Thieves ‘stole from victims of train crash’

Callous, opportunistic thieves from Brétigny-sur-Orge, where a train derailed killing six people last Friday, threw stones at police and rescue workers and stole possessions from accident victims, an explosive new police document has alleged.

Thieves 'stole from victims of train crash'
Rescue workers were reportedly pelted with stones and thieves stole personal belongings from the victims, a new report alleges. Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP

The contents of the document, revealed by Le Point magazine on Thursday, said individuals from the southern Paris suburb “hampered the progress of rescue vehicles by throwing projectiles at them.”

Hundreds of police and paramedics rushed to the scene last Friday after an Intercity train from Paris to Limoges derailed in the station in Bretigny, leaving six dead and dozens of passengers injured, nine of them critical.

Riot police, who were out in force to secure the area around the scene of the intercity train accident, had to push back the individuals, the report said.

“Certain trouble-makers had succeeded in seizing personal possessions scattered on the ground or on the victims themselves,” says the document from the CRS (Compagnies Républicaines de Sécurité), a unit of the French National Police.

Earlier this week four people were arrested on suspicion of stealing a mobile phone from a rescue worker.

And the new CRS report supports what the Alliance Police Nationale union has stated about “problems” at the accident site.

If it is confirmed by the investigation, it will show the attitude of those who have accused the union of lying and manipulation is “shameful, scandalous and inadmissible,” a spokesman for the police union is quoted as saying by AFP.

However, the union has been accused of exaggerating the facts. 

A police source interviewed by AFP called for prudence over the contents of the report. He said an investigation is under way to verify the claims by means of interviewing emergency personnel and police on the scene, along with studying video footage taken at the time.

Another police source told Le Figaro: "There could have been some projectiles thrown when the police put up the security cordon. But the situation was quickly calmed.

So far, authorities have officially denied there were any thefts from passengers while police have stated publicly that no passengers have reported any crime.

Immediately following the crash, many journalists who were on the scene reported the rock throwing, but this was later downplayed by Red Cross and ambulance service officials who said they were able to work in a “totally normal fashion”.

On Friday, Nathalie Kosciusko-Morizet, the MP for the Essonne region, where the accident took place, demanded an explanation over the reports.

Morizet said she felt "disgust and horror" on reading the report. "There is a vulturistic side to this incident – people trying to take advantage of a tragic situation.

"We were told [by the Minister of Transport] that this was an isolated incident. But it now appears more serious than that. If the government has tried to cover this up, its a real problem," the candidate for mayor of Paris added.

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How to find cheap train tickets in France

Travelling by train is one of the best ways to see France - even with a mandatory mask on. Here - from railcards to sales - is how you can make it even better by cutting the cost of your ticket.

A blue high-speed Ouigo low-cost TGV train arriving at  de l'Est railway station in Paris, with the the Sacre-Coeur Basilica in the background
From cheap services to railcards, here's how to save money on train travel. Photo: Joel Saget / AFP

Railcards are the most common way to cut the cost of a ticket. In some cases, the card can even pay for itself in one journey. France’s rail operator SNCF has a range of cards available for everyone from impoverished students to regular business travellers with an expenses account to burn.

But if you’re not a regular traveller there are also a range of offers plus cheaper services to opt for.

Let’s start with the railcards.

Liberté card

This one’s really for business travellers, who use the TGV or Ouigo and Intercite trains regularly. And it comes with a price to match – €399 for a year. This guarantees cardholders 60 percent off SNCF’s Business Première fares when travelling standard class, and  45 percent off Business Première fares when travelling 1st class. Plus, there’s between 25 percent and 50 percent off TER fares in certain regions, and it’s valid for use in other European countries.

Forfait pass

Effectively a season ticket, this one’s for commuters who regularly use TGV INOUI or Intercité services to get to work. Prices vary based on how much you travel, and you can get annual, monthly or weekly passes. Click here for a calculation of how much you will have to pay.

Avantage Senior 60+ card

SNCF relatively recently rebranded its railcards under the Avantage umbrella. If you’re aged 60 or over and travel occasionally with TGV Inoui, Intercités or TER in France, you will save 30 percent on first and standard class travel, for an annual fee of €49. And there’s 60 percent off ticket prices for up to three accompanying children aged between four and 11.

In fact, standard fares are capped for all destinations in France, no matter when you book. And that’s on top of a 30 percent guaranteed discount on 1st- and standard-class train tickets. 

You’re guaranteed affordable fares, even at the last minute. They’re currently capped as follows:

  • €39 or less for a short journey (under 90 minutes)
  • €59 or less for a medium-length journey (between 90 minutes and three hours)
  • €79 or less for the longest journey (over three hours)

Plus, there are savings on food and drink prices on the train – as well as other perks that are worth looking into.

Avantage Adulte Card

If you’re aged 27-59 and take TGV Inoui, Intercités or TER trains often, it’s worth looking into the Avantage Adulte card – which has replaced the Avantage Weekend and Avantage Famille cards – because you’ll save 30 percent on first and standard class tickets for the annual €49 fee.

Discounts extend to accompanying adults, and there’s 60 percent off ticket prices for up to three accompanying children aged between four and 11.

As with the Senior card, standard class fares are capped for all destinations in France. And you get the onboard perks too, including 15 percent off food and drink from the trolley.

Avantage Jeune Card

For anyone aged 12 to 27, the Avantage Jeune card will save you 30 percent on TGV Inoui and Intercité services that require booking for the annual €49 fee.

Standard class fares are capped for all destinations in France. And you get the onboard perks too, including 15 percent off food and drink from the trolley.

Other ways to save money

If you’re not a regular travellers and don’t want a railcard, there are other ways to save money when travelling.

Ouigo trains

SNCF’s low-cost TGV service offers high-speed cut-price travel in and out of Paris to 17 French destinations. There are drawbacks though, the trains have fewer on-board services and some of them only go to stations close to a city, rather than the city-centre station – so it’s worth checking when you book exactly where you will end up.

Children under 12 years of age can travel for €5 all year long, or €8 to or from a station in Paris.

Railcards are valid on Ouigo trains, cutting ticket prices further.

Happy Hour

Be aware of last-minute ‘Happy Hour’ deals on available on select days for selected Intercité trains to a selection of destinations around France. You could save up to 50 percent on ticket prices. And, yes, railcards are valid.

Ticket sales

Watch out, too, for announcements of when tickets are available for sale. From November 3rd, for example, rail tickets are available up to March 27, 2022 – and up to July 2, 2022, for Inoui tickets.

Early booking may get you a good deal, and SNCF offers regular deals particularly around peak travel times such as summer and Christmas. Downloading the SNCF app will get you advance notification of sales.