PARIS May 20 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
"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)