In March 2003 SNCF ordered from Stadler three SPATZ EMUs (Class Z-850/Class Be 4/8) for the 57km, 850 V DC (third rail), metre gauge line which, skirting the northern slopes of Mont Blanc, runs from Saint Gervais and Chamonix via Vallorcine to Salvan and Martigny in Switzerland. This route is notorious for its sharp curvature and stiff adhesion gradients, while on the Swiss side it also has a rack section on the precipitous descent into the Rhône valley. The superb scenery makes this railway very popular with tourists. All three Mont Blanc EMUs were delivered in the first half of September 2005, and are now on test.
Le Chatelard-Frontiére, the interchange station between Swiss and French services on the Mont Blanc line. This is the scene on 13 July 2000.
On the left, MC’s Class BDeh4/4 has just arrived from Martigny, and its passengers transferred to a Ligne de Savoie Class Z-800 EMU to continue to Chamonix and Saint Gervais. MC merged with MO early in 2001 to form TMR.
Photo: Petr Kadeřávek