‘Black weekend’ on the railways

The bank holiday weekend saw long delays for thousands of passengers, caused in part by ‘about 10’ deaths on the lines

28 May 2012

THE bank holiday weekend saw major disruption on the railways after incidents including damage to a train power cable – and “about 10” different deaths.

It is estimated that 10,500 passengers arrived late at night in the capital on the night of the bank holiday, after the Metro had closed, due to problems on the TGV lines between the south-east and south-west and the capital.

In Paris the Préfecture de Police put in place its “Pegasus Plan”, involving reinforced public transport serving stations, and messages were put out to taxi drivers informing them that 8,000 people were arriving from 1.00-3.000 at the Gare Montparnasse and 2,500 from 2.00-3.00 at the Gare de Lyon.

An SNCF spokesman said they had had a “black weekend”, notably due to a number of suicides, including one where a 34-year-old man jumped under a train in the Haute-Vienne with his 19-month-old daughter. It was a case of a “separation drama”, police said.

In another case a person died in the Oise after lying down on the rails, while another suicide on a TGV line near Valence in the Drôme, south of Lyon, was the main cause of the delays which hit fast trains going to Paris from the south-east.

The suicide near Valence involved a TGV going to Marseille, at around 19.00. Passengers in the train, which was damaged in the incident, were transferred to another train and arrived more than three hours late.

All traffic in the area was affected as the TGV line in both directions was stopped while police investigated the scene. Diverted onto ordinary lines, TGVs could not take the fast track again until after 23.00.

Delays also affected the Paris-Bordeaux line when a TGV pulled down a power cable at 20.30, damaging the machinery connecting the train to the cable. The 525 passengers had to be transferred and were several hours late.

An SNCF spokesman said they would be reimbursed twice their ticket price. Other TGVs in the south-west were diverted to ordinary lines, also causing delays. Compensation has been promised to their passengers as well, and food packages and taxi vouchers were given out, the SNCF said.

This morning train traffic was back to normal around the country, notably after 200 technicians worked through the night to repair the cable on the Paris-Bordeaux line.

Photo: TGV_Sebastian Terfloth

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