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TRAVELLING TO FRANCE

Five French rail stations and Paris airport at risk of major power outage

A report into a power cut at Montparnasse station that halted rail traffic for days at the height of the summer holidays has revealed that several other mainline stations around France and a Paris airport are also at risk of being hit by crippling outages.

Five French rail stations and Paris airport at risk of major power outage
Photo: AFP

The alarming news was announced by the head of RTE (Reseau de Transport d'electricité) which manages the electricity supply to France's transport network.

François Brottes was asked to appear before senators to explain the cause of the major power outage that hit Paris Montparnasse station at the end of July and left rail transport crippled for days and ruined the holiday plans for tens of thousands of people.

Unfortunately Brottes was unable to explain the exact cause of the outage at Montparnasse, which followed a fire at an electrical centre near the capital, but did reveal that five mainline rail stations in total are at risk of suffering similar fate, so too is Orly airport in Paris.

The five stations are Gare de Lyon in Paris which serves the south of France, Rennes as well as the two train stations in the city of Lyon: Part Dieu and Perrache.

The fifth station is of course Gare Montparnasse in Paris which faces a repeat of July's travel chaos.

The RTE chief said the main problem was that the electrical supply to Gare Montparnasse and these other stations came from one source and if there was a problem at the source then it would result in a loss of power until the issue was resolved.

Paris's other main stations such as Gare du Nord or Gare St Lazare can benefit from other power sources if there is an outage, which in theory means the knock-on effect on rail traffic would be less.

And it looks like passengers won't be given any guarantees that the “fragility” of these five stations and Paris Orly airport will be resolved any time soon.

Brottes said RTE was working with SNCF rail chiefs on the issue but that it could take “years” to put right due to the difficulty in finding the finance and also in convincing local authorities in Paris especially to agree to the installation of new electrical supply centres.

Aeroports de Paris, which runs Orly airport confirmed to Le Parisien newspaper that studies were being carried out to look into providing the airport with a second source of power in case of a major outage.

Responding to the alarming news centrist senator Hervé Maurey said: “We can see that our transport infrastructure is on its last legs. Successive governments have neglected things.”

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TRAVEL NEWS

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

The UK is set to scrap all Covid-19 travel restrictions in what the government described as a "landmark moment".

Travel in Europe: UK to scrap all Covid travel rules

Testing is no longer required for vaccinated travellers, but the UK government has announced that it will scrap all Covid-19 travel rules on Friday, March 18th.

“As one of the first major economies to remove all its remaining Covid-19 travel restrictions, this is a landmark moment for passengers and the travel and aviation sector,” said the Government in a press release. 

From 4am on March 18th:

  • Passengers going to the UK will no longer be required to fill out a Passenger Locator Form before travel;
  • Passengers who are not vaccinated will not be required to take a pre-departure Covid test, or a Day 2 test following arrival. Fully vaccinated travellers are already exempt from having to do this;
  • Hotel quarantine for travellers coming from ‘red list’ countries, of which there are currently none, will also be scrapped by the end of the month. 

“We will continue monitoring and tracking potential new variants, and keep a reserve of measures which can be rapidly deployed if needed to keep us safe,” said UK Health Minister Sajid Javid. 

The UK has lifted all Covid-related rules including mask rules and mandatory self-isolation if you test positive for Covid.

Some European countries still have Covid restrictions in place for unvaccinated people coming from the UK. 

Until March 18th

Until the new rules come into effect, all travellers are required to fill out a passenger locator form. 

Unvaccinated travellers are also required to take pre-departure test and a test on or before Day 2 following their arrival. 

The UK border officers will recognise proof of vaccination provided with an EU Covid Certificate.

For the UK “fully vaccinated” means 14 days after your final dose of a EMA/FDA or Swiss approved vaccine (Pfizer, AstraZeneca, Moderna, Johnson & Johnson). 

After a period of confusion, the UK government says that it will accept mixed doses administered in the EU (eg one dose of AstraZeneca and one of Pfizer).

However people who have only had a single dose after previously recovering from Covid – which is standard practice in some European countries – are not accepted as vaccinated by the UK.

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