Above: Too high for tunnel....Below: Too wide for the station
SNCF, the French rail operator that last year ordered trains too wide for its platforms has now ordered cars too tall for the tunnels that connect the rail systems of France to Italy.
The rail line along the Riviera that connects France and Italy is a popular one, with up to 130,000 passengers a day. East of Menton, in France, the trains pass through tunnels on their way to Ventimiglia, Italy, or at least the old ones did. The new trains, ordered to handle higher passenger volume are a few millimetres too high for the tunnel.
Although SNCF still intends to get the trains rolling on July 5, passengers for Italy will have to change trains at Menton. It will be as late as November when the new cars can go all the way; in the fall, workers will begin shaving a few millimetres from the tunnel ceilings.
The problem wasn't disclosed by SNCF, by the way, but by a group of rail workers who call themselves "Shipwrecks of the TER." TER is the regional service that operates the line, and the workers have complained that SNCF is preparing big cutbacks in regional service (TravelGumbo, 3/26/15). SNCF head Guillaume Pepy responded, saying there are often problems with something new.
Yes, there are. For instance, just over a year ago, it was revealed that SNCF was spending over €50 million to shave the edges of 1300 station platforms across France because the new trains to be delivered starting next year are several centimetres too wide for the platforms. Of course, once that's finished, there will be a several centimetres-wider opening for those getting on or off the older trains. Mind the Gap!