Compensation for passengers stuck for hours on train to Brussels

Compensation for passengers stuck for hours on train to Brussels
Credit: Keven Menard Photography / Flickr CC

The 750 passengers who were stuck for about four hours on a scorching hot Thalys train going from Paris to Brussels, without proper help or communication from the company, will be compensated by the company, said CEO Jacques Damas.

The incident took place on Tuesday evening, which happened to be the hottest day of the year. The high-speed train was stranded in a suburb of Paris and stood still for about four hours without functioning air conditioning. Images on social media show passengers trying to force open doors and smash windows to get some fresh air as temperatures inside the train rose to about 45°C.

"We had to be very careful regarding people's safety," Damas told VTM News on Wednesday. "Safety is our top priority and keeping the doors closed was absolutely necessary because trains were passing at high speed on the other tracks."

Victims of the heatwave

According to Thalys, the heat was to blame for the situation. A technical problem reportedly occurred on the train, although further information will be withheld until the technical investigation has been completed.

However, Damas has already stated that the trains and network infrastructure are not adapted to the extremely high temperatures, such as the ones experienced in recent days. Thalys attempted to restart the air conditioning but this took some time.

When it became clear that it would not be possible to move the train, the decision was made to evacuate the passengers. Yet this took nearly four hours due to the timing of the breakdown, just before 19:00.

"It was very busy from 19:00 to 20:00. Many trains were running at that time," Damas said. "We could not stop the entire service during rush hour."

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Thalys has now announced that it will pay passengers 250% of the price they paid for the ticket in compensation. With many tickets for the journey costing around €100, this could see some passengers compensated over €250.

Other unexpected costs – such as alternative travel arrangements or the cost of a hotel – can also be reclaimed. Everyone affected should receive an email or message with details on how to do this.

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