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I haven't done much serious rail travel in europe, so this section is a little sketchy.
Never been to Belgium. But an email colleague, Francois de Boer, lives there, and sent me these photos. Thanks, Francois!
Never been to Holland. But two email correspondents, Gerard Mulder and Charles van Langeveld, have sent me these photos. Thanks, guys!
There is a romance about French railways, je ne sais quois. Whether it is the romance of the country, the people, the language ... Chemin de Fer and Society Nationale de Chemin de Fer have a Gallic ethos to them that reeks just as much of Les Gaulois as the Marseilles docklands.
I think part of that atmosphere was expressed to me by a friend who had studied, photographed and taped french railways for years, when he pointed out that the French never went for the General Motors diesel propoganda line, prefering to stay steam for many years until they had extensively electrified, in their own inimitiable style, and then, la piece de resistance , the TGV.
Never ones to follow fashion, but always leading it, the French have, in my view at least, set the engineering standards, firstly with the Chapelon revolutions in steam, then with the Alstom high speed trains, and more recently with the latest in software technology, automatically verified signalling software.
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