Discover the amazing story of the P'tit Train

The P'tit Train of Valangin is turning at the feet of the castle since September 6th, 1986. Read on to discover its amazing story.

A group of young people

Once upon a time, there was a group of young people eager to bring some animation to their village. Under the name SEVE ("Société d'Emulation de Valangin et Environs"), they were already organizing a yearly second-hand trade, which met some success and gathered seventy exhibitors in the burg and around the church. They were not completely satisfied, yet. They wanted to make a more lasting contribution and were looking for something likely to attract visitors and animate the village during the whole year. But what?

An idea

During a cultural travel to Belgium in 1983, the group had discovered the first "adventure playgrounds", and many tourist railroads, such as as the CFV3V ("Chemin de Fer à Vapeur des 3 Vallées"). There was almost no example of this kind of attractions in Switzerland at the time. One of the SEVE members, Alain, had found a small fair train, a kind of attraction, at an automobile demolition contractor in the area. This small train was probably going to expire in a mechanical press, but, seeing that it interested somebody, the demolition contractor suddenly wanted to sell it for a high price. Very exactly on December 27th, 1985 at midday, Alain, who was returning to eat at his place, met two other SEVE members, Anne-Marie and Pierre. They were recovering pieces of furniture in the Fuchs company, which was closing permanently at the time. "Anker sells his small train for six hundred francs. What shall we do?" Alain said to them by the open window. Anne-Marie and Pierre looked at each other one moment and said "We buy!". It was the beginning of the adventure.

A parcel of land

Once the small train was bought, the SEVE realized many things were needed. First, the SEVE started to look for a parcel of land, as flat as possible and wide enough for the small train. This was especially tricky to find in Valangin! There was a parcel of wild-land at the feet of the castle. It belonged to Mr. Jean-Louis Touchon. Contacted, the owner accepted to rent it for free. Provided that the parcel would be looked after and that the canal which crossed the parcel (until 1973) was reopen. The SEVE fulfilled the two conditions, at least partially regarding the canal, and Mr. Touchon has been renting it for free since then.

A circuit

The SEVE also started to look for more rails, because the original circuit, eight meters in diameter, was considered too small. The area was carefully scoured, including the old sawmills, but the SEVE only found a few additional rails and one or two switchings. This was obviously not enough. What to do? Pierre, another SEVE member, suggested to request help on the public radio ("Radio Romande"). Since the small train was being built to entertain children, the request was done at midday during a broadcasting targeted at students ("5/5 - Service d'Assistance Scolaire"). It was peak time, and the broadcasting interested the audience. Despite the SEVE did not receive direct propositions, many journalists came to Valangin. Articles were published and some owners eventually showed up. Some people had a few rails in their courtyards or in a peag bog; others had some pieces of equipment (switchings, wagons, etc.) in a disused sawmill. The long-awaited rush of propositions eventually happened. The transport was organized and executed by the company of yet another SEVE member: Reynal. The company name was "Electrolevage S.A.". The SEVE ended with even more rails than needed.

An engine

Finding enough rails in the area was positive, but these rails were designed for a 60cm rail gauge (the distance between the two rails of the track) while the small train was expecting a 50cm rail gauge. Besides, the initial railway electrification system required a third rail and couldn't be used on technical and security grounds. So the bogies were modified to accommodate a 60cm rail gauge. And a new electrification system was developed by recycling car's dynamos into electric engines. The small fair train was in fact almost completely rebuilt during the process. The P'tit Train has been powered by electric accumulators since then. The P'tit Train was repainted to match the colors of Valangin.

An audience

The list of all the tasks required to bring the P'tit Train to life and of all the people who helped is too long to fit here. We would like to thank everybody for their participation and support. The P'tit Train of Valangin was inaugurated on September 6th, 1986. It entertains children and adults alike, on Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday, from 14pm to 18pm, and from Easter Day to All-Saints Day. The prices were never increased: CHFr 1.50 for one ride (three tours) and CHFr 10.-- for a ticket good for ten rides!