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Oops! New Paris Metro escalators 'were too wide'

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Oops! New Paris Metro escalators 'were too wide'
Some 30 Paris escalators will have to be replaced because it turns out they were too wide. Photo: Francois Guillot/AFP
09:31 CEST+02:00
First it was the trains that were too fat for the platforms and now, in another embarrassing transport blunder, authorities in Paris admitted they will have to spend millions of euros replacing dozens of Metro escalators, apparently because they are 10cm too wide.

In another apparently costly gaffe, transport chiefs in France admitted this week that 30 escalators on the Paris Metro will have to be replaced because they were made 10cm too wide, according to a media report.

However trasnport chiefs have deniedthe problem revolves around size.

The escalators were installed in 2006/07, but have regularly broken down over the years, forcing Metro chiefs to repeatedly shell out thousands in costly repairs.

This week, a member of staff from RATP, the company that runs the Paris Metro, admitted to Le Figaro newspaper, that they had taken a decision to replace the escalators once and for all, which could set them back as much as €6 million.

“The steps of the recent models are one metre wide instead of 90cm,” David Courteille, who is in charge of electromechanical engineering for RATP, told Le Figaro.

Courteille said the more recently installed escalator stairs were designed to be 10cm wider to accommodate more users, but this seemingly bright idea proved to be not so clever as there just wasn't enough space to allow them to function properly.

Any regular user of lines 6, 13 and 14 in recent years who has regularly complained about having to take the stairs, now knows the reason why.

The good news is that from now until 2015 the escalators will be replaced, although at a bill of €6 million, which RATP seems adamant they will not have to foot.

According to Le Figaro the Paris transport company has opened up legal proceedings against suppliers CNIM (Constructions industrielles de la Méditerranée) with the aim of forcing the company to stump up part of the costs.

On Wednesday however RATP chiefs hit back and released a statement denying Courteille's claim that it the problem was due to size. The company claims the regular breakdowns are due to the fact parts of the machinery are too fragile.

The escalator gaffe comes hot on the heels of a blunder that saw French rail chiefs become a laughing stock around the globe.

In May the Local reported that French rail operators will have to shell out tens of millions of euros to adjust 1,300 platforms after a "mindboggling" blunder saw them order hundreds of new trains that are actually too wide for stations.

Rail user groups blasted operators for wasting yet more taxpayers' money.

According to reports the huge blunder came about when track operators RFF handed over the wrong dimensions for its platforms to the train operators SNCF, who then put their order in to several engineering companies including Alstom.

"This is hugely embarrassing and it's not the first time they have made mistakes with platforms," Jean-Claude Delarue from SOS-Usagers told The Local on Wednesday. "It shows these bureaucrats are not in touch with the real situation.

"It's outrageous how much money they have wasted."

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