An ‘invasion of bedbugs’ in public transport seats in France will be the subject of an urgent meeting next week, the transport minister has confirmed.
It comes after travellers on TGV and metro trains posted videos showing bedbugs on the seats.
In a comment on X (formerly Twitter), Transport Minister Clément Beaune wrote: “Next week, I will be holding a meeting with the transport operators to inform them of the action that has been taken and to do more to serve passengers. To reassure and protect.”
#punaisesdelit | Je réunirai la semaine prochaine les opérateurs de transport, pour informer sur les actions engagées et agir davantage au service des voyageurs. Pour rassurer et protéger.— Clement Beaune (@CBeaune) September 29, 2023
He did not give more details about the action that had been taken, or exactly what he expected transport companies to “do more” of to serve passengers, but confirmed that a meeting would take place.
One passenger, an X user, said that she had complained to train operator SNCF after discovering what looked like bedbugs on a seat, on a Ouigo TGV service between Paris-Charles de Gaulle and the Lille-Flandres station.
The user, named as NaNa Afi (@_LaTogolaise) on the platform, posted a video, and wrote: “Even on TGVs there are bedbugs, gosh. Ouigo, think about disinfecting your trains.”
Another passenger also posted a video a few days earlier, on a train leaving the Gare de l’Est in Paris. She posted a photo of a seat with an insect on it, and said: “Are these bedbugs on your trains, SNCF??” However, she did admit that she was not sure if the insect was a bedbug or not.
Read more: Bedbugs also in Paris metro, says driver
Bedbugs are back
Bedbugs have been making a comeback in France - and many other parts of Europe - since the 1990s, after having been eradicated in the 1950s.
A report from the French food, environmental, and health agency Anses (l’Agence nationale de sécurité sanitaire de l'alimentation, de l'environnement et du travail) suggested that more than one in six households in France is affected by the insects, regardless of income level.
An Ipsos survey in July also found that as many as 11% of households in France are thought to have been infested between 2017 and 2022.
"The problem is that there has been mistreatment and misuse by private individuals who have used unsuitable products [to try to get rid of the bugs],” said Ivan Rimbaud, director of the disinfection industry union la Chambre syndicale Dératisation Désinfection Désinsectisation, to BFMTV.
“This has encouraged bedbugs to become resistant. The problem is more complicated to solve today because of the risk of this,” he said.
First Deputy Mayor of Paris, Emmanuel Grégoire, posted a response to the claims on X, stating: “Faced with the scourge of bedbugs, we must act!
“I call on the prime minister to organise a conference on the fight against invasive species. This is a public health problem where all the players need to be brought to the table.”
He added: “It should be up to the owners and insurers to cover the costs of getting rid of these pests [in people’s homes]. The same applies to psychological care, which is often necessary after an infestation of this kind. In Paris, these costs are covered for the lowest-income households.”