[as of 05.2009]

A village in the southern Belgium. Administratively the village belongs to the municipality of Rochefort, in Namur Province. The village is known for the caves under a nearby hill, carved by the river Lesse - a popular Belgian tourist destination.



The Han-sur-Lesse - Grottes de Han (Caves de Han) diesel tram line is a remnant of Belgium's formerly grand vicinal tramway (interurban tramway) system that used to cover the entire country. It is 1 of only 3 surviving fragments of the former national network - the other 2 being the De Panne - Oostende - Knokke costal interurban line, and the Charleroi - Anderlues line. The Han-sur-Lesse line is the smallest of these, yet it is still operated with the equipment in ways unchanged since the Belgian interurbans’ prime days.

The line was built as a branch of the Rochefort - Willen diesel interurban line, connecting to the latter at the village of Han-sur-Lesse, and initially was a subsidiary of the Willen interurban undertaking. The line was always intended to carry tourists from the village’s transportation hub to the caves’ entrance. The line used to originate from the interurban junction station in the village’s main square, on Rue Joseph Lamotte. Trams then ran through the village via Rue des Grottes. The Rochefort - Willen line closed in 1957. The new track alignment toward Grottes de Han was introduced in 1968, which essentially constituted the new line. Nevertheless, the original stub-end village terminal and the section with the village street running via the original track remained in service. These were replaced in 1989 with a loop next to the village center, and a circular detour along Rue du Grand Hy via the southern periphery of the village and the village park.

From Han-sur-Lesse the approximately 4 km. line runs southeastward, passes the "exit" from the caves, climbs uphill, through the woods, and ends at the caves’ "entrance". The two terminals are the only official stops. Visitors are carried one-way, in the outbound direction only, to the caves only. Visitors navigate back to the village via the caves for about 3 km., and then walk back toward the village from the caves’ "exit". Visitors used to be ferried out of the caves on barges, as the Lesse River flows through the caves, but as of the date of this writing this was no longer practiced. There is no official tram stop at the caves’ "exit", even though trams pass right in-front of it. Inbound trips are completed without passengers.



14.02.1904 - The Rochefort - Willen main line opens.
01.06.1906 - The Han-sur-Lesse - Grottes de Han branch opens.
09.1916 - 13.06.1920 - Temporary closure of the Han-sur-Lesse - Grottes de Han branch; tracks dismantled.
01.09.1955 - The Rochefort - Willen main line closes to passenger service.
1955-1956 - Temporary bus substitutions to Grottes de Han.
29.07.1957 - The Rochefort - Willen main line closes.
29.03.1968 - The new track alignment toward Grottes de Han opens.
09.07.1989 - The new loop in the village center, and the new track alignment via the village park within the village boundaries open.



The gauge is 1000 mm. The line is entirely single-track, with a loop at the Han-sur-Lesse village Terminal, and a stub-end with a passing point at Grottes de Han outer Terminal. The additional passing point was constructed mid-way down the line as a part of the new 1968 alignment, but it was not used, and was quickly dismantled. The almost entire line is a reserved right-of-way installation. There is a brief section just outside the Han-sur-Lesse village Loop, near Rue des Sarrasins, where tracks are laid in mixed traffic. Within the village trams operate via the southern edge of Rue du Grand Hy, on a reserved siding, along the Lesse River. Upon exiting the village, the line passes the caves’ exit and the Depot. Outside of the village the line runs entirely within the hillside woods, working up a considerable slope via a switch-back move.



November - March :
11:30-16:00: 90 min. headway

April, September - October :
10:00-12:00; 13:30-16:30: 60 min. headway

May - June :
10:00-12:00; 13:30-16:30: 30 min. headway
(on weekends and holidays operates until 17:30)

Early July :
10:00-12:00; 13:00-17:00: 30 min. headway

Late July - August :
10:00-12:00; 13:00-17:30: 30 min. headway

Only one train is operated down the line at any given moment. The motor car by-passes its trailers at the outer stub-end terminal.



Steam locomotives were used between 1906 - 1935. Diesel motor cars, known locally as autorail cars (technically, railbuses) are used since 1935.

Motor cars:

Double-ended diesel motor car.
SNCV Gand-Destelbergen (18.09.1933); based on trailer A 10.538 chassis originally built in the 1920s.
Ex-Ghent (01.08.1934); ex-Charleroi (1949-1985); Han-sur-Lesse (1995)
(06 May 2009, Yury Maller)
SNCV Bruxelles-Cureghem (18.09.1933); based on trailer A 948 chassis originally built 1890.
Double-ended diesel motor car; the oldest car in operation.
Ex-Jodoigne (01.07.1934); ex-Louvain (1949); ex-Brussels (1962-1972); Han-sur-Lesse (11.10.1977)
(06 May 2009, Yury Maller)
Baume & Marpent Haine-St-Pierre (07.03.1934).
Double-ended diesel motor car; mechanically rebuilt with automatic transmission; low ceiling; externally mounted destination signs; the longest to serve in Han-sur-Lesse.
Han-sur-Lesse (15.10.1935)
(06 May 2009, Yury Maller)
Forges Usines & Fonderies Haine-St-Pierre (11.08.1934).
Double-ended diesel motor car.
Ex-Turnhout (12.1935); ex-Ghent (1951); Wellin - Han-sur-Lesse (1952)
(06 May 2009, Yury Maller)
Forges Usines & Fonderies Haine-St-Pierre (01.1936).
Double-ended diesel motor car.
Ex-Antwerp (05.1937); ex-Ghent (1951); Wellin - Han-sur-Lesse (1952)
(06 May 2009, Yury Maller)
SNCV Gand-Destelbergen (26.10.1936).
Double-ended diesel motor car; the newest car in service.
Ex-Liege (20.08.1938); ex-Hainaut (1949); ex-Brabant (1954); ex-Scheepdael (1962); Han-sur-Lesse (23.06.1966)
(06 May 2009, Yury Maller)


SNCV Tiflis-type (1895-1923).
Double-ended trailer; mechanically rebuilt and equipped with air-brakes; not used in regular service.
Han-sur-Lesse (1936)
(06 May 2009, Yury Maller)
GR001 - GR009 [9 cars]
CFD Montmirail - Locorem Han-sur-Lesse, Tiflis-type (early 1990s).
Double-ended trailers; duplicates of the original 1895 Tiflis-type trailers.
Han-sur-Lesse (early 1990s)
(06 May 2009, Yury Maller)

The name “Tiflis” originated from the Georgian capital city, where the very first order of such trailers was destined for (but never made it to the destination).

All trailers are operated as permanently coupled 3-car units.

Most trips during the day are operated with a motor car towing a 3-car trailers’ unit. Late trips, and especially the last trip of the day, are operated with the single motor car only.