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The second permanent exhibition of the Cité du Train allows you to discover the history of the French railway from 1844 to nowadays. Entitled “The Platforms of History”, it completes “The Show Circuit” with its 64 pieces of railway equipment, which retrace on 13,000 m² the history of the railway in France and its technological evolution, from the oldest steam locomotive in 1844 to the TGV Euroduplex in 2013.



At the Cité du Train, we explain to you how such a heavy steam engine can move forward. An “open” locomotive presents its main organs. Another one sets into motion every 30 minutes to show how connecting rods work. You can look underneath it thanks to a pit.

Connecting rods, running gear, tender, coal, Bissel truck, exhaust, distribution system: these words will no longer be a secret to you. Neither will the Pacific Nord 231 E 22, a powerful and fast locomotive built by the engineer André Chapelon for French networks, nor the 232 U 1 Hudson, from the engineer Marc De Caso, which is modern and shows the ultimate perfecting touches applied to the steam traction.

  • Locomotive à vapeur 111 Sézanne n°5, Compagnie de Montereau à Troyes, 1847

  • Locomotive à vapeur 232 U 1 Hudson Marc de Caso, SNCF, 1949

  • Locomotive à vapeur 232 Baltic n°3.1102 Nord, Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Nord, 1911

  • Tender 22 C 306 "système à écope", Réseau l'État, 1920

  • Locomotive à vapeur 231 Pacific n°3.1192 Chapelon Nord, Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Nord, 1936



July 1827. A date to remember in the history of the railway! The French map is still empty, except now for the first line between Saint-Étienne and Andrézieux. The Cité du Train wanted to honour this birth with the exhibition “The Platforms of History”. There, you can discover the oldest steam locomotive in Europe: the 111 Buddicom nr. 33, a stunning piece of our history, referred to as “Saint-Pierre”.

On this first platform, 5 wonderful locomotives await you, as well as a passenger train and a freight train from the 19th century.

  • Locomotive à vapeur 111 Buddicom n°33 Saint-Pierre, Compagnie de Paris à Rouen, 1844

  • Locomotive à vapeur 111 Stephenson n°6 L'Aigle, Compagnie d'Avignon à Marseille, 1846

  • Locomotive à vapeur 210 Crampton n°80, Compagnie de Paris à Strasbourg, 1852

  • Voiture voyageurs A 151 1ère classe, Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Nord, 1850

  • Fourgon mixte 3ème classe n°7061, Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Nord, 1868

  • Locomotive à vapeur 032 Engerth n°312 L'Adour, Compagnie du Midi, 1856

  • Wagon de marchandises Bi-foudre en bois, Wagon de particulier, 1900

  • Locomotive à vapeur 211 Compound 4 cylindres De Glehn n°701, Compagnie des Chemins de Fer du Nord, 1885

  • Locomotive à vapeur 120 Parthenay n°2029, Réseau de l'Etat, 1882



Confronted to ecological problems and to long tunnels asphyxiating the customers, railway engineers begin, starting in 1900, to consider the advantages of electricity. They launch their prototype in Paris, between Austerlitz and Orsay, but also between the capital and Versailles on a third rail. However, in these early stages of the Belle Époque, we are still far from the industrialisation of electrical machines.

On the contrary, more powerful steam locomotives are still being made, like the C 145 from PLM, which travels the 1081 kilometres between Paris and Nice, the famous Pacific from the PO company or the 230 from the Compagnie du Midi which take on the Massif Central. The First World War will change the railway landscape and its fleet again.

  • Locomotive électrique BB E 1 Boîte à sel, Compagnie du Paris-Orléans, 1900

  • Locomotive à vapeur 220 "Coupe-Vent" C 145 American, Compagnie du P.L.M, 1900

  • Automotrice électrique Sprague BDF 9011 3e rail, Compagnie des Chemins de Fer de l'Ouest, 1902

  • Locomotive à vapeur 231 Pacific n°4546, Compagnie du Paris-Orléans, 1908

  • Automotrice électrique TE 1080, 3ème rail, Réseau de l'Etat, 1914

  • Locomotive à vapeur 230 Ten Wheel n°1314, Compagnie du Midi, 1902

  • Locomotive à vapeur 140 C 344 Consolidation, Réseau de l'Etat, 1917

  • Voiture voyageurs à Impériale B4C5t Bidel n°20076, Compagnie des Chemins de Fer de l'Est, 1900



Between 1919 and 1938, the railway networks equip themselves with steam, electrical and diesel locomotives, electrical powered railcar trains, and railcars. The aim is to diversify the equipment and thus avoid a lack of coal in case of a conflict.

In the 20s, the electrical traction appears on the lines of the railway companies PO, du Midi and PLM. A new train concept also sees the day in order to reduce the operating costs of secondary lines: the railcar.

Car manufacturers such as Bugatti or Renault support this development by launching several models, from the omnibus to the well-known high-speed wagons.

The equipment presented on this platform indicates the rapid expansion of the electrical traction and the diesel. You will find railcars and electrical powered railcar trains which have marked this time.

  • Locomotive électrique BB E 4002 1,5 kw cc, Compagnie du Midi, 1922

  • Autorail rapide Bugatti Présidentiel ZZy 24408, Réseau de l'Etat, 1933

  • Locomotive électrique 2D2 5516 1,5 kw cc, Compagnie du Paris-Orléans, 1933

  • Automotrice électrique Z 23461 Ligne de Sceaux, Compagnie du Paris-Orléans /SNCF, 1938

  • Locomotive électrique 1ABBA1, 161 BE 3 Maurienne 1,5 kw cc, Compagnie du P.L.M, 1927

  • Autorail à essence ZZB 23901, Réseau de l'Etat, 1922

  • Locomotive à vapeur 242 AT 6 Pocono, Compagnie du P.L.M, 1927

  • Autorail Renault VH n°2211, Compagnie du Paris-Orléans / Midi, 1933

  • Voiture voyageurs C 11 n°11412 "Sanitarisable" OCEM, Compagnie du P.L.M, 1929

  • Locomotive diesel 4 DMD2 60032, Compagnie du P.L.M, 1932

  • Wagon marchandises isotherme Météo KZA 505 257, Réseau Alsace-Lorraine, 1921

  • Wagon citerne SC 565 536 produits pétroliers, wagon de particulier, 1911




Before entering a new chapter of the railway history with the creation of the SNCF in 1938, you can admire famous and fascinating passenger coaches as well as a mail car.

During decades, all railway companies have targeted their customers and adapted their equipment accordingly. For example, the PLM network aims at the “richest”, with the rental of “living room coaches” for families travelling to the Mediterranean Sea.


The most famous persons of the time gladly show their wish to travel with the greatest comfort. From the general Joffre to members of the grand ducal family of Luxembourg, they all make sure to turn their train ride into a very pleasant time of relaxation.

  • Locomotive à vapeur 231 H 8 Pacific, Compagnie du P.L.M, 1939

  • Voiture Salon n°11, Compagnie du P.L.M, 1909

  • Voiture Salon n°4 "Général Joffre", Compagnie du P.L.M, 1913

  • Voiture Salon 10 AL "Grande Duchesse", Réseau Alsace-Lorraine, 1894

  • Fourgon postal PA 40588, Réseau Alsace-Lorraine, 1933



The damages of the First World War, the economic crisis of the 30s and the competition from the car industry increase the financial difficulties. The state cannot let the railway disappear. On the 31st of August 1937, a decree declares the nationalisation: the big railway companies unite under a single network under the supervision of the state.

Pretty soon, the SNCF is confronted with the Second World War: military transports under control of the occupier and actions of the Resistance, terrible human losses and several damages.

At the end of the conflict, the traffic has to be revived and the network rebuilt. Help is then sought from the American and Canadian railway industry to build new steam locomotives.

  • Locomotive à vapeur 141 R 1187 Mikado, SNCF, 1945

  • Voiture voyageurs DEV 46 38 30 582, SNCF, 1947

  • Voiture Salon Présidentiel PR2, SNCF, 1954

  • Autorail Picasso Renault X 3847 partie moteur, SNCF, 1953

  • Automotrice électrique Z 604 ligne de Chamonix à voie métrique, SNCF, 1958



Once the network is rebuilt, the leaders and engineers of the SNCF have to adapt the railway to the needs of travellers and freight operators. The competition with the car industry grows, and the airplane, with international companies such as Air France and Air Inter, tends to become available for a larger customer range.

The crux? Speed! But also power, in particular for the freight which has to transport very heavy coal and mining products on the North-Eastern line.

The BB 9200 locomotives are launched in 1957. In 1967, the SNCF presents its first high-speed commercial train, driving at 200 km/h and with its distinctive red colour: the “Capitole”.

  • Locomotive diesel CC 65001, SNCF, 1956

  • Locomotive électrique CC 14018 25 kv-50hz "Artère Nord-Est", SNCF, 1956

  • Locomotive électrique CC 7107 1,5 kw cc, SNCF, 1953

  • Wagon marchandises "poche" pour le transport de fonte liquide, Unimetal Rombas, 1955

  • Locomotive électrique BB 9004 1,5 kw cc, SNCF, 1952

  • Locomotive électrique BB 9291 Capitole 1,5 kw cc, SNCF, 1964

  • Locomotive à vapeur 241 P 16 Mountain, SNCF, 1947



The 60s and 70s, marked by a great economic growth, benefit the road network which literally booms. Faced with this situation, the SNCF pairs up with other companies to compete with the car industry. Fast, modern and comfortable trains, mainly aimed at a business class, travel through Europe: the Trans Europ Express.


In the 70s, the research directorate of the SNCF works on adapting the airplane technology to the railway equipment. A thought wanders through the minds: why not install a helicopter turbine in a railcar? Some people thought it was a crazy idea, others a genius one, and the gas turbine train was born.

  • Locomotive électrique CC 40101 quadricourant TEE, SNCF, 1964

  • Locomotive électrique CC 6572 1,5 kv cc, SNCF, 1975

  • Voiture voyageurs A8tu Inox Mistral 69 18 89 996, SNCB/SNCF, 1974

  • Voiture voyageurs bar A3tru Grand Confort 84 99 003, SNCF, 1971

  • Voiture-lits type P 4550 6, CIWL/SNCF, 1956

  • Voiture SAV Salon Cité du Train 61 87 99 90 065, SNCF, 1979



The oil crisis of 1974 marks the end of the gas turbine train programme, which was already well on its way but extremely oil consuming. The same year, however, the French President Georges Pompidou declares the construction of the new railway line between Paris and Lyon and its equipment with electrical traction. Simultaneously, the research continues on the problems of current collection by high-speed catenary systems, which proved really difficult during testing in 1955.

In 1981, the arrival of the TGV opens a new era. The SNCF is now travelling towards the future. The high-speed train will become the model for train travelling in the 21st century.

  • Motrice Turbotrain RTG T 2057, SNCF, 1974

  • Motrice TGV Paris Sud-Est 61 "orange", SNCF, 1982

  • Maquette échelle 1 Cabine de conduite TGV Euroduplex, SNCF, 2011

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