New French trains ‘too high’ to get to Italy

First it was the calamity of the French trains too fat for platforms. Now French rail chiefs have been left embarrassed by a new fleet of regional trains that are too high to get through the tunnels into Italy.

New French trains 'too high' to get to Italy
New TER trains are just a little too tall to make it through the tunnels to Italy. Photo: Julian Ghein1/flickr

French rail operator SNCF had ordered the new trains to absorb the increased passenger numbers on the line between France and Italy, but they may have used a dodgy measuring tape. 

According to a report in Nice Matin newspaper, the new regional TER trains are just too high to pass through the tunnels between the two countries.

The bungle echoed a similar gaffe last year when French rail operators admitted they had to adjust 1,300 platforms after ordering hundreds of new trains that were too fat for stations, costing them €50 million.
The latest mishap came about after French rail operator SNCF ordered new and Regio 2N trains from Bombardier to serve the TER line that serves the Riviera coastline between Les Arcs – Draguignan and Vintimille around the French-Italian border.
The trains have a greater capacity than those that are used currently and were ordered to help cope with the rising numbers of passengers who use the line – around 130,000 daily.
They were delivered last November, but have not made it out of the yard, because they are a few millimetres too high.
The gaffe was revealed by former railway workers group, ironically named “The shipwrecks of the TER”, in reference to France's problem-hit regional train service.
“The SNCF has confirmed to us that the Regio 2N trains that were to be finally delivered in July would not go further than the town of Menton because they did not pass under the tunnels,” Eric Sauri, president of “The shipwrecks of the TER”, told Nice Matin.
But the chief executive of the French national railway company SNCF Guillaume Pepy played down the concerns.
“When you put something into service, sometimes it's necessary to take a look at it, there may be a signal problem here, or the start of a platform that is troublesome. But it can all be easily dealt with,” said Pepy, noting that the new trains are set to roll out from July 5th.
The new trains will indeed roll out in July but they will only go so far as Menton, on the French border, after which it will be necessary for many passengers to change trains.
It might not be until November that the trains come into use across the entire line, as work to shave a few millimetres off the tunnels is not due to begin until the autumn.

Member comments

Log in here to leave a comment.
Become a Member to leave a comment.


French trains ditch plastic water bottles

French national train operator SNCF has announced it will no longer sell water in plastic bottles on its services, saying the move would reduce the waste from roughly two million drinks.

French train bars will no longer be able to see plastic bottles of water.
French train bars will no longer be able to see plastic bottles of water. Photo: BERTRAND LANGLOIS / AFP.

The plastic packaging will be replaced with recyclable cardboard for still water and aluminium for sparkling.

“Plastic is no longer fantastic,” head of consumer travel operations at the SNCF, Alain Krakovitch, wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

France has gradually increased restrictions on single-use packaging to help reduce waste amid growing evidence about the impact of plastic on sea life in particular.

The government announced on Monday that plastic packaging will be banned for nearly all fruit and vegetables from January next year.

The environment ministry said that 37 percent of fruit and vegetables were sold with plastic packaging, and only the most fragile produce such as strawberries will be given an exemption on the ban until 2026.

“We use an outrageous amount of single-use plastic in our daily lives,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that it was working to cut back “the use of throwaway plastic and boost its substitution by other materials or reusable and recyclable packaging.”

Last year, France passed a wide-ranging “circular economy” law to combat waste that forbids retailers from destroying unsold clothes and will ban all single-use plastic containers by 2040.

Paris city authorities announced this week that they were aiming to eliminate all plastic from state day-care centres, canteens and retirement homes by 2026.