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People standing on the TGV

A recent trip from Lyon to DeGaulle was packed, and there were many people camped out in stairwells with their bags.

I am curious about this. I had thought that reservations on the TGV were absolutely mandatory, but these people were not challenged by the train crew, as far as I could see.

I would not want to travel this way, personally, but I wonder if these were pass holders who had been unable to reserve seats.

Does anyone know anything about this practice? I've never seen it before, but it has been a while.

Posted by
4637 posts

I am surprised to read this. I think that on these superfast trains you need to reserve seat. Once they are sold out that's it. I personally never traveled by TGV but went by Eurostar and Thalys and reservation was mandatory. No standing passengers.

Posted by
672 posts

Could this have been on a route that was affected by recent strikes? My understanding is that, if your departure was canceled due to a strike, you could take any other departure for the same route on that day, but you wouldn't have the seat assignment that you booked.

Posted by
12875 posts

No, not on the TGV. But I have seen this "practice" done on the ICE in Germany, people were packed like a sardine can, stood for more than 2 hrs a few weeks ago, so did everyone else standing or sitting in the isle.

Posted by
16723 posts

I think Nancy hit on it.
ICE trains do not have seat reservation requirements in 2nd class (1st class they come automatically). Sounds like spending the extra 4.50 EUR for a seat reservation during the busy summer travel season is a good idea.

Posted by
2466 posts

I'm also betting that this took place during the recent strikes. If your train was delayed or cancelled, you can board the next one, but won't be assured of a seat.

Posted by
27709 posts

sounds like a strike situation to me, too.

not the norm.

Posted by
7205 posts

Of course it's one of the MANY strikes that occur constantly in France. Honestly - I don't view France as a vacation destination. The landscape and sights and food is wonderful, but when you have to worry about if you can actually get INTO or OUT OF France even with reserved seats on trains/planes/buses due to strikes it just makes me think it's not worth it. If you've never been caught in or inconvenienced by a strike then count yourself lucky.

Posted by
8385 posts

I've been caught in strikes in France, as well as the PATCO strike in the US. But there are issues involved that affect more lives than only your own, just make alternative plans, move on and don't let it ruin your day; it's part of the journey. Live like a local?

Posted by
2466 posts

Well, since the only "strikes" in Knoxville seem to involve lightning and bowling alleys, I can appreciate that point of view.
But since France allows its citizens to express their opinions in this manner, if the other kind of "strike" offends someone, it would be best to avoid coming here - or anywhere else, like maybe New York...

Posted by
4125 posts

I think the strike-policy explanation (or perhaps "contingency policy," as I don't know for sure this was a result of labor action) is likely correct.

It should have occurred to me. The train left 40 minutes late due to something that I did not catch related to another train.

Our TER train from Beaune to Lyon was also late, due to "vandalism" according to SNCF. We chalked that up to a labor slowdown or strike, though perhaps it was something else.

Incidentally even with these delays the quality, speed, and level of service on the trains was miles and decades ahead of rail service here at home. Perhaps that is in spite of the strength of labor unions but I am inclined to assume it is in part a result of that strength.

Posted by
2916 posts

Incidentally even with these delays the quality, speed, and level of service on the trains was miles and decades ahead of rail service here at home.

True, but that's a pretty low bar. I know some of that from living in the Boston area for 17 years, and from taking a cross-country train trip. And also from occasionally taking the train from Maine to Boston.

Posted by
6477 posts

Robert, I have to agree with your reply. There are 3rd world countries that have better rail service than the US. I used to love taking train trips across and around the US but it was never easy. If there's one thing I wish we would do better over here it's public transportation.

Posted by
2916 posts

I used to love taking train trips across and around the US but it was never easy.

That describes our cross-country train trip exactly, Nancy. The scenery for the great part of the trip was spectacular, but boy were there problems on every leg.

Posted by
8385 posts

Vandalism--yes, there is vandalism daily, so crews inspect and repair tracks daily, too. According to a news report I saw on French TV, every night there is at least one theft of wires running the TGV, which are sold for the precious metals inside; other people simply vandalize the tracks.

Posted by
8984 posts

My last journey aboard a TGV was Basel to Paris on the evening before a holiday (ascension day), and it was "standing room". So it just doesn't happen during strikes

Three countries you don't have to worry about strikes disrupting your vacation: China, NK, Cuba. Look into it Tim.