Sauver the 3.628
© Chris Ludlow
Normally I would forbear from mentioning it, but Chris Ludlow, French based train painter, leading Anglo-European train spotter, proud geek, anorak owner, tells me that for two decades, a treasure of French national significance has been stored in England, and is now in danger of going to the scrapheap. His picture of this exact engine is above. Ex-Nord Railway steam locomotive of SNCF class 230D was once owned by the Science Museum in London – even the British considered it a significant example of steam locomotive engineering – but was sold to an individual in the 1980’s. For some time, it was kept in working order at the Nene Valley Railway, a tourist line in the middle of England, but has recently languished in the open air, and is literally rusting away.
Now, its owner has put it up for sale – on Ebay! Quelle horreur! Quelle honte! Mr Ludlow notes that another example of this class exists in the French railway museum at Mulhouse, but this is never likely to operate again. The hope for no.3.628, which once hauled expresses from Paris Nord to Beauvais, Calais and Lille, is that it could be repatriated to France and restored to working order. Indeed, it should be classified as a national treasure and be supported in the manner of other patrimoine.
However, while it languishes in England and its condition rapidly deteriorates, this hope seems distant. So far, no support seems to be forthcoming in France, other than expressions of regret. There will be many more expressions of regret if we allow this beautiful and significant example of French engineering patrimoine to rot away in a foreign country.
Will Ludlow and his friends save the 3.628? My views on trains are plain. I am for tearing up the rails. But of course, it is my secret shame that I have a soft spot for steam trains. Apparently everybody does. I would buy it myself and put it in the garden but Mrs Miller is bound to notice. So an effort is going to be made to repatriate the engine and restore it to working condition, if a hospitable French railway association can be found.
I throw in my lot with Ludlow. No jokes about Germinal. Sauvez le loco!*
My normal hatred for trains is expressed here.
A version of this story in French is at Sauve Qui Peut.
* Ceci n’est pas un jeu des mots.