4th Edition

Castelnaudary to Belpech
The story ... Tramway hills!

At the beginning of XXI century, helping economic crisis, trams move into our city centers. But did you know that a hundred years ago, they were already there? Just temporarily destroyed by the economic boom of the twentieth century. On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of his death, I will tell you here the story of the little tram from 1903 to 1933 from Castelnaudary to Belpech, has traveled the hills of the Piège.


In the early 1900s the country was economically Aude vineyards. La Piège east the department fed seed and fodder.
"The transport carts are so expensive now, so long and hard, in the canton of Belpech, instead of sending the goods on Castelnaudary, we prefer to carry on directly Mazères and Saverdun in the department of Ariege for the board to Narbonne. "
And goods shipped from Belpech passed through Toulouse before going on Castelnaudary to the wine regions through the "Midi" making a journey Belpech-Castelnaudary estimated at 140 km!
It became imperative to establish a tramway line through the hills and valleys of this small agricultural country isolated. An "umbilical cord" to bring to Castelnaudary economic activity of two cantons of Salles sur l'Hers and Belpech.



Reseau Aude
Two influential senators Aude, Adolphe Turrell also Minister of Public Works from 1896 to 98 and Armand Gauthier also president of the General Council of the Aude, harnessed themselves to work.
When the Company of Railways of the Midi gave the operation the Bordeaux-Cette April 22, 1857, the event was a resounding success.
The General Council of the Aude felt very affected by this new mode of transport and made "to graft" on the "transverse" Midi many normal channels from Castelnaudary to Castres, Bram, Carcassonne to Quillan, or Lézignan Narbonne.
But many areas remained isolated. An additional narrow gauge network was studied in 1880 to connect all the capitals of cantons of the Aude.
The General Council conceded in 1889 the management of the new network in the Tramways Company of Aude (TVA).
This company was created 7 November 1898 and had its headquarters in Carcassonne. It replaced a contractor and holder of the concession, Hugues Bardol for a tram network in the department of Aude.
She had adopted the acronym TVA on rolling stock and only the letters TA there were represented.
Thus from 1901 to 1908 twelve lines were opened in the department. For Lauragais lines Fanjeaux-Bram-St-Denis and especially here Castelnaudary-Belpech. These two lines have not undergone redevelopment in their existence, we illustrate the initial network design.(1)


The station buildings constructed in a simple way, were three types according to the importance of traffic. They do not include housing of the station master.

Station Castelnaudary

The project installations to make for reception Castelnaudary line Belpech was approved March 28, 1902. After a few divisions that eventually even the Council of State, it dismissed the party January 30, 1907 and forced the Compagnie du Midi to accept the changes imposed on the network by implementing a level crossing.

Indeed line Belpech developing south as the city of Castelnaudary and Midi station was located north of the main line.
The way of TVA therefore had to cross, at an angle of 114 ° with the main line (PN).
A blind siding Security was installed on the north side path of TVA, but not south.
From the beginning of the station, crossed the line about 200m of departure.
A disc opened the way when there was no train. Which was rare, schedules have been coordinated to ensure connections.

Plan gare Castelnaudary
Castelnaudary_Octroi et TVA  

At the corner of the courtyard of travelers from the Gare du Midi that online TVA crossed diagonally, was a dock 9 x 8.35 m and public convenience separated . On the other side of the court served a triangular site of local freight station with two-way slide along the main road in a third get away with a weighbridge, and was bordered by a hall of 12 m, a dock discovered 16 m with ramp 6 m. After the closure of the line, this court and the hall served as a bus station in the SGTD.
In 1911 a project that had no following, from the union of the inland waterways of Southwest planned to be connected by air transport the Great Basin of the Canal of the Midi and TVA stations

Here arrival Belpech machine No. 27 front of the tollhouse
At the back office travelers TVA.

Silos et rails TVA
In preparation for the electrification of the line Toulouse-Sète, a road bridge type "Bow String" was located further west. The way of TVA was immediately diverted by this bridge since its commissioning in March 1922.

Semi-buried rails here before the new silos, followed the right side of the road to the station Cumies-Payra.


Immediately after installation of the bridge, part of the way was used as a neglected slide for a year and then the rails and the device was removed and transferred to the station Cumies Payra, alone station of the line before Salles with a bearing long enough for this implantation.

Station Belpech

Gare de Belpech



Belpech, the other head of the line, included the main track, two-lane maneuvers and railway siding. The buildings consisted of a hall with dock and discovered water station, a deposit for two locomotives pit stitching and a workshop-store and dormitory.

The field, the Sales Office and the hall is now occupied by a cooperative, the only remaining (left) part of the locomotive depot.



Other stations

All other stations, except that of Salles sur l'Hers where a hall covered dock freight, were built on the same model.
They consisted of a single track, with turntable that supplied a dock freight 6m x 9 and shelter travelers - Sales Office 6.59 x 4.08 m.
Here station Pécharic and Le Py, positioned at the crossroads GC15 (N625) and GC102 (D102) for connection to the line of Carcassonne - Belpech via Montreal and Fanjeaux line was never built.

This station is slightly fitted today shelters the town Plaigne station, but it is not Plaigne tram station, located 1.100 kilometers later at the foot of the village.

Gare de Pecharic Le Py








Déviation TA de SallesDotted the planned route

Entrée SallesEntrance to the village by the GC19, left the station TVA.

When the draft was known Salhersiens at the beginning of 1897, it was an outcry! Line from Montauriol, crossed the intersection Nadal, crossed the hillside Moulinières and Saint Hubert was turning left towards Sainte Camelle up the valley of Jammas. Station Salles located in Saint-Hubert was therefore 1800 meters from the center of the town!
The reaction was swift. The City Council voted unanimously a protest against the proposed route had been established without consulting neighboring municipalities. A petition gathered more than 180 signatures, asking to resume the route. The two pieces were sent to the sub-prefect of Castelnaudary with a copy to Senator Eugene Mir and the member Marfan.
Service des Ponts et Chausses was responsible for a new study. His conclusion was that the deviation of Salles was impossible or very long to realize since the project had already been approved by the State Council and the expropriations between Montauriol and Saint Hubert was allowed. The only quick solution was to buy Salles amicably and pay all the necessary land. This was decided by the council of 12 August 1898.
The General Council adopted on 27 August following the final route: at the crossroads of Nadal took the line right by the GC19 Hers Mort Valley to the village and joined Saint Hubert by way of public interest, No. 15, which should be expanded.
The work is realized. Station realized shelter to travelers, a discount for a car dock freight discovered a way of crossing a road freight and tank.
The section Castelnaudary-Salles sur l'Hers was put into service on 1 January 1903 and Salles-Belpech section on June 14. The municipality of Belpech who asked that made ​​the opening Sunday of the local party.(3)
An optional stop at Saint Andre and stop at Saint Hubert was granted.(2)



Plan Reseau
Way of one meter between tubes was equipped with Vignole rails installed on sleepers every 85 cm. The rails were embedded flush floor.
Line Castelnaudary Belpech had chained length 40.571 km.
The line was a succession of "roller coaster" accompanied by sharp curves, especially between Villeneuve la Comptal and Montauriol and between Peyrefitte sur l'Hers and Mayreville. She also possessed the very specific feature of the larger number of turntable network lines, 10. This unenviable distinction resulted from the application to the letter of Article 11 of the specification which stated that the stations would be established according to the Sarthe and Loir et Cher types, including at least one plate per station. But all stations on the line were not modified because the land was usually very tight, and also because this line always remained the largest deficit of the network.
From the bridge of Castelnaudary, the track followed the right shoulder of the GC19 (N624 today) to the optional stop Ferrasse (Pk 2902) followed by the stop of the Villeneuve la Comptal (Pk 3604) forever changed station in spite of the wishes of the town, having served stopping Terraces.
Then began a long succession of curves and gradients, the line from 164 meters altitude peaked at 293 meters. After a few differences to limit deflection curves began after PK5 on the range of Sainte Marguerite, to prevent the ramp from the road we found the Pk7. With the Pk 6 and 8 optional stops Fontcontar and Bordeneuve.

Gare Cumies Gare Montauriol

Then we arrived at the station in Cumies-Payra (Pk 10,342). The unit recovered Castelnaudary and the corresponding way were rested parallel to the road between it and the main track, the switch is next Castelnaudary.
The bearing length was only 85 meters.
Retaining the right of the road and almost always drowned side rails, the line came in Montauriol (Pk 12,037). At Km 13, stopping Nadal, the way was declining to borrow, on the left, the path IC 15 (D15), following the valley of Hers. With an optional stop at a place called Saint-André.
Gare Salles sur L'Hers

Gare Peyrefitte
After crossing the road bridge of 10 meters on the Hers, the station Salles sur l'Hers was established at the foot of the village (Pk 16,935). At this point began a small deviation, with 10 m steel bridge over the stream of Jammas to reach the left side of GC 15 (N625) up the valley from the drop of Saint Hubert (Pk 18,726) and St. Camelle (pk 20,501) to arrive at the station Peyrefitte sur l'Hers (Pk 23.474), the village overlooks the road.
Gare de Salles
Gare Mayreville

Shortly after crossing a second time on the road bridges at 7.60 and 3 meters of the stream Salet, the line runs in deviation to the right about a kilometer at the beginning of the hard ramp with the top collar is marked by the station Mayreville (Pk 26.562) field, such as Salles, is now used by the equipment.
Going down a gentle slope into the valley of Py, always right rails drowned crossing the bridge crossing the road 4m on stream Teuilié the line arrived at Pech-Luna (Pk 28,538). After stops Pesquiès and Py, the path turned right at a place called "The Remise" to borrow for a few hundred meters from the core of GC 15 and 102, from left on this section the way to borrow the road bridge 11.50 m of the stream of Py and touched the station and Pécharic the Py (Pk 32,537).

Pecharic-Le Py
Gare Plaigne

Gare Plaigne
At the end of this common trunk road the way turning left to cross the valley on the right side of GC 15 (D625) using the viaduct with three arches of 30 meters each on Vixiège, then turn right for a short deviation that now follows the road, taking the right line of IC 25 (D25) side, arrived at Plaigne (Pk 33,655) at the beginning of a linear deviation of 700 meters on which the Sales Office is now in the middle a field.
Gare Belpech
La machine n°27 en gare de Belpech
Plan Belpech
Without large sinuosities along the right road found in the valley of the Vixiège the way served halts Blazens (Pk 35.722) and Tresmèzes (Pk 37.808) at a place called Peyrotte near the path Mazeau, the way crossed the road and then borrowed a deviation intended to protect it from flooding, and a short ramp, arrived at the station in Belpech (Pk 40,542).(1)


The rolling stock
Carriages and wagons
The Running
Life Network
The last years of TVA
The disposal of equipment
Then and now

Edition : © SD 2013 with Dreamweaver CS6
Free counter and web stats