Intercity train: Paris – Clermont, millions facing increasing breakdowns and delays

Intercity train: Paris - Clermont, millions facing increasing breakdowns and delays

The SNCF BB 22,000 and 26,000 locomotives are fragile, more than 30 years old. EPA – IAN LANGSDON

A month after the incident which stranded travelers in the open countryside for a night, the State and the SNCF presented this Friday an action plan to deal with the emergency , on this line on which 1.2 billion euros are invested and which Lozériens and Cévenols use in particular.

"No heating, no electricity", testified a traveler, this Saturday January 20 in the early morning, Clermont-Ferrand station. He and 700 other passengers had just emerged from a freezing night spent aboard an Intercité that had remained stationary for hours on the track. And managed after 11 hours, compared to 3:30 in principle, to reach the Auvergne station. A broken down locomotive, equipment aged "more than 30 years", indicates SNCF Voyageurs, the latest major avatar to date on this Paris line – Clermont, whose route then runs through Cantal and Lozère and which Lozériens and Cévenols know well.

760 M€ to regenerate the track, 12 new trainsets

The story made enough noise that this Friday morning the ministers of Ecological Transition, Christophe Béchu, and of Transport, Patrice Vergriete, and the president of SNCF Jean-Pierre Farandou presented to Auvergne elected officials, on site, a "action plan for the Paris – Clermont-Ferrand line&quot ;. And in particular "the causes of major delays. They can reach five, even seven hours”, admitted Minister Béchu's office, for both internal and external reasons, largely concentrated on a section Montargis – Gien – Nevers < em>"very isolated, which complicates interventions".

The first are identified, the failures of the traction machines. The State has ordered twelve modern trainsets named Oxygène from the Spanish manufacturer CAF – manufactured in Occitanie, in Bagnères-de-Bigorre -, which SNCF Voyageurs will receive from "end of 2026& ;quot;. They will increase the frequency to nine daily round trips, compared to eight today, and will be available when the 760 M€ Regeneration work on the track will be completed. But in the meantime, we must manage the emergency.

A locomotive "will protect" evening trains

"We will accelerate the reliability of locomotives", explains SNCF Voyageurs: early replacement of elements, installation of a remote fault detection system, predictive maintenance. Second axis, "the reduction of intervention time. From March 4, a reserve locomotive will be installed in Nevers, in addition to those in Clermont and Paris-Bercy. It will allow the train to be rescued more quickly." Starting in May, this electric locomotive will follow or precede the last train, in each direction, every day, "dynamic protection locomotive" to further shorten the intervention, while'an on-call duty of railway workers will be created in Nevers, third element.< /p>

Second project, that of external causes, in an area where accidents with game are commonplace, falling trees on the infrastructure and bad weather causing catenary cuts and obstacles. While "remote monitoring devices for our installations", in particular signaling, are being deployed, SNCF Réseau will devote 7.1 M& euro; in 2024 to "better protect the line against intrusions" and "clearing on the&# 39;axle assembly". Or the installation of 10 km of fences at "identified crossing points" of wild animals and 120 km of pruned and cleared rights-of-way on either side of the rails. A project continued over the next two years. Hoping that this will prevent major incidents, by the end of 2026 and a return to "normal".< /p>

Hunters and civil assistance

The SNCF has also approached the Ni`vre hunting federation. Not to kill the game that bothers it, but to know its movements, and also to avoid that feeding areas are created in the sector of its track.

In addition, an agreement is being developed with the prefecture of Ni&evre, the Department, the Sé safety civil service and the Red Cross, to set up an assistance system for passengers in the event of a serious incident. On January 19, in addition to the cold, they suffered from a lack of water and food.

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