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

PARIS Wed May 21, 2014 7:48am EDT

1 of 4. A new Regiolis regional train made by power and train-making firm Alstom, is seen next to a platform at Strasbourg's railway station, May, 21, 2014.

Credit: Reuters/Vincent Kessler

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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 (3)
Contrabassist wrote:
341 trains/locos+carriages, not 2000 (an absurd number)

May 21, 2014 11:28am EDT  --  Report as abuse
JoePublic wrote:
They have to resize the platforms to fit them in? That’s not “expansion”, it’s “obesity”.

May 21, 2014 1:45pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
These same people along with the French Finance Minister are trying ton derail the GE/Alstom aquisition because they think they know what is good for France’s economy. LOL.It truly makes you shake your head in wonder. The variation in dimensions from the typical dimensions of trains presently in use should have been a red flag and raised questions. Attention to detail is essential to achieving success in any endeavor. Being in the iron fisted grip of the unions in France I seriously doubt any one was fired over this. Someone should have lost their job for such a stupid oversight.

May 26, 2014 5:28pm EDT  --  Report as abuse
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