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ORIGINAL FRENCH ARTICLE: Brétigny: la vétusté au banc des accusés

by Marion d’Allard

Rail Disaster in Brétigny :The Obsolescence...

Translated Monday 22 July 2013, by Isabelle Métral

In 2005, an audit by Lausanne’s Federal Polytechnic concerning the state of the rail network in France ended with a disquieting verdict as to the obsolescence of its infrastructures. Updated in October 2012 and presented to Prime Minister Ayrault’s cabinet, this audit was the determining factor in the distribution of public investments in the rail sector.

According to the Transport ministry, the Swiss study, “which points out the extreme obsolescence of the French rail network, highlights the fact that for the last thirty years priority has been given on the one hand to small lines with little traffic and on the other to the development of high-speed lines (LGV).”

In between, the structural, heavy traffic express lines, which contribute to the service of all the national territory, have been neglected. This is especially true of the Paris- Orléans-Limoges-Toulouse (Polt) line on which Brétigny, the site of the catastrophe , is situated; the longest radial line of the express network, it serves 32 départements, 5 million inhabitants and nearly a quarter of the French regions. “For years we have been working and battling on plans for this line, not just for its security, but to improve it, modernize it, replace locomotives and cars…”, says the communist mayor of Vierzon. For a mere brushing up is of no use. Most of the inter-city trains currently in use are in a terminal state of repair, “only good for the scrap-yard”, passengers complain, and trains run on rail tracks that have served their time, and whose optimal maintenance is jeopardized by a succession of slashes and cuts in the payroll in the name of competitiveness. Says the SUD Rail Union: “For years we’ve been calling attention to the fact that the maintenance of infrastructures and cars cannot be subject to the laws of the market and that, while security has a cost, above all it is priceless.

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