French rail company orders 2,000 trains too wide for platforms

PARIS Tue May 20, 2014 4:57pm EDT

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PARIS (Reuters) - France's national rail company SNCF said on Tuesday it had ordered 2,000 trains for an expanded regional network that are too wide for many station platforms, entailing costly repairs.

A spokesman for the RFF national rail operator confirmed the error, first reported by satirical weekly Canard Enchaine 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.

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 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 Enchaine 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 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 BFMTV. ($1 = 0.7302 Euros)

(Reporting by Gerard Bon and Elizabeth Pineau, writing by Nicholas Vinocur; Editing by Ruth Pitchford)

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Comments (7)
Erikkll wrote:
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,”

We have that in Holland and it works fine.

May 21, 2014 3:31am EDT  --  Report as abuse
Art16 wrote:
It is far better to “Mind the Gap” as they do in England rather than try to squeeze through a train too small for the station! That is humorous and pathetic at the same time. I guess France is loosing its perspective, or did the standard meter bar in Paris suddenly grow longer? No one will ever know!

May 21, 2014 8:37am EDT  --  Report as abuse
BernieQ wrote:
And… Nobody loses their jobs! Millions of taxpayer euros down the tubes and no one is held accountable for such a grave error.

This is the difference between a government job and a private sector job..

May 21, 2014 9:13am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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