Hundreds of travelers spent the night stranded and starved on a French TGV train after a power failure that saw it arrive at its destination nearly a day late.
The train left Hendaye at the Spanish border for Paris, carrying nearly 1,000 passengers despite a peak in Covid-19 infections in France, and was due to arrive on Sunday afternoon after a five-hour journey.
But it stopped in the southwest of the Landes due to a succession of electrical problems on the line, said the national operator SNCF.
The passengers were then transferred to another train to take them to Bordeaux just before dawn. The exhausted passengers finally arrived in Paris around noon Monday.
An AFP correspondent on the train said the on-board cafe told passengers on Sunday evening that it was running out of food and that they should not come and collect, an announcement that had to be repeated.
Train managers also appealed for medics on board after at least one passenger passed out. Food was provided just before the early morning train change although bottled water was offered.
Additional masks – which are mandatory on trains in France during the pandemic – were distributed later in the morning, the correspondent said.
“It’s like we’re in a comedy sketch,” said a father trying to occupy his young son.
The passengers of two other trains leaving from Hendaye on Sunday bound for Paris were also affected, SNCF said. These services returned to Hendaye where the passengers spent the night and were eventually taken by bus to Bordeaux to connect to Paris.
Normal operations are expected to resume on Tuesday.
SNCF has promised to reimburse three times the price of the original ticket and has undertaken to conduct a thorough investigation into the cause of the problem.
“It was an exceptional event which created a chain of incidents which resulted in… the interruption of traffic,” said Jean-Luc Gary, director of the SNCF network in southwestern France. “Events have repeated themselves and are undoubtedly linked to the same cause. What we don’t know yet is what caused what. “