May 22 - France's national rail company SNCF announces it has made a costly mistake in ordering 2,000 trains which are too wide for many station platforms. Joanna Partridge reports.
Did you hear the one about the trains that were too big for stations? That's the embarrassing reality for France's national rail company SNCF. It's admitted to making a mistake when ordering 2000 new trains - which are too wide for many station platforms. Gilbert Garrel is from the CGT rail workers' union. SOUNDBITE: CGT FEDERATION OF RAILWAY WORKERS SECRETARY GENERAL, GILBERT GARREL, SAYING (French): "Such mistakes can happen when railway workers don't work together. The system's split up, with the Railway Network, the RFF, on one side and SNCF on the other. SNCF orders trains, RFF orders the work, and no-one speaks to each other." The new trains - made by Alstom and Bombardier - are destined for France's regional TER network. The ordering error came about when SNCF failed to check the station measurements provided by the rail network. RFF passed on the dimensions of stations built under 30 years ago. But most of the 1,200 platforms in France are over 50 years old. It's a costly error. The RFF has freed up $80 million euros to adapt the stations. The story was first revealed by a French satirical magazine. And many are unimpressed. SOUNDBITE: Albert, Passer-by, saying (French): "You, me, everyone will have to pay for the consequences. Because who is the SNCF? It's all of us. They don't have their own money, they have ours." SOUNDBITE: Maurice Kontchou, Passer-by, saying (French): "Don't you agree this is a bit surprising, two companies which should represent leaders in technology who can't agree on a few centimetres." Work's already been carried out at several hundred stations, but there are reportedly 900 more to go. The new trains were due to enter service between now and 2016 - but passengers may be waiting some time for their arrival.