New French trains too big for Italian tunnels

A new SNCF Regio 2F train. Image courtesy of Bombardier.
A new SNCF Regio 2F train. Image courtesy of Bombardier.

Claims have emerged that French rail operator SNCF has allegedly discovered that its new trains do not fit in Italian tunnels.

Trains running on the popular Transport Express Regional (TER) line along the French Riviera coastline and into Italy have reportedly been held back from service.

SNCF ordered several of the Regio 2N trains from Canadian multinational firm Bombardier, which were delivered November of last year. These trains have now been discovered to be several millimetres too high for tunnels in Italy.

This information came to light following revelations by a former railway workers group calling themselves ‘Shipwrecks of the TER’.

In an interview with Nice Matin newspaper, Eric Sauri, president of the group, confirmed that the Regio 2N trains “would not go further than the town of Menton because they did not pass under the tunnels.”

In this case Menton is the last town on the French side of the border, before the trains would have to pass through the Italian tunnels.

SNCF however was quick to deny that such a problem existed, claiming that trains would run as usual from July 5 within the French section of the track, with the new Regio 2N trains slated to begin running to Italy by December.

They put any delays down to infrastructure changes that would need to be made on the Italian side.

“Ventimiglia tunnel’s infrastructure will have been adapted by the SNCF network [by December] and the Italian network operator. This work is done according to the agreed schedule …,” explained the SNCF in a press statement.

Not a unique case

Strangely enough, this is not the first time that SNCF has encountered similar problems with its trains.

Last year the rail operator was found to have spent €50m on narrowing its train stations after discovering that its new trains were too wide for their platforms.

Also, Berlin’s U-Bahn suffered a similar problem in early 2014, when new rolling stock was also discovered to be too large for certain sections of the city’s subway tunnels.