These standard gauge machines were to serve the Vendée lines from Nantes and La Roche-sur-Yon to Pornic, Croix-de-Vie-Saint-Gilles and Les Sables-d'Olonne. This leasing was to allow the reemployment of the personnel of the metric network of the Tramways of the Vendée, then operated by the C.F.D., and in the process of being closed down.
Unfortunately, the S.N.C.F. agents, believing in a premature liquidation of the branch lines in favour of a private company, prevented the departure of the C.F.D. railcar N° 801 from the STATE station. This vehicle had to recognize the route and be presented to the regional authorities. Taking the opposite side of the C.F.D., the S.N.C.F. agents created the first light railcar of the national company and named it F.N.C. (Fédération Nationale des Cheminots). Also built in Tours by the BILLARD company, it was based on the C.F.D. design for the most part, simply modifying the position of the driver's cab which, once again unique, had been raised.
The C.F.D. 900 series railcar, type 1945
Initially planned in the 800 series, this equipment was finally registered in the 900 series in order to avoid confusion with the 800 self-propelled railcars of Seine-et-Marne.
This machine was of C.F.D. design and came straight out of the design office of the Avenue de Friedland under the impulse of the dynamic director at the time, Mr. ZENS, who created the Ateliers de Montmirail from scratch.
Equipped with an 80 HP Pan-Hard engine of type 4 HL Diesel placed transversely at the front of the vehicle to avoid loss of space, the C.F.D. railcar had two very clear driving positions located at each end of the vehicle. It had two axles, one of which was powered.
The body, of the light-alloy beam type, allowed the transport of thirty-two seated passengers plus twenty-five standing passengers if necessary. Operations were to be carried out by a single agent, with the driver acting as conductor. For this reason, the pneumatic controls for the four wallet-type doors were within easy reach of the driver.
An upper gallery served by two lightweight ladders allowed the transport of bulky packages and bicycles that could not fit into the oversized interior luggage racks. The peculiarity of this equipment was its low power, as the C.F.D. did not believe in towing.
These units could be twinned. Tests were carried out in this direction and the operation was carried out with three twin units without any problem. The flexibility of the system was evident when there was a lot of traffic. It should be borne in mind that since this type of equipment was designed for short branch lines, their range was of the order of 350 km and required only one full tank a day.
This railcar, listed in the BILLARD catalogue under the reference A 75 D, was built by this firm in five copies for the C.F.D.
The C.F.D. were unable to operate the Vendee lines and found themselves with five machines whose future destination had not yet been determined. Their number was not large enough to operate their leased line from the Avalonnais, and the company from Mamers to Saint-Calais wished to acquire two of them, so they were sold to it. One of the remaining three was assigned to the RICHELIEU line, which the company had just received the operation of, in a pool with, ironically, one of the first F.N.C.'s that came out called "La Richelaise". The last two were sent to AUTUN for line trials.
These appeared to be conclusive, and the shuttle services performed having been favoured by the public, the C.F.D. decided to have ten identical machines built for the same line.
The BILLARD workshops being congested and the needs becoming urgent, the C.F.D. decided to undertake the construction of these railcars themselves.
This was the beginning of the Montmirail workshops. Indeed, the metric track line from La Ferté-sous- Jouarre to Montmirail had just closed, and the workshop depot became free. Mr. ZENS then had the idea to turn it into a workshop for the construction of railway equipment. Served by S.N.C.F. and located close to Paris, the establishment of this workshop allowed the regrouping of all the agents having already participated in the elaboration of the various tractors of the Company, until then scattered on the various networks of this one.
Built from 1948 to 1953, the ten new examples were transferred as they came out on the AUTUN line where they ended their career. Let us also mention the construction of an additional one for the Compagnie des V.F.I.L. for their Pont-de-la-Deûle line.
Loaded at 11 T without luggage on the roofs, these railcars reached 70 km/h on level ground and 44 km/h on a 20% gradient....
Car body length 11.270 m
Box width 2.66 m
Height on rail without gallery 2.865 m
Wheelbase 6.96 m
0 of the wheels 0.850
Maximum load 5 T
Number of seats 32
Number of standing places 25
Motor power 80 HP
Range of speeds in both directions of travel 18, 29, 44, 60, 75 kph
4 HL Panhard engine that can be replaced by Willème FAM 316 of 70 HP
Tank capacity 75 I
Range 350 km
Note - The 905 railcar was destroyed in a collision in 1959. The 908 railcar was transformed into a track inspection train for SPENO in 1974. Railcars 912 and 914 were converted into trailers in 1956.
The railcars had a fourth digit in their registration indicating the number of RGs performed (e.g. railcar 906 having undergone the 4th RG = 9064).