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The French national railroad company is cheating to try to be on time… tss…

Our national railroad company (the SNCF, for “Société Nationale des Chemins de fer français”) is quite renowned for both its strikes (when you type “grêve”, the French for “strike”, in Google.fr, one of the first suggestions that come up is “grêve SNCF”) and its disrespect for scheduled arrival times (the statistics they publish are proud to announce that “more than X % of trains are less than 5 minutes late”, not that “X % of trains are on time”).
One thing is less often mentioned, though: the fact that every now and then, trains depart BEFORE scheduled time. It doesn’t happen too often, yet it does happen. I experienced it no later than a few minutes ago (no, I didn’t miss it, as a matter of fact I’m writing these lines from TGV 8905), although this time it wasn’t too serious: the train finished shutting the door next to me before 7:29:30 instead of 7:30:00 (am).
So, only 30 seconds too soon, but when you consider the early time as well as the fact that the first half (ie the first 240 meters) of the train was unboardable (which wasn’t mentioned on the reservation), that’s still a bit harsh. A few months ago (ie, more significantly, 2 train trips ago), deep in the countryside, the last train of the day left my arrival station around 2 minutes early. If they’re not able to arrive on time (not to arrive late), at least they should work on departing on time (not to depart early)…

I found out that logging whatever happens is a great way to spend time when traveling, so here’s more:

around 8 am: the ticket guy just checked my ticket and then spent like 5 minutes checking my 2 neighbors who didn’t pay a cent because they had some paper explaining why they shouldn’t pay (I wish I knew what was written on those – from what I saw they seem highly forgeable :D). And judging from their clothes they’re definitely not poor. FFS… I’m sick of all those free-riders, even I as a student pay full fare…

9:13:25 am: we arrived almost on time (I’m considering the time at which the train unlocks the door, ie it’s not necessarily halted yet, and the door needs additional time to actually open). Only 25 seconds late, but still, late.

12:40 pm: TGV 8936 coming from Nantes arrives at Angers 6 minutes late, yet shows up as on time on the arrival board.

12:48:30 pm: my TER 857344 departs on time. First success of the day for the SNCF.

around 1:33 pm: my TER arrives at Le Mans on time, I think. Didn’t really check this one, oops.

2:11 pm: as my TGV 8830 should be arriving from Nantes, we’re announced that it will be 5 minutes late because of “a traffic incident”…

around 2:25 pm: my TGV leaves Le Mans

3:23:40 pm: my TGV arrives in Paris. 10 min 40 late. I didn’t check what was announced on the arrival board.

Note that I’m not complaining about the massiveness of the delays. Of course a delay as small as a couple of minutes isn’t really a big deal (not exactly worth writing about either, but I had some time to kill in the train ;)). 10 minutes is getting a bit annoying, though (note that we’re talking about short trips of 45 minutes to 1h30). My problem with this is that they announce a schedule that they seemingly don’t even try respect, as they rather seem to aim for “less than 5 minutes late”. Why don’t they just schedule arrivals a few minutes later? This way they’d be on time much more often, and early quite often too… and they wouldn’t need to depart early to earn a few extra seconds… Bah…

Posted in Totally pointless.


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