Just over a century ago, line 128 between Ciney and Yvoir was brought into service.
Considered to be one of the most beautiful railway sections in Belgium due to its location in the Bocq valley and the presence of numerous engineering structures (viaducts, tunnels, bridges), this line is currently being brought back into service by the non-profit organisation Patrimoine Ferroviaire et Tourisme.
GENESIS OF THE LINE
In 1888, a project was drawn up. Two years later, a concession was granted to the Société Nationale de Chemins de Fer Vicinaux for the construction of a standard gauge line between the stations of Ciney, reached on 1 May 1858 by the Grande Compagnie du Luxembourg, and Yvoir, linked to Namur by the Compagnie du Nord Belge in 1862. However, it was the Belgian State Railways that carried out the work: in 1894, the route of the section was established and on 15 March 1896, the tender was announced. Line 128 was put into service in four phases: the Ciney-Spontin section on 5 May 1898, the Spontin-Dorinne section on 1 May 1902, Dorinne-Evrehailles on 1 May 1903 and Evrehailles-Yvoir on 1 June 1907.
Click on the names of a station names to view pictures from old times
With a length of 21 kilometres, the Bocq line is single-track over its entire length. Twelve stations, halts or stopping points can be identified: these are Ciney, Halloy, Braibant, Sovet, Senenne, Spontin, Spontin-Sources, Dorinne-Durnal, Purnode, Evrehailles-Bauche, Yvoir-Carrières and Yvoir. The stations of Spontin, Dorinne-Durnal and Evrehailles-Bauche were equipped with a siding to allow for possible crossings. The reference speed was 70 km/h.
The traffic on the line is relatively limited due to the rural nature of the region. In 1948, there were seven omnibus round trips between the two railheads on working days; two of these were extended to Dinant via the 154 Namur-Dinant-Givet line. It took about forty minutes to complete the entire route.
Due to the presence of numerous quarries (limestone), goods train traffic was very important. All the stations had a goods yard, with the exception of Sovet and Yvoir-Carrières.
After the Second World War, passenger trains were operated by railcars (type 551 and 553) maintained by the Ciney shed. As for the goods convoys, they were pulled by steam locomotives of type 29 (from the Ronet workshop), as well as 81 and 93 (from the Ciney shed). Subsequently, Ronet’s diesel engines were used for services.
Due to the operating deficit recorded by the SNCB, the passenger service of line 128 was cancelled on 31 July 1960 and replaced by buses. In addition, goods traffic was limited the same year to the Ciney-Evrehailles section; it was cancelled between the latter and Spontin at the end of the 1960s. Only the Ciney-Spontin (Sources) section remained, allowing the connection to the Carrières de la Rochette, which provided ballast for the SNCB’s track service. It was on 7 November 1983 that the final closure was pronounced.
The Patrimoine Ferroviaire et Tourisme took over the line in 1992. With the help of volunteers, it proceeded to clear the Ciney-Dorinne section and ran a historic ex-SNCB railcar for the first time on 11 September 1992. This experience was to be repeated regularly in the years that followed. Since 1999, a weekly operation has been organised every Sunday and public holiday from June to September.
With these regular services, the PFT wishes to attract the widest possible public to discover the many facets of the magnificent Bocq valley by rail.
However, the final objective remains the definitive preservation of the line and its use for tourism along the entire route from Ciney to Yvoir.