Hundreds spend night on French TGV after power failure

By: AFP      Published: 08:05 PM, 31 Aug, 2020
Hundreds spend night on French TGV after power failure

Hundreds of travellers spent the night stranded on a French high speed TGV train which ran out of food after an electrical failure saw it reach its destination on Monday almost a day late.

The train from Hendaye on the Spanish border to Paris, carrying around 1,000 passengers despite concern over a spike of Covid-19 infections in France, had been due to arrive in the capital on Sunday afternoon after a five-hour journey.

But it halted in the southwest Landes region well before Bordeaux due to a succession of electrical problems on the line, national operator SNCF said.

Passengers were then transferred to another train to take them on towards Bordeaux just before dawn. The exhausted passengers eventually pulled into Paris Monday around midday.

An AFP correspondent returning from holiday with his family on the train said the on-board cafe announced to passengers Sunday evening that it had run out of food and they should not come looking, an announcement that had to be repeated.

Train managers also issued a call for any medics on board after at least one passenger fainted. Food was only provided just before the train change  in the early morning although bottles of water were offered.

Additional face masks -- which are obligatory on trains in France during the pandemic -- were handed out later in the morning, the correspondent said.

"It's like we're in a comedy sketch," said one father trying to occupy his young son.

Passengers on two other trains heading out of Hendaye on Sunday bound for Paris were also affected, SNCF said. Those services returned to Hendaye where the passengers spent the night and were eventually driven by bus to Bordeaux to connect to Paris.

A return to normal on the route was not expected before Tuesday.

SNCF promised refunds of triple the cost of the original ticket, pleding a full investigation into what caused the problem.

"This is an exceptional event which created a chain of incidents which resulted.... in the interruption of traffic", said, Jean-Luc Gary, SNCF network director in southwest France 

"Events repeated themselves and are undoubtedly linked to the same cause. What we do not know at this time is what caused what,", he added.