© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2012 Unlike the Somme Bay line, during May and June this little 600mm-gauge railway only operates on Sundays (and public holidays). A last surviving remnant of the WWI trench railways, with a substantial collection of narrow-gauge equipment, it had to be worth the 120- mile round trip from our gite - hadn’t it? In common with many such railways, the line was used after the war for reconstruction purposes. Later, it was used to serve a sugar factory near Dompierre. When the factory closed in the early 1970s, the preservation group took over. Some of the equipment from those latter days is still in use, including the diesel loco which hauled our train to Dompierre. We had arrived at Froissy well in time for the 3pm departure. Tickets in hand, we explored the excellent museum. Long experience of UK preservation sites hadn’t prepared me for this - spacious, clean and tidy, well stocked and well-explained (in French, English and German), we were quickly convinced that this was a thoroughly professional setup. I was aware that steam was not used for the full length of the line - but not sure why. We soon found out (guesswork, I must admit)... We took our seats at the rear of an open-sided coach (to maximise the views) and enjoyed the short run along the bank of the Somme canal to Cappy. Here, our Franco-Belge 0-8-0 (a huge locomotive for such a slim gauge...) was swapped for the 6- wheeled diesel which had arrived on the return working of the 2pm train. Soon away again, we’re into the tunnel. Narrow and curved, on a steep gradient, I suspect this is the reason why steam is only seen on special days beyond Cappy... (Asphyxiated passengers don’t tend to return). A little way beyond the tunnel, still climbing, we encounter the zig-zag, where the train reverses for perhaps a quarter of a mile, before continuing its ascent to the plateau above the river valley. It’s now an unfenced roadside tramway - cars toot at the train, while crops in the adjacent fields try to get into the carriage. The line ends at a run-round loop near the village of Dompierre-Becquincourt, just beyond the football field (did the gates say “Dompierre Sucrerie”?) And that was it - back down the Somme valley to greet the 4pm train at Cappy - and return to Froissy behind that hefty 0-8-0. One or two more photos here - the train runs empty beyond Froissy to the now-disused station a couple of hundred yards further on, in order to run round for the next departure (which will be the last train of the day). We buy a few postcards in the shop, before heading back towards the coast. After our long journey yesterday, today we’ve had two most enjoyable trips on two very different lines. Had it been worth the long drive? Yes, most definitely. French roads are a pleasure, and we had a great time at the railway. We’re a bit weary though - a gentler day tomorrow, I think... Link: Le P'tit train de la Haute Somme official website Museum - Decauville (1825 of 1917) and Baldwin (48606 of 1918) Plymouth (5106 of 1946), Jung and Deutz diesels Billard diesel (102 of 1937) "Genevieve" Borsig 10334 of 1918 Billard 232 of 1958 "Can we take this home please" A familiar outline - MR 7433 of 1939 O&K 0-10-0 8285 of 1917 O&K 0-8-0 8627 of 1917 No 10 - ready to depart from Froissy T24 (Coferna 122 of 1941) - diesel replacement No 10 ready to return to Froissy Zig-zags Level crossing Unfenced - roadside tramway We've run round - ready to depart from Dompierre Descent Back at Cappy - off with the diesel No 10 arrives No. 10 - Franco-Belge 0-8-0 2836 of 1945 Contrasting motive power No 10 at Cappy Froissy run-round Back to Froissy