Posted on Tuesday, February 8th, 2011 at 1:52pm CST by 64f017f1

Product: Travel by train

Company: SNCF

Location: Paris, FR


Category: Other

On December 22, 2010, I travelled by train in France from Charles de Gaulle 2 TGV station to Marseille St Charles station in France, with SNCF, the unique state-owned French railroad service. At that time, train traffic was disrupted in nearly the whole territory because of a snow storm. My train left Charles de Gaulle station late with more than two hours and a half delay and arrived at Marseille station with the same delay. I am aware that these exceptional weather conditions mainly explain this delay. However I hardly understand and accept the lack of communication, of information to the travellers regarding the delay of their train.

In my particular case, my train was supposed to leave the station at 8:21. At around 8:30, finally the platform where the train to Marseille was supposed to arrive is announced, WITHOUT ANY INFORMATION BEFORE about any delay for this train. By the way, the announcement should have been released and written on the notice board at least 20 minutes before the train departure, as SNCF is engaged for any travel by train. Anyway, I went to the platform, I waited there for around a quarter of hour - of course it was cold because of that precise weather conditions - to be finally said that at last another train would arrived on this platform and that the one to Marseille St Charles that I was waiting for would be delayed for about half an hour. To sum up, my train was announced to arrive on one platform and then, just a few minutes later, there it was to be delayed for half an hour, as if SNCF would not have been able to forecast this delay and avoid travellers to go uselessly from the inside of the railway station to the platform. I admit the bad weather conditions due to that snow storm makes train traffic more complicate to operate but is it enough to explain such a logistical dysfunction?

Frozen after having waited uselessly on the platform out in the cold, then I came back to the inside of the railway station, of course nor heated, and I resigned myself to waiting for the announcement of my train. Half an hour later, we had not received even the slightest piece of information about the departure of the train to Marseille, whereas it was supposed to leave the station with a half an hour delay exactly. It was only 40 minutes later that, on the notice board, I saw that finally the delay was extended by half an hour, from half an hour to one hour, without any announcement into the microphone! Of course, an hour later, there was NO ANNOUCEMENT either about a potential departure of my train and, a few minutes later, the delay written on the notice board was extended by half an hour? And so on until, at last, after having waited for more than two hour and a half, the platform for my train was displayed. Finally, an announcement into the microphone about the departure of the train to Marseille was released - it was the only one vocal announcement after having waited for more than two hours and a half, which proves how much SNCF cares about its travellers.

To conclude, I arrived at Marseille station with a more than two hours and a half delay, having caught a cold on top of that Christmas. Finally, what I blame SNCF for, is its lack of efficiency to deal with crisis situations, to COMMUNICATE, to INFORM TRAVELLERS about delay, cancellation of their trains, which is more about consumers' respect than about any kind of technical ability to deal with such usual weather conditions.

After this unforgettable trip, I received an email from SNCF saying that I would not receive any compensation due to the delay of my train because it was a consequence of exceptional weather conditions and therefore "SNCF is not responsible for this delay". Nevertheless, what about the quality - or rather the absolute lack of quality of customer service - may I deserve a compensation for such damage during that trip? Up to that incident, I used to travel by train, which I found it was a practical and economical way to travel. However, for the future, I must admit that I would prefer other means of transport, unless SNCF accepts to make a goodwill gesture in compensation for this incident.

While writing this letter, my purpose was to point out the potential improvements of French railway system to be done and I hope my remarks will be taken into account by SNCF.


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