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The Little Yellow Train - Le Petit Train Jaune

Reader, Nov 8

2010 marked the 100th anniversary of the Petit Train Jaune known locally as Le Canarié.

This narrow gauge railway train connects Villefranche-Vernet-les-Bains to Font Romeu and its Pyrenean terminus of La Tour de Carol. It is narrow gauge, a third rail electric train which operates at 850V on the same system as the London Underground.

Built by the Chemins de Fer du MIDI in 1910 it has not only served as a tourist railway but a vital link between Perpignan and the valley of La Cerdagne and the Pyrenean resorts all the year around. In the past five years alone the only road has been blocked by rock and mud slides leaving the Le Petit Train Jaune as the only means of access and for the locals to get to and from Perpignan.

In winter it takes the many thousands of skiers in its canary coloured carriages. In summer, walkers and tourists can ride in its open carriages. It approaches the Spanish frontier at several locations; the closest is at Bourg Madame, where a simple 400 metre walk across a bridge brings you to the Spanish town of Puigcerda.

At its terminus of La Tour de Carol Enveitg it meets two other lines, the standard gauge from Toulouse and its overnight trains from Paris and the other the Iberian gauge where the local trains arrive from Barcelona. It is unique as it is in this station that one finds all three gauges.

Its construction is a tale in itself, it crosses some of the higher railway viaducts in Europe and the scenery on a fine day is stunning.

To find train times go to www.ter-sncf.com/languedoc.
To know more about the Little Yellow Train contact Chris Elliott christopher.elliott@club-internet.ft

Chris Elliott is the author of the book ‘The Lost Railway Lines of l’Hérault’

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