Rail transport chaos in Paris

July 3, 2010 12:00 am

, PARIS, Jul 3 – Some 40,000 passengers were stranded on Saturday at the start of the French holiday season when all trains from one of the main stations in Paris were cancelled after lightning cut power supplies.

France\’s state rail network SNCF said trains from the city\’s Austerlitz station, which provides services to the country\’s southwest and centre as well as Spain, "will be cancelled for the entire day."

Arriving trains were re-routed to other Parisian stations with notable delays.

The SNCF said an estimated 40,000 people were affected.

"Traffic may resume later today but more realistically is likely tomorrow morning," SNCF official Stephane Coursier told AFP.

Some of the hundreds stuck in Austerlitz were philosophical about the delay.

"It\’s lightning that\’s responsible, I cannot be angry with the rail officials," said 21-year-old Guillaume Besson.

But young British tourist John Cook was less forgiving towards the French railways.

"We have already taken four trains and they were each late," fumed the 24-year-old student from Brighton University.

Cook said he was staying put with his friend at the station, adding that he did not want to spend money on a hotel room in Paris.

Others queued up at information booths as announcements blared across the station that "all services are cancelled."

On Saturday lightning struck an electrical facility at Bretigny-sur-Orge on the outskirts of Paris during a violent storm, sparking the mass cancellations.

All power lines were down and trains were stuck on four parallel tracks, SNCF said in a statement.

"Given the extent of the damage, it will take at least eight hours to carry out repairs," it said.



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