Yesterday France’s national rail company, SNCF, confirmed that it had ordered 2,000 regional & suburban trains that are too wide for many station platforms.
A spokesman for the RFF national rail operator also confirmed the error, first reported by Canard Enchaine. “We discovered the problem a bit late, we recognise that & we accept responsibility on that score,” Christophe Piednoel said during a radio interview.
Construction work has already begun to reconfigure station platforms to give the new trains room to pass through, but “hundreds more remain to be fixed,” he added.
The confusion 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 huge modernisation programme.
The RFF mistakenly 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 & looks like generating jobs, profits & embarrassment for some years to come.
Transport Minister Frederic 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 user, SNCF, it doesn’t work,” he told parliament.
“I may be a little late home tonight, darling…….”