Metro line 3 down the hill to Saint Lazare then metro line 13 to Saint-Denis, Porte de Paris.
Tram T8 Porte de Paris to Epinay Orgement
|At Saint-Denis the first tram out was going to Villetaneuse Universite so I had to wait 5 minutes for the next one which was going to Epinay Orgemont. This is a very economical station arrangement with good connections to the metro and buses.|
|Tram arriving at Saint-Denis. It will form the next tram to Epinay|
At Epinay I doubled back to Epinay sur Seine Gare to ride the new tram T11
Tram T11 from Epinay sur Seine Gare to Le Bourget (Tangentielle Nord)
|During the run this screen showed the stations served and the train and bus connections|
|Epinay sur Seine Gare|
The two stations are about two hundred meters apart - not the most convenient. This is the first part of the planned route along part of the Grand Ceinture line which is freight only now. It is an orbital line designed to move people around the city without having to travel into the center and out again. The new line is run by the SNCF on the north side of the freight lines using tramtrains running under 25Kv overhead power. Being a railway, the trains run left hand but a modified form of street railway signaling is used. The trains run in train rather than tram mode, mainly because of some of the fierce gradients encountered . SNCF/RER ticketing is in force but it is still easy for dodgers to jump the turnstiles.
The double track line uses concrete ties and rock ballast. The ride is good but it does not connect with the community although the trains are fast and frequent. There are no grade crossings which allow for high speeds between stations.
At Le Bourget there is direct connection into the SNCF RER station line B and I quickly caught a train destined to CDG airport as far as Aulnay sous Bois.
Tram T4 Aulnay sous Bois to Bondy
At Bondy I encountered the longest wait of the day. I was forced to wait ten minutes for a local train to Noisy le Sec. However, the wait was not wasted as, in that time, two TGVs and a non stop local came roaring by on the through line. In fact the signal only cleared to green just as my train was running into the platform.
|The short wait gave me the opportunity to photograph a "crocodile" train control device - by the look of it it uses physical contact as the wavy portion was shiny metal.|
|Noisy le Sec|
|Le Village (Gennevilliers) in the one way section|
At Les Courtilles I decided to call it a day having sampled trams T1, T4, T8 and T11 and I took metro line 13 back to Saint-Lazare. However, rather than transfer to line 3 to Villiers I took one of the new trains that has just started running to Versailles Rive Droit but only as far as Pont Cardinet. They are smooth and quiet and with their wide corridor connections the 14 cars (two units) will carry a lot more people.
In spite of the improvements in technology in the last 30 years, apart from track gauge, Paris has not standardized. All lines are electric overhead but with different voltages (no diesel or bi-mode) but at least they are putting a great system in place. In spite of the frequent intervals all services, apart from tram T11 were packed.
On the trams fares are collected on the honor system with validation machines on the tram, on the SNCF tramtrains one must pass through a station turnstile on entry and exit. Both are simple to evade (I had a 5 zone Mobilis ticket covering all stations and lines in Paris). I have read that fare dodging reaches 40% in some areas and in the Saint-Denis area I would think this is much higher. On tram T1 in some places people could not reach the validation machines because of the heavy crowding although a couple of honest people did pass their tickets over for somebody else to validate them - they even received the cancelled tickets back - honor among thieves!
I still have a few weeks here so I will take the opportunity to ride the other systems at the expense of avoiding a fashion museum.