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France Just Dropped Billions on New Trains That Have a Problematic Design Flaw


"Mea culpa."

France’s national railroad operator, SNCF, spent approximately $20 billion on 2,000 new trains that they just now discovered can't fit into many of the nation’s existing train stations.

And the French government can’t exactly return the sizable locomotives, Gizmodo reported.

Known as “trains express regionaux,” the new trains are too wide to pass through thousands of stations that they were supposed to be able to service, according to the Guardian.

Why? Because the national rail operator, RFF, relied on station information dating back to only 30 years.

“Unsurprisingly, older stations are a little more... compact. Indeed, it was found that they were so narrow that two of the new trains—which are already being built ready for use in 2016— would be unable to pass alongside each other on adjacent lines,” Gizmodo reported.

Here’s what an RFF spokesperson told The Guardian:

It's as if you have bought a Ferrari that you want to park in your garage, and you realise that your garage isn't exactly the right size to fit a Ferrari because you didn't have a Ferrari before. We discovered the problem a little late … we are making our mea culpa.

And because the French government can’t exactly return the trains, it has agreed to undertake a project valued at nearly $70 million to enlarge nearly 1,300 station platforms throughout the country.

“That's a fairly hefty proportion of the 8,700 platforms total in France. Add to that the fact that the trains are supposed to enter service in 2016, and it seems that there's no shortage of engineering work to get underway,” Gizmodo noted.

Follow Becket Adams (@BecketAdams) on Twitter

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