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PARIS

Hollande set for train crash grilling

President Francois Hollande was likely to face tough questions about the accident on Sunday, when he gives an interview to leading French television channels to mark the Bastille Day holiday.

Hollande set for train crash grilling
Photo: Kenzo Tribouillard/AFP

A minute of silence was held at noon Saturday on all French trains and in all stations for the victims of the accident, which took place as many were leaving for summer holidays.

The local prefect's office said the dead were four men and two women, aged between 19 and 82.

A source close to the investigation told AFP the dead included a couple in their 80s from Bretigny, three men aged 19, 23, and 60, and a young woman whose exact age was not immediately clear. Formal identifications of the bodies were underway, the source said.

In what officials described as a "catastrophe", the train came off the tracks and crashed into the station platform at 5:14 pm Friday, as it travelled at 137 kilometres per hour on its way from Paris to the west-central city of Limoges.
Four carriages of the train jumped the tracks, of which three overturned.
One carriage smashed across a platform and came to rest on a parallel track; another lay half-way across the platform. There were 385 passengers on the train.
 
The prefect's office said nine people had also been seriously injured in the accident, including two who were in critical condition. Health officials said at least 50 people had been treated for injuries.
Rescuers worked throughout the night searching for victims potentially trapped in overturned carriages, but the prefect's office said no more were expected to be found.
Autopsies were to be conducted on the bodies of the dead on Saturday.
The SNCF, judicial authorities and France's BEA safety agency were each carrying out separate investigations of the accident.
Witnesses said the crash site resembled a war zone, with 57-year-old passenger Marc Cheutin saying he had to "step over a decapitated person" to exit the carriage he had been travelling in.

The accident was still causing disruptions on Paris commuter lines on Saturday, while the Paris-Austerlitz station, where the train had departed from on Friday, was expected tor remain closed for several days.

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TRAVEL NEWS

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

READ ALSO 6 ways to get around Paris without the Metro

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