The running
Life Network
The last years of TVA
The disposal of equipment

Then and now

Titre Corbet-Louvet



Despite a difficult start the exploitation of TVA developed rapidly, but with many uncertainties. The material is delivered slowly, depots and workshops are not completed. Lack of funds will lead to even use sleepers second choice will be pierced. Lag screws no longer bite into the wood that resists bad weather and rolling carts.
The lack of equipment often led to load cars at 12 or 13 tonnes instead of the planned 10 which seriously deepened efforts supported through and caused many accidents.
The staff was often versatile, road workers may be employed as drivers or brakeman to address failures owners.
Train operations, three in each direction, was established to ensure the greatest number of matches with the Compagnie du Midi. The journey was between 15 and 2h 15 and 2h 30, a commercial speed of 14.900 km / h, with limited to 20 km / h.
From 1901 to 1904 the annual mileage recipe was 1350 F for Belpech line when it should reach 5000 F to allow depreciation. Thus in 1905 the company removed the third train from Castelnaudary.
In 1912 the share capital has been fully absorbed each year to fill the portion of the deficit. The shareholders never received a dividend and the company remained only through repayable advances departments of Aude and Herault.
List price, despite a significant decline in 1907, will be regularly observed. It will be in 1931, including taxes 3.5 times higher than 1912 passengers and 6 times for goods.

War of 1914-18 and its consequences

War brings serve in the force more than half the staff, the service is greatly reduced and a single AR was provided some time on the line . Paradoxically, the financial position of the Company improved in these years by reducing service and stop repairs.
Strikes in 1908, 1910, driven by wage demands had not favored the financial balance. These 1920 affected the entire network, which provoked strong reactions from the Chamber of Commerce of Carcassonne who expressed the wish "that is removed unproductive lines and a bus service is organized to replace the deleted row." The first breath of removal began to be felt ...

Improvements and projects

After the armistice the equipment was not maintained in a critical condition and despite the injunctions of the inspection, the old trains could not be restored. The General Council meets in special session January 6, 1920 under the chairmanship of Albert Sarrault, Colonial Secretary and a member of the Canton of Saissac. It will send the Company a notice to restore the second train on each line. Notified by the Prefect January 10, it has resulted in the actual recovery from the March 29, 1920.
Upgrading of actively push in the twenties by borrowing the General Council. 8935 sleepers were replaced, against the rails were laid in the crossed areas.
Also in 1920, the Company gives the authorities a proposal for electrification of the network was designed in 1912 by the Thomson-Houston. As might be expected, the project was rejected by the Transport Committee of the General Council, as the project to improve the station Villeneuve la Comptal.

Train gare de Salles
La n°25 en gare de Salles sur l'Hers



The 33 employees of the Castelnaudar-Belpech line earned low wages, very quickly they allied themselves to the railway syndically the Compagnie du Midi on which their wages were modeled.
The first strike broke from June 4, 1908, although movements of discontent were manifested as early as February.
"They seemed animated by a good spirit ..." Note the sub-prefect of Castelnaudary ... On line Castelnaudary Belpech, twenty-seven thirty-three employees have stopped work.
June 6 at 8 o'clock the departmental network was totally paralyzed. The strikers demanded primarily the creation of a pension fund and benefits earned by the railway company in the south of illness, holidays and rest.
Tuesday, June 9, having obtained the majority of their requirements, the tramway employees resumed their work
But the pension fund, funded equally by the company and the department would weigh the Aude finances.
In 1909, wage claims reappeared in the foreground, punctuated in July 1910 by a new strike. This time uniting their action with that of the railway Compagnie du Midi, employees engaged in major national claims.
The law of 8:00 which will officially take effect on the network on June 1, 1919, had already applied to the initiative of staff workshops Narbonne from May 1, without waiting for the consent of the Company, which will lead to the courts union TVA always show particularly active.


Master controller on third class train

  TA Controleur


Since 3 October 1906 the Council of the District of Carcassonne is moved by the situation of wages Company provides its employees including women and station masters, treatments famine.
"The monthly salary of a recipient is 25 francs. This amount may seem very low. Should know however, noted the company, they are in fact subject to be at the station during the hours crossing trains and they can then engage them in other occupations "

Wages of the entire staff of the network after the strike of 1908
  Nomber Francs
Central Bureau     Movement
Head Office
Station chiefs and similar
Agents trains
Telephone auditors
Men teams
Heads of deposits
Conductors of the track
Mechanics Students


Since 1907 the Company at the lack of traffic proposed a reduction in the overall rate, but due to strikes from 1908 to 1909 it lived in the obligation to meet in order to compensate for wage increases.
From 1918 the price had increased precipitously and prices had to follow.
They will be 3.5 times higher in 1931 than in 1912 for passengers and up to 6 times more expensive for goods.(3)

Price in francs - Person / km
Ton / km
1st class
2nd class
All classes
0,16 à 0,35

Stops - Schedules

TA Panneau alarme  
Optional stops were already numerous in the beginning, but over time any country demanded his. Of course there was the Company systematically opposed, but as always there were exceptions, often in exchange for providing water to locomotives.
If we had not alerted the staff, the train does not stop at the individual stations. He was therefore forbidden to jump on. All travelers who violate this rule was the subject of an investigation which often caused a record. The train stopped and fell behind on the schedule because every time the jumper (or pan) was heavily bruised or injured, nobody knew jump without getting hurt, even at low speed. This resulted in a heavy fine to deter ignorant, disobedient or people in a hurry.
Train times (three in each direction) were established to ensure a maximum matching in Castelnaudary with Compagnie du Midi and trains to Bordeaux, Castres and Sète.
Similarly, operating by single track, leaving Castelnaudary of "81" trains and "84" was calculated for their crossing is done in Salles/l'Hers station Hers to 9:50.*
Salles sur L'Hers
Salles sur l'Hers

Chaix 1912
Chaix 1912 - schedules evolved over the years to remove the crossing of trains Salles sur l'Hers.

Deficit and its causes

Line Castelnaudary Belpech was perpendicular to the "cross" of the Midi. It was isolated from the rest of the network, unlike other lines crossing is the wine regions of Narbonne and the Corbières still unexploited riches of the soil, or mining and forestry Cabardès countries of the Black Mountain.
The line of the Piège served only small agricultural centers whose population barely exceeded 200 inhabitants, except Castelnaudary, Salles and Belpech. The traffic was lower than the estimates in the first year. The installed operating without benefit the company in the public service.
As an indication the total freight tonnage in 1923 reached 104,000 tons, 9400 tons for single-line Castelnaudary-Belpech. Mainly cereals and fodder to Castelnaudary.
Reforms were introduced for travelers, such as round-trip tickets and discounts on list price and special Sunday rates.
During the four years preceding the war, the deficit had increased to 165,000 francs on average. In 1920 it reached 1,523,095 francs
2,724,281 francs in 1929, to finish at 3.6 million francs in 1930 when the decision was taken to close the line.
  TA Intérieur wagon


The ever-increasing rise in wages and prices, competition from other means of transport, in particular motor vehicule, emptied the tram part of its traffic and did not allow higher tariffs in relation to its cost.
The commissioning of the tram was not so far off the service diligences and often the ticket price prohibitive for the time, encouraged farmers to continue to use their trucks to go to the markets Castelnaudary, Salles or Belpech.
Especially as soon June 1930 a joint operating rail-road, set up by the department, did not improve the situation.




TA Panneau 7 places  

As with all trams all the TVA registration number of accidents in which the victims were usually the occupants of the road, reckless more often.
But if you try to establish the record of 27 years of service on the line, some accidents, although relatively few are still present in many stories. Although it must be said the articles on the network of trams steam Aude rarely refer to the discomfort, constraints, or the violence that interfere with this transport mode. Even the rage Autan wind, which caused spectacular derailments have never altered sympathetic pictures: the smile of the acceptor Peyrefitte or whiskers of station master rooms. Of course sometimes it was out of the car to reduce the convoy, of course he had to grow up under Mayreville in speed before the convoy resumes some style! ...
All causes 12 accidents were recorded.

The mare Jean - "Four and a half years after the opening of the line, the new stunned the entire Piège. May 29, 1907, machine No. 27 floor new wheels (!), Driven by the mechanic Coural and driver Roudière, were on a trial trip after returning from Salles in Castelnaudary. In a curve at Pk 4,400, approximately 1 km after the halt of the Comptal Villeneuve, Jean Pennavayre brought Castelnaudary a flower drawn by a horse and charged with three barrels of wine. The car ran along the path in the opposite direction. At his approach, the engine whistled long and slow. Upon crossing the mare stepped abruptly changing direction and the machine hit the back of the garden. In light of the witnesses shock, mare strongly pitched forward and climbed a slope. In the run, the rear wheel of the planter violently hit a telegraph pole. The driver was then projected along the bench and three drums were not required poured on him.
The driver hurried to the injured but the doctor Larroux called hastily, could only confirm the death. Jean Pennavayre was 48 years old, he lived Payra, he left a widow and two children aged 6 and 8 years. "

The Miller of Montauriol - "23 November 1909. Wearing a gray knit and wearing a white beret, miller Montauriol returned market Salles where he had spent the day. He dragged the afternoon coffees and lemonade it had not been used as pure water. His legs suddenly become fragile, increasingly reluctant no longer bore a too heavy body. Witnesses saw him stumble, to fall, rise, and along the way not to get lost in the night fell.
Around 5:00 in the evening, Pk 16,300 either 1100 m after the train station, the end of a curve, the mechanic Chavagnac lives well in the middle of the rails, a whitish object he took for a large stone placed there by malice. He operated the brake and threw steam so abrupt that passengers and staff were strongly shaken. Despite the efforts, the machine came to be dragged it about a meter. The engineer and fireman went down immediately and to their amazement recognized a man groaning under the cylinder of the engine. They pull, carried him into the van and then the convoy arrived at the station rooms. After some care by Dr. Boyer, the injured was taken to one of his son in Sainte Camelle. He died the following day, not without admitting that he had taken an ailment and had placed too close to the road. He was 69 years old. "(Sample report Gendarmerie)

Breaking of piece - "In April 1913 the machine 86 train arriving from Salles to 17h 51 left the rails in front of the farm Fontecontar. The staff of the company, assisted by some travelers volunteers put it back and it returned. But 300 meters down the machine fell again. The conductor asked by express relief at Castelnaudary. The machine was hoisted in again and we arrived at 23h 30. The two accidents were due to a failure of a part of the machine. Travelers returned not walk without showing their mood. "(The Croix de l' Aude, April 20, 1913).

The thoroughbred of the Count d'Aigues Vives

"In 1913, between Pécharic and Plaigne there was the castle of Captain that belonged to Count d'Aigues Vives. For now, this one asked the mechanic at the arrival to Pécharic he warn a few whistles. The count then went to Plaigne and handed the mechanic a beer bottle ... It was a thoroughbred horse and with his convertible, from time to time he passed us. We were doing 40 now, and it kept us head. But one day the race ended badly. A chestnut, probably unaccustomed to this kind of event, made a fatal gap. Arrive 5-6 m of the machine, the horse frightened by the noise of the train brought the planter in front of the convoy and dabbed violently. In the impact, the vehicle and the animal were overthrown and dragged several meters. Despite the collision the Count did not give up any time soon in his funny horse racing! "(Stories and Lucien Bernard Reynés Kourtz, mechanic and driver)


Chateau Capitaine

The derailment of the coast Samson - "This June 7, 1917, the train had left 82 Belpech as every morning at 5am 15. It consisted of a passenger car, a van and two cars loaded with wheat. A Salles, he took two other cars of wheat. Up the coast of Sanson, due to the high humidity of the rails, the mechanic Chavagnac took the precaution to shake the hand brakes of three cars that were fitted. Nevertheless, since the beginning of the descent, the speed gradually accelerated to the point that, despite calls for brake van and uninterrupted use of the pit, the engineer was no longer master of his train. Arrival at 6,500 Pk at the end of a curve of 150m, the machine suddenly jumped the rails and losing the marquise, the dome and chimney poured left. Fortunately a short slope cuttings braked his race. The four cars carrying about 29 tons of wheat were overturned and crushed in party. The car, although out of the rails, poured a quarter turn and remained suspended in the air as it found herself held by the car that preceded and followed the van that. Among the twenty travelers no one was injured. The mechanic who was under the machine had multiple bruises and was able to return home the same day. As the driver Rivière, he had his right arm crushed. Transported to hospital Castelnaudary, he was immediately amputated.

Accident TVA  

The analysis of the causes of this accident report noted that it was due to the high humidity of the rails. It does not exclude the more inexperienced mechanic who was not the mechanic at the bottom of the line. We admitted his panic: it blocked the continuous brake which he held tight in his hand. Therefore, all the skated process on track until the velocity and centrifugal force projected: the machine, the first out of the way. However, it was not considered these comments and believed that "the driver and the mechanic had made every effort to avoid the accident and remained both on the machine until the derailment which they had been only victims. "


The locomotive No. 24 was scrapped permanently destroyed.

Collection Perrin

Death Ramounet - April 11, 1926 - The driver of the train Lucien Kroutz recalls: "It was in 1926, Ramounet returning from Salles sur l' Hers. Suddenly a storm broke. He had an empty box and had to cover up on the head but he was far from suspecting that we arrived at this place. The road down slightly, we made freewheel came to us with his case that hid the road. At one go he was surprised, he swerved to the right thinking he had a car. It was cut into pieces. Doudies and I have picked up the pieces, me a feet with a shovel. Not beautiful the show! ... "
Gaston Tissinier complete : "We announced the accident. Jean-Marie Fonters of farm Boujou Haut, was asked to come and collect the remains of the victim that were grouped in a bedsheet asked the neighboring farm Roumanelles. The funeral took place on Tuesday in a contest of extraordinary crowd. Ramounet was well known. Gifted with a beautiful baritone voice, he was the lead singer of Salles. When the casket entered the church a poignant emotion seized the entire crowd. The death of this man was the more affected the population it seemed that the curse had befallen the family, the two sons was dead in the War of 1914 and shortly after they found his widow lifeless in a field where she went to get herbs for his rabbits ... "

Lighter anecdotes ...

Autan - A windy day extraordinary Autan Station Peyrefitte they saw a van go empty and crazy at full speed. When the topography is known, can well imagine the raging wind could push and drive the van ... until Salles. Station Mayreville swept by powerful gusts, the steep bridges on Jammas, bad turning Picarel the dangerous intersection of Saint Hubert, the coast of Guillonne everything was negotiated perfectly. More than 9 km alone and without a hitch. A record that has not been reported in the evening in the handrail but the district manager told often, not without a touch of humor, when the employees of the Company were not there.

Marriage - Some time before the war, a ariégeois owner married his daughter. Very wealthy and used to conduct business at large scales, it was decided that the ceremony would take place at the Town Hall and the Church of Belpech, but the meal would give the Hotel Terminus which was supposed to have the most beautiful table Castelnaudary. For the occasion, the steam tram was rented for the day and turned into a special train to accommodate 250 wedding guests.
Tissinier Gaston said: "What was the surprise of all peasants of Lauragais see it at an unusual hour train even more unusual luxury. There was that first class cars, decorated the first, those married, entirely covered with white cloth inside and white flowers outside. The locomotive itself spruced up for the occasion, was wearing a floral decoration, in white of course, she had never known, even to his inauguration. Throughout the course the whistle is not stopped while the guests showed a delirious joy and threw screams to greet the people. It was certainly the most beautiful trips around our region ".(2)

Evidence - The Azam brothers Mézerville still remember today ... "We have not seen too much of the train because we were born after the Great War, but our parents were much used to go to market Castelnaudary. They told us the endless number of stops to get there. Very appreciated by our soldiers that train, with its slow speed could go on and escape the Police station you waiting for buffer arrival on leave!
Used by Agriculture and Markets, the train became unprofitable left a huge debt department eventually decided to demolish.
Locomotives left for other lines of central France. Cars left here and there in stations, were recovered by scrap dealers of the region but not all, because the rails, ties and even cars grounded, were very sought after by everyone to make a aviary hens or other ...
And this was the end of the train remained in our memories. "




In 1925, at a time when elsewhere departmental networks still retained the support of regional authorities, Mr. Bougaries General Counsel of the Aude launched the first skirmishes voting by a first draft of removal, rejected by 23 votes against 6.
Side of the business itself Mr. Bardol had died 3 years there remained hardly any representatives of the old team to support trams. Robert, the director at the time was a big fan of road transport!
Finally Mr. Rocheray new Chief Engineer of Roads and Bridges, was convinced that the road sweep away the operating deficit. After stating the opposite in 1924! Four years later, he asked the management of TVA to avoid any unnecessary costs - on the rail network - because the bus had to take over.
In 1928 the General Transport Company Departmental (SGTD) was service offerings Department. This company with a capital of 3 million francs, based in Paris, was the most important case of road passenger transport in France. If SGTD disappeared name today, the group of which it was part of its ongoing activities under the symbol "VIA".

Corpet Louvet

The proposals submitted by the SGTD April 24, 1928 were based on a mixed farm, the transport of passengers would be provided by the road while the goods remain important borrow rail. The General Council was hampered in its decision on the purchase of TVA. An extraordinary session of the Council on 14 June 1930, at which participated Leon Blum deputy and General Counsel at the time, solved the problem by approving new agreements with the SGTD. About 9000 stocks of 500 F of TVA, the SGTD agreed to resume 8000 for 2 million, or half of their face value and filed a bail of 500 000 F.
The General Council, through a loan, bought the remaining 1,000 stocks to retain a right of inspection in the company. Agreement was signed on August 1, 1930, the first steps went into effect immediately. Twelve bus Renault and Panhard and three trucks with trailers were put into service and passenger trains stopped to circulate at Bram and Castelnaudary.

We quickly found that the new transport regime no reduction of the deficit. And during the following years the company buckled his budget through the sale of railway equipment in which the product was used in addition to acquire three others bus and two additional trucks in 1931.
During the month of October 1930, TVA 24 servants of the who have reached or passed the age of retirement left their work and 20 assistants were dismissed. Finally in September 1931, 58 officers were dismissed for their turn.
At the end of 1931 Castelnaudary and Belpech still two trains traveling Return, mixed Sunday. In the course of 1931 the District Councillors and Chambers of Commerce asked outright removal of trains and removal pathways. This year 220 agents were retired. In August 1932 the entire operation, passenger and freight was assured by buses and trucks. The road was finally closed on 1 August 1933 and decommissioned by Decree 18 months later.(1)




In the years before the end of the operation and after it, the equipment was sold by tender to retailers and scrap metal, including Worms establishments at Nancy Bulabois scrap metal in Lyon.
Mr. Bulabois bought the locomotive No. 24 crashed badly (see Accidents) with 18 other useless for 43700 F.
Etablissements Worms bought six successive markets in many locomotives including TVA Nos. 25, 26 and 27. By the first two were subsequently resold to the Company Deschiron that still use some time.
For cars and wagons, like a locomotive, the largest part was sold to institutions and Worms Bulabois.
Of the 27 vans TVA, 5 were acquired by individuals, one by SGTD who transformed it into the store.
Also on 72 cars, eight were sold to individuals



The establishment of the TVA was made ​​cheaply, knowing that traffic could never return on investment too expensive. There have been studying a system of stacks in elevation proper to avoid accidents. Putting them on the road was a problem and after the War of 1939-45, the deficit of public passenger transport, despite some recovery due to the school bus, is still valid.
The steam tram of the Piège, as the departmental network, experienced a relatively short life time of a relay between the coach at the motor car. The bus had a clear superiority: he stopped in the center of the village while the tram station was often far away.
Lucien Kourtz one of the last line employees, testified in 1983: "What I can tell you is that this train has made a lot of services at the Piège. Every Monday for markets Castelnaudary, we descended six cars filled with people, 300 to 350 travelers. So we had two cars equipped with benches. Everyone laughed and nobody claimed ... "
It is therefore possible to make a wish and a hope: that with the new consciousness that seems to be a result of the energy crisis and the cost of increasingly high fuel, departmental and regional routes find a vigor and youth that they should never have lost.


Then and now

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