Locals see them pass by but cannot get on board. And for good reason, the only trains that run there (about twenty per day) are freight trains. For 50 years, the Ardèche has been the only department of metropolitan France to have no station in operation. The fault is the stop of passenger traffic on the line known as the "Right Bank of the Rhône" which linked Givors (Rhône) to Nîmes over 254 km until August 1973.
SNCF has decided to suspend its passenger traffic on 666 kilometers of tracks of local interest from today. This decision, in accordance with the program contract signed with the State in 1969 and which provided for the closure of 10,000 km of secondary lines, will make the Ardèche the first French department to no longer be served by passenger trains, "wrote Le Figaro in its edition of August 6, 1973. Today, the line "occasionally welcomes passenger trains in case of significant disruptions on the lines of the left bank of the Rhône," recalls SNCF Réseau. But in this case, no stop is made.
A brief recounting the cessation of passenger traffic in the Ardèche in the edition of Le Figaro of August 6, 1973. Le Figaro Archives
Reopening of passenger traffic planned for the end of 2026
This Ardèche exception will soon be a thing of the past. Under the impetus of the Occitanie region, the line on the right bank of the Rhône partially reopened in August 2022 between Nîmes and Pont-Saint-Esprit, serving Avignon Centre and Bagnols-sur-Cèze. If it stops at the gates of the Ardèche, the department will benefit from its extension to Le Teil from the end of 2026. Eight round trips will then be provided on the entire line, which will be covered in full in 1h20.
The Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes region is conducting studies on the advisability of extending the line to Romans-sur-Isère (Drôme), near Valence, from 2028. Until then, the only possible rail trips in the Ardèche are made on board historic steam trains, like the Train de l'Ardèche which runs between Tournon-sur-Rhône and Lamastre.
IN VIDEO - After 50 years of closure, the line on the right bank of the Rhône reopens to passenger traffic