TGV stranded in tunnel 7 hours

Seven hundred passengers stuck as Nice-Paris high-speed train breaks down outside Marseille

3 April 2012

SEVEN hundred passengers were stuck for seven hours after a TGV broke down in a tunnel near Marseille.

The power supply on the 17.34 Nice-Paris train failed just after 21.00 after the train left Saint-Charles station in Marseille.

The driver could not get the TGV's electric motor to restart and passengers were left in complete darkness in the 13km tunnel between Saint-Louis-les-Aygalades and Aix-en-Provence.

Passengers told Europe 1 radio station that they heard something falling on the roof of the train just as it entered the tunnel. They saw "sparks coming off the side of the carriage" and were told later that power cables had broken and fallen on to the train.

They had to wait five hours for a "rescue" train to arrive and then had to climb down from the broken-down train and up into the replacement with all their luggage.

Passengers complained that they were not kept informed about what was going on and had no water and no fresh air as the air-conditioning had also failed. One told the radio station that the heat started to rise and arguments broke out among some passengers.

SNCF said that for safety reasons it was not possible for the passengers to be evacuated on foot.

The train returned them to Marseille and the majority boarded a new TGV which left at 5.20 in the morning to continue their journey to Paris. Several dozen decided to return to Marseille, Toulon or Nice.

The incident came as Nice was one of the airports badly affected by the two-day air controllers' strike - which caused 50 flights to be cancelled, many to Paris.
Photo: Sebastian Terfloth

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