Wednesday, 18 January 2017

Very Jolly by Paris Trolley (1)

Provoking an Investigation
No 3 son bought fbb a lovely Paris tram book for Christmas and, lured by an advertisement contained therein, fbb bought himself the companion bus book with spending money he hadn't been given.
It was a picture of a Paris trolleybus that aroused your blogger particular interest ...
An on line search (tout en français) revealed that the scheme was in response to a dire shortage of buses and fuel caused by the demands of World War 2. Solution; set up a network of Trolleybus routes using vehicles made in France. The company was called Vetra.
Vetra, dont le nom se veut être une contraction de «Société des Véhicules et Tracteurs Electriques», fut un constructeur d’autobus connu et reconnu pour ses trolleybus. Cette société fut fondée en 1925, mais disparue en 1964, à une époque où l’ont commençait à douter de l’utilité du trolley. Aujourd’hui retombée dans l’oublis, cette firme était pourtant celle qui équipait, fut un temps, l’ensemble des réseaux de trolley en France, et était l‘un des plus grands constructeur européen en la matière.

The firm bean by making battery electric locomotives ...
... but quickly moved into Trolleybus manufacture, supplying many French networks and exporting as here to Valparaiso (Chile).
Les deux premières lignes sélectionnées étaient le 63, Porte de Champerret - Petit Colombes et le 64, Porte de Champerret - Colombes (Achères), ce qui revenait à équiper une ligne à fourche, avec un long tronc commun dans Neuilly-sur-Seine.

The two start-up routes were 63 and 64 sharing a common section from Porte de Chmperret to Neuilly-sur-Seine.
An order was placed in 1940 but not delivered until the end of 1942. Thus it was that route 63 started on 8th January 1943, followed by route 64 on 6th September of the same year. This released gas buses ...
... to relieve shortages elsewhere.

What this means, of course, is that Paris (the city) did not have any trolleybuses. The 63 and 64 started at the Porte de Champerret which was once one of the gates in the fortifications of Paris.
These defences (the Thiers wall) were removed after World War 1, leaving just the names of the gateways preserved in place names, us and métro stops.

Trams had disappeared from the city and suburbs in the 1930s, so these Trolleybuses were a rare replacement for motor buses, not, as became usual, the other way round.

Thus it was that buses took on their numbers from the trams ...
... and the trolleys used the same route numbers. In November 1945 63 and 63 were renumbered 163 and 164, numbers which still ply much of the same route today.
These routes still leave from the substantial transport interchange at Porte de Champerret where connection can be made with Métro Line 3.
The Petit Ceinture (outer circle ?) buses call ...
... as does the 165, clearly related to former tram 65.
We will be looking more closely at 163 and 164 later ...
... all services stop around the "triangle" where be the entrance to the Métro.
A lovely piece of integration which has always applied to trams, trolleybuses and motor buses. UK please note!

For the record, line 3 was extended from Pereire to Porte de Champerret in 1911 ...
... and further extended to its present terminus in 1937.

 Next Paris Trolley blog : Thursday 19th January 


  1. Andrew Kleissner18 January 2017 at 06:51

    The present-day 237 and 267 London bus routes closely mimic the former (pre-war) trolleybus routes 637 and 667. These in turn followed the old London United tram routes 37 and 67.

    Pleasingly for this post, the 237 and 267 are today operated by London United Busways, itself part of the RATP (Paris public transport) group.

  2. Very sorry, but Route 237 is operated by Metroline!!!
    Also . . . Route 607 (motorbus) follows Route 607 (trolleybus) to this day, albeit on a limited-stop basis.
    Routes 260 and 266 also have trolleybus routes 660 and 666 in their origins, although somewhat distorted in parts.
    Similarly, Routes 653 and 253 share a lot of common sections.

    There's quite a lot of history in many London bus routes, y'know!!

    1. Andrew Kleissner19 January 2017 at 07:46

      Thanks for the correction ... I've moved out of London and operators have changed since then! You're quite right about the 607/260/266 but I didn't know about the other two. Doesn't the 266 reflect the notorious tram route which used to terminate "Near Willesden Junction" as it couldn't cross the LCC/Middlesex county boundary?

  3. PC is the inner circle. The outer circle is called the Grand Ceinture - though I think that was only a rail service, rather than a bus.

  4. Sorry to be a party pooper. There wasn't a London Trolleybus route 637. Was 657 meant? Shepherds Bush to Hounslow. 667 being Hammersmith to Hampton Court with some route in common with 657.