Posted by: sunshack | August 7, 2015

Let The Train Take The Strain

My first ever holiday break by rail. This is my experience of Eurostar and TGV. I had decided that it was time to experience the ease of modern European train travel.

My costs were well in excess of twice the flight price including petrol and parking, to my chosen destination in France.

Travelled by train to a Eurostar served station without any problems. Boarded my Eurostar service, which was late, observed that luggage was piled up by the carriage doors and opened the inner door to the compartment where I had a seat. Warm wet air hit me.The Compartment was very full.

I went straight to the Buffet car to queue for a Metro Ticket as I would have to get across Paris from Gare du Nord, to Gare du Lyon quickly. I queued through Kent, the Channel Tunnel and well into France, before I managed to buy the last 2 single Metro Tickets they had. Arrived into Paris late.

My Metro service was also late, adding to my stress, but I made my TGV train with several minutes to spare. Luggage again piled up by the doors, some passengers spent their journey hanging around in the corridor by the luggage racks. The Toilets had run out of water. Arrived at my destination late.

During my stay, I used the train service to visit another region. On the outbound leg my train was dirty, with windows covered in Graffiti. On the return trip, I boarded a duplex TGV which was very overcrowded and had passengers sitting up the staircase in the carriage I was in. At an intermediate stop, some tourists failed to board due to overcrowding, and a group was split up, causing distress.

My return journey. A very early start. Same copious piles of luggage onboard, with not enough storage Left on time, but then parked for an hour in 35c temperatures, with the air-conditioning turned off, all due to power line problems. Compartment mostly silent, everyone suffering in the heat with no ventilation. No time was made up. I arrived back in Paris, and joined in the communal run through Gare du Lyon.

The Paris Metro is a scrum, fortunately I have a small bag with wheels. Made the sprint through the stations and across to Gare du Nord where a member of Eurostar staff is holding up a card with my train listed on it. No-one else in the line. I rush through, thinking I’ve made the connection only to be greeted by awful scenes of overcrowding in the Eurostar waiting area. Hundreds of people sitting on the dirty floor. Not only was I in time for my train, I could have made two trains earlier. I ask for help from a uniformed member of staff, I’m told “I can’t answer your question” Everyone already there looks miserable and tired. The scenes in front of me make a Ryanair standing line look like business class. I found a space on the floor.

Some trains begin departing, the ticket checking appears ineffective, and there are many people who do not know if they are supposed to be boarding or waiting. I watch people walk past the staff and head for the waiting train without having their ticket checked.

My Eurostar service was 62 minutes late, and together with the 60 minute delay to the TGV, made me late arriving back to catch my connection in the UK. It turned out to be no problem at all, as all trains on the line I needed to use had been cancelled. I caught a replacement bus for a while, then gave up and got a Taxi.

Arrived home, feeling like I needed a holiday.

Apparently I’m due some sort of delay compensation, but the TGV  website won’t work. I phoned Eurostar, and they offer me a half price ticket (so, more of the same). I’ve returned all the tickets to the Agent I used to see if they can achieve anything on my behalf.