Little Yellow Train … Booked!
When my daughter was a sophomore in college, she had the unique opportunity to spend a semester attending classes in France and living with a French family. There was a 10-day break in the middle of that term and to my delight and my wife’s consternation, our daughter took off, traveling around the country on her own.
One of the highlights of those ten days was her finding Le Petit Train Jaune, (the Little Yellow Train), and she came home suggesting that I put this unique train on my To-Do list.
It’s a narrow gauge line that threads its way through mountain passes and over rocky gorges in the Pyrenees for about 40 miles more or less parallel to the Spanish-French border. It’s taken more than 20 years, but I’m scheduling another trip to France in late April and le Petit Train Jaune is no longer on my list—it’s on my itinerary.
Originally constructed in the early 1900s, the rail line remains am engineering marvel to this day. Among other remarkable aspects of the line is railroad suspension ridge. I have no idea if this one is a rarity, but from photos, it’s surely impressive.
Alas—and this will sound familiar to all veteran Amtrak riders—I learned yesterday that “long running engineering work” has taken more time than expected and consequently the train is only operating over roughly two-thirds of its route. Fortunately, however, I’m told that includes the more scenic part of the journey. And so the last portion of the ride—and this, too, will strike a familiar chord with Amtrak riders—is going to be by bus.
This is a great trip to do! Thank you for sharing your experience. You may like to check out our recently released video about the Little Yellow Train here: https://youtu.be/HhSInn72oWw
Would highly appreciate your feedback on it.
Nice video , both the drone shots as those from the train. I also like ‘natural’ sounds like the chugging of the wheels. And the area is stunning indeed. Not entirely sure I like the voice-over, generally I prefer subtitles, but it works without being too overcharged. Me likes :)
The SNCF is under heavy scrutiny lately, with the government sanctioned report by Mr Spinetta, former CEO (?) of Air France, which pushes to replace a whole lot of trains by buses. Permanently. Lines with less than 10 trains a day should be closed… No decisions have been made, and I’m confident there won’t be a big bang of closures, SNCF prefers to work with stealth, closing those lines without many public attention… But it surely doesn’t look good.
Dreadful news, if proves true. Why is it that these airline people have such credibility? Surely it’s not because of the record high customer dissatisfaction their industry enjoys!
It’s not unlikely the report is extremely hard so the government can assume a ‘more moderate’ position, and be seen as the ‘saviour’ of many rural lines, but still. If you extort $1000 from someone, and in the end you say you’re happy with only $500, you might appear benign, but you still extort $500 from him…
I don’t really trust the SNCF, either, quite some lines have already seen quite some trips be replaced by buses, while others have maintained a sorry excuse for a service. Example, the line from Lille to Charleville-Mézières. There are quite some trains to Aulnoye, some more that continue to Hirson, but beyond, all but one train has been replaced by buses. And that train runs quite late at night, in both directions, so few people can actually take it. I’m afraid, next year, that might be gone, too. Abolition by stealth…
Another exemple: between Grenoble and Veynes-Dévoluy (and on to Marseille to the South, Valence to the West and Briançon to the East), they want to close a passing loop, so they can do away with the (manned) station, even with the stop maintained. Only, it will create a single block of 45′, making it more difficult to cope with sudden delays. Likely, travel times will be extended (again) to make do, making the train yet again a little less attractive. In the same region, the night train to Briançon is likely to be gone before the end of the year. People are advised to take a bus to Italy (!) where they can board one of a few daily TGVs to Paris…
I’m really not happy with the SNCF.
With all my doom ‘n gloom, I’d almost forget to wish you a nice trip. The Pyrenees are truly a marvel, as is the Train Jaune. Other lines that are worth a retour IMO are Clermont-Ferrand to Béziers (only one train a day goes the length of the line), with the viaduc du Garabit, the Ligne des Cévennes, the line to Le Puy-en-Vélay if that one is still open… Another is the French equivalent (almost…) to the Swiss Church of Wassen, between Morez and St-Claude in the French Jura. France is a beautiful country, and the train is still a great way to explore it.
Many thanks … very much appreciated!
Have you ever taken the Blue train in Africa?
Never have. Wouldn’t that be something!