Friday 21 May 2010

Railway remains

During the 1800s the Hérault was criss-crossed by the construction of a surprising number of railway lines. Aspiran was on a branch connecting Lodeve down to Beziers and Agde where the main coastal line still runs today. The stretch from the cost to Clermont l'Herault opened on 1858 and passed through the commune following a route next to that taken by the RN9 north from Paulhan today.

A couple of kilometres down the hill from the village is Aspiran Gare, a hamlet between the RN9 and the Hérault river. This picture is the remains of the station buildings, the line ran from near left to far right.

This remote section is where the line crossed the ravine of the Dourbie on its way to Clermont l'Herault. The viaduct is certainly the most pronounced rail legacy in the commune although vegetation precludes an interesting picture of the arch underneath. Its also just a stones throw from the the A75 autoroute opened in 2002.

At Paulhan the remains of the station and junction are still in strong evidence - this section going south was only closed in 1991. This is where the east-west line from Bédarieux and beyond to Montpellier crossed the Aspiran line. Further down, just past Lézignan-la-Cèbe, is a short branch to a quarry. Trains operated from here to the main line at Vias until the mid-2000s and will be restarting to provide stone for building the TGV line extension from Nîmes to Montpellier,

For more information seek out Chris Elliott's self published book The lost railway lines of l'Hérault, the text is in French and English. Chris can be contacted at christopher.elliott at (email disguised to reduce spam)

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