Serge Chevalier reminded us that the Chemins de fer du Creusot came out of the Covid period in good conditions, which allows us to look to the future with serenity.
“2022 was the year of rebirth. After 2 years of restriction and later opening of the season (in June) due to the pandemic, we were finally able to carry out a full season, from April to the end of October…”. This sentence is that of Serge Chevalier, launched on the sidelines of his speech opening the general assembly of the association of Chemins de Fer du Creusot (CFC) which he chairs. It is true that CFC officials lived through this period with sometimes great anxiety and doubts about the future.
But it is clear that they were lucky enough to be able to have two summer seasons with good attendance and that state aid compensated for part of their losses: “State aid has particularly helped us with the support of the department of Saône-et-Loire and the town of Le Creusot…” explained the president of the association, who, for his part, has put in place rigorous management and has limited his expenses.
Thus, thanks to all of these measures, the Chemins de fer du Creusot emerged from this unprecedented period in good conditions, which allows us to look to the future with serenity.
Attendance increases by 34%
Even if during this year 2022, there was no new attraction, attendance increased by +34% compared to 2019 (full year) with the highlight being the last Halloween day when a large crowd trod the amusement park walkways. Indeed, that day, it was necessary to wait more than an hour to access the trains of fear and the car parks were full.
It’s simple, a figure of 6,400 people transported was recorded for the 5 days of Halloween events. It’s a real success. Another satisfaction, the “restaurant train” activity which had completely disappeared during the Covid, is back on a good footing. Reservations were made daily in September and October, and in the end 3,050 meals were served on board the little train, for 83 groups. Other figures put forward on Saturday compared to 2019, passes everywhere increased by 45%, sales of refreshment bars and catering outlets increased by 49%, sales of souvenirs erased old brands with an increase of 76%.
Serge Chevalier later recalled that on the upper part of the park, after the opening of the Kiosque à Pizza, an original sweet spot was opened with the manufacture of an imitation of a Citroën HY (Citroën tube truck) which serves as additional point of sale with new products (Italian ice cream, etc.). Another interesting novelty, the managers of the Creusot amusement park have opened some days at night, privatizing the site for Works Councils and Creusot Institutions. “We welcomed between 600 and 900 people per evening! justified Serge Chevalier.
The animations are a hit
In terms of entertainment, we note that they resumed at the end of 2021 with the Christmas trains. Last year nearly 4,000 people were transported. “The Christmas trains will begin the series this Sunday, until December 23, with a magical welcome”.
Also highlighted the success of the egg hunt for Easter, that of the exhibition of vintage cars which have made a big comeback since 2019, with the added bonus of a pleasure shared by all visitors to find good and old mechanics in the part of a day full of Burgundian conviviality.
In July, “Les Américaines Days” also made a comeback with a show that moved above the Combe Denis in a very beautiful western setting, adding quality to the performances without forgetting the attack on the trains with the Montvaltin Equestrian Center with young riders who are very involved.
On the maintenance of the attractions, Serge Chevalier pointed out that the rides are regularly checked by an organization approved by the State and that the periodicity is defined by law according to the types of attractions. “Checks by us are also necessary and daily on opening days. Our installations require more and more technical skills and an increasingly heavy budget (more than €60,000) all this of course, in order to ensure the safety of users”.
Regarding the tourist train, maintenance is also very heavy with an increasingly finicky administration. “Maintaining the 8 km rail network in good condition is the essential guarantee for the sustainability of the train, which is why we signed a contract with a Swiss company over 7 years for the supply of metal sleepers”. Since then, 700 meters of track have been replaced this year, representing an investment of approximately €40,000.
The 241 P 17 still under maintenance
Steam locomotive 241P17 is still under maintenance, but things are progressing well and crews are working hard to return to service in April 2023. A travel schedule is already in place and recent good news has been announced after various works :
“The boiler test has been approved by APAVE for 10 years. We are now engaged in the reassembly phase and in an unprecedented collaboration in the field of French tourist railways, with another association “Le Gadef” (Nîmes – Alès) and their steam locomotive 140 C27. This allowed us to reconnect with steam travel on the national network and to honor our contract with the city of Miramas…”. Next year, the amplitude of the journeys with the locomotive will nevertheless be shortened given the closure of the line between Montchanin and Chagny for the works in July 2023 and February 2024. The creusotine association has however planned for April 22 2023 to organize a maiden voyage and to participate in a steam festival with AJECTA in May.
This will be followed on May 20 by a trip to the Château de Guédelon and on June 10 and 11 a weekend to discover the castles of the Loire. “If all the conditions are met, the return of the 241 P 17 to the rails, with a great program and an inaugural march, next April 22 will be an exceptional day at Le Creusot. A certain number of places will be offered to the Creusotins, we will see the terms with the Town Hall…” announced Serge Chevalier, before explaining that these appointments will constitute real strong points for the influence of Creusot. “In 2023, we will again highlight the assets of our city in terms of tourism…” supported the president of the CFCs before warmly thanking the city of Le Creusot, its Mayor and the teams in the field. Also thank you to the Bourgogne Franche Comté Region for its investment grant, to the volunteers and employees for the work done and without whom nothing would be possible…
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Chemins de Fer du Creusot: After the Covid, all the lights went back to green!
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