The French Just Committed One Of The Most Expensive Blunders In History

May, 21, 2014: If you’re feeling bad over the goof-ups you committed, remember that someone, somewhere in France, ordered 2,000 trains too wide for the platforms.

Well this is embarrassing. French train operator SNCF has discovered just recently that the 2,000 new trains it ordered are too wide for many regional platforms. The edges of platforms are too close to the tracks in some stations. This means that these trains cannot enter those platforms.

To call it an expensive blunder would be a gross understatement as the newly-ordered trains cost a whopping 15 billion Euros ($20.5 billion) and this is not even the end of their troubles.

The resulting repairs and construction works to widen the platforms has cost the rail operators an additional sum of 50 million Euros ($68.4 million). These are just the initial costs which expected to rise further, according to experts.

The blunder seems to have been committed by the folks over at the French national rail network Réseau ferré de France (RFF), who provided the SNCF the dimensions for wider railway platforms built less than 30 years ago. However, many of France's regional platforms, built more than 50 years ago, were designed for narrower trains.

French Transport Minister Frederic Cuvillier reportedly blamed an "absurd rail system" for the problems. According to him, "this is what happens when you separate the rail operator from the train company."

At least some good came out of the error. It caused the French authorities to adjust those older platforms. All is well that ends well.

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