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Are trains in France legally required to have AC during summer months?

The country has faced soaring temperatures this year, which can make train rides extremely uncomfortable if there is no air conditioning

There are around 800 high-speed TGVs in circulation in France, all of which should have AC Pic: Da_Ja_25 / Shutterstock

Reader question: Do trains in France have to have AC? I took a train recently that had none and it was horrible. Was this an energy-saving measure by SNCF or was it just broken?

In France all of SNCF’s 800 high-speed TGV trains are equipped with functioning air conditioning units as well as all of the Intercité trains.  

Every year before the summer the trains are checked to make sure that the AC units are working. 

SNFC has stated that all of the TGVs are “subject to increased vigilance during this year's particularly hot summer period”, Ouest-France reports. 

However, not all trains in France will have AC and there is no legal obligation for them to have it. 

Around 96% of all regional trains, called TERs, are equipped with units, while only 63.35% of trains on the Transilien rail network around Paris and Ile-de-France have AC. 

France is preparing a series of energy-saving measures that include shops having to keep their doors closed if their AC units are on. 

Read more: French shops to be required to keep doors closed while aircon is on

SNCF has stated that it is not subject to the government’s energy saving measures. 

“In no case will the SNCF decide to limit air conditioning during this hot period,” the company stated. 

If AC on a TGV or Intercité train is not working, then it is due to a technical issue. This is also most probably the case on TER trains.

During the summer months SNCF puts in place a plan in response to high temperatures. 

This includes stocking 150 stations around the country with water bottles. In 2021, the company distributed one million bottles of water to passengers. 

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