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Tourist and Minor Railways

Overseas Departments and Territories

CFT du Pays de la Canne, Guadeloupe
Train on the Chemin de Fer Touristique du Pays de la Canne, Guadeloupe
(Photo © Jean-Paul Balensi)
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Guadeloupe

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Guyane

There are no railways in Guyane today. At one time, there were several 600mm gauge railways constructed by convict labour serving various penal settlements in the territory.

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Martinique

Flag of Nouvelle Calédonie (unofficial)

Nouvelle Calédonie (New Caledonia)

Nickel mining began on the mainland of Nouvelle Calédonie in the late 19th century and has remained an important part of the island economy ever since. At its height, all the working mines had their own rail systems, and a number of relics remain, including several steam locomotives restored to display condition.

In 1904, a public railway was opened between Nouméa and Dumbéa (17km), later extended to Païta (29km from Nouméa). The line was taken over for operational purposes by US forces during World War II but subsequently closed. The gauge is reported as 3ft (914mm), but it seems likely that it was originally metre gauge, and regauged by the Americans. Some remains exist at Païta, including a locomotive in a very deteriorated condition. The Tchou Tchou Train, a widely advertised tourist attraction in Nouméa, is, in fact, a road train.

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Polynésie Française (French Polynesia)

Makatea

A 600m gauge railway system opened around 1920 for the transport of phosphates from mines to the wharf. Initially steam hauled, it was late worked by diesel locomotives. It continued in operation until the mines closed in 1966. A number of relics remain and may form part of a proposed heritage site.

Tahiti

In 1885, a 600mm gauge railway was proposed which would have run from the capital, Papeete, for about 45km along the west coast of the island to Papeuriri (present day Mataiea). It would have transported vanilla for export from plantations along the route. Construction was approved but never commenced.

In 1886, a steeply inclined 600mm gauge railway operated for a short period during the construction of a water tower at Faaiere, near Papeete.

In the 1890s and into the early 20th century, a railway was in use in Papeete transferring goods between the wharfs and warehouses. It appears to have been accessible to the public and in 1892 the local government imposed a tax on its use. Small trolleys were hand propelled or horse drawn. The line may have been laid using material left by from the construction railway.

Flag of Réunion (unofficial)

Réunion

The first and only railway on the island was a 124km metre gauge line following a coastal route from Saint Benoît to Saint Pierre via Saint Denis and Le Port. The first section opened in 1878, regular services on the last remaining section ceased in 1976.

TAAF

(Terres australes et antarctiques françaises)

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