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Why delays and cancellations on France's rail network are the 'worst ever'

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Why delays and cancellations on France's rail network are the 'worst ever'
Three months of strikes brought chaos to the railways in 2018. Photo: AFP
16:13 CEST+02:00
The French rail network had a terrible year in 2018, a new report reveals, recording its worst ever level of cancellations and an increase in delays.

France's rail network has been plagued with problems over the past year which has lead to a record low in performance, according to a new report.

The cancellation rate on the high-speed TGV network reached 6.8 percent, while of the trains that did run, 17.8 per cent arrived late, compared to 15.4 percent in 2017 and 11.7 percent in 2013, according to latest figures released by French transport services regulator the Autorité de la qualité de service en les transports (AQST).

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Many commuters were left waiting for delayed trains. Photo: AFP

The worst affected lines were the route between Paris Montparnasse and Le Mans, where 32 percent of trains were delayed, and the Marseille-Bordeaux route, where 33 percent of rail services were delayed.

The best route was the line from Paris Gare d l'Est to Nancy, where just eight percent of trains were delayed.

The problems were just as bad on the inter-city routes between cities and towns, with an overall delay rate of 17.2 per cent of trains late in 2018, compared with 14.6 per cent in 2017 and 11.1 percent in 2013.

The situation on the local and regional TER services is not as bad, with 9.6 per cent of trains late last year, compared with 9.1 per cent in 2017. 

The situation varies greatly from region to region, with a delay rate of 5.3 percent in Brittany to 13.7 percent in Occitanie.

Alain Sauvant, the president of the AQST, told French newspaper Le Figaro: "There are many reasons for these missed schedules.

"First of all, there are the external causes, ranging from industrial action and protests to the collapse of slopes by the side of rails.

"But the obsolescence of the infrastructure makes the situation far worse."

Figures for both delays and cancellations were badly hit by strike action which lasted for three months in 2018.

To protest against the railway reform, railway workers launched a so-called a rolling two days out of every five between April 3rd and June 28th, 2018. 
 
Eight months after the end of the protests, SNCF published its annual results and estimated the loss of revenue due to the strike at €890 million.
 
There was also serious flooding the south of the country in 2018, which badly affected some routes, particularly in the Aude region.
 
French vocab
 
Billet simple - single ticket
 
Billet de retour - return ticket
 
Compostez votre billet - stamp your ticket (in the machine on the platform before you board the train)
 
Annulé - cancelled
 
Retardé - delayed
 
Une grève - a strike

 

 
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