Cog train takes the strain at famous tourist site

A picturesque site in central France is introducing a panoramic train to carry visitors in comfort and safety to its 1 460 m summit. The Puy-de-Dôme upgrade is part of an overhaul of facilities at the site, renowned for its rolling scenery of ancient volcanoes.

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The project seeks to enhance the overall experience for thousands of visitors and to improve access to the site. The new facilities will also offer better protection for the local environment.

Train to the top

Puy-de-Dôme is a ‘département’ in the Auvergne region. It is known for its magnificent extinct volcanoes, which led to the site recently becoming a member of the ‘Grands Sites de France’. This network includes some 35 sites around the country, all renowned for their landscapes, cultural importance and commitment to sustainable tourism.

Tourism is important for the local economy. Recognising that, in 1999 the local authorities produced a plan to improve the Puy-de-Dôme site. Partly funded by the EU, the current project comes under that general plan.

The project will modernise existing facilities and add some new ones. Most noteworthy is the panoramic train, which will run on a dedicated cog rail track to the summit. It will completely replace the shuttle coaches and cars that now clog up the site’s roads.

The new train will depart from the foot of the mountain from a newly constructed station and maintenance centre. These facilities will feature educational visitor spaces, laid out as an exhibition explaining more about the site, its cultural importance and environmental fragility. A new car park for up to 850 vehicles will be built alongside them.

Lastly, the project will oversee construction of a station at the summit itself. This will be embedded in the mountain’s side, so as not to spoil other people’s view of this superb natural feature. The station will include a panoramic restaurant.

More visitors, better experience

The upgraded site will be kept open all year round, significantly boosting visitor numbers. When the new train is running, revenue is expected to grow by more than 10%. Access to the site will also be enhanced for everyone, including those with disabilities.

The project will create some 150 jobs during the two-year implementation phase and around 50 in the operational phase. The new train is also expected to reduce the site’s carbon emissions, by producing half of the electricity it needs to operate.

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