A SNCF commuter train is seen at Luxembourg’s central train station, 2 May 2018. You probably won’t see this one on new year’s day. Photo: Hugh Llewelyn (CC BY-SA 2.0)
Rail commuters from France will face a new challenge getting to work and heading home starting on 1 January.
François Bausch, Luxembourg’s mobility and public works minister (Green party), has confirmed that French trains not equipped with EU standard safety systems will not be able to operate in the grand duchy after 31 December.
The European Train Control System is meant to replace national railway signalling systems across the bloc. But only 12 of the 25 trains operated by France’s SNCF railway on the Luxembourg-Metz-Nancy line will have the system installed at the beginning of the new year, according to Bausch.
SNCF trains have been using a previous system called Memor II+ since 2007. Bausch said that Memor II+ will be shut off at the end of the year.
Luxembourg’s rail regulator had previously granted SNCF a waiver until 30 June 2021 to implement ETCS, but pushed up the date following a fatal train accident near Bettembourg in February 2017, which investigators partially blame on a fault in the Memor II+ system, Bausch said.
Bausch was critical of the French delays, stating: “… the obligation to circulate with ETCS, was initially set in 2005 for 1 July 2017. So [they’ve had] a long 12 year notice period.”
Until its fleet is fully compliant, SNCF regional trains on the Metz-Nancy line will stop and start in Thionville, with commuters connecting with CFL trains for the section between Luxembourg City and Thionville. Currently there is direct service between Luxembourg’s central train station to Metz and Nancy, operated by both the CFL and SNCF (aside from periods of construction work, including 13-21 July and 19-23 August). About 12,000 commuters use the line each day.
SNCF’s TGV trains, which connect the grand duchy with Paris, already have the ETCS in service.