Another Thalys train breakdown traps passengers overnight

Another Thalys train breakdown traps passengers overnight
Credit: Belga

Despite a 10% reduction in capacity following the breakdown of two Thalys trains in a week during the recent July heatwave, passengers have once again found themselves stuck on high-speed trains returning from France.

Following a collision with an animal on the tracks near Tournai, which caused a technical issue with the train’s engine, around 800 people were allowed to sleep overnight on nearby train carriages provided by Thalys.

During the evening, the stricken train was evacuated and the passengers were given the choice of walking to a hotel, paying for a taxi to Brussels, or staying in makeshift accommodation provided by the company.

According to Belgian broadcaster RTBF, travellers who opted to receive hotel vouchers were disappointed to find that the hotel had no more rooms available, and were forced to make their own way to the Gare du Midi in Brussels. The broken-down train is scheduled to depart again sometime this morning.

Passengers stuck in the train’s carriages were cut off from electricity and air conditioning due to damage to the train’s engine. According to a spokesperson for the train operator, water was provided to the stranded travellers and the doors of the train were opened.

The breakdown has caused a whole chain of delays across the Thalys network, however the operator assures that passengers will be compensated for their time and any inconvenience caused.

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Thalys is bracing for a summer of disruptions to its planned services. Following the breakdown of the two trains in July, which Thalys initially labelled a “coincidence”, the train operator will now conduct additional safety checks on some of its trains, leading to a series of cancellations.

“Due to operating incidents that occurred at the end of July, two trains had to undergo in-depth repairs and checks in our two maintenance workshops in Paris in Brussels,” Thalys explained on its website. “As a result, Thalys will not be able to use its entire fleet for the next few weeks.”

Customers are able to postpone their trip free of charge or receive a refund for the cancelled journeys up to one year after the original booking.

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