Travellers faced chaos this week after landslides closed rail and road links between Italy, France and Austria.
On Monday (28 August), thunderstorms led to landslides which shut down key rail and road corridors between the countries.
700 cubic metres of rocks tumbled down the mountain, bursting through a safety barrier and littering train tracks.
All TGV and TrenItalia services running on the Chambéry-Turin line were cancelled between Monday and Wednesday, and disruption is still ongoing.
“Going back to normal (at the Frejus tunnel) will take several days”, French Transport Minister Clement Beaune said on Monday.
“After this massive landslide yesterday in Maurienne, our services are mobilised to restore road and rail service as quickly as possible.”
This is not the first time a major geological event has disrupted rail traffic on the France-Italy line. In 2019, a mudslide stopped traffic for three weeks.
Which train lines and roads are closed?
French train operator SNCF said on Monday that train traffic would be interrupted until further notice between Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne and Modane. Trains between France and Italy are still running via Nice or Switzerland.
Regional TER trains in the Maurienne Valley have also been disrupted. For TER trains, the terminus is now Saint-Jean-de-Maurienne, and for TER coaches, the last stop is Saint-Michel-Valloire.
Frecciarossia – high speed trains run by Trenitalia – between Saint-Michel-Valloire and Mondane have also been disrupted for several days.
The Frejus tunnel remains closed to trucks and trains and the Brenner tunnel to rail traffic.
What compensation am I entitled to if my train was cancelled?
The landslide falls under ‘extraordinary circumstances’ – an event that the company could not foresee or control.
This means they are exempt from paying the usual amount of compensation (25 per cent of their ticket price for delays of over an hour and 50 per cent for more than two hours delay in most circumstances.)
However, you still have rights if your travel has been disrupted – including the entitlement to a full refund. The EU regulations are as follows:
“If you are delayed due to a cancelled train, meaning you would arrive at your final destination with a delay of more than 60 minutes, you have the right to choose between:
- A refund of your ticket within 30 days – this may be a full or partial refund (covering the part of the journey not made), and a return journey to your initial point of departure, if, the delay due to the cancelled train prevents you from fulfilling the purpose of your trip, or
- Continuing or re-routing your journey under comparable conditions to reach your final destination at the earliest opportunity, at no additional cost, or
- Continuing or re-routing your journey at a later date of your choosing under comparable conditions, at no additional cost. This includes alternative transport to get you to your final destination when the train is blocked and the service is suspended.”
More information can be found here.
When is the Mont Blanc tunnel closing?
Travellers between Italy and France should also prepare for disruption when the Mont Blanc tunnel, linking Courmayeur in Italy with Chamonix in France, closes next week.
The tunnel – which was used by more than 1.7 million vehicles last year – will close from 4 September for 15 weeks for planned maintenance works.
Governor of the Valle d’Aosta region Renzo Testolin said works will go ahead despite reports that it could be delayed due to the closure of other cross border routes.
He told Italian media on Wednesday that tunnel management and regional authorities would “monitor the situation’s development hour by hour”.
The closure will lead to “a situation that I would call tragic for our transport system”, the head of road haulers’ lobby Conftrasporto, Paolo Ugge, told Italian news agency Adnkronos.
“I don’t think it will be easy times for our economy, we will produce goods that risk remaining stuck on forecourts.”
Read the full article here