France: 15 billion Euro tourism and transportation investment wasted?
French Secretary of State for Transport Frederic Cuvillier described the situation as, “incredible, grotesque.” We have an absurd rail system in France.
French Secretary of State for Transport Frederic Cuvillier described the situation as, “incredible, grotesque.” We have an absurd rail system in France. These are the words left after the French national train operator SNCF admitted that its newest trains are too wide to enter hundreds of stations on France’s regional rail network.
The mistake arose after Reseau Ferre de France (RFF) gave SNCF dimensions for station platforms built less than 30 years ago – but many stations in the country are more than 50 years old, before standards for platform size were set and when trains were thinner.
Work to adapt an estimated 1,300 platforms to allow the trains to enter stations is set to take about three years. Three hundred platforms have already been adapted, a spokesman said.
There are 8,700 platforms on France’s regional network.
He blamed what he described as an “absurd rail system” for the problem, saying: “When you separate the rail operator (RFF) from the user, SNCF, it doesn’t work.”
RFF said that regional councils ordered the 341 double-decker trains from Alstom and Bombardier at a reported cost of €15bn to improve capacity and meet rising demand on France’s regional network, but that modernizing the infrastructure to meet the standards of new rolling stock was not considered.
RFF’s communication director Christophe Piednoel said: “We discovered the problem a bit late, we recognize that and we accept responsibility on that score.”