Passengers travelling from Paris to Montpellier and onwards to Barcelona on a TGV this week had a nightmare journey.
The train had only been running for nine minutes before grinding to a halt, due to a power supply problem.
Departing from the Gare de Lyon at 10:07, the train stopped in the Yerres tunnel, in the Essonne, in “sweltering heat”. The power failure of a element had been “solved in 10 to 15 minutes”, but the train “could not restart”, according to the SNCF.
The doors were blocked, the heat was stifling, and of course the air conditioning couldn’t work due to the lack of power. There was a woeful lack of information for the passengers, who, despite the terrible conditions, remained relatively calm.
“The passengers are really calm, I am very surprised,” said Leatitia Meyzen, who was returning to Narbonne after seeing her daughters in Paris.
Her neighbour, Didier Lemesle, who “chose not to fly for green reasons” was more skeptical: “I was lucky to go to the bathroom before they shut off electricity! It is unbearably hot…”
Another passenger Benjamin Cornet said “Fortunately I had planned water for the trip, what a problem, we have no information …”. Benjamin was travelling to Montpellier with two children aged three and five.
After several hours, water, sandwiches and crisps were distributed to passengers, before passengers were finally transferred to another train to take them back to Paris. Fifteen people from the SNCF, firefighters and police were on site during the transfer of passengers in the dark tunnel, under a “fierce heat”.
At least two people were taken care of by rescue personnel, overcome by the heat and the situation.
“Fortunately, I was helped by a young passenger who carried my luggage in the tunnel,” said Jeanne Pitard, 88, who was on his way to his second home in Argeles-sur-Mer.
For Heather Manton, a 68-year-old Australian tourist, “it was awful: we had to go back to Paris on another train after a long wait, and without being notified of anything, we have reservations for tonight in Barcelona, how on earth are we going to get there?”
SNCF have promised to give a 200 percent reimbursement of the ticket price. Many passengers will be saying that isn’t enough.
Source: Midi Libre, France 3