A major fire at Aubagne, in the Bouches-des-Rhône, on Saturday night stranded thousands of SNCF rail passengers in the southeast. Almost a thousand people were still stuck in Nice train station on Sunday morning because of the fire, which damaged overhead cables.
The Nice-Paris night train, which left early in the evening, remained stationary for several hours at Cannes train station. A total of 300 rail workers were involved in coping with the knock-on effects of the fire, including delivering meals to stranded passengers.
The national police, the Suge (railway police) and Civil Protection 06 ensured the care of the travellers. Those who stayed on board the trains were given water and a meal.
“We were approached by the prefecture around 00:30 am to help people blocked in Nice train station following the Aubagne fire,” said Jérémy Crunchant, operational officer for Civil Protection 06. “It was especially troublesome for passengers, because we do not know how long they will have to wait.”
Several travellers were resigned to their fate, saying they would rather spend time safely in a railway station or on a train than to be caught in the blaze. Rail traffic in the region returned to normal by Sunday afternoon, 15 hours after the fire was first notified.
Meanwhile, rail operator SNCF told travellers that they will all be reimbursed under the Punctuality Guarantee. Reimbursement can be made online at g30.sncf.com or at a ticket office in the station.
Meteo-France had warned of fire in the region, due to warm temperatures and extremely dry conditions, for Saturday, August 19 and Sunday, August 20.