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French Rail (SNCF)


Mrs. B
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I received this message in my office email and thought I would pass it on to all interested:

Please note the new decision taken by SNCF for safety on board the French railway network following yesterdays attacks onboard the Spanish commuter trains. 

The luggage spaces located next to the train doors and phone cabins onboard the SNCF trains have been sealed off. Travelers are requested to keep their luggage next to their seats. The train controllers and station staff will check the trains on a regular basis. The SNCF staff will do its utmost to limit any delays. This new regulation affects all trains on the SNCF national network as well as international SNCF trains. Eurostar is not changing their luggage policy since they have their own safety measures. 

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Wow, this is a good idea, but for those with larger luggage pieces (like us) this can be a daunting issue-- some won't fit overhead, and the aisles are quite narrow, maybe they will have to go on those "table-like" fixtures of which there are about 4-6 per car!! (What a world this has become!)

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Wow, this is a good idea, but for those with larger luggage pieces (like us) this can be a daunting issue-- some won't fit overhead, and the aisles are quite narrow, maybe they will have to go on those "table-like" fixtures of which there are about 4-6 per car!! (What a world this has become!)

Think of this as incentive to learning to pack more efficiently.

"Some people see a sheet of seaweed and want to be wrapped in it. I want to see it around a piece of fish."-- William Grimes

"People are bastard-coated bastards, with bastard filling." - Dr. Cox on Scrubs

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Think of this as incentive to learning to pack more efficiently.

I hope by "efficient" you don't mean wearing the same clothing every day; we usually take 3 week+ vacations, and no matter how efficient you are, it still means a larger bag than can fit overhead on those narrow racks on the SNCF;

I am not against this policy, I think it's necessary, I just think it will prove daunting for travelers like us; for the 20-somethings with a backpack it won't be as difficult. A sad commentary for our life and times.

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I hope by "efficient" you don't mean wearing the same clothing every day; we usually take 3 week+ vacations, and no matter how efficient you are, it still means a larger bag than can fit overhead on those narrow racks on the SNCF;

I am not against this policy, I think it's necessary, I just think it will prove daunting for travelers like us; for the 20-somethings with a backpack it won't be as difficult.  A sad commentary for our life and times.

I'm afraid I'm in that class as well. Train travel has already become a bit uncomfortable as there has never been a "safe" place for luggage and getting on and off trains with the luggage we carry is getting tougher especially if it's not a terminal stop. I was able to check luggage on the Brussels to CDG TGV, but I wonder if that will still be an option. Most French inter-city passengers seem to carry a small overnight bag. Unfortunately, many terrorists seem perfectly willing to kill themselves. A sad commentary for our life and times as you've said.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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....Train travel has already become a bit uncomfortable as there has never been a "safe" place for luggage....

We greet this change in luggage space as yet another facet of "Welcome to travel in the 21st Century." Looking for the silver lining, I will no longer have to let my husband crawl over me at each stop so he can go monitor the luggage area to make sure no one disboards with our luggage. :blink:

On the serious side, of course Schneier is correct. And, certainly, many thanks to Mrs. B for the heads up.

eGullet member #80.

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I just hope that they don't try to extend this policy to Motorail since that is how we manage to take far too much luggage on holiday with us. (As well as having space to bring back a decent amount of wine of course! :smile:)

As has been said I understand why they are worried, but do they really think this will have a practical effect? The really worrying thought for me is that if they follow the logic (?) through they might cancel our fast holiday route to Avignon.

Edited by JudyB (log)
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As a security expert, I can unequivocally state that this security measure will do nothing to make the trains safer. It's what I call "security theatre"; designed to make people feel better and nothing more.

Bruce

It seems that this may be debatable. While there is nothing foolproof, this is another step that a would-be security breacher would have to overcome. Sure, a suicide bomber would be undeterred. But someone leaving a suitcase with a timer might be put off-- if people become more aware in the railroad cars of unattended baggage, it is yet another deterrent.

I know in airports everyone is super-sensitive to any unattended luggage; I myself have called attention to authorities of a bag sitting by itself on occasion; Yes, it may not do all that much, but it is another step in the way we have to live today.

I suppose the days are coming where there may be metal detectors and xray machines by Railroad stations as well, although the sheer numbers of stations as well as the expenditure involved may prevent this from happening for decades.

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As a security expert, I can unequivocally state that this security measure will do nothing to make the trains safer.  It's what I call "security theatre"; designed to make people feel better and nothing more.

Bruce

It seems that this may be debatable. While there is nothing foolproof, this is another step that a would-be security breacher would have to overcome. Sure, a suicide bomber would be undeterred. But someone leaving a suitcase with a timer might be put off-- if people become more aware in the railroad cars of unattended baggage, it is yet another deterrent.

I know in airports everyone is super-sensitive to any unattended luggage; I myself have called attention to authorities of a bag sitting by itself on occasion; Yes, it may not do all that much, but it is another step in the way we have to live today.

I suppose the days are coming where there may be metal detectors and xray machines by Railroad stations as well, although the sheer numbers of stations as well as the expenditure involved may prevent this from happening for decades.

I hate to be a paranoiac pessimist, but I have to agree with Schneier on this one. Terrorists have proven time and again that their modus operandi is to stay constantly aware of the current state of security for any given target, and plan accordingly.

That said, as I'll be on a SNCF train in a few days, I'm glad for the information and for what limited psychological comfort I can derive from the "theater."

:smile:

Jamie

See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii

biowebsite

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The real problem is that there is no way to put more than a small bag in the overhead rack and it's impossible to secure all the luggage one normally finds on a train covering a long distance in that rack. Aisles are barely wide enough for two people who are not imtimately acquainted to pass each other. Where will people put suitcases, if they need to travel with them?

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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In June, 2002, my wife and I took the train from Amsterdam to Paris to Milano to Lake Como to the Cinque Terre to Torino to Paris to Amesterdam. We had one large suitcase and one small suitcase, along with a carry-on bag. We put them in the overhead racks on each leg, other than the night trains to and from Paris, where we had a compartment. The large suitcase was a pain to lift onto the overhead rack, but it worked fine.

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The real problem is that there is no way to put more than a small bag in the overhead rack and it's impossible to secure all the luggage one normally finds on a train covering a long distance in that rack. Aisles are barely wide enough for two people who are not imtimately acquainted to pass each other. Where will people put suitcases, if they need to travel with them?

We will be using the TGV during upcoming Easter week, and will report on our experience. We are certainly rethinking our packing for our three day out-of-Paris excursion. At this point, we will each take a single carry-on.

What worries me is contemplating summer travel with inexperienced/uninformed vacation travellers necessarily hauling large cases and enormous backpacks. I have the feeling that this new restriction will have to be rethought, if for no other reason than maintaining luggage-free aisles and some degree of public safety.

eGullet member #80.

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I just returned from France, Belgium and the Netherlands; we took the Thalys, SNCF and Belgian IC trains between cities. Large suitcases and backpacks fit just fine overhead. People with multiple pieces of large baggage were just putting them in the aisle which, of course, made passing difficult. It seems worthwhile to pack less and do laundry once or twice on your trip; I've always done this, and with so many launderies that provide full service (for those that don't want to spend a couple hours in a self service), it really makes sense.

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I've just returned from france, which included a TGV from Paris>Bezier, Perpignon>Paris and I'll tell you it sucked.

I had a larger green rolling bag of the sort you must check at the airport, and it was too heavy to lift about our heads and would have just fit maybe-- if it fell, it would kill. The above racks are not dreadful, they can hold a back pack or a small rolling luggage of the cary on variety. I do recommend travelers to go multiple small valises, as annoying as that is or else... be like us. we had to keep it in the aisle on the trip south, and people climbed over it patiently-- i assume because the rules are so new. I'm going to guess patience will fade as the new rules are common. Riding back, my traveling companion and I were stuck in smoking, so we took turns breathing in the food car while the other sat with the luggage, who proudly enjoyed his own seat. (another bit of good advice; book early to avoid riding smoking.)

one could, if desperate, sit out in the doorway areas with a big luggage-- the important thing is you be with the luggage. I wouldn't recommend it.

it's tragic for those of us who need big luggage with wheels to cart back life's little necessities such as cheese, mustard, liquors, foie gras, and wine...

"Gourmandise is not unbecoming to women: it suits the delicacy of their organs and recompenses them for some pleasures they cannot enjoy, and for some evils to which they are doomed." Jean Anthelme Brillat-Savarin

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We just took the TGV from Paris to Courchevel and back, and I can't for the life of me figure out how this restriction of luggage space makes the trains any safer. Large bags, the kind our family of four used to pack the ski clothing and cold weather gear, will most definitely not fit overhead. We were fortunate to have an empty row of seats on the trip south on which to stow the bag, and on the trip back to Paris our car was next to a bicycle holding-car, which rapidly filled with large suitcases, baby carriages and the like.

Note that overhead space is finite - people forced to split one large bag into multiple smaller bags will soon find that space exhausted, as well. A real solution, or better yet, a return to sanity needs to be put into place.

Closing the luggage space is simply untenable and ineffective, if the SNCF wants to remain a major transportation resource for travellers.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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Perhaps the railroad network should treat luggage and people the same way the airlines and airports are now doing...you have to go through securitywhere they must xray, baggage and people :sad: How are they going to stop a suicide bomber by closing the luggage bins?

WorldTable • Our recently reactivated web page. Now interactive and updated regularly.
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Perhaps the railroad network should treat luggage and people the same way the airlines and airports are now doing...you have to go through securitywhere they must xray, baggage and people :sad: How are they going to stop a suicide bomber by closing the luggage bins?

There are over 2,500 stations in France; how could they get x ray machines and the staff necessary to accomplish this?

You can't stop a suicide bomber anywhere; but closing the luggage bins may discourage the use of unattended time bombs like the ones used in Spain....

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Perhaps the railroad network should treat luggage and people the same way the airlines and airports are now doing...you have to go through securitywhere they must xray, baggage and people :sad: How are they going to stop a suicide bomber by closing the luggage bins?

There are over 2,500 stations in France; how could they get x ray machines and the staff necessary to accomplish this?

You can't stop a suicide bomber anywhere; but closing the luggage bins may discourage the use of unattended time bombs like the ones used in Spain....

I'm unconviced. It's just as easy to throw a backpack in the overhead bin and get off at the next stop, or head down to the bar car, as it is to leave it in the main bins by the door.

My family was fortunate to be travelling at relatively slow times: tt does not appear to me that there is nearly enough space for a full car of serious travellers to stow their luggage in a reasonable way.

I'm on the pavement

Thinking about the government.

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I think a solution would be to have bar code stickers to mark all luggage and link it to a ticketed passenger on the train. The checkers would scan all luggage (stowed in an orderly way with the bar code accesible in the baggage section of the car) immediately after the ticket check. If an unaccounted bag shows up, It would instantly show up.

But that's too simple. :rolleyes:

It would take 10 years to get something like that in place.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just got back from France last week and train travel is still pretty much the same. At the Gare de Lyon and Dijon you certainly see more armed guards with dogs patrolling. And there's the constant drone of the security advisory over the PA as well as lighted signs adivising travelers to secure their bags and be on the lookout. Apart from that everything was business as usual.

Alex

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We used the TGV on April 6 and April 9 to and from Avignon and Paris. On both trains one could see that the luggage areas had been sealed off with plastic-wrap barriers. In each instance, the plastic had been torn away and luggage was being stored in the usual luggage spaces. Conductors were aware of the situation and made no attempt to replace the barriers or prevent luggage from being stored in those areas. It seems that at present this is another regulation observed in the absence of its inforcement.

eGullet member #80.

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At the risk of sounding like a broken record, but by way of confirmation...

We took a SNCF train to Giverny for a day trip on Easter Sunday, and everything was exactly as Margaret and Alex reported. Increased armed guards at the station and on the train, and broken "police tape" wrapped around luggage containers being used by passengers and ignored by officials.

:smile:

Jamie

See! Antony, that revels long o' nights,

Is notwithstanding up.

Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene ii

biowebsite

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