Monday, March 18, 2019

Crossing over

There are still a lot of passages à niveau (railroad at-grade crossings) in France. The main road between Saint-Aignan and the city of Blois has one. There's another not far from it. The sign in the photo is for a grade crossing just outside of Le Puy-en-Velay. It's a standard sign warning motorists of the crossing and that it's protected by a barrier that descends when a train approaches. I don't think there are many trains on this particular line.

The three angled red stripes on the sign mean the the crossing is 150 meters away. There's another sign with two stripes at 100 meters, and a third with one stripe at 50 meters.

The line that serves Saint-Aignan, however, has quite a few daily trains. It's not a main line, but it is one of the few east-west lines in the region. The line carries enough traffic to have been electrified a few years after we moved here. There are local trains of course, but also some longer-distance trains that speed through our little station, not to mention freight trains that also barrel through. Looking at the configuration of our crossing, just east of the station, I think that eliminating it would be a major construction job, likely involving depressing the roadway beneath the tracks. An underpass like that would have a serious impact on access to the businesses around the station. I have no idea whether there is a project to do that, but I wonder about it.


  1. Thanks for the signage lessons. Now I can pass my French driving test!

  2. Yes, this is definitely the road scenery that I remember, driving around this area with my au pair family. I told Ken that it reminded me of New England... don't you think? With the pine trees all over. Beautiful area.

  3. I didn't know about the angled lines as indicators for distance-away. Thanks for that.
    And I like railroad crossings where you have to stop and wait for the train to go through. It does drivers good, I think, to be reminded that they are not the only ones with destinations in mind.

  4. mitch, that's how I learned about it, studying for my driving test.

    judy, my impression is that N.E. is more gentle and more forested. But both are certainly beautiful!

    emm, grade crossings are notoriously dangerous, which is why they're disappearing. But I, too, like watching trains!


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