The fight was Homeric, and delivered with a passion of which only France is capable. It was even necessary to appeal to the Prime Minister, and the Prime Minister decided. The subject of the dispute? A simple railway line on the right bank of the Rhône that freight trains normally use, and that the Occitanie region wants to open to passengers. The project, on the table for several years, was launched by the Region. It wants a rail service between Pont-Saint-Esprit and Avignon that is both “a lifeline” and a tourist incentive. The network dedicated to freight being electrified, it seemed natural to him to use it for passenger trains. There was nothing extravagant in this calculation, some TGVs already using this route in the event of failure on the left bank of the Rhône. SNCF network,the Region and the TER management therefore worked together, and relentlessly, for an opening at the end of 2021. But it was without counting on the Public Railway Safety Establishment (EPSF)!
Suddenly, the EPSF remembered that it needed two studies to provide authorization to run “passenger” trains, although they were much lighter than freight trains. Anger of Carole Delga, the president of the Occitanie region, candidate for her re-election for the next regional ones on June 20 and 27. She alerted Prime Minister Jean Castex, very attached to serving the territories. She is well inspired to do so. The EPSF must review its claims. It is decided that the section between
will open in 2022, with daily service to the stations of Pont-Saint-Esprit and
, at the rate of 10 trains per day, or 5 round trips.
The project also provides for a seasonal and exceptional service to
Roquemaure, Villeneuve-Lès-Avignon, Avignon, Nîmes ... A rail service on the entire right bank of the Rhône
In green on this map, the freight line that will be used by TER trains from Pont-Saint-Esprit to Avignon SNCF network
Secondly, it will be at
to be served.
With these additional stops, it will take 36 minutes to connect Pont-Saint-Esprit to Avignon.
Finally, having reached Avignon, the trains will continue the journey to Nîmes, passing either through Beaucaire or Remoulins.
They will then run in addition to the trains which normally connect Avignon to Nîmes.
For this project, the region has mobilized 12 million euros.
It will allow all the inhabitants of the right bank of the Rhône to finally have a rail service.
A boon that is being emulated: it is now the turn of the Rhône-Alpes region to dream of the train: it has announced its intention to work on the reopening of this same line which crisscrosses its territory north of Pont-Saint-Esprit. .
Read also: Our selection of 2021 guest rooms in South-Occitania