Thousands trapped on French trains

PARIS (AP) – Thousands of passengers were trapped overnight on high-speed TGV trains halted by electrical problems in southwestern France, some pleading for water, food or fresh air.

Frustrated travellers raised attention to their plight on social networks, posting images of children sleeping on floors and describing the challenge of staying masked for as much as 20 hours.

Several people were evacuated for medical reasons, broadcaster France-Info reported yesterday.

National rail authority SNCF announced problems on multiple routes starting Sunday afternoon, including a “major electrical supply failure” that required extensive repair efforts.

At least three trains, connecting Bordeaux with the cities of Dax, Hendaye and Tarbes, were apparently stuck on tracks into the night, with knock-on effects on other routes.

Traffic isn’t expected to return to normal until today, Junior Minister for Transport Jean-Baptiste Djebbari said on BFM television.

SNCF will reimburse all passengers three times the cost of their tickets and is distributing 4,000 masks, water and food, Djebbari said.

He said 60 kilometres of track suffered damage to high-power overhead cables.