France Buys Trains Too Fat for Stations

    The special V150 French TGV high-speed train travels along newly-built track to break the world speed record at 574.8 kilometres (357 miles) per hour in France's Champagne region in Grigny, April 3, 2007. The train, an enhanced version of trains that will run on the Paris-Strasbourg line from June, has been preparing for the record run for weeks and it carried journalists and other guests for the official attempt.     REUTERS/RFF ALSTOM SNCF/Fabbro LevÍque Recoura     (FRANCE).  EDITORIAL USE ONLY. NOT FOR SALE FOR MARKETING OR ADVERTISING CAMPAIGNS. - RTR1O97X

    Ho New/Reuters

    While the state-owned SNCF train service is usually held up as an emblem of efficiency, the French train company has found itself the butt of many jokes because it turns out it accidentally ordered trains that were too wide for some of its stations. The mistake, which was uncovered by the investigative newspaper Le Canard Enchaine, happened when SNCF ordered trains using the dimensions of newer stations, forgetting that older ones had a narrower gap between platforms. The €20.5 billion purchase was part of a network upgrade to deal with a 40 percent increase in passengers over the next decade. A total of €50 million will now be spent to upgrade the 1,300 platforms where the trains would have gotten stuck.

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