• France's news in English

France to invest €410m to boost rail safety

Ben McPartland · 9 Oct 2013, 10:10

Published: 09 Oct 2013 10:10 GMT+02:00

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

French rail chiefs are intent on avoiding any recurrence of the fatal train derailment to the south of Paris in July that left seven people dead and dozens injured. Rail operator SNCF has blamed the accident at Bretigny on a connecting bar that had come loose at a rail switchpoint.

On Tuesday SNCF, the rail operator which runs the trains in France and RFF, which maintains the track network, announced a joint €410 investment plan to upgrade existing tracks.

The investment plan, dubbed “Vigirail” will see SNCF invest €350 million of its €5.5 billion budget between 2014 and 2017 with RFF adding another €60 million.

Under “Vigirail” 500 track switches will be replaced annually compared to 200 which are currently being renewed each year.

The money will also be spent on improving the technology to help monitor maintenance operations.

A program will also be put in place to process and monitor faults that have been reported by members of the public.

On July 18 The Local reported how a retired engineer had warned SNCF over a series of faults on the tracks at Bretigny.

Christian Brochet, a retired 77-year-old engineer from the town of Brétigny-sur-Orge, where last week's fatal crash took place, wrote to France's national rail operator SNCF almost three years ago, warning them that track conditions at the local train station could cause a “catastrophe".

SNCF responded three months later reassuring Brochet: “There is no safety risk.”

Speaking on Tuesday Guillaume Pepy, President of SNCF said: “Vigirail will be carried out over at least four years and aims to improve the switches and the track network for safety reasons."

Pepy also vowed: “Safety is not negotiable."

Pepy also said safety priorities will not be compromised by staff cuts after being accused by union leaders of intending to trim the number of maintenance workers.

“In the coming years our maintenance practices will radically change,” said Jacques Rapoport, president of the RFF.

Story continues below…

Earlier this month it was suggested that SNCF had tried to buy off the families of the victims of Bretigny train crash when it emerged they had offered damages of up €50,000 to those affected.

Others, however, commended the rail firm for acting quickly and not waiting for the lengthy legal process to decide how much each victim should receive.

The €50,000 would simply be deducted from whatever amount the courts decide should be paid out to the families of the victims.

Don't miss a story about France - Join us on Facebook and Twitter.

Ben McPartland (ben.mcpartland@thelocal.com)

Facebook Twitter Google+ reddit

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Millionaire Riviera hotel boss kidnapped in broad daylight
The city of Nice where the millionaire was bundled into a car infront of shocked onlookers. Photo: AFP

The millionaire head of a luxury hotel in the French Riviera resort of Cannes was kidnapped in front of shocked onlookers in the middle of the day on Monday.

Where exactly in France are Calais migrants being sent?
Photo: AFP

Here's where the 8,000 migrants in Calais are heading.

The annoying questions only a half French, half British person can answer
Photo: Beery/Flickr/AFP

Being half French, half British is means you get asked a lot of questions (and some of them can be a little annoying.)

Migrants bussed out of Calais Jungle to all corners of France
All photos: AFP

Hundreds of migrants are being bussed across France on Monday ahead of the demolition of the Jungle camp.

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
A Prophet. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

Looking for something to watch?

The must-see French films of the millennium - Part Two
Rust and Bone. Photo: YouTube Screengrab

The newest French films you need to see before you die (or alternatively when you get some spare time).

Election Watch
Presidential hopeful reckons a pain au chocolat is 10 cents

So France happily takes the pastry out of him.

French ministry of defence officials die in plane crash
Screengrab: eddydeg/Twitter

The French Ministry of Defence officials were killed on Monday when a light aircraft went down on the island of Malta.

Revealed: The ten most stolen cars in France
A Smart car in Paris. Photo: JR_Paris/Flickr

Thieves in France are getting a taste for luxury cars, it seems.

Analysis - France migrant crisis
Migrant crisis won't end with Calais 'Jungle' closure
All Photos: AFP

The Jungle camp may be being cleared but this won't be the end of the migrant crisis in France.

The annoying questions only a half French, half Brit can answer
Sponsored Article
Last chance to vote absentee in the US elections
Forget Brangelina's chateau - here are nine others you've got to see
The must-see French films of the millennium - Part One
How life for expats in France has changed over the years
Why Toulouse is THE place to be in France right now
Video: New homage to Paris shows the 'real side' of city
The 'most dangerous' animals you can find in France
Swap London fogs for Paris frogs: France woos the Brits
Anger after presenter kisses woman's breasts on live TV
Is France finally set for a cold winter this year?
IN PICS: The story of the 'ghost Metro stations' of Paris
How to make France's 'most-loved' dish: Magret de Canard
Welcome to the flipside: 'I'm not living the dream in France'
Do the French really still eat frogs' legs?
French 'delicacies' foreigners really find hard to stomach
French are the 'world's most pessimistic' about the future
Why the French should not be gloomy about the future
This is the most useful French lesson you will ever have. How to get angry
Why is there a giant clitoris in a field in southern France?
French pastry wars: Pain au chocolat versus chocolatine
Countdown: The ten dishes the French love the most
Expats or immigrants in France: Is there a difference?
How the French reinvented dozens of English words
jobs available