The National local railways undertaking (SNCV) was formed in 1885, in order to remedy the lack of communications between Belgian towns and villages. A system of secondary lines was born, reaching its peak in the 30’s, and Belgium became a reference point as regards public transport, with the densest rail network in the world. The middle of the 50’s saw the start of a decline in the Vicinal system, as the SNCV abandoned its lines one after the other. It was in 1972 that those fascinated by the SNCV, concerned to preserve part of an endangered heritage, created the ASVi, the Association to Safeguard the Vicinal. Without public support they began by buying back several trams already doomed to the blow- torches of the scrap-merchants, as well as saving some ancient passenger trailers which were serving as pigeon houses or garden shelters! But their main goal was always to enable these vehicles to run on a real Vicinal line. In 1978 their choice fell on the Anderlues-Thuin section, still in normal service at that time, which included many typical features of a Vicinal route. Following the abandonment of the service in 1983 an agreement was reached with the SNCV to permit the ASVi to continue to run their trams on the Lobbes-Thuin section on condition that they assumed responsibility for its maintenance.
The Vicinal Historic Tramway Discovery Centre is a museum dedicated solely to trams of all kinds: steam, electric, diesel.
The Vicinal Historic Tramway Discovery Centre, Lobbes-Thuin contains over 20 former SNCV (vicinal) tramcars. It houses a steam engine from 1888 and the oldest completely electric tramcar, built in Belgium in 1901. The tramcars run on the Thuin-Lobbes line, which is the last Belgian metric SNCV railway line allowing electric, diesel and steam tramcars. The line has also been extended to Biesme-sous-Thuin, along the RAVeL 109 route.