Legend has it that the reason Russian Tsar Nicholas I installed railroad tracks wider than the international standard of the 1840s was to ward off foreign invasion. For a generation that watched Moscow burn as Napoleon marched through the motherland, it would have made sense to prevent by any means a similar campaign from ever occurring again.
Today, we learned that France has now done a version of the same thing — except this time it was not at all according to plan.
France’s Canard enchaîné newspaper reports that the country’s two railway agencies will have to pay at least $US50 million euros to widen hundreds of train stations after it accidentally ordered nearly 2,000 new trains they now say are too big.
The paper’s cyber presence is famously spare. But according to LeMonde’s account of their report, the agencies had had sought wider railcars to increase the comfort of passengers. However, they apparently only accounted for gap measurements between existing cars and rail stations less than 30 years old. Stations built 50 years ago fall short of the 20 centimeters of leeway needed for the new cars.
There are at least 1,200 such depots affected, according to France’s train station authority. RFF, the unit in charge of all French rail, says it has set aside $US80 million euros for the repairs.
LeMonde calls the incident a “howler,” and the country’s transport minister compared those responsible to Rocambole, the guy above, a French character named Rocambole known for his schemes too incredible to be believed.
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