Alsace Wine & SNCF Monocabines, 1994

SNCF (France) was virtually an untapped resource of railway photographic opportunity until the mid nineties and their hospitality was unparalleled in UK regarding visiting installations and cab rides. Whilst SNCF invested heavily in new motive power, small pockets of classic electric traction operated around the Paris suburban areas on empty coaching stock workings and in the Alscace, north eastern region of France on freight traffic.  Technical difficulties with the new BB26000 Sybic class locomotives, delayed their entry into traffic and provided a stay of execution for the remaining Monocabine locomotives. The image to the left is of me, a cast aluminium number plate from BB12055 and a bottle of Alsace Wine. You'll find out later how I pulled this !

Frustrated with the UK scene and in search of culture, I pointed the Primera south east in search of Alsace Wine and Monocabines on the 12th November 1994 accompanied by my long time buddy Jago the Rat, the only Hells Angel in Lincoln without a motorcycle. Traditionally SNCF are very accommodating and leaving nothing to bribery, except for a couple of crates of Old speckled Hen and Bishops Finger, I secured permits for the entire visit. For those who have not had the opportunity to sample the delights of Alsace Wine & Monocabines, a brief description of each is as follows:-Alsace Wine, Gewurztraminer is the most distinctive of the white grape varieties grown in the Alsace region. It has a very distinctive bouquet often likened to lychees and a spicy yet dry after taste. Bottles retail from 5 at most major supermarkets and have an alcoholic content of around 13 1/2%.

Moncabines can be likened to a 25Kv overhead electric version of the Class 17, Clayton diesel electric locomotive with centre cab and built in three distinctive batches :-

BB12001-BB12148, built 1954-1961, 3250hp, maximum tractive effort 79400 lbf, maximum speed 75mph, mixed traffic locomotive rarely used on passenger work, progressively being phased out and focused in the North East region of France where they are allocated to Lens and Mohon Depots.

BB13001-BB13053, built 1954-1957, 2860hp, maximum tractive effort 50600 lbf, maximum speed75mph, mixed traffic locomotive and recently withdrawn from service.

CC14101-CC14202, built 1954-1958, 3490hp, maximum tractive effort 94950 lbf, maximum speed 37mph,  slow speed and heavy pulling power, progressively being phased out of service, focused on the Forbach - Thionville - Woippy Yard corridor and allocated to Thionville Depot.



The itinerary was meticulously planned and local SNCF management were given copies of it in support of my application for permits which enabled them to see how the visit to their installation fitted in with the overall plan. All accommodation was booked in advance through the Campanile Hotel chain. This is how it looked and happened:

Date Location Arrival Time Departure Time Mileage
Saturday 12th November 1994 Port Talbot   07h30  
  Dover 13h30 14h00 260
  Calais-By Ferry 16h15 16h45  
  Chalons-sur-Marne Hotel 21h15   206
Sunday 13th November 1994 Chalons-sur-Marne Hotel   08h00  
  Chalons-sur-Marne Depot 08h30 09h30 5
  Chalindrey Depot 12h45 13h45 149
  Mulhouse Railway Museum 15h00 16h00 60
  Mulhouse Nord Yard 16h15 17h00 5
  Strasbourg Hotel 18h30   69
Monday 14th November 1994 Strasbourg Hotel   08h00  
  Hausbergen Yard 08h15 09h15 5
  Forbach Depot 12h15 13h15 113
  Thionville Depot/Station 14h30 1930 65
  Thionville Hotel 19h45   5
Tuesday 15th November 1994 Thionville Hotel   08h00  
  Woippy Yard 08h30 10h30 22
  Hagondage Station 11h00 15h30 5
  Chalons-sur-Marne Hotel 17h45   93
Wednesday 16th November 1994 Chalons-sur-Marne Hotel   05h00  
  Chalons-sur-Marne Station 05h15 05h32  
  Paris-Gare De L'est (By SNCF) 07h04 08h00  
  La Villette Depot 08h30 09h30  
  Villeneuve St Georges Depot 10h30 11h30  
  Villeneuve St Georges Station 12h00 14h30  
  Paris Sud Quest Depot 15h15 16h15  
  Paris-Gare De L'Est 17h00 19h48  
  Chalons-sur-Marne Station (By SNCF) 21h13 21h15  
  Chalons-sur-Marne Hotel 21h30    
Thursday 17th November 1994 Chalons-sur-Marne Hotel   08h00  
  Mohon Depot 09h30 10h30 65
  Aulnoye Stabling Point 12h00 13h00 65
  Aulnoye Yard 13h15 15h00 5
  Somain Hotel 1h600   40
Friday 18th November 1994 Somain Hotel   08h00  
  Somain Stabling Point/Yard 08h15 11h30 5
  Lens Depot 12h30 13h30 25
  Calais 15h30 17h15 88
  Dover-By Ferry 17h30 17h45  
  Port Talbot 23h45   260

Saturday 12th November 1994

Jago the Rat arrived at Newport from Lincoln the previous evening and we tucked into our traditional curry on the platform delivered by no less than, The Railway Tandoori. Departing on time from Port Talbot, we made excellent progress due to no engineering work and had made sufficient time to call in at Tonbridge Stabling Point and Dover Yard on the way to the Ferry. Customs thought it mighty strange that the boot was filled with beer on the outward journey, but after telling them we were railway anoraks, they just shook their heads in disbelief and beckoned us onto the Ferry.

Whilst the driving conditions, light rain, weren't ideally suitable for long distance driving, we sped through the french countryside on the motorway to Chalons-sur-Marne and tucked into Nouvelle cuisine at the hotel which left us both hungrier than when we started the meal. However, several bottles of local bubbly later, we hit the pit only to be wakened up by the alarm clock at six o'clock the next morning. 


Sunday 13th November 1994

Jago the Rat dressed in the same clothes as he did twelve years earlier on our easy rider week on the V twin to Dijon and Lyon, namely black tee shirt, donkey jacket, odour eaters and safety boots. After taking breakfast in the room, which consisted of cereal and milk which we brought with us, we left for our first visit in very high spirits.

Chalons-sur-Marne Depot

Chalons-sur-Marne Depot is situated on the mainline between Paris and Strasbourg and is adjacent to its large marshalling yard which serves freight traffic branching off to Reims and the Metz-Dunkerque corridor. We arrived at the depot just after eight on a very dark, damp, misty and drizzly Sunday morning whilst freight traffic was passing through at the rate of four per hour. The depot had recently closed and the images show just how enormous and beautiful its concrete curvaceous structure was. Our guide was very understanding to our cause and agreed to take us for a cab ride on new Sybic, BB26134 around the depot yard. The locomotives security management system was such that, it would not move without approval from traffic control. It was very disappointing to note that at our first installation, there were no Monocabines to phot !

Locomotives Stabled:- BB15037/063, BB16014/607/666, BB17002, BB25113/117/157, BB26133/134, BB63642/680/700, BB66094/100/412/414/422-425/438/447/479/487/499/506, A1AA1A68010/020/032/036/041/042/045/046, CC72020/024/031/074, Y7102/7546/8472.

Chalindrey Depot

Chalindrey Depot is situated in the sticks on the mainline between Metz and Dijon near where it crosses the Paris to Mulhouse line. The depot has a seperate heavy maintenance depot and beautiful forty plus road roundhouse, although the overhead catenary system within it has been recently removed. We arrived at the depot during a very quiet period around dinner hour and after speaking to SNCF staff who were both keen to eat their food and unable to speak english, walked ourselves around the establishment. 

Locomotives stabled:- BB22305, BB25162, BB26166, BB63124/139, BB66411/413/420/431/433/434/448/478/491, BB67409/411/526/530/582, A1AA1A68017-019/025/026/035/084/506/507/512/515/517/518/521-523/526/528/570, CC72001/007/028/036/039/048/060/066/075, Y39/71/7196/7633/7793/8134/8181.

Mulhouse - National Railway Museum

The national railway museum of France is housed at Mulouse which is in the far east corner of France near to the swiss border of Basle. The museum houses a good selection of rolloing stock and railway equipment and my interest was primarily to phot the preserved Monocabine.

Electric Locomotives Housed:- 2D2 5516, BB9004, CC14018, Y2291

Mulhouse - Nord Yard

Nord Yard wasn't too difficult to find from the museum and was our first opportunity to phot an operational Moncabine.

Locomotives Stabled: BB12111, BB15024, BB26094, BB63094/587/617/752/785, BB 64074, BB66707, A1AA1A68038

Monday 14th November 1994
Strasbourg - Hausbergen Yard/Stabling Point

Hausbergen Yard is situated a few miles north of Strasbourg very close to the german border in the north east of France. We arrived at Hausbergen Yard just after eight and in traditional french style very little traffic operated during the Monday morning which gave us good opportunity to phot the withdrawn Monocabines in the yard, obtain panoramic pictures of the yard and control centre and discuss our plans with the Operations Manager. It then became apparent that the CC14100 class Moncabines had been ousted from Strasbourg and redeployed between Forbach  and Woippy yards. Whilst we had not provisioned to visit Forbach, the Operations Manager made a telephone call to the Station Manager at Forbach and laid on special arrangements for us to view the installation. That's me in the picture to the left with the Operations Manager.

Locomotives Stabled: BB13017/018/020/051/052, BB16670, BB22306, BB25153, BB26047/079/094/134, BB63718/63723/860/878, BB64710+810/711+811/712+812, BB67521/524, Y7749
Forbach Stabling Point

Forbach is situted very near the German border approximately one hundred miles north west of Strasburg and with a direct link to Woippy Yard. We received a very warm reception from the Station Manager and a guide was summoned very promptly to take us across the station tracks into the stabling point. Forbach is the last stronghold for CC14100 class Monocabines with four being stabled and without any hesitation I asked the guide for both a cab ride on one of them together with some pictures of it being moved on the turntable for which he was more than happy to oblige. Just before leaving, the Station Manager provided us with a listing of the diagrams for CC14100 class Monocabines and an offer to return to Forbach for a cab ride to Woippy Yard in CC14100 class Monocabine. Once we had completed our visit we stopped for a glass of Alsace wine, our second motive for the tour, before moving on to Thionville.  

Locomotives stabled: BB12077/083/101, CC14154/155/195/201, BB16617/721/756/763/787, BB22206, BB25116, BB26059/115, BB64061, BB67510/587

Thionville Depot

Thionville Depot is situated sixty miles west of Forbach in the north east of France and is in a junction of lines serving the Dunkerque corridor, Woippy Yard, Metz, Luxemburg and Germany and is the home for the remaining serviceable and stored CC14100 class Monocabines. The depot is visible from the station platform. We arrived at Thionville Depot on a high after a very memorable morning at Forbach and once again SNCF pulled out all stops for our visit. The depot complex consisits of a heavy maintenance facility and a large roundhouse with roof removed and plenty of storage sidings filled with CC14100 class Monocabines. This visit was the focus of our tour and we spent plenty of time taking pictures and talking to staff about their locomotives. What became very apparent as the light was falling was that there was an excellent opportunity for some night photography and I asked the guide if we could return in darkness to take some more pictures. As he was going off duty at 1900 hours, he agreed and we opened the boot and offered him refreshment for his assistance which he thankfully received.

Locomotives stabled: BB12013/065/077/086, CC14101/102/104/109/123/125/126/129/131/133/146/153/167/183/187/195, BB15019/064, BB16602/618/671/675/681/684/688/691/695/696/724/755/774/788, BB25103/105/111/119/125/151/152/160/166, BB26024/033/133, A1AA1A62062, BB63618/828, CC72074, Y5159/5160/6510/6625/8125, 

Thionville Station

Not a very well lit station but there was plenty of freight activity including BB12000 and CC14100 class Moncabines. Here's the log from 1700-1800:-

BB15019 Depot - Eastbound light engine
CC14126 Depot - Westbound light engine
BB16774+BB16660 Eastbound - Depot
BB16618+BB12013 Depot - Eastbound  light engine
BB12065 Depot - Eastbound light engine
BB16757+BB16762 Westbound light engine
BB16682 Eastbound passenger
BB25169 Eastbound freight
BB15038 Westbound passenger
BB12104 Eastbound freight
BB26115 Eastbound light engine
BB12013+BB16618 Westbound freight
Other locomotives passing: BB12013/086/101, BB15019/049, CC14154/181, BB16015/654/657/667/677/696/736/793, BB22260, BB25124/168, BB26133, BB63828, Y8011/8332
Thionville Depot (By Night)

New locomotive arrivals: CC14169/182

The images have been very disappointingly scanned and hopefully someone reading this article may have a more professional scanner

Tuesday 15th November 1994
Woippy Station

Woippy Station is situated south of Woippy Yard on the mainline between Thionville and Metz and is one of the busiest stretches of line for freight traffic in France. After staying in Thionville overnight we arrived at Woippy Yard a little earlier than planned and parked the car up at the station for half an hour.

Locomotives passing: BB16684, BB26028/042/059/064/095, CC72026, Y7133

Woippy Yard

Woippy Yard is situated on the mainline between Metz and Thionville and is one of the busiest yards in France with forty eight roads and a locomotive stabling point. We arrived at the control centre at 0900 hours in driving rain and the car was parked in a very large pool of water. Regretably, I dropped my car keys into the water and as the car has automatic locking the central locking system went absolutely berserk but fortunately defaulted into the unlocked position as I retrieved them. The Operations Manager greeted us upon arrival and gave us several publications regarding Woippy Yard which was most helpful. Our guide suggested that we take his motor car around the yard to due to its size and I was specifically interested in the CC14100 class Monocabine that had just arrived on an oil train for a local distribution point which spurred the yard. After driving several miles around the yard and crossing it by foot we entered the cabin of CC14100 which was about to deliver its train and talked to the driver. He gave us a conducted tour of the locomotive and did not hesitate in telling us he would be glad to see the back of this class of locomotives as they were slow, noisy, cold and draughty. The driver entertained to us what could be best described as internal fireworks display within the control cabinet as he put the locomotive into motion and opened the cabinet door. We were once again very well looked after and the following images reflect that.

Woippy Stabling Point

Woipyy Stabling Point is situated within the yard complex.

Locomotives stabled: CC14183, BB16608/652/661/720/741/749/752/775/790, BB22229, BB26015/042/059/064/075/093/094/098/156, BB63823, BB64045/062/706+806/708+808/709+809/721, CC72057, Y7135/8008/8498

Hagondage Station

Hagondage is the third station north of Woippy Yard and all freight to and from the north passes through it. These were the noted movements during the lunch hour:-

BB16658+BB16605 Southbound freight
BB25106 Southbound freight
CC14201 Southbound light engine
BB16749 Southbound freight
BB26042 Southbound freight
BB16696 Southbound passenger
BB26093 Northbound freight
BB25122 Northbound freight
CC72074 Southbound freight
BB16687 Nothbound passenger
BB12110 Northbound coal
BB15062 Southbound freight
BB25064+BB26156 Northbound steel
BB26122 Northbound freight
CC14181 Northbound freight
BB16690 Southbound passenger
CC72074 Northbound light engine
BB15061 Southbound passenger
BB12013 Northbound freight
BB16685 Northbound passenger
BB26075 Northbound freight
Other locomotives passing: BB12041/059/097, CC14126, BB15028/050/065, BB16658/673/685/693/741, BB22256, BB25122/159/167, BB26122/123/156, BB63913, Y7135
Wednesday 16th November 1994
Today I decided to let the train take the strain and we parked the car up at Chalons-sur-Marne station and took the 0532 train into Gare De L'est, Paris.
Locomotives passing: BB15026/054, BB25104/114/117, BB26122, A1AA1A 68007, Y8123
Gare De L'Est Station, Paris

We arrived at the Gare De L'Est station just after seven. It was still dark and bustling with BB16500 class locomotives working push pull passenger services, so out came the pod and a few images were snapped including this one of a line up of 3xClass16500 locomotives.


Locomotives arriving/departing: BB15019/022/065, BB16552/555/562/563/564/567/569/573/574/577/592/593/598/622/627/645/647/674/676/677/698/702, BB63170, BB67433/584, CC72033/047

La Villette Depot

La Villette depot is situated one mile outside Gare De L'Est station and can be easily accessed by foot with the road running parallel to the railway. Entry to the depot is controlled by credit card at the gate or telephone. La Villette is a no frills depot with a heavy maintenance facility, plenty of stabling sidings and locomotives. There were clear signs of the recession biting with several long lines of stored locomotives.

Locomotives stabled: BB15030/046, BB16554/556/563/567/568/575/581/584/586/588/594/597/599/623/631/637, BB16642/649/652/669/677/700/702/703/704/705, BB25125, BB26032, BB63136/159/160/161/171/181/190/195/206/212/235/423/536/552/593/594/633/636/788/801/834, BB64000/030/063, BB67456/526/584, CC72003/007/033/037/040/049, Y5143/6289/6408/6567/6573/6606/7211/7286/7291/7405/7471/7505/7670/7674/8150/8360/8410
Villeneuve St Georges Depot

Villeneuve St Georges depot is situated ten miles outside Gare De Lyon station which serves the south east of France and is probably the busiest depot in Paris servicing Gare De Lyon, Villeneuve St Georges and Valenton and marshalling yards. The depot can be found within a maze of lines within the marshalling yards and the Grand Ceinture (Paris orbital freight line) and consists of a massive roundhouse, heavy maintenance facilities and plenty of locomotives and movements within it. we arrived at the depot just before midday and was well greeted, as I am a regular to it. Once again we noticed lines of stored locomotives which is depicted below.

Locomotives stabled:- BB307/11/33/47/49/53, CC1101/06, CC6543/71, CC7103,  BB7223/254/285/287/301/304/306/311/312/313/375/393/394/400/407/409/433/440/494, BB8113/172/208/225, BB9251/274/315/322, BB22212/307/334, BB25156/512/535/543/548/554/562, BB26001/015/020/029/039/044/048/054/058, BB63148/248/416/422/560/649/679/779/805, BB64026,  Y5152/6423/6426/6468/6483/6513/7383/7618/7843/7510/8058

Villeneuve St Georges Station

Villeneuve St Georges station is situated at the south side of the yard and is one of the busiest places in france for freight activity.

Locomotives passing between 1215 and 1430 hours:-

CC6501/57, CC7101, BB7215/223/251/254/298/341/383/427/440, BB8172/190, BB8529/566, BB9291/315/322, BB9704, BB22266, BB25506/527/548/554, BB26054/168, Y7472,
Juvisy Yard

Locomotives stabled:- CC6550, BB7383, BB9251/56, Y8403

Paris Sud Quest Depot

Paris Sud Quest Depot is situated a couple south of Paris Austerlitz station and primarily services this station with locomotives together with the local yards. Sud Quest is one of my favourite depots as there is always a variety of ancient BB class locomotives many of which are to be found behind the traverser at the rear of the depot. Several years ago one of these locomotives over ran the bufferstops, demolishing the wall behind and ending up in the main road behind. Somewhere in my collection is an image with graffittti sprayed over the rebuilt wall requesting trains to stop !

Locomotives stabled:- BB319/22, BB4206/224/757/769/770, CC6504/10/12/14/29/30/31/74, BB7223/236/240/241/244/245/246/253/261/264/269/271/279/283/288/292/335/338/339/386/387/434, BB8114/127/168/240/257, BB8502/506/513/516/527/539/543/555/575/587/621, BB9204/205/208/209/210/213/215/231/236/241/242/252/254/257/259/262/263 /266/277/278/279/284/288/290/325, BB9701, BB22278, BB26034/057, BB63005/082/092, Y5127/5769/6229/6581/6609/6613,
Locomotives en-route:- BB4211/45, CC6503/50, BB8266, BB9246/63, BB26057
Paris De L'Est Station

We returned to Chalons-sur Marne on the 1948 train after spending a most wonderful day around Paris.

Locomotives arriving/departing:- BB15027, BB16554/579/586, CC72077

Thursday 17th November 1994

Mohon is situated seventy miles north west of Thionville at a busy junction where the Dunkerque to north east France freight corridor crosses the line linking Paris and Reims to Belgium.  Mohon Depot serves the local Lumes Yard which has seen busier days. Once again the weather wasn't kind to us and our day was relatively wet.

Mohon Depot

I have always dreamt of visiting the roundhouse at Mohon Depot after learning of its predominate wooden construction which I understood was of historical interest and was being taken down and moved to the National Railway Museum in Mulhouse. Mohon has a second roundhouse which have been knocked down and is now used for the storage of BB12000 class Monocabine locomotives. The remaining BB12000 class Monocabines are split in allocation betwenn Mohon and Lens Depots. The images below portray the graveyard scene which is further emphasised by the gloomy day. Maybe one day I'll return to the roundhouse at its new site in Mulhouse and sample the delights of preserved Moncabines within it.

Locomotives stabled:- BB12009/014/017/020/034/036/049/050/054/071/075/077/116/117/119/140, BB16603/694/708/743/755/790, BB17072, BB26004/012, BB63966, CC65001, BB66412/426/447/486/492, Y6323/6566/7853
Aulnoye Station

Aulnoye is another large yard on the Dunkerque to Metz freight corrider which crosses the main Paris to Brussels line which is served by BB12000 class Monocabine locomotives.

Locomotives passing:- BB12026, BB16012/522/529/534/540/665/730, BB17089, BB26103/136/162, CC40105, BB66190/280, A1AA1A68036/68038, Y7174
Aulnoye Stabling Point

I was very well looked after here got my first opportunity to drive a BB12000 class Monocabine around the stabling point. Shown below was my drivers eye view of the road ahead. I was informed by my guide that Monocabines were very unpopular locomotives with drivers as they were noisy, draughty and cold and SNCF had restricted their journeys to a maximum length of two hours.

Locomotives stabled:- BB12032/063/106, BB16011/012/036/608/624/707/709/710, BB17082/099, BB25115, BB26050/083/105/146, BB63112/123, BB66210/276/288, Y7174
Aulnoye Station

Locomotives passing:- BB12003/032/063/100, BB16604, BB17089, BB26118/136/137/146, CC40106, BB66094/100, 

Friday 18th November 1994
Somain Station

Somain is situated twenty miles west of Lens and is on the freight corridor from Dunkerque to Metz. Thought we'd spend an hour or so on the station prior to our appointment at Somain Yard. The weather wasn't brilliant and a little dark.

Locomotives passing:- BB12107, BB16501, BB22288/331, BB25538, BB26030/090, Y7216,

Somain Yard

We met our guide outside the signalling centre of Somain Yard, exchanged  greetings and was requested to wear SNCF green reflective safety belts prior to proceeding to view the signalling centre before walking the yard. What I found very alarming was the hump shunting of Gas Tanks, images enclosed. Once the visit was over, up flipped the boot and we bartered part of our depleted stock of beer for the SNCF safety equipment prior to pointing the car to Lens Depot.

Somain Stabling Point
Locomotives stabled:- BB12010/016/027/067/142, BB16527/532/548/604/643/659, BB22217/239/316/331, BB25538, BB26030/048/049/059/090/102/127, BB63133, BB64717+817/64719+819, BB66505, Y7587
Lens Depot

Lens Depot is situated near the junction where the Paris to Lille line crosses the Dunkerque to Metz freight corridor, thirty miles west of Somain. Lens Depot is responsible for the maintenance of BB12000, BB16500, BB26000 & BB62000 class locomotives. The depot buildings are very antiquted and there were many lines of condemned diesel and electric locomotives awaiting their fate. However, I was very pleased to make a 10 donation to the local hospital in order to purchase a cast aluminium number plate from BB12055 which was at the depot for scrapping.


Locomotives stabled:- BB12002/006/008/023/024/030/032/047/051/055/056/061/068/073/080/094/095/099, BB12105/113/122/125/126/131/137/139/144/146, BB15019, BB16509/536/605/768/773/784, BB26068/072/074/092/098/104/168, A1AA1A62001/094, BB63121/126/144/147/162/173/175/179/182/185/187, BB63199/207/220/230/234/245/246/526/533/570/652/677/706/737/761, BB66001/004/014/191/211/215/217/223/227/231/278/292/403/411/454/714/718, BB67255/256/423, Y5118/5144/5156/5215/6569/7122/7191/7252/7285/7507/7726/7800/8075/8087/8331/8374/8481

Dunkerque Yard

Locomotives stabled:- BB12004, BB16757/782, BB64720

Last Updated: 29/12/18