© Geoff’s Rail Diaries 2012
Unlike the Somme Bay line, during May and June this
little 600mm-gauge railway only operates on Sundays
(and public holidays). A last surviving remnant of the
WWI trench railways, with a substantial collection of
narrow-gauge equipment, it had to be worth the 120-
mile round trip from our gite - hadn’t it?
In common with many such railways, the line was used
after the war for reconstruction purposes. Later, it was
used to serve a sugar factory near Dompierre. When the factory
closed in the early 1970s, the preservation group took over.
Some of the equipment from those latter days is still in use,
including the diesel loco which hauled our train to Dompierre.
We had arrived at Froissy well in time for the 3pm departure.
Tickets in hand, we explored the excellent museum. Long
experience of UK preservation sites hadn’t prepared me for this
- spacious, clean and tidy, well stocked and well-explained (in
French, English and German), we were quickly convinced that
this was a thoroughly professional setup.
I was aware that steam was not used for the full length of the
line - but not sure why. We soon found out (guesswork, I must
We took our seats at the rear of an open-sided coach (to
maximise the views) and enjoyed the short run along the bank of
the Somme canal to Cappy. Here, our Franco-Belge 0-8-0 (a huge
locomotive for such a slim gauge...) was swapped for the 6-
wheeled diesel which had arrived on the return working of the
2pm train. Soon away again, we’re into the tunnel. Narrow
and curved, on a steep gradient, I suspect this is the
reason why steam is only seen on special days beyond
Cappy... (Asphyxiated passengers don’t tend to return).
A little way beyond the tunnel, still climbing, we
encounter the zig-zag, where the train reverses for
perhaps a quarter of a mile, before continuing its ascent
to the plateau above the river valley. It’s now an unfenced
roadside tramway - cars toot at the train, while crops in the
adjacent fields try to get into the carriage. The line ends at a
run-round loop near the village of Dompierre-Becquincourt, just
beyond the football field (did the gates say “Dompierre
And that was it - back down the Somme valley to greet the 4pm
train at Cappy - and return to Froissy behind that hefty 0-8-0.
One or two more photos here - the train runs empty beyond
Froissy to the now-disused station a couple of hundred yards
further on, in order to run round for the next departure (which
will be the last train of the day). We buy a few postcards in the
shop, before heading back towards the coast. After our long
journey yesterday, today we’ve had two most enjoyable trips on
two very different lines. Had it been worth the long drive? Yes,
most definitely. French roads are a pleasure, and we had a great
time at the railway. We’re a bit weary though - a gentler day
tomorrow, I think...
Link: Le P'tit train de la Haute Somme official website