We originally posted a picture of an abandoned rail tunnel in France on the blog asking if anyone had information on it and it was Arthur Laloux in Paris, France who revealed that the tunnel is part of the Chemin de fer de Petite Ceinture or “Little Belt Railway” which was a circular route linking all of the main stations in Paris.
It opened in 1852 within the fortified city walls as a subway to encircle the city however it was never used to its full potential and diminishing traffic meant the line was eventually closed in 1934 however the connection between Gare du Nord and Gare de l’Est remains open, although it sees little traffic.
This is a transcript from a documentary about the line, translated from French.
Urban passenger service traffic ceased in 1934, except for the Line of Auteuil, the use of the Petite Ceinture for freight and for rolling stock exchanges and national train movements, such the Napoli Express and the Blue Train, continued to 1993.
After 1993, only the North part of the Petite Ceinture is used for rolling stock exchanges beetween the major stations Gare Saint-Lazare, Gare du Nord et Gare de l’Est.
At the end of the 50’s, the viaducts of Auteuil and of Point-Du-Jour, in the South-West part of the Petite Ceinture, were demolished.
Today, twenty-three kilometers of the the tracks of the Petite Ceinture, between Porte de Clichy (17th district), in the North-West of Paris, and Boulevard Victor (15thdistrict), in the South-West are unused for freight or passenger train movements. The inhabitants of the neighborhoods of its tracks know it, often partially, as a wild nature area that laid in the center of the Parisian area. But one can recognize signs of its historical inheritance :
- Its stations often assigned to an entertainment use, like a restaurant for the Passy-La Muette station or a café-concert for the Charonne station,
- Its viaducts and bridges, like the one over the Ourcq canal,
- Its long tunnels, like the Belleville one that is 1124 meters long, the Charonne one, that is 1300 meters long, or the Montrouge one, that is 904 meters long
- Its trenches, like the ones that cut the Buttes-Chaumont and Montsouris parks.
Location: Paris, France