NEW ! Drive a steam locomotive ! (info)
A page of history …
The Chemin de Fer Touristique du Tarn (CFTT) is located
at St. Lieux-lès-Lavaur, not far from Toulouse, in the
département du Tarn. This railway line has recovered
almost four kilometres from an old steam tramway line
that ran through the county. In fact, in order to link
the most important villages of the Tarn and at the same
time to reach the main railway lines in the area, the
Tramways à Vapeur du Tarn (TVT) company was launched in
1895 and the lines Graulhet to Laboutarié, Graulhet to
Lavaur and La Ramière to Saint-Sulpice were opened in
1895, 1903 and 1925 respectively. TVT used the 60
centimetre gauge made popular by Decauville.
Every day, three regular trains ran in each line. There
were also frequent “market” trains and also a noticeable
goods traffic. Trains were pulled by three 0-6-2T
engines and one 2-6-0T delivered by Decauville and three
other locomotives from Weidknecht. In 1925 the Company
bought a petrol powered railcar built by Berliet. On the
other hand, carriages and wagons were provided by
Decauville as well.
From 1928 onwards the decline both of tonnage and of
profitability (even with all the subsidies received) was
irreversible. Although TVT tried to improve the service,
most passengers trains were replaced by buses in 1931.
The loss of goods traffic followed the same pattern.
World-wide recession could not be entirely blamed but
the impossibility for the tramway to cope with fast bus
services or lorries flexibility led the company to close
the system on 11th May 1937. map of the TVT lines
As a curiosity, we can say that the section now owned by
CFTT was in the La Ramière to Saint-Sulpice line. It had
been opened on 11th April 1925 but it closed prematurely
on 20th June 1931.
After the railway closure, locomotives and rolling stock
were sold or scrapped, track was taken up and even some
sections of the track bed were sold to farmers or
absorbed by engineering improvements.
The Chemin de Fer Touristique du Tarn opens!
Almost all the remains from the TVT had disappeared but
there were still some interesting ones such as the
viaduct above the Agout river or the derelict station of
Saint Lieux-lès-Lavaur. That encouraged some railway
enthusiasts that, by the beginning of the 1970s, they
were looking for a system to restore. They created a
preservation society: ACOVA (Association pour la
Conservation Occitane de Véhicules Anciens ) and they
looked for 60 centimetre material, but there was nothing
available, either new or second-hand that ACOVA could
afford. But in the autumn of 1974, the Salins du Midi
(salt factories) were just abandoning its narrow gauge
system. ACOVA bought rails, locomotives and rolling
stock. But the locomotives and rolling stock were a 50
centimetre gauge, so it was decided to abandon plans for
60 centimetre. The CFTT could start!
On 6th July, 1975 ran the first train between St. Lieux
station and the Viaduct.
Volunteers continued the job of restoration and
tracklaying in what was a relatively short period. By
1976 the line crossed the Viaduct and two years later,
tracks reached Giroussens. By 1989 the terminus was Les
Martels, where the trip ends today.
All the job has been carried out by members of the
ACOVA. Today members of the society have to keep the
line in order but also to run the railway when the line
operates. This is hard work, but the effort has been
Locomotives and rolling stock
The stock consists of purchases from industrial concerns
that were closing down or modernising. There is also an
important number of carriages built by the Association’s
own workshops, staffed by volunteers. Visitors will
admire the CFTT important collection as there are now
five steam locomotives, 22 locotractors, a bicycle on
rails, a pantograph electric locomotive and two powered
by battery. The total of passenger coaches now stands at
twelve and there are more than 70 wagons. see
- CFTT 1 0-6-0 T Couillet (ex Sugar Factory de Maizy)
built in 1910 (maker’s No. 1576). In working order.
- CFTT 2 0-4-0 T Decauville (ex Forges d’Audincourt)
built in 1930 (maker’s No. 1087).
- CFTT 3 0-4-0 T Decauville (ex Forges d’Audincourt)
built in 1947 (maker’s No. 1132). In working order
- CFTT 4 0-4-0 T Decauville (ex Forges d’Audincourt)
built in 1931 (maker’s No. 1111). In working order
Numbers 2 to 4 are “type Progrès” locomotives and their
weight is 5 tonnes. All the locomotives except for
number 1 were originally 50 cm. gauge. Numbers 1 and 3
were classed Monument Historique by the French
Maybe the most interesting steam locomotive is 0-4-0T
CFTT 5. It’s a Decauville, type 1 (maker’s No 288) from
1898 and weight 3,250 t. She spent all her life in New
Caledonia and was also originally 50 cm. gauge.
Diesel, petrol and locotractor engines
CFTT has a very important collection of tiny diesel,
petrol and locotractor engines. Many engines are in
working order! We could point out the enormous Schöma
engine , built by the Association using a colliery
engine found in North Catalonia (Spain). But the most
peculiar locomotive are the “boîte à sel” Crochat. These
locomotives were designed by the Établissements Henri
Crochat during the World War I. The type 14L 4-60 was
developed. A modified version of this design was sold to
the Salins du Midi in 1919. Six survived to be inherited
by the CFTT. Among these, nº 8 is in working order, two
have withdrawn from service, two await restoration and
one has been used for spares. These locomotives were the
first diesel-electric engines in France.
As you can see in the lists, the CFTT has also engines
built by Ruston (see below), Campagne, Decauville, Raco,
Weitz, Heim, Yvon Genty, Patry, Duro Felguera, Whitcomb,
CFTT has some electric locomotives, for instance, a
pantograph locomotive built in Spain has also been
restored, even some catenary system was also saved!
The CFTT has a range of two and four axles passenger
coaches. The boggie cars are toast rack type, based on
the Decauville KE type coaches. But there are two
enclosed boggie coaches built by GIRAGR. They are
replica of Carde coaches as used on TVT. It is now
possible for CFTT to offer an authentique tramway à
vapeur featuring Decauville and Carde material, close to
the original TVT atmosphere!
There are also four enclosed 4 wheel coaches (different
classes!) built by the CFTT.
There is a big collection of wagons welcomed for their
historic interest. They work in coal collieries,
factories, etc. Some were built by Decauville for the
Tramway Pithiviers Toury. Go to the material pages to
have a look!
British & American locomotives & rolling stock
CFTT has an important collection of railway material,
not only from France builders but also from Germany,
Switzerland, Spain, USA, etc. British locomotives and
rolling stock are represented by these pieces:
- A Ruston LFT 50 hp diesel supplied in 1965 to Usines
Von Roll in Gerlafingen, a steelwork in Switzerland. It
can reach 19 km/h and has been one of the most used
engines on the railway since it came to St.
Lieux-lès-Lavaur in 1981.
- Coaches numbers 41 and 43 were built by Baguely (
builder number 3238 & 3237) in 1947. They were
originally toast rack coaches for service at Butlin’s
Holiday Camps. They ran first on the two foot gauge
railway at Clacton-on-Sea, Essex and then at Meirion
Hill, North Wales. Both were adapted for 50 centimetre
gauge by Alan Keef Ltd. One was transported to Toulouse
in 1977, the other in 1981, and both were delivered by
air !. They offer thirty-two seats.
- There is also a wagon coming from Faïencerie de
Sarreguemines that was constructed for British War
- One "Clayton" bogie wagon from the first world war is
- American rolling stock is represented by one Whitcomb
locomotive delivered in France in 1945 by the Plan
Marshall, and one Pershing box car from the first world
The station and headquarters of the train are at St.
Lieux-lès-Lavaur. The former station ex T.V.T. is still
recognisable but a big job has been carried out in the
area. The old goods halle now allocates a small shed and
there are some sidings.
When the train leaves the station, it crosses a road and
carries on in the middle of the street (like a
tramway!), goes past the houses at the crossroads. Less
than 200 metres from the station, the line turns left
before leaving the street. Passengers can see on their
left the premises of CFTT depots and workshops and more
sidings (there is a noticeable 50/60 cm. gauge point!).
The train runs now in open country, parallel to the road
down to the river. The line reaches the hamlet of Le
Port and immediately we reach the viaduct (132 metres
long and 20 metres over river Agout) that is now shared
by cars and trains! The pretty village of Giroussens
dominates the hill and the view is really splendorous!
As on the west side, the train takes a reserved lane for
a few metres; we again cross the road and start climbing
steadily, as the T.V.T. once did. Roughly half a
kilometre further on, the train crosses the Chemin de
Giroussens, one hundred metres later we find the passing
place of Giroussens (the original T.V.T. station was
besides the crossing with Chemin de Giroussens). The
line reaches La Garrigole woodland, the gradient is 1.5
per cent overall. At Lascazes (another former halte) the
trains stops and the guard gives visitors a technical
and historical briefing. Again “en route” we reach the
top of the hill after a section with a terrible
gradient! The railway crosses a new road before arriving
at the present terminus at les Martels. There is a
lovely garden here that can be visited between two
trains! The line will be extended in the future to reach
the hamlet and chapel of St. Cyriaque. visit the line
How to get the CFTT
Coming by car or by coach, St. Lieux-lès-Lavaur is 30
kilometres north-east from Toulouse on A68 or Nationale
88. On the motorway, you must take “sortie” nº 6. Then,
you only have to follow the inn until St. Lieux. The
station is at the end of the High Street. information
Railway passengers can take the SNCF to St. Sulpice
station and walk or cycle to St. Lieux (there is not
public transportation link except taxis).
To get more information
CFTT’s secretary speaks some English!. It’s also worth
visiting Tarn department as it offers some interesting
places to visit as Albi, Lavaur or Cordes. Toulouse is
only 30’ far from CFTT line and there’s plenty of small
hotels & restaurants in the region! At last, not far
from the railway, there are Gaillac wine yards that
offer the visitor the opportunity of tasting one
Berenice Tolosa Suarez & Carlos