Trams in Wallonia - 1

The Final Years of the SNCV

The Final Years of the SNCV
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Because of the small edition, this DVD comes as a DVD-R, in a standard box, with label, booklet and envelope printed in professional quality.


colour, sound

Films can be separately chosen from a menu.

Optional subtitles.

In 1991, the Belgian SNCV, the National Vicinal Railway Company, ceased to exist. It was the end of a long downward spiral, where the once vast network of neighbourhood trams was reduced to two small centres: one in Flanders (the coastal tram) and the other in Wallonia (the last remaining section of the Charleroi network). More than 4500 kilometers of tram tracks were lifted until that time, and replaced by buses.

The SNCV was succeeded by separate transport companies, one for Flanders ('De Lijn') and one for Wallonia (TEC). That this would eventually turn out to be a new dawn for the trams of Charleroi could not have been foreseen at the time, but that's a topic for another film. This one, about the last convulsions of the Belgian interurban tramways in the French speaking part of the country, shows the situation as of the end of the eighties. Around Charleroi there was a network of long lines leading out of the city, while in the city itself the entire budget was wasted on grand plans to upgrade the tram to metro status. The intention to uphold a core network in the countryside was there, and there was even considerable investment in renovation, but the closures were inevitable - closures of lines that had sometimes only just been completely renewed.

All films were recorded on super-8, and subsequently restored with the greatest care, frame by frame. Modern techniques make them look better than ever. The sound for this film is a mix of commentary and original live sound, where the original texts from the era were retained. Which is why we can now smile wryly at optimistic words about the future. Words that proved not to be prophetic...


At the beginning of the eighties, there was still a lot left of the once massive SNCV network in Hainaut. The route shown in this film was a more or less random choice - but a happy one, because two years on, there was practically nothing left. The journey begins in Maurage, and leads along line 30/31 via Bracquegnies, La Louvière, Mariemont and Morlanwelz to Anderlues. A short ride on line 89 to Fontaine l'Evêque gives the opportunity to continue via line 63 through Forchies-la-Marche and Souvret to Courcelles. From there, line 80 goes through Chapelle-lez-Herlaimont and back again to Morlanwelz and Mariemont, where the journey and the film end. This film contains some typical vicinal tram routes, which were no longer in vogue during the shooting. That they survived for so long has been a happy coincidence.
Recorded in: 1985/86
Super-8, Colour, Sound (live and commentary)
Running time: 28'18"

A Tour Outside of Charleroi
A Tour Outside of Charleroi


The last remnant of the vicinal tram in Hainaut is the long trunk line 90, which is partially converted into a metro/light rail system. The investments needed to do that have been the direct cause of the decline of the rest of the tram network, although the economic situation of the mining area also contributed. Line 90 itself was partly victimised as a consequence: lifting of the non-metro part was inevitable, and took place a few years after this film was made. Whether the remainder would be viable remained to be seen. But as long as it lasted, it was an interesting tram ride, over 30 kilometers in length, where some original vicinal tram atmosphere was left.
Recorded in: 1991
Super-8, Colour, Sound (live and commentary)
Running time: 33'53"

Line 90 - the Flagship
Line 90 - the Flagship


In the short film 'Off the Rails...' we look for locations visited in the film about the closed part of line 90 (Anderlues-Mons) - but twenty years later. The combination of photos from 2012 with film footage from 1991 offers a penetrating view of the disappearance of the tram route.
Recorded in: 1991 (Photos: 2012)
Super-8, Colour, Sound (Music)
Running time: 4'23"

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