Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

EYE ON AFRICA

Somalia twin bombings kill 18 in Mogadishu

Read more

MEDIAWATCH

Arming the "good guys"?

Read more

THE DEBATE

Gun Control in the United States: Will the Florida shooting be the turning point?

Read more

FRANCE IN FOCUS

Giving a voice to the homeless in France

Read more

REPORTERS

'Never Again': The students pushing for US gun control

Read more

#TECH 24

A bright future for solar power

Read more

YOU ARE HERE

Winter in France's Burgundy vineyards

Read more

FOCUS

How French cyber police are patrolling the 'Dark Web'

Read more

ENCORE!

Marseille mon amour: Mediterranean city celebrates love

Read more

Business

France's new trains too wide for old stations

Text by FRANCE 24

Latest update : 2014-05-21

France’s SNCF rail network has ordered 2,000 trains for an expanded regional network that are too wide for hundreds of station platforms, entailing costly repairs, the national operator announced on Tuesday.

A spokesman for the RFF national rail operator confirmed the error, first reported by satirical weekly, Le Canard Enchaîné, in its Wednesday edition.

“We discovered the problem a bit late, we recognise that and we accept responsibility on that score,” Christophe Piednoel told France Info radio station, adding that the new trains would “meet the demands of the public” and that only 1,300 of 8,700 platforms needed work.

Construction work has already begun to displace equipment and widen hundreds of the platforms to accommodate the new trains, but hundreds more still need to be fixed, he said.

The mix-up arose when the RFF transmitted faulty dimensions for its train platforms to the SNCF, which was in charge of ordering trains as part of a broad modernisation effort, the Canard Enchaîné reported.

The RFF only gave the dimensions of platforms built less than 30 years ago, but most of France’s 1,200 platforms were built more than 50 years ago. Repair work has already cost 80 million euros ($110 million).

Transport Minister Frédéric Cuvillier blamed an “absurd rail system” for the problem, referring to changes made by a previous government in 1997.

“When you separate the rail operator [RFF] from the company [SNCF], it doesn’t work,” he told BFMTV.

Past woes

The French rail giant, which boats some of Europe’s fastest trains, has recently suffered a setback in its cross-Atlantic ventures, where a reported $2.2-billion contract between the rail company and the US state of Maryland has been threatened by its war-time links to the so-called Vichy regime.

During the occupation of France by Germany and, SNCF deported some 76,000 Jews to concentration camps in freight cars between 1942 and 1944. Only around 3,000 survived.

SNCF has said it was a "cog in the Nazi extermination machine" and that any eventual compensation should be paid by the French government.

In April, the US State Department said it hoped to be able to reach a deal quickly with France to compensate victims.

(FRANCE 24 with REUTERS, AFP)

Date created : 2014-05-21

  • USA – FRANCE

    US lawmakers take aim at French rail for Holocaust role

    Read more

  • FRANCE

    ‘Detached staple’ caused deadly French train crash

    Read more

COMMENT(S)