Tuesday, 14 November 2017

French Ham No 1

Ham? Where and Why?
Ham est une commune française située dans le département de la Somme, en région Hauts-de-France. Ses habitants s'appellent les Hamois1. Ham est le siège de la communauté de communes du Pays Hamois. L'aire urbaine de la ville comptait 9958 habitants en 2014.
This small ton lies at the south eastern edge of the Somme region and is continuous with to other communities, Eppeville and Muille-Villette. these add  further 2000 to the total population of the conurbation, making it similar in size to fbb's Seaton, Colyford and Colyton.
Using Google to find out about Ham can be frustrating ...
... but lorry-driver Dave was there recently ...
... to make a collection of stuff, actually from Muille-Villette.
In his break, Dave was able to explore something of the public transport infrastructure of the town, starting at the (open) station. Looking west from the level crossing you can see signs of industrial activity.
This is a sugar refinery, actually in Eppeville ...
... once served by extensive railway sidings complete with train as seen on Google Maps aerial view.
Dave is unsure whether any rail-borne traffic still exists, reporting that the sidings all looked unused and very rusty.
"Cassonade" means "brown sugar"; fbb never knew that.

Looking east from the crossing, you see the station itself complete with lift-accessible foootbridge.
The station building (left) is in excellent condition and comes complete with a smart waiting room and (apparently) a staffed ticket office.
Fortuitously, Dave was there in time to photograph a train ...
... and the timetable display.
The train in question was the 1338 arrive 1330 depart for Laôn (below far right).
One of the delights of train schdules in rural France is that your train can sometimes be a bus as with the 1144 from Amiens, change at Caulnes for Ham etc.

Note also that three stations are closed and potential passengers are required to take a taxi from the nearest open one. Jussy, for example, had a pleasant station building situated some distance from its village.
It has been razed to the ground, leaving just the vestiges of a platform opposite the former premises.
Taxis are scheduled but have to be pre-booked; they do not meet ALL trains ...
... but there is through ticketing or a flat rate fare of €3 paid to the driver.
Bearing in mind the paucity of rural bus services in France, this would appear to be a good thing for communities that lose their rail link; maybe even cheaper to run than a poor "replacement" bus service. It is a "freefone" number!

If the geography of France is unclear here is a diagram of train services in the Somme area (click on the map for an enlarged view).
The black line is the TGV route via Lille whilst the mauve line (left) is the classic route that took us from Calais to Paris in pre-TGV days. Stations in red have a taxi service.

There are buses at Ham, but not many. Before we explore them, and in view of the commemoration of events in World War 1, we will first explore something of the history of the town and its rail service.

 Next Ham blog : Wednesday 15th November 

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