Exhausted by a night of “hell” but often resigned, more than a thousand SNCF travelers have experienced long hours of hardship after a “chain of incidents” on the rail network in the Landes.
“Relieved, tired, quite exhausted yes, but rather serene and happy to have arrived, yes!”, Laure summed up on her arrival at Montparnasse station in Paris late Monday morning.
On the way back from vacation, a double train of the TGV 8538 carrying a thousand passengers who left Hendaye to arrive in Paris on Sunday at 4:20 p.m., were stranded all night, first in Morcenx then Ychoux, 50 km further in the Landes, after an electrical incident.
After a transshipment in the middle of the track and in the middle of the night, these travelers were able to leave for Paris where they arrived at the end of the morning.
“Really, it was hell. This is the state of mind”, Christelle told AFP while Elise Michel added: “With the suitcases, with the children, we stayed in the dark on the train without air conditioning, without anything to eat or drink, it was really deplorable “.
For Florian Michel, also a passenger on this train, “we were informed of absolutely nothing, we felt that the information was a bit muddy, but everyone was patient and rather very nice”, he nevertheless testified .
The journey was nevertheless not over for some 400 passengers of two other trains including the 8546 scheduled to depart Hendaye at 5:55 pm for an arrival at Paris-Montparnasse at 10 pm.
The two trains had to turn back towards Hendaye where they ended the night. Coaches then transported passengers to Bordeaux, to catch a TGV to Paris at 4:00 p.m., according to SNCF.
“It’s a rather difficult trip and a little unlucky,” said an AFP journalist while she was on board one of the eight coaches.
– “nightmarish journey” –
“People are masked, but we can see that they are starting to let their guard down,” she added.
On social networks, some travelers had let their anger explode overnight, some fearing contamination by Covid-19.
“We are on the train leaving Biarritz at 12:23 pm and it is 3:00 am. 1,100 passengers on board: could we have masks so as not to add to the records of this nightmarish journey that of the largest cluster? # Tgv8538 # jesuis8538 “, a passenger had said during the night.
The national direction of the SNCF assured that these passengers had been the subject of a “support”. “We proceeded to deliver masks, distributed blankets, water bottles, breakfasts”.
SNCF tried Monday to reconstruct the scenario of the incident. An internal investigation is underway.
“This is an exceptional event which has created a chain of incidents which ended, at one point, not immediately, in the interruption of traffic,” Jean-Luc Gary told the press in Bordeaux. , regional director of the SNCF Nouvelle Aquitaine network.
According to him, a defective catenary element was identified in Orthez (Pyrénées-Atlantiques), which “damaged the catenary in several places”.
“On almost the whole of South Aquitaine, events have recurred and are undoubtedly linked to the same cause. What we do not know at this time is who did what, who created what?” , he added.
Train traffic should resume Tuesday, according to SNCF.
She also said that passengers on the three trains would be compensated up to 300% and “all ancillary costs, hotels and taxis” reimbursed.