for Réseau Express Régional (Regional Express Network). They are electric trains and are basically the same as subway trains but do run outside and the stops are much farther apart than subway trains. Also the RER trains are powered by overhead caternary wire whereas the subways use a third rail for power.

I walked out to the back of the station to see the train platforms. It's hard to see the trains because of the roofs. Here we see two TGV tracks, with the left track having two TGV trainsets connected together and the right track having a single TGV trainset. Note that the TGV sets have an engine at each end so there is no need to turn them.
The train shed portion of the Gare de l'Est in Paris

The TGV pictured at the top of this post is one of the TGV Réseau trainsets and would be the train on the left in the photo just above. This particular trainset is dual-voltage (25 kV AC and 1500 V DC). Other trainsets are triple-voltage, adding 3 kV DC for use in Belgium and Italy. They have a capacity of 377 seats and a top speed of 300 km/hr. I saw a couple of TGV trains running while I was driving on the highway and they easily outpaced my 130 km/hr (legal top speed), probably doing at least 200 km/hr on the stretches I saw.

The area behind the platforms is nice and airy, but covered with lots of advertising signs.
The interior of the Gare de l'Est train station in Paris France

I took a shot of the arrivals and departures board.
The departures and arrivals board at Gare de l'Est in Paris France

After this, I walked up to the Gare du Nord, about 10 minutes away. The Gare du Nord handles TGV and local trains as well as the Eurostar "chunnel" trains. Another post.

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