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Railways - Expo Paris 1937

Railways at the Exhibition Expo Paris 1937
© L'Illustration
Architect(s) : Audoul, Hartwig, Eric Bagge et Gérodias

In the disused part of the former Invalides station, the Railway Palace occupied a surface area of 1,500 square metres.

After entering the large monumental hall, you could cross the entire length of the basement and go up two hundred metres further, to the level of the roadway, after having crossed the entire width of the Esplanade des Invalides.
The station was rendered unrecognisable by the skilful camouflage of the architects: Audoul, Eric Bagge, Hartwig and Gérodias.

Along this route, the Grands Réseaux Français, motivated by the desire to give their exhibition an educational value as well as an attractive appearance, presented you first with a life-size cutaway of a Compoud superheated steam locomotive, and an electric locomotive that you could walk through to get a precise idea of the multiplicity of circuits and the complexity of the equipment usually hidden under the bonnets.

A technical cinema projected films showing the most modern installations in the Paris region and technical devices such as hydroelectric plants, Weistinghouse brakes, etc... Here is a model of a ferryboat travelling from Paris to London. Important frescoes completed this model: the France-England maritime links for the present and the Channel Tunnel project for the future, a project that will eventually be completed in 1994.

Then you saw the handling of trucks and flat wagons, the loading and unloading operations by means of a travelling crane and forklifts, of containers which, combining the truck and the wagon, benefited from the advantages of both. Not far from three railcars (a Bugatti with two petrol engines, a Renault with internal combustion engines, a standard one, also with two diesel engines), you would discover a double electric railcar whose silhouette was evocative of speed. Made of extra-light but very strong stainless steel, its construction was based on a very modern technique imported from America. It was designed for commuter service.

Animated maps showed the economic and social transformation of France during one hundred years of railways.

The Networks were also keen to highlight the initiatives they had taken in the social and learning fields.
After visiting an exhibition of the most characteristic specimens of modern equipment, you could get into a car and see a diorama representing the main sites of France; you even had the impression of speed through clever plays of light and machinery.

Loudspeakers taught you about the places you were travelling through. Free vouchers were offered to visit, with the help of coaches, installations such as a large station in Paris, a marshalling yard at the Gare Saint-Lazare, the test bench at Vitry, among others.

The Compagnie Internationale des Wagons-Lits exhibited a diorama showing its technical operations, as well as the most recent types of cars.

An animated model had been designed by the Paris Metropolitan Railway. It represented, on a scale of 1:50, the operation of a line with automatic signalling, turning back at terminals and intermediate parking. This model was completed by a relief reproduction of the districts of Paris and the Paris region. The Métropolitain, which contributes to the social work of Grands Réseaux, made a point of showing visitors its efforts, mainly in the field of sports.

A number of foreign exhibitors were also registered in the 65 A class of Group XII, which exhibited, for example, a Danish lightning train providing fast connections between Copenhagen and the main points of the territory. It was a bright red, white-striped triple car train. A curious Polish cruise train for skiers included a bar-cinema-dancing car, two bathrooms, a complete shower installation, a hairdressing salon and even an operating room for emergency surgery.

The equipment presented by Swedish Railways was particularly well suited to the special service required in this vast country entering the Arctic zone, as evidenced by the midnight sun represented by the lively landscape.

The Belgian National Railways exhibited three high-capacity cars which showed the efforts made over the last ten years in this country in favour of suburban passengers.

The participation of the German Railways covered several branches of railway construction and was characterised by its variety.

The Italian State Railways, with their long experience, had developed an electric multiple unit train and the whole thing gave a well-founded impression of power and speed, as 190 km per hour were exceeded during the tests.

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